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Florida's Haitian Community Rallying Aid for Earthquake Victims

January 15, 2010

MIAMI, Fla. - Emergency management workers from across Florida are being dispatched to assist in recovery efforts in Haiti after the massive earthquake Tuesday in the island nation, and humanitarian aid groups hope Florida residents will dig deep to help the people of Haiti.

The devastation in Haiti is being keenly felt in Florida, where an estimated 200,000 people of Haitian extraction live in the Miami area alone, but all residents are being asked to help out. Following a major earthquake near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, international aid agency Oxfam is seeking donations from across the state as recovery efforts begin.

Deputy director of Oxfam America's humanitarian response department Dawit Beyene says alleviating thirst, and sanitation, are the biggest problems to combat.

"The provision of water is primary for us and along with that is the distribution of hygiene."

Studies indicate Haitians living in the U.S. send nearly $2 billion back to family members in their home country each year, money that will be even more necessary now. In emergencies the poor are hardest hit, Beyene says, and given the poverty in Haiti and the severity of the earthquake, he expects this recovery effort to be long-term.

Beyene says Oxfam already has people on the ground in Haiti and more on the way.

"We have over 200 staff as well as affiliates in place and we're preparing to deploy international staff as quickly as we can get in."

Donations are being accepted for the Haiti Earthquake Response Fund at www.oxfamamerica.org.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL