MIAMI (WSVN) - South Florida’s Haitian American community is feeling the ripple effects of the deadly 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation this weekend.
Resdients in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood said they’re watching the news and checking on loved ones in Haiti, hours after Saturday’s devastating earthquake.
Cellphone video captured disbelief on the ground and whole structures reduced to rubble. A woman is heard crying, ‘Oh, my God, no!”
As of Saturday night, the death toll stands at 304, with at least 1,800 injured.
Miami residents called the natural disaster a gut punch.
“Imagine people with crumbled houses, with no parents or no family or no kids,” said Haitian American resident Regine Bastien.
What’s especially distressing is that the disaster takes place as Haiti continues to recover from an earthquake that killed about 300,000 people more than a decade ago.
“I’m a survivor from 2010, so I know how it feels,” said Bastien. “I’m having chills, goose bumps right now.”
“It’s time for us to rethink about what’s going on and find the correct leaders that are going to help this country,” said Haitian American resident Schiller Sanon-Julez.
Local leaders took to social media to express their support.
In a tweet, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wrote, “Florida is home to many Haitian communities that are undoubtedly shattered by this morning’s news. Our prayers are with them.”
In another tweet, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava wrote, “Keeping the people of Haiti and their families and loved ones in our community in my heart and prayers. Miami-Dade stands ready to assist in all the ways we can.”
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez called the earthquake devastating.
“We have the Little Haiti Cultural Center that we’ll make available to the Haitian diaspora to see if there’s anything that we can do to help them,” he said.
Many who gathered at the cultural center spent the day contacting loved ones in Haiti.
“Everybody in Port-au-Prince is OK,” said Haitian American resident Ryan Jij. “We have some friends in Les Cayes whose houses have been destroyed.”
“The house is destroyed. My mother’s OK. She did survive the first earthquake; she survived this one as well,” said Haitian American resident Christian Guerrier.
As the death toll rises, some in South Florida’s Haitian community see this as a repeat of the infrastructural failure that contributed to the high casualties in the 2010 earthquake.
“There hasn’t been a plan in place 11 years later,” said Jij. “I think that’s the most frustrating part.”
St. Mary’s Cathedral in Miami will hold a prayer service for Haiti on Sunday beginning at 8 a.m.
Saturday evening, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami released a statement saying they are accepting donations online to assist those affected by the earthquake. For more information, click here.
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