Local News

Jan 15, 2010 1:09 PM by Ariel Wesler

Central Coast residents headed to Haiti

On the homefront, the disaster in Haiti has prompted locals to provide aid however they can.

The devastation in Haiti is being met with a sense of urgency here along the Central Coast.

Both the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are accepting financial aid and one local church group is even going the distance.

They had planned to build a church in Haiti--now, the earthquake has shifted those plans. Their new mission--to help in any way possible.

"We wanted to be an avenue if anybody wanted to say hey, we can want to send support or want an opportunity to go with someone they know, put a name to a face," said Aaron Jones, a 24-year old youth pastor at Oak Park Christian Church in Grover Beach.

But the group is an holding pattern, unsure if they can even get to Haiti or exactly what they'll do once they get there.

"We don't know if the airport's going to be opened to just civilian travel or if it's just going to be humanitarian aid," Jones said.

At this point, communication with the earthquake-torn country is challenging. Many agencies are still trying to figure out how to best provide some relief.

"Obviously relying on things like sattelite phones, just trying to find out on the ground, what the needs are and how we can respond to those needs," said Dr. Paul Myers with the American Red Cross.

He says the Santa Barbara County Red Cross has more than 451 disaster volunteers, but they typically focus on national disasters.

"It's not a usual disaster relief operation that we would send people to. However, we do have some people who have specialist skills that the American Red Cross is aware of and those people might be called to deploy over there," Myers said.

For now, the agency says financial donations are the most efficient way to offer support.

If you'd like to donate to the red cross, you can text the word "Haiti" to 9-0-9-9-9. That text will provide a $10 donation.

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