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Team Enroute to Haiti for Quake Assistance

January 13, 2010

Mercy Corps is sending a team of emergency response experts to Haiti to assess needs and coordinate relief efforts after a major earthquake rocked the Caribbean island nation on Tuesday. The international relief agency has extensive quake experience from its operations in China and Peru.

Caitlin Carlson, communications officer for Mercy Corps, says they already know the most immediate needs will be food, clean water, sanitation services and shelter.

"People are afraid to go back into their homes. They don't know if there's going to be aftershocks that knock them down, so shelter is one of the biggest needs."

She says relief workers will take very little with them in terms of supplies when heading to Haiti, with the goal of purchasing as much as possible locally.

"In the aftermath of a disaster, economies shut down, so spending a little money to buy these supplies not only helps the people getting the supplies, but it helps the people who are selling the supplies."

Carlson says Mercy Corps expects the Haitian government to let their emergency response team into the country quickly to assist with the relief efforts.

Mercy Corps will post updates on its Web site, mercycorps.org, and is taking donations there.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - NM