As a writer who follows earthquakes and at times refers to myself as an arm-chair seismologist, I was devastated to hear of the 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday afternoon. What amazed me was that it was followed by fifteen aftershocks: One measuring a 5.9 on the Richter Scale. That measurement alone is the size and scope of most earthquakes.
This lone earthquake was the most powerful one to hit this region in over 200 years. As I have been looking at the U.S.G.S. page for a year now, the region has been active with seismic activity. Puerto Rico has succumbed to tremors throughout this past year. In essence, I was not totally surprised this earthquake hit.
As we in the United States think of our growing poor, Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere where 80 percent of their population live below poverty and where they have a 57 percent illiteracy rate. In 2008 it suffered multiple hurricanes and it begs the question: Now this?
In my prior piece where I discussed earthquakes being a scientific event and nothing more, I brought up the recent earthquake to hit California. Thankfully the damage was not as severe as many think the Haitian one will turn out to be. One of the main reasons is the structures where people live and work. In California they have code requirements where buildings have a high probability rate to withstand powerful quakes and protect the people. Many Haitians live in buildings that are less-superior and are decimated when earthquakes and hurricanes occur. Many Haitians live in shanty-towns where no such codes exist. You would think so, given the fact this country sits on top of a fault line. But, they are a poor nation and cannot afford such building materials. They must use their rainforest in order to heat and build their homes.
Many here in the United States visit our White House where our president lives and in Haiti, their presidential palace lay crumbled to the ground. In watching CNN and seeing that photo, it spoke volumes to me.
As I was flipping around the channels, the only station to cover this event in the 10 PM time-slot was CNN with Anderson Cooper at the helm. Then again, Cooper did so when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and Mississippi. After signing off of his show, he was headed to Haiti to cover the aftermath of this devastating earthquake. Folks, to me that is journalism at its finest.
Anderson Cooper and CNN could have chosen to cover the book "Game Change" a book of gossip, but they did not in this hour. They chose to do the news and the news is for connecting we as a people. The news is supposed to be to help us understand the plight and suffering of others when we think we have nothing. Given Haiti's poverty rate, they are a suffering people.
As the day light breaks in the morning, we do not know how many died in this quake or how many more will be recorded in the days and weeks after. This is where we as Americans can come to their aid by digging into our pockets, coin-jars, wallets, or what have you and help the people of Haiti by donating to the Red Cross. Their number is: 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575.
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