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The Haiti Earthquake


Two-and-a-half years ago I lived through the most frightening three minutes of my life. I was in Lima, Peru when an 8.0 earthquake struck about 100 miles away near the port town of Pisco. Even at that distance it was strong enough to set off every car alarm in the city and do damage to numerous structures. I huddled in a doorway hoping like hell the building would survive and waited for what felt like an eternity for the temblor to cease.

Lima was lucky, damage there was relatively minor. But the town of Pisco, which I traveled to several days later, wasn't. It had pretty much ceased to exist in any meaningful sense.

The destruction caused by the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti earlier this week is worse by an order of magnitude. The disaster struck full force in a incredibly densely populated area that had already been crippled by political turmoil. The International Red Cross estimates that between 40,000 and 50,000 people have been killed and some estimates put the toll in the 100,000 range.

Think about that for a second. Bryant-Denny Stadium holds about 92,000 people. Recall the last game you saw there and try to imagine dealing with a disaster that could claim that many lives in less time than a long running play. As many as three million people have been affected by the earthquake - about the population of Mississippi.

You really cannot hope to adequately describe the sheer scale of destruction of an event like this. Every building made of substandard materials - as much housing in Haiti is - simply disintegrates. More sturdy concrete structures can weather the temblor long enough to allow people to escape alive but then are so drastically unstable you cannot dare use them. The entire population is forced to live outdoors in squalor.

The infrastructure of the nation simply shuts down. Completely. There there is no food, there is no drinkable water, there is nothing. All that remains are streets filled with suffering, fear and the stench of death. There is no defense against the ravages of disease, criminality and any further misfortune that - given the situation - is almost certain to occur.

We often think these things happen so far away they only affect us tangentially at best. Our impulse to assist can be dampened by the feeling its too big and too distant - how would it really matter? Well, maybe you can't buy a case of bottled water and send it FedEx but I would strongly urge you to consider a financial donation to the many organizations which have been mobilized to send assistance.

Because aid efforts on this scale are incredibly cash intensive. They need financial support to handle the logistics, staffing and massive needs Haiti's population requires to simply survive. Governments give big dollar donations but the backbone of financing come from lots and lots of folks like you and me.

"But how do I know my donation will help anyone," you ask? Let me assure you, most of these groups have been doing this for decades. They know what needs to be done and what they need to do it. I've seen them at work on the ground and I can say with certainty that your donation matters.

SB Nation has thrown it's support behind the charitable organization founded by Philadelphia 76rs player Sam Dalembert who is from Haiti. A comprehensive list of aid agencies responding to the crisis has been assembled by InterAction. Look through the list, pick one you think you can trust and give what you can.

Because, I promise you, it will save someone's life.