Clinton canceling Asia trip to address Haiti disaster - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Clinton canceling Asia trip to address Haiti disaster

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Maj. Jeff Martin Maj. Jeff Martin

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A day after the worst earthquake to hit the nation in two centuries the death toll is still unknown, but feared to be massive. Port-Au-Prince is a scene of death and destruction after the 7.0 earthquake. Reports are hundreds of thousands could be killed and buried among the rubble. Most communication lines are still down.

The devastation in Haiti is causing Secretary of State to cancel her Asia-Pacific tour. She made the announcement Wednesday, while still in Hawaii. Secretary Clinton says she will return to Washington to coordinate the relief efforts.

Haiti is beyond poor. Nearly 70 percent of the people are unemployed and the average income is $200 a year which makes search and recovery even more difficult.

"We are facing a disaster of unknown magnitude," said Clinton from the US Pacific Command at Camp Smith.

"The President has ordered an aggressive and coordinated strategy to address the difficult conditions we face in providing assistance to the Haitian people."

Secretary Clinton has already started the international relief effort and has received commitments to help from various countries including Canada, France and Brazil. 

"This is not only a physical catastrophe but a devastating blow to the people."

Secretary Clinton says the State Department has already raised more than a million dollars through a text messaging fundraiser. Once you text "Haiti" to 90999 then $10 will automatically be billed to your cell phone to go to the Red Cross relief effort.

In Hawaii, the Salvation Army branch has been placed on alert to be ready in case they are called to go help. The Salvation Army has been in Haiti since 1950 and its buildings have been ruined. Their orphanage was destroyed, yet all 50 kids are okay. Their hospital was also destroyed, along with churches.

"Our Salvation Army personnel have set up a triage center in the parking lot near the hospital and it's located in one of the poorest parts of the city where there is a lot of tragedy right now," said Maj. Jeff Martin, The Salvation Army Division Secretary for Program.

They are also collecting donations and say 100 percent of proceeds will go to Haiti. At this point money is the best thing to give.

"We don't want a collection of clothing or any other things like that because it kind of creates a disaster within the disaster and getting it there is very difficult," said Maj. Martin.

The Salvation Army says it's already sending 44,000 pounds of food and water. If you'd like to help call 1-800-SAL-ARMY or visit their website at http://blog.salvationarmyusa.org

HawaiiForHaiti.org's www.hawaiiforhaiti.org founder Brian Alston started his website last year because of the similarities between Hawaii and Haiti and it hurts him to think about the country now.

"So devastation like this would just add more incredible pain to what's already there," said Alston. "When I first heard the devastation yesterday it pains me like it's my own family that's going through this."

The State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747 (due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording). The embassy is still in the early stages of contacting American Citizens through our Warden Network. Communications are very difficult within Haiti at this time.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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