With the death toll from the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti mounting and chaos threatening in the capital city of Port au Prince because of fractured infrastructure that is making  relief efforts difficult at best, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  has staff on the ground in Haiti and has already issued $209,000 to provide immediate emergency support to earthquake survivors, including food, water, sanitation equipment, and supplies.

The Associated Press reported today (Jan. 19) that as many as 200,000 may have died in the 7.3-magnitude quake.

By the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, Presbyterians had contributed well over $100,000 to the relief effort. Combined with $100,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing offering receipts, PDA sent $209,000 to PC(USA) partners in Haiti on Jan. 14.

PDA has committed at least $500,000 to the short- and long-term response to the Haiti tragedy.

“Haiti has been devastated,” said Randy Ackley, PDA coordinator. “The people there need help now and we are rushing in assistance. However, they will also need help for many months and years to come. Recovery from a disaster such as this is not rapid or easy. We want to be there to help over the long term.”

Immediate funds are being used to help with basic humanitarian relief efforts of providing temporary shelter, food and health assistance. Funds are also being used to provide water and sanitation engineers, and equipment to construct water purification systems. Resources for building latrines are also being provided, as the sanitation situation is critical.

PDA continues to receive Haiti earthquake relief and recovery donations, which can be made online, by phone or by mail:

  • PDA Web site
  • (800) 872-3283, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EST) weekdays
  • Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.

Many PC(USA) congregations reportedly received special collections for the relief effort on Sunday morning (Jan. 17).

In addition to the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, ACT International and Church World Service — the PC(USA)’s longstanding partners in Haiti — the Cuban Council of Churches is collaborating with our ecumenical partners in Haiti by temporarily seconding mission personnel trained to serve and work with people with disabilities and their families.

As reported earlier, PC(USA) Haiti mission worker Sharyn Babe is recovering in a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., hospital from leg and back injuries suffered when her apartment building in Port au Prince collapsed in the quake. She was initially airlifted to the U.S. medical facility at Guantanamo, Cuba.

Another PC(USA) mission worker in Haiti, Mark Hare, was uninjured and remains in Haiti to help with relief efforts. His blog is chronicling his experience of the situation on the ground in Haiti. 

At least four mission teams from PC(USA) congregations were in Haiti at the time of the quake. Ten members of the team from First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta returned home Friday (Jan. 15. Another team member, Dr. Jim Ingvodstad, chose to go to Port-au-Prince to be of service to to the people of Haiti.

Teams from Warrenton (Va.) Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville (N.J.) and First Presbyterian Church of LaCrosse, Wisc., have also all returned home safely.