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Red Cross helping quake victims

Massive aid efforts have begun to help the island of Haiti recover from Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.

Local residents wishing to assist can do so in the form of monetary donations to the American Red Cross, which announced Wednesday it would send $1 million to support the relief operation.

According to reports, as many as three million people may have been affected by the 7.0-magnitude quake, which collapsed government buildings and caused major damage to hospitals in the area and power outages.

Humanitarian officials said the proximity of the quake’s epicenter was only 10 miles from the capital and largest city of Port-au-Prince, and it is difficult estimate how many people might be dead or injured.

As of Wednesday, dozens of countries had pledged full assistance as international Red Cross officials estimated it could take up to a year for the recovery process.

In addition to Red Cross staff already in Haiti, six disaster management specialists are being deployed to the disaster zone to help coordinate relief efforts. At this time, the American Red Cross is only deploying volunteers specially trained to manage international emergency operations.

Additionally, the Red Cross has opened its warehouse in Panama to provide tarps, mosquito nets and cooking sets for approximately 5,000 families.

Merrill Davis, the Covington County chapter’s executive director, said he understood the public’s desire to lend a helping hand.

“The process for locals wishing to donate is simple,” Davis said. “Just go to our Web site, redcross.org, and click on ‘donate now.’

“You can then choose how you would like your money to be donated,” he said.

Davis said the organization’s Web site recognizes the donors’ ZIP codes and is able to credit each local donation to the Covington County Chapter.

Also, people can make an unrestricted donation to the International Response Fund by calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross.

For more information locally, call the chapter office at 334-428-2680.