The Haiti Earthquake: Helping the Survivors & Providing Understanding to your Students about the Haiti Earthquake

It’s three days since the devastating 7.0 earthquake along the junction of the Caribbean & North American tectonic plates about 15 miles from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and most people have not received the aid that they need, but judging from written reports, and reports from Haiti, it is arriving, but movement to the people that need the help is mired in the debris in the aftermath of this massive earthquake.

In this post I want to provide two general types of information that I hope will be helpful to you and your students: Charities and ways to help the survivors and their families; and what caused this earthquake in the Port-Au-Prince area.

Helping the Survivors of the Earthquake
Reading reports, and watching reports on TV and on the Internet, we are witnessing a heart-wrenching experience for the Haitian people. The country has been clobbered by this 7.0 earthquake, and it occurred in a city in which the buildings were never constructed to withstand the earthquakes that can and have occurred in this area. Not only is it evident that a world-wide relief movement is going on to reach out to the people of Haiti in their time of great need, but the devastation is enormous.

Charity Navigator, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post, is a reliable and valid website to visit to find out about which charities one can trust, and what these charities are doing to provide relief to the Haitian people.  On their website, there is a valuable page which discusses aiding the survivors in Haiti, and lists more than a dozen charities that highly rated by this organization, and the kinds of support they provide.

In each case, the best way to support these organizations is through small donations by lots of people.  Visiting the site will help you understand the wide range of humanitarian aid that will be provided.

I say will because of the enormity of the task of trying help thousands of people in the rubble of this earthquake.

Earthquakes in this Region of the Caribbean

Although many geologists were not surprised when the 7.0 earthquake occurred this week in Haiti, it doesn’t disarm the devastating impact of this massive quake.  In an article written in 2005, geologists explained that earthquakes occur near faults or fractures in the earth’s crust where rock formations move, and grind past each other.  Stress builds up, and at some point it is released in the form of enormous energy.

The January 12th earthquake occurred only about 15 miles from Port-Au-Prince, home to more than 2 million people.  The epicenter of the earthquake was only located about 6 miles beneath the surface, which meant that most of the energy was released very close to the surface, adding to the destructive power of this quake.   This enormous energy, combined with the lack of an earthquake designed infrastructure led to the massive destruction in the city.  The map below shows the earthquake activity in the Haiti Region, providing an historical picture of the frequency of earthquakes.

Map of the historic seismicity in the Haiti Region

About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University.