Earthquake in Haiti

by Jean Tower

It seems that during every disaster in recent years the world has been quickly informed about it by the people on the ground and in the middle of it. I read tweets, blogs, and messages about the Indian Ocean Tsunami, the water landing of US Air Flight 1549 on the Hudson River by Captain Sullenberger, and Hurricane Katrina. But a colleague of mine, with extensive family and friends in Haiti, has had an unbelievably difficult time getting news of his family members. He has had trouble getting connected to people on the Internet, and has had almost no luck by phone (cell or land line). I have read that trunk lines are down and that very soon cell phone batteries will run out and people have no electricity to recharge them. I have heard this described as a near communication blackout. This is in sharp contrast to the flood of information and communication we have received from on-the-ground individuals (as opposed to news agencies) in other recent disasters.

Relief efforts are on the way. Planes should land today and ships are en route. This is good news and I am hoping that humanitarian efforts save lives and help communicate to loved ones outside of Haiti.

This may become a topic of discussion in classrooms – science, current events, political science, and social studies classes might all spend some time on this topic. In addition, I imagine that many volunteer groups and clubs will want to participate in the relief effort.

Here are a couple of resources you might want to use with students.

Thinkfinity Earthquake Resources is a resource-full web site that is funded by Verizon’s Foundation. The site provides media-rich content and links to other resources. Because the of recent eartquake in Haiti, they have just posted a feature page with many resources about earthquakes.

“Seismic Monitor allows you to monitor global earthquakes in near real-time, visit seismic stations around the world, and search the web for earthquake or region-related information. You can also view seismograms and make dataset requests via its WILBER interface.”

US State Department
“For missing U.S. citizen family members, call 1-888-407-4747. To help with relief efforts, text “HAITI” to “90999” and $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill. Or visit InterAction to contribute. ”


“The next question on many people’s minds after learning about the earthquake devastation in Haiti has been: How can I help?”

“The U.S. Fund for UNICEF is urgently appealing for emergency assistance to aid the victims of a devastating earthquake that rocked the Caribbean nation of Haiti early today.”

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Links added after initial post:

American Red Cross

National Geographic Forces of Nature

Discovery’s Make a Quake

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