I picked this up off the Twitter, y’all. The prez is on it. From the White House blog late last night:

The President gave the following statement tonight:

“My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this earthquake. We are closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist the people of Haiti.”

The White House also put out this background information: The President was informed of the earthquake at 5:52pm. The President asked his staff to make sure that embassy personnel are safe, and to begin preparations in the event that humanitarian assistance is needed. The Department of State, USAID and the United States Southern Command have begun working to coordinate an assessment and any such assistance.

The State Department has a post up as well, with remarks from Secretary Clinton and ways to help:

As Secretary Clinton said earlier, the U.S. government will offer assistance to Haiti and others in the region in the form of civilian and military disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.
For those interesting in helping immediately, simply text “HAITI” to “90999” and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.
Or you can go online to organizations like the Red Cross and Mercy Corps to make a contribution to the disaster relief efforts.
We’ll provide more details and opportunities to help as we learn more. To stay up-to-date, follow us on state.gov.
Update: Further background from the White House: The President received another update on the situation in Haiti at approximately 8:30 PM from members of his National Security Staff. The President told them that he expects an aggressive, coordinated effort by the U.S. government.

Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon convened a meeting in the White House Situation Room at 10:00 PM this evening with senior representatives from: State, USAID, USUN, DOD, SOUTHCOM, JCS, DHS, Coast Guard, and National Security and White House Staff to coordinate the government-wide response, per the President’s request.

The President will receive an additional briefing on the situation early tomorrow morning as more information becomes available. Each agency is working overnight to ensure that critical resources are positioned to support the recovery effort, including efforts to find and assist American citizens in Haiti. Both the White House and the State Department are facilitating donations to the International Red Cross through their websites.

There are lots of ways to help. You can text Yele to 501501 to donate $5 to Wyclef Jean’s charity, Yéle Haiti. You can donate to Catholic Relief Services Doctors without Borders or Hope for Haiti Foundation. Marcus Toussaint (whose last name is inspired by Haitian national hero and one of the world’s greatest military minds Toussaint L’Ouverture) has links to more relief orgs. No country in the Western Hemisphere is less prepared for such a crisis. Haiti is a desperately poor nation. Take the worst ghetto you’ve seen in the States. Then imagine much, much worse – like how bad could it be? It’s that bad.

Any small amount you can give will make a difference for someone there and make a difference in your heart.

The Prez is scheduled to make another statement today. The good news is that this doesn’t look like a Hurricane Katrina – at least not in the sense of our nation turning away not providing help to those in need. Help from the United States and other nations is pouring into Haiti now — but it’s going to be a long road to recovery for a small, already struggling nation. Haiti was actually just starting to turn the corner with increased stability of late and an historic and favorable trade deal with the U.S.

Still the Haitian people are strong and are descended from an outstanding pedigree. Their poverty historically was arranged by those who did not, could not let the nation succeed despite its wealth of natural resources. I’d recommend brushing up on your Haitian history but here’s a small vignette from Haiti’s birth back in the late 18th century:

“My decision to destroy the authority of the blacks in Saint Domingue (Haiti) is not so much based on considerations of commerce and money, as on the need to block for ever the march of the blacks in the world.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

“In overthrowing me, you have done no more than cut down the trunk of the tree of the black liberty in St-Domingue — it will spring back from the roots, for they are numerous and deep.”

Toussaint L’Ouverture

The Haitian people survived Napoleon — and they will survive this too. L’Ouverture also said:

Unite; for combination is stronger than witchcraft.

So let us unite in helping Haiti now…

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