Thoughts and Prayers for Haiti

The President gave the following statement tonight:

"My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this earthquake. We are closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist the people of Haiti."

The White House also put out this background information: The President was informed of the earthquake at 5:52pm. The President asked his staff to make sure that embassy personnel are safe, and to begin preparations in the event that humanitarian assistance is needed. The Department of State, USAID and the United States Southern Command have begun working to coordinate an assessment and any such assistance.

The State Department has a post up as well, with remarks from Secretary Clinton and ways to help:

As Secretary Clinton said earlier, the U.S. government will offer assistance to Haiti and others in the region in the form of civilian and military disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

For those interesting in helping immediately, simply text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill.

Or you can go online to organizations like the Red Cross and Mercy Corps to make a contribution to the disaster relief efforts.

We'll provide more details and opportunities to help as we learn more. To stay up-to-date, follow us on state.gov.

Update: Further background from the White House: The President received another update on the situation in Haiti at approximately 8:30 PM from members of his National Security Staff. The President told them that he expects an aggressive, coordinated effort by the U.S. government.  Deputy National Security Advisor Tom Donilon convened a meeting in the White House Situation Room at 10:00 PM this evening with senior representatives from: State, USAID, USUN, DOD, SOUTHCOM, JCS, DHS, Coast Guard, and National Security and White House Staff to coordinate the government-wide response, per the President’s request. The President will receive an additional briefing on the situation early tomorrow morning as more information becomes available. Each agency is working overnight to ensure that critical resources are positioned to support the recovery effort, including efforts to find and assist American citizens in Haiti. Both the White House and the State Department are facilitating donations to the International Red Cross through their websites.

Update II: Yet more background, released in the morning:  At 7:15 AM today, the President received two memorandums updating him on the earthquake in Haiti.  The President received an update from the DHS National Operations Center (NOC), as well as a memo from the National Security Advisor which described further background, key decisions that have been made, and actions that have already been taken.  Currently, the President is receiving an additional update from his National Security Staff. The President will speak about the situation in Haiti at approximately 10:00 AM this morning.

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