Word of the massive earthquake in Haiti spread quickly throughout Long Island's Haitian community, as residents despaired as much over the magnitude of the temblor as the lack of information about its impact on their families.

"My sister just called and she's OK, but one of my cousins' houses just collapsed," said Harold Laplanche of Elmont, whose wife, Carole, once headed Haitian American Families of Long Island. "Right now, I can't get in touch with my mother."

>>PHOTOS: 7.0 earthquake rocks Haiti

Laplanche was watching CNN Tuesday night and trying to call home despite badly damaged phone lines in Port-au-Prince, the capital of the Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

Laplanche worried something may have happened to his 86-year-old mother.

"It's a very bad situation," he said, adding streets were probably hard to navigate since electricity has been interrupted.

Television anchor and producer Jean Guillot Sr. of Uniondale said the quake's impact was unprecedented. "This is the first time we have had something of that magnitude," said Guillot, whose weekly television show La Lanterne Haitienne airs Sundays on Cablevision's Ch. 18.

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But Guillot, who has three reporters in Haiti, managed to get one of them to provide live updates to listeners of New York's Radio Tropicale Internationale.

The presidential palace in the capital was badly damaged, Guillot had learned, though President Rene Préval was uninjured.

The reporter, Yves Pierre, also told Guillot a hospital in suburban Petionville, just outside the capital, had collapsed, with no word on the extent of injuries to patients, and a fabled school attended by many of Haiti's statesmen was destroyed.

Guillot said the sounds of commotion on the dark streets could plainly be heard during the broadcast and urged Haitians to cooperate and help each other.

"Everybody should hold hands and see if they can straighten out this catastrophe," Guillot said, referring to the country's troubled political history. "This is no time for politics."

 

Major earthquake hits Haiti

>>PHOTOS: 7.0 earthquake rocks Haiti

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HOW TO HELP

Those interested in helping immediately can text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts.

Wyclef Jean, a rapper and hip hop artist from Haiti, urged people to text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 toward earthquake relief. Yéle Haiti is a grassroots movement inspiring change in Haiti through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment, according to its Web site.

Or you can go online to organizations such as the Red Cross and MercyCorps to make a contribution to the disaster relief efforts.

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The State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747.

Other Web sites accepting donations include:
Haitian Health Foundation
Hope for Haiti
UNICEF
International Medical Corps
Beyond Borders
AmeriCares