The scale of the catastrophe following Tuesday’s 7.0 earthquake is barely comprehensible. Estimated deaths currently number 50,000, but greater precision is impossible given the widespread destruction. With 9 million people occupying an area the size of Maryland, Haiti already was in dire straits with an average annual GDP of U.S. $1,300 per person.
The humanitarian impulse to rush supplies to Haiti is commendable, but the pressing problem appears to be logistics. The single-runway airport cannot accept any more planes and has run out of jet fuel. However, the airport is in better shape than the seaport.
Making matters worse is the that supplies cannot come in by sea. Haiti's main seaport has "collapsed and is not operational," says Maersk Line's Mary Ann Kotlarich. The main dock is partially submerged. Cranes that moved containers on and off ships at the port are now partially under water and listing badly. Ships carrying supplies have nowhere to dock.In addition to prayer there’s little that the average citizen can do but to donate to charities that will show good judgment in dispensing funds to where they can do the most good. One organization that we’ve helped over the years is Episcopal Relief and Development, where about 92% of every donor dollar goes directly to programs. Other lists are found here and here.
Give early, give often, but above all give wisely.