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Helping Haiti

by: Mindel DeLaTorre, Chief of the International Bureau

January 14, 2010

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On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, an earthquake struck off the coast of Haiti, causing major damage and loss of life in Haiti, a country of 9 million people. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) called it the strongest earthquake in this area since 1770. The epicenter of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit 10 miles west of the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince and its 2 million inhabitants. Other parts of Haiti apparently have not suffered the extent of damage that Port-au-Prince has, where loss of human life and infrastructure devastation is expected to be very high.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is undertaking a variety of efforts, in conjunction with our Federal partners and international agencies, to aid Haiti in its recovery. We are doing so now and our commitment is for the longer-term. Chairman Julius Genachowski and the entire agency convey our sympathies and ongoing concerns to the people of Haiti for the loss of life and destruction in the country. In a statement the day after the earthquake, Chairman Genachowski offered that “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti during this terrible tragedy.” The FCC also is taking specific actions to help, including:

  • Issuing a press release by the FCC Media Bureau on procedures for noncommercial educational stations to follow in order to waive the Commission’s rules for fundraising appeals to support relief efforts;

  • Reaching out to the U.S. Agency for International Development on Haitian relief and restoration efforts as it relates to telecommunications;

     

  • Contacting regulatory counterparts in Haiti expressing FCC’s condolences and concern and offering immediate and longer-term assistance;

  • Conducting continuous outreach to Haitian communications providers to determine their operating status and to offer technical assistance in the relief efforts and longer-term communication restoration efforts;

  • Reaching out to communications providers, including satellite, wireless, wireline, and submarine cable providers, as well as broadcasters, to determine communications impact and current needs regarding telecommunications services between the U.S. and Haiti, and within the country; and

  • Collecting information about the telecommunications situation and needs in Haiti;and establishing a group of agency staff experts for particular issues to review and identify technical solutions.

At the FCC, we’ll continue to help regarding the communications priorities and needs in Haiti.

We have been advised that anyone who wishes to help can do so by donating to the Red Cross to assist the relief effort. Contribute online to the Red Cross, or donate $10 to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999." Find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information.

Families of Americans living in Haiti are encouraged to contact the State Department at 888-407-4747.

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