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City helps Haitian Embassy coordinate relief

In an effort to better coordinate the massive local response to the earthquake in Haiti, Mayor Adrian Fenty and Haiti Ambassador Raymond Joseph announced today the opening of new "command center" at the Embassy of Haiti following a weekend in which it was overwhelmed by truckloads of items donated by people from across the Washington area.

Mayor Fenty said the city had to find space to hold more than 2,000 bags of items have donated to the people of Haiti; Fenty and Ambassador Joseph made a public plea for people to only donate money at this time.

The new command center will include 20 computers, 20 phone lines and a staff of volunteers that Fenty said "will be extremely critical in running the operations at the Embassy and providing information."

Joseph also expressed his gratitude for the relief effort but he issued a word of caution to the growing tide of people wanting to adopt to the large number of children who have been orphaned by the event.

While Joseph thanked the Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell for flying into Haiti and leaving with 53 orphans, he cautioned that things are not simple. "You can not take them out of Haiti just like that," said Joseph adding that the orphans that were taken out of Haiti has been cleared by officials in that county. "We have started a process of adoption."

Joseph said one of the most frustrating thing is communication. When he was asked about the case of a woman who left the Embassy frustrated because she could not reach her family members, he said, "I did not know where my president was the first 24 hours, the next 48 hours I didn't know where my Prime Minister was, everything was broken down. Things are getting better."

-- Hamil R. Harris

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  January 19, 2010; 4:38 PM ET
Categories:  Hamil R. Harris , Mayor Fenty  
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