This time, the earthquake that shook Haiti was offshore. Small comfort for the Haitian people who are still — still — recovering from the jaw-droppingly devastating quake in 2010 that killed over 300,000 people.
More than 300 people were killed Saturday, and the death toll likely will rise. Injuries and damage are still being assessed, particularly in the hardest hit cities of Les Anglais, where along with many homes, the Catholic cathedral was demolished, and Les Cayes, which is on the coast.
Here in South Florida, we know what to do. We did it after the Haiti earthquake 11 years ago; and again after Hurricane Dorian almost wiped out islands in the Bahamas in 2019. We did it most recently when Champlain South Towers collapsed in Surfside.
We ask: “How can we help?” And, then that’s just what we do: Miami-based medical teams hit the ground; we give to trusted organizations committed to doing right by donors and beleaguered recipients; we donate the basics to food banks and other groups that will get them where they are needed most.
Of course, there is so much beyond our control in Haiti. This earthquake comes on the heels of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. It comes as armed gangs continue to terrorize the Haitian people. Is it too much to hope that they put down their weapons and not further exploit their compatriots’ pain? Long-promised elections, already compromised by the nation’s political instability and civic insecurity, likely have no chance of happening soon — nor should they. And the Biden administration should halt all deportations of Haitian migrants. Haiti remains a nation unable to handle the deluge of those returned. And less so now.
It may seem an odd time to bring up Fred Rogers — the beloved “Mr. Rogers” of TV. But it’s appropriate now. He once said in an interview: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
In South Florida, it’s always been obvious: The helpers are here. Let’s join them.