• The greatest need right now is for money. In addition, they need water for drinking, or at least the means of purifying it. In terms of supplies, they need food, obviously, but also medical supplies. The latter would include emergency, medical, and search and rescue personnel. As this is written, we have this from Fairfax County, Virginia:
VATF1 Deploys to Haiti January 13, 2010 -- Virginia Task Force 1 (VATF-1), Fairfax County's urban search and rescue team was activated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Tuesday evening, January 12, 2010, to the earthquake near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The task force is composed of 72 personnel, 6 search and rescue canines, search and technical rescue personnel, physicians, paramedics, structural engineers, other support personnel, and approximately 48 tons of rescue equipment and supplies. The team is self-sustaining for approximately 14 days. The task force left from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s Academy at 8:15 a.m., January 13, 2010. The team will depart from Dulles International Airport late morning today. ...
• The above also gives an idea of the manner of volunteer personnel needed at this time. If you fit the bill, and have time on your hands, you might try contacting the U S Agency for International Development. If you have any luck, shoot off an e-mail (manwithblackhat at yahoo dot com) and let us know.
• If you are looking for friends or loved ones in Haiti, the International Committee of the Red Cross has erected a database. You can also Haiti to 90999 on your cell phone to send a $10.00 donation to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti. The donation will be charged to your phone bill. Or you can call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
• There is also a desperate need for shelter. Many Haitians live in deplorable substandard housing; cardboard boxes, wooden planks nailed together, anything they can find. One idea that has come across our desk, is from PFNC Global, an affordable housing endeavor co-founded by Pablo Nava, a recent graduate of Notre Dame. Given that thousands of shipping containers are left unused in the USA every year, they could be used to ship necessary emergency supplies, before being converted to housing: http://www.pfnc.net/residence.htm. (We will have more on this last item, and others like it, later this year, in our series on affordable and sustainable housing. Stay tuned ...)
• Finally, Habitat for Humanity International is addressing the need for more immediate shelter. Also, a Texas-based company called Worldflower Garden Domes has designed geodesic dome framing as a quick and reasonably stable solution.
[PHOTO AT TOP RIGHT: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz. Used without permission or shame.]