Auburn steps up to help Haiti quake victims

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Just four months removed from a devastating fire in Auburn, the tragedy of Haiti’s earthquake is sending strong shockwaves through the Placer County community. Organizations like the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross saw people’s generosity when 63 homes were destroyed in the arson fire Aug. 31 that roared through a section of North Auburn. Now representatives from those same organizations are seeing that same generosity and empathy for inhabitants of a nation more than 4,000 miles away. “I wish we could do more,” said Diane Katches. The Auburn resident had just made out a check Thursday for the Red Cross relief effort in Haiti after dropping into the Placer County office off Highway 49. “Haiti is one of the poorest places in the world to begin with,” Katches said. Anson Loomis drove from Foresthill to write out a $100 check at the Salvation Army office. The money was being earmarked for the Salvation Army drive to mobilize personnel and resources to aid in the wake of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti. “I’m touched by the sheer devastation and lack of hope they must be experiencing there now,” said Loomis, a retired IBM software engineer. “This will help ensure something is being done by the people who can do it.” Loomis was living in San Jose when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck 20 years ago. “I saw the devastation in Watsonville and Hollister,” he said. “Luckily my house escaped with only cracks in the stucco and a toppled hot-water heater.” Capt. Ralph Jiminez, of the Auburn Salvation Army, worked as a volunteer during the 1993 Northridge earthquake in the Los Angeles area. “It’ll probably be a lot worse in Haiti because the country is so poor,” Jiminez said. The Salvation Army has had a presence in Haiti for 60 years and is preparing to send more than 44,000 pounds of pre-packaged emergency rations to the country, along with emergency disaster teams. The American Red Cross has pledged $10 million from its International Response Fund to support the relief operation. At the same time, it has opened its warehouse in Panama to provide tarps, mosquito nets and cooking sets for about 5,000 families. Trista Jensen, Sacramento-Sierra Red Cross Chapter communications manager, said Thursday that her organization is finding that text-messaging donations are adding to the totals being targeted for Haitian quake relief. So far, $4 million has come in from texting contributions, she said. Jensen said area residents are reaching out to the images of pain and suffering. “You can hear it in the people’s voices – the fear and devastation of not knowing what’s coming in the days and months ahead,” Jensen said. ------------------------------------------- Haiti quake relief: How to help American Red Cross People can make an unrestricted donation to the International Response Fund at or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). The public can also help by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross. Salvation Army The Salvation Army is accepting monetary donations to assist in the effort via its Web site, by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by postal mail at: The Salvation Army World Service Office, International Disaster Relief Fund, P.O. Box 630728, Baltimore, MD 21263-0728. Designate donations “Haiti Earthquake.”