Haitian Communities in U.S. Mobilize to Raise Funds for Quake Victims

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Haitian-American communities from Brooklyn to Miami are waiting for damage assessments from international aid organizations before sending relief to victims of Tuesday's massive earthquake in Haiti.

"We are trying to understand what the reality is on the ground so the response is appropriate," Gepsie Metellus, executive director of the Haitian Neigborhood Center in Miami, told FoxNews.com.

"We don't have the real assessment of the damages," added Adee Isaac of Haitian Americans United for Progress in Queens, New York.

Metellus, who emigrated from Haiti over two decades ago, said her group and other Haitian-American organizations in south Florida were mobilizing Wednesday to devise plans for massive aid shipments to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

"I'm hoping that my mother calls me," said Metellus — her voice calm as she described her mother who left the U.S. for Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, on Friday.

The earthquake — centered 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince — struck at 4:53 p.m. on Tuesday. It leveled most of the capital, and officials say they fear the death toll will be in the thousands.

The quake has sent waves of panic through the 1.5 to 2 million Haitian-Americans living in the U.S.

Some of the most densely populated Haitian-American communities are in Miami, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn, N.Y. South Florida has the single largest concentration of Haitians — an estimated 700,000.

In Homestead, Fla. — home to nearly 3,000 Haitian-Americans — city officials have set up a phone line and emergency command center to solicit donations for the Florida City Foundation, a non-profit organization designated to send money to the grief-stricken country.

Homestead Mayor Steven Bateman told FoxNews.com on Wednesday that the Red Cross has directed city officials to postpone aid supply drives until Haiti's needs are determined.

"The very first emergency need is funding," Bateman said.

The mayor said he's setting up a live webcam for people in Homestead to communicate with family members in Haiti.

"It's very scary, it's just hard to digest," said Cassandra Desrosiers, administrative chair for the The Haitian Professionals of Philadelphia, which organized a fund drive Wednesday in downtown Philadelphia.