New Yorkers for Haiti convened at a club in Harlem last night and, with little more than 24 hours to prepare, filled it with a phalanx of public officials, local businesses, relief organizations, and concerned individuals eager to support the Haiti relief effort. The scene was the Talay Lounge on Twelfth Avenue and West 135 Street, which by evening’s end was packed to the rafters and teeming with good will.
The event was organized and hosted by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, with Deputy Borough President Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, The Haitian Roundtable, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), and Fernando Mateo. Honorary co-hosts were Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Congressman Eliot Engel, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Michael E. McMahon, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and Congressman Edolphus Towns. Hosts included some fifty or more public officials, and local organizations and businesses.
UNICEF, which is aiding in the Haitian relief effort, manned a table at the entrance to collect donations. Edward G. Lloyd, senior vice president of operations and chief financial officer of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and one of the evening’s speakers, reported that the agency has committed to raising $100 million for the beleaguered nation and that, in the three days since the earthquake, they have brought in over $13 million. “Priorities for the stricken population are water, therapeutic foods, toilets and latrines, and building a viable telecommunications infrastructure,” he said.
Governor David Paterson entered the club at around 8:00 p.m. and took the stage to cheering and applause. He reiterated the promise he made following the disaster to bring New York’s help and know-how to the relief effort: “New York State continues to work with City, State, and Federal officials to identify needed resources.”
A number of people spoke at the well-attended event. Deputy BP Pierre-Louis, a Haitian American, was overcome with emotion as she described her relief on learning that her family are all safe. Others had similar good news but each knew someone who had lost a loved one or was still waiting for news of their fate. The search and rescue in Port-au-Prince and other affected communities continues, following the 7.0 earthquake that devastated the island earlier this week. Upwards of three million Haitians were affected, many of who lost homes and loved ones in the disaster.
There are hundreds of NGOs on the ground in Haiti, including our own NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which deployed its New York Task Force One (NY TF-1) Urban Search and Rescue Team early Thursday morning. The team is composed of NYPD and FDNY members, and is specially trained to respond to catastrophic events involving the collapse of heavy steel and concrete.
MORE PHOTOS FROM THE NEW YORKERS FOR HAITI EVENT