Dear Friends,

I am sure by now that you have heard about the devastating earthquake that struck our neighbors in Haiti yesterday. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Haitian people and the Haitian American community during this very trying time.

Since learning of the devastating earthquake yesterday, my staff and I have been in contact with the State Department and other officials to assess the situation regularly. I along with my colleagues are continuing to monitor the situation in Haiti and are committed to providing whatever humanitarian assistance is need.

Over the last few years Haiti has experienced an extraordinary set of challenges from high food prices and food shortages to natural disasters. In the wake of this recent tragedy, Haiti will need increased attention and resources from the international community to help it recover during this difficult period.

The U.N. estimates that thousands of people may have died in this earthquake. At least 100 people are believed buried in rubble of the U.N. headquarters building in Port-au-Prince. The head of U.N. mission is among the missing.

U.S., France, China and Dominican Republic are all sending search and rescue teams to Haiti. A U.S. military official says tentative plans are underway for the hospital ship USNS Comfort to dock off the coast of Haiti to assist the sick and wounded.

In response to the earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is dispatching a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and has activated its partners, the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team and the Los Angeles County Search and Rescue Team. The USAR teams will be composed of up to 72 personnel, 6 search and rescue canines and up to 48 tons of rescue equipment.

For information about the status of U.S. citizens in Haiti, please contact the American Citizens Services at: 1-888-407-4747. Haitian citizens in the U.S. should call the Haitian Embassy in Washington, D.C., 202-332-4090, or the Haitian Consulate in New York City, 305-859-2003.

Now more than ever, the people of Haiti need our help. For additional information on how to contribute to Haiti releif efforts, please visit my website or the White House website.

Barbara Lee