Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Response to Earthquake in Haiti

Question/Comment: A resident would like to know where the donations the City is collecting for disaster relief in Haiti will be sent.  Additionally, she saw a news report stating that at the City's meeting on Haiti, a decision was made to send doctors, nurses, and health professionals.  She would like to know how this is being carried out, including how funding will be raised. 

City Update 2/4/10: The City is joining with Tufts University and the Chamber of Commerce to host a benefit concert at the Somerville Theater on February 18th.  Local acts will perform to raise funds for Haitian earthquake relief efforts.  Tickets will be available at the door on the day of the concert from 6:00 PM on for a suggested donation of $30 or more.  There will also be silent auctions and a 50/50 raffle. 

City Update 1/19/10:  The funds the City collects will be sent to the International Red Cross and other reputable organizations who are currently leading the relief efforts in Haiti.  The City has been asked by FEMA and MEMA not to send other donations (such as food or clothing) at this time, because of the difficulty in coordinating the overflow of support from across the world.  The money we collect will be used to purchase the necessary supplies (the City raised more than $30,000 for Hurricane Katrina relief).

The organization of groups of doctors and nurses is being done independently, as the City has also been asked NOT to coordinate these efforts at the local level.  City officials participate in daily conference calls with State and Federal officials to get updates on the situation, and ways in which the City can be most helpful.  There is currently a list being used to coordinate which regions send search and rescue teams to Haiti, and when.  Due to the backup at the one existing (and heavily damaged) Haitian airport.  Massachusetts is currently 15th on that list, and if and when Somerville is asked to send responders, the City has a list of Police and Fire officials who will be sent to Haiti.

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