PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the death toll in Haiti continues to rise from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, members from Philadelphia’s Haitian Chamber of Commerce met Saturday evening to discuss support efforts. A team will head to Haiti soon.
“It’s really catastrophic over there and people are overwhelmed,” Jean Guilhaume, of Northeast Philadelphia, said.READ MORE: 'Most Egregious Story I've Ever Heard': Local Man Has Prostate Removed After Mistaken Cancer Diagnosis
Right now, communication with friends and family has been slow due to spotty internet service. Guilhaume’s family was caught in the rubble but managed to get out.
“The house has been destroyed,” she said. “One of his kids, his legs are broken, but they’re alive.”
The epicenter was about 78 miles west of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Rescue efforts have been hundred due to a landslide that was triggered by the earthquake.
Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry has declared a state of emergency that will last a month.One Of Last Marines To Leave Afghanistan Returns Home To Hero's Welcome In Ridley Township
President Joe Biden has authorized immediate response with aid from the United States.
So far, hundreds have been declared dead. The last earthquake of this strength to hit Haiti was back in 2010 when 300,000 people died. The Chamber of Commerce is urging people to offer monetary support so that they can assess what’s needed when they arrive in Haiti.
“It was pretty chaotic so this time we’re telling people not to send goods because it’s hard to ship them,” Merytony Nathan, of the Philadelphia Haitian Chamber of Commerce, said. “It’s costly.”
They also recognize the strife their countrymen are facing. To add to the earthquake, Tropical Storm Grace is expected to hit late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
“Four weeks ago our president was assassinated so the country is going through so much right now,” Guilhaume said.MORE NEWS: WATCH: Surveillance Video Catches Olney Drive-By Shooting That Killed 1, Injured 5