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Portland-based Mercy Corps scrambles to send team to Haiti in wake of devastating earthquake

Haiti, January 12, 2010

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Stuart Tomlinson

The Oregonian
January, 2010

Portland-based Mercy Corps has mobilized an emergency response team to fly to Haiti after today's devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

Randy Martin, the Washington D.C.-based Mercy Corps director of global emergency operations, said the team will assess damage and respond to the immediate needs of survivors.

"Initial reports indicate that the quake has caused extensive damage, and we fear that casualties could be widespread," Martin said. "Our team will quickly assess what the most pressing needs are in earthquake-affected areas."

In a news release, Mercy Corps officials said the earthquake "exacerbates an already dire humanitarian situation in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Plagued by hunger and political instability, the quake is likely to dramatically increase the needs of many impoverished Haitian families."

Mercy Corps has responded to numerous earthquakes around the year, including aiding families after earthquakes in Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year.

Martin said the Mercy Corps team is expected to leave tomorrow, according to his most recent blogpost:

I've been on the phone for most of the last three hours figuring out the best way we can respond to the news in Haiti.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake has toppled buildings, including at least one hospital, and we assume there are significant casualties (the news has been slow to trickle out).

We do not currently have staff in Haiti, but we do have extensive experience responding to earthquakes — most recently in Padang, Indonesia last September.

My colleagues and I have been canvassing our own emergency operations team as well as veteran relief workers from throughout the agency to determine the most qualified and immediately deployable staff.

We will begin deploying our team tomorrow and working now to line up resources to respond.

Mercy Corps
Haiti Earthquake Fund
Dept NR
PO Box 2669
Portland, OR 97208