Aid groups, churches and individuals across the South rallied to help victims of Haiti’s horrific earthquake, and many families in the region had loved ones in Haiti when the earthquake hit and some of them were still awaiting word on their condition.
The Palm Beach Post reported that Catholic Charities and other South Florida immigrant rights organizations are planning an ambitious effort to airlift possibly thousands of Haitian children left orphaned in the aftermath of the quake to South Florida.
Eighty-three members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Virginia Task Force 2 headed for Haiti Thursday morning. The task force includes firefighters, structural engineers, veterinarians, emergency room physicians and canine search handlers.
Members of South Florida’s two Urban Search and Rescue teams, made up of firefighters and trauma doctors, were headed for Haiti. The teams include more than 140 members and 12 dogs with special training and experience in disaster situations.
In addition, Lt. Nate Lasseur, a West Palm Beach firefighter honored this week for his training and relief missions to Haiti, was headed to Haiti Thursday afternoon with Delray Beach developer Frank McKinney. The Haitian-American firefighter founded International Firefighters Assistance. The organization launched a collection drive immediately after first news of the quake. Lasseur (in photo) was involved in the rescue effort when a school collapsed in Haiti in 2008.
Mississippi’s Senate President Pro Tem Billy Hewes said he is checking to see whether his state could send the vacant trailers used during Hurricane Katrina to Haiti.
Families in South Florida, which has a large Haitian-American population, were most worried about the earthquake, but hardly any part of the South seemed untouched by the crisis.
The CEO and the president of Adel Steel, Inc. in Adel, Georgia. were among those in Haiti when the quake struck. The CEO, John Scarboro, 72, was found with non-life threatening injuries and was airlifted to Miami. His son-in-law, David Apperson, 45, president of the company, was still missing.
Barbara Hebron was awaiting word about her husband, the Rev. Freddie Hebron, 61-year-old pastor of the Christian Revival Center in Savannah, Georgia. An electrical engineer, he had made monthly mission trips to Haiti for 17 years. He was back there Tuesday when the quake hit.
Also among the missing was 71-year-old William Hatcher of Meridian, Mississippi. He had joined the World Mission Department of the Church of God (Holiness) and was working to teach Haitians how to improve their living conditions through water treatment, irrigation and farming techniques.
The Rev. Edwige Carre (in photo at left), a priest at Holy Name Catholic Church in Nashville, Tennessee, got word his brother, Alphonse Carre, was found dead under the rubble of his home in Delmas, near Port-au-Prince. Lorie and Darrell Johnson of Knoxville, Tennessee, learned that the 4-year-old girl they planned to adopt was killed when an orphanage collapsed.
Six members of a study group from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, were still missing after the quake hit the Hotel Montana where they were staying. Eight members were found safe and were headed home.
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Forward, based in Portsmouth, Virginia, arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s devastated capital, early Wednesday and was among the first American responders. It had been moored in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At least four Norfolk-based ships received orders Wednesday to prepare to help in the recovery effort. U.S. Coast Guard boats from Miami and Clearwater, Florida, also arrived in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday.
Remote Area Medical based in Knoxville, Tennessee, planned to send a transport plane stocked with medical supplies to Haiti on Friday morning. People were being asked to donate everything from aspirin to crutches.
The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, which has 250 hospital beds and a medical staff of 560, was being loaded with medical supplies in Baltimore, Maryland, and planned a stop at Mayport, Florida, Monday to take on more supplies on its way to Haiti.
Water Missions International in Charleston, South Carolina, was sending 10 water purification systems to Haiti. Each system can treat 10,000 gallons of water a day, enough to provide for 5,000 people daily in a disaster.
Sixteen trained volunteers with the Alabama Baptist Board on Missions were waiting on notification about their part in the disaster relief. The United Methodist Church planned to send 3,000 health kits to Haiti from its Decatur, Alabama, storage facility.
According to the Augusta Chronicle, the Disaster Medical Assistance Team based in Atlanta, known as Georgia 3 DMAT, has been put on alert that it might be sent to Haiti, and the Georgia 4 DMAT members based in Augusta were checking to see who has a valid passport in case they are needed to fill in for Atlanta team members who don’t.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue announced that he is prepared to send Georgia National Guard troops to Haiti if they are needed.
Eight missionaries from Gateway Free Will Baptist Church in Virginia Beach coincidentally landed in Haiti with medical supplies for the clinic they support less than an hour before the quake struck. “The mission changed within a matter of moments,” Pastor Karl Sexton told the Virginian-Pilot.