Although there did not appear to be damage in the capital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's new prime minister, Ariel Henry, said on Twitter that the violent quake had caused loss of life and damage in parts of the country.
Meanwhile in Brooklyn, Haitians living in Flatbush, who have loved ones back home, are devastated and worried as some towns were destroyed and hospitals are becoming overcrowded with those who are injured.
A local radio host says this quake is only going to devastate the country more.
"First of all, it's 7.2. And second, it cannot have happened at a worst time, when there is essentially no government in Haiti right now," Ricot Dupuy said. "And that's the fear. What have you heard from the patient population? Here? They are in disbelief. But again, that's the same. That's the reaction."
At Creole mass at St. Jerome's Church in Flatbush, the focus on Sunday's sermon was solidarity. Serge Lexius says he was able to account for most of his loved ones back home, he says there are still some people he cannot reach.
"You're scared, you're stressed -- you're stressed out," St. Jerome's Church parishioner Lexius said.
The impoverished country, where many live in tenuous circumstances, is vulnerable to earthquakes and hurricanes. It was struck by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in 2018 that killed more than a dozen people, and a vastly larger magnitude 7.1 quake that damaged much of the capital in 2010 and killed an estimated 300,000 people.
"I cannot comprehend because we're still trying to recover from 2010," St. Jerome's Church parishioner Lynda Sica-Simeon said.
Officials with the United States Geological Survey say aftershocks likely will continue for weeks or even months, and to make matters even worse, a tropical storm is headed toward Haiti and expected to make landfall late Monday into Tuesday.
The NYPD says they are accepting donations for victims of Saturday's earthquake. They have requested medical supplies, personal hygiene items, non-perishable food, bottled water and clothing.
Reaction from local lawmakers, politicians
Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged support with community leaders to get immediate aid to the country.
"Absolutely devastating news. The people of Haiti are resilient but have endured far too much tragedy. We are working with community leaders to get immediate aid to Haiti. Chirlane and I are keeping our Haitian neighbors in New York and on the island in our thoughts and prayers."
Absolutely devastating news. The people of Haiti are resilient but have endured far too much tragedy.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) August 14, 2021
We are working with community leaders to get immediate aid to Haiti. Chirlane and I are keeping our Haitian neighbors in New York and on the island in our thoughts and prayers. https://t.co/KdAExLgmXg
NJ Governor Phil Murphy
"We're praying for everyone affected by the devastating earthquake in Haiti. We stand ready to provide assistance in any way necessary."
We’re praying for everyone affected by the devastating earthquake in Haiti. We stand ready to provide assistance in any way necessary.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 14, 2021
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
"We have such a strong, wonderful, vibrant Haitian community here in New York, and so many of them are worried if their loved ones have survived, either death or injury," Schumer said. "Our government has to do everything and go all-out with financing, with personnel, with everything it can do to help Haitian people get out of this morass. There are beginning signs of that, but I will be staying on the White House and the right federal agencies to go all-out to give Haiti and the Haitian people the help they need."
New York Attorney General Letitia James
"The situation unfolding in Haiti right now is devastating and deeply concerning. Over the past few weeks, the Haitian people have endured so much pain and suffering, and today, they have been rocked by yet another disaster. We must do all we can to support the Haitian people both in the immediate aftermath of this earthquake and in the months to come. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti and our Haitian communities here in New York."
NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
"The people of Haiti, who have already suffered so much pain and trauma in the last weeks, months and years, are once again reeling in the wake of a devastating natural disaster. My appreciation and respect for the Haitian people and culture runs as deep as the diaspora's roots here in New York City. I offer my prayers for peace and comfort to the families of those who have lost their lives, and to everyone in Les Cayes, in Jeremie, on the island and throughout the diaspora still waiting for information on their loved ones as so many lives and livelihoods have been destroyed," Williams said. "Together with our prayers, we must provide sustained support. In the past, people and nations have rushed to Haiti's aid in the immediate moment of crisis, when the headlines are fresh and the cameras are present, only to abandon them in the aftermath and invite future crises. Just five weeks ago the President of Haiti was assassinated, and while that upheaval is ongoing, the world's attention has not been. This cycle cannot continue. We must come together today, yes, but stay together through recovery and rebuilding. L'Union fait la force."
New York State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, who is the first Haitian American elected in New York City and represents Flatbush, Midwood and Ditmas Park, spoke out on Twitter in response to the earthquake.
"Praying for #Haiti & sister islands Jamaica & DR, today in the wake of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit this morning. To my friends & family there, pls take precautions for potential aftershocks. NYC stands strong with Haiti."
Praying for #Haiti 🇭🇹 & sister islands Jamaica & DR, today in the wake of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit this morning.— Rodneyse Bichotte (@AMBichotte) August 14, 2021
To my friends & family there, pls take precautions for potential aftershocks.
NYC stands strong with Haiti ❤️ pic.twitter.com/b9lW2MvhyF
Congressional Haiti Caucus Co-Chairs
The Congressional Haiti Caucus co-chairs released a statement on Saturday. The caucus includes Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who represents New York's ninth district, and New York Congressman Mondaire Jones.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti, especially in the Department of Nippes and the nearby cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie, as well as any others in surrounding countries affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck near the town of Petit Trou de Nippes early this morning," said the Chairs of the Congressional Haiti Caucus. "This earthquake could not have come at a worse time for the people of Haiti; the nation is in the throes of a political crisis, the effects of the compounding COVID-19 pandemic, and is still recovering from the disastrous earthquake that hit the island's southern peninsula more than a decade ago. We remain committed to championing adequate aid to the region, supporting bilateral relations and policies that will ensure Haiti's full economic and political recovery, and the emergence of a durable, Haitian-led democracy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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