The long suffering but proud nation of Haiti has taken another blow as it was hit by the worst earthquake in 200 years.
The magnitude 7.0 quake was centered only 10 miles west of Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince and was only 5 miles deep according to the Unites States Geological Survey. The USGS also stated it was the worst quake in what is now Haiti since 1770.
Port-au-Prince is home to 2 million residents, and the quake severely damaged or crushed thousands of buildings ranging from homes, schools and humble shacks to the Presidential Palace and the building serving as the headquarters for the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
The quake was felt in the neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and in eastern Cuba as well. Neither of those areas reported any major damage.
The quake made communications difficult inside the country and has the 4 million Haitians who live abroad justifiably concerned about friends and family back home.
Musician Wyclef Jean is already headed to Haiti on a relief mission according to the Tom Joyner Morning Show, while award winning author Edwidge Danticat gathered friends and family at her Miami home and turned it into a defacto command center.
"Some people are online, some are watching CNN, some are listening to Haitian radio," she said late Tuesday night. "There's a huge sense of helplessness about it. You want to go there, but you just have to wait. I think the hardest part is the lack of information."
Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean, who was born in Port-au-Prince, issued this statement:
I am following, with great attention and concern, the emerging reports regarding the earthquake that struck Haiti with force, and which was felt elsewhere in the region.
This natural disaster has hit a country with an extremely fragile infrastructure, where many buildings are already unstable, and where living conditions are often very difficult. I fear for its people.
I would like all Haitians to know that they are not alone and that the people of Canada will respond to this emergency.
President Obama in a statement issued moments ago said the United States will help in any way possible. "I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives."
"The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief — the food, water and medicine — that Haitians will need in the coming days," he said.
The people of Haiti will not only need our help in whatever way possible to recover from this tragedy, they need our prayers as well.