Multiple sources have stated primary reasons this particular quake has already proven to be so devastating. First: its magnitude. Because earthquakes are classified based on a logarithmic scale, a 7.0 quake (like that in Haïti) is 10 times stronger than a 6.0 on the same scale. Second: its location. The quake occurred 10 miles west of the capital city, Port au Prince and a mere five miles beneath the surface. Because it hit such an urban area, Red Cross is estimating that 3 million of the country’s 9 million inhabitants will need some form of aid.
And the last reason Haïti’s recent earthquake was so damaging: poor building structure. The nation doesn’t uphold any standard building codes and an estimated 60% of buildings were unsafe in the best of conditions. Haïti’s concrete construction differs from that of the U.S. in that when a building collapses it doesn’t leave as many open, “void,” areas in which trapped people can survive as they await assistance. Port au Prince’s destruction and death toll was innumerably augmented by these nonexistant standards of construction. The tragedy doesn’t stop there: because Haïti’s roads and infrastructure are also poor, it is difficult for relief efforts to reach the capital city. In the meantime, many local hospitals have collapsed and cannot be of service to the thousands of victims.
If you can offer aid to the people of Haïti, please consider the following organizations. A more extensive list of relief organizations can be found here.
- UNICEF: www.unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call 1.800.486.4233
- The Red Cross: Make a donation via text message. Text the word HAITI to the number 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts. It’ll show up on your phone bill. Or donate online at RedCross.org
- Doctors Without Borders: Donate with a debit or credit card at https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org
- Mercy Corps: Donate to the Haiti Earthquake Fund at www.mercycorps.org or call 1.888.256.1900
- The Pan American Development Foundation: Donate at www.PanAmericanRelief.org
- Missing people: U.S. citizens wondering about family in Haiti can call the U.S. State Department’s American Citizen Services line at 1.888.407.4747