NEW YORK (WPIX)—After news broke Tuesday of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocking the island nation of Haiti, many Haitian-American New Yorkers found themselves scrambling for information about their homeland to learn whether loved ones survived the devastating quake.
According to Census estimates, there are about 232,000 people of Haitian origin in the New York metro area, including northern New Jersey and Long Island. There are about 122,000 in New York City alone.
With a majority of the island experiencing massive power outages, getting in touch with relatives seems to be impossible for the concerned and worried.
During a briefing Wednesday, President Obama urged Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti to contact the State Department at 888-407-4747.
In East Flatbush, Brooklyn, residents have been glued to their televisions seeking any new morsel of information.
A distraught Oneil Laurent (oh-NEEL' loh-RAHN') was up all night worrying. Laurent works as a driver for the disabled. Today, he sobbed while talking about his family in Haiti. He didn't know what had happened to his father.
Herve Paris went to the Brooklyn offices of Radio Soleil, which serves the city's Haitian community. The 45-year-old was trying to learn the fate of his parents and other relatives.
He is especially concerned about his mother, who is in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke.
Paris is determined to get to Haiti somehow and find his loved ones.
As Haitian officials assess the damage and proceed with rescue efforts, the New York Federation of Taxi Drivers and a group of grocery owners are launching their own effort to aid quake victims.
LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP QUAKE VICTIMS
Operation Rescue Haiti is being mobilized by 60,000 New York City taxi drivers and 14,000 grocery store owners, the head of the taxi federation Fernando Mateo announced Wednesday.
"We did it once before for the Dominican Republic and Haiti after Hurricane George devastated the region so we can do it again," Mateo said in a statement. "This will be a team effort and we expect to deliver in a big way."
PORTIONS OF THIS ARTICLE WERE SUPPLEMENTED BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.