Help for Haitians offered after 7.0 earthquake
City agencies are collaborating to set up information resources in the aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake that struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, just before 5 p.m. Tuesday.
More than 50,000 may be dead and 3 million in need of emergency aid. “Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed. There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them,” Haitian President René Préval has been quoted as saying.
Cambridge has nearly 5,000 Haitian residents, said Jean Juene, Haitian services coordinator for the city’s Department of Human Service Program. Neighboring Somerville is said to have between 5,000 and 6,000.
“Since many residents and others in Cambridge have family and friends in Haiti, we felt it was important for us to come together as a city and offer information and resources as it becomes available,” City Manager Robert W. Healy said Wednesday. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by this devastating tragedy.”
The city’s Web site has a preliminary information page that will be added to as needed, Healy’s office said.
The Cambridge Multiservice Center, 19 Brookline St., will be serving as a community gathering and information site with extended hours of 8 a.m to 8 p.m. through Friday. For information, call (617) 349-6350.
The city is hosting a telephone referral line through the mayor’s office at (617) 349-4321.
The Multiservice Center will be providing computers, cable television and U.S.-only phone access starting Thursday to residents so they can learn more about what is going on in Haiti and connect with loved ones. The center may also be able to offer counseling for stress and grief with the Health Department, Jeune said.
So far there is little contact with those still in Haiti, he said. “Everything is dead,” he said, referring to communication by telephone or computer.
The city’s large Haitian population was noted Monday by the City Council. At their regular meeting, councillors asked Healy to look into finding Cambridge a sister city in Haiti.
A meeting for Somerville Haitians has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Arthur D. Healey School, 5 Meacham St.