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NW Team Heads to Haiti for Quake Assistance

January 13, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - 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, with headquarters in Portland, 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 the team will take a very limited amount of supplies along with them, with a goal of purchasing as much as possible from local vendors.

"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, who maybe themselves, their home was damaged."

Carlson says Mercy Corps expects the Haitian government to let the team into the country to assist with the relief efforts. Mercy Corps will post updates on its Web site, mercycorps.org, and is taking donations there.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR