One need remember only as far back as Hurricane Katrina to recall the most recent outpouring of national and international assistance - food, medicine, shelter, clothing and volunteer presence - for the thousands in Mississippi who suffered losses in that benchmark hurricane.
Haiti has lost an estimated 50,000 people, its capital is largely destroyed, and it finds itself more dependent than ever on the humanitarian response of others.
Haiti is worse off than most disaster regions because it is a disturbingly poor nation, and the earthquake has rendered its government nearly completely dysfunctional. It could not at this point respond in a reasonable time even if it had vast resources.
Haiti seems at every turn to encounter obstacles to the aid already flowing in from around the world. The Port-au-Prince airport was reported overwhelmed Friday by both scheduled humanitarian flights and unannounced arrivals, some of them small planes. The space to unload was virtually nonexistent and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's emergency air traffic controllers struggled to maintain order in the skies over the island nation. The FAA said at one point the Haitian government had closed its airspace because too many planes were on the way or overhead.
Northeast Mississippians can help with gifts of money to relief agencies of their choosing (almost all denominations have relief agencies, and the Red Cross is present and engaged, in need of funds), and our region's responders can help by asking about when to go with assurances of being able to land.
A coordinated response will assure that intended aid and volunteers get where needed.
Former President Clinton, who is co-chairman of the recovery effort for the U.S. with former President George W. Bush, said earlier this week in comments for Time magazine:
"Haiti isn't doomed. Let's not forget, the damage from the earthquake is largely concentrated in the Port-au-Prince area. That has meant a tragic loss of life, but it also means there are opportunities to rebuild in other parts of the island.
"Before this disaster, Haiti had the best chance in my lifetime to fulfill its potential as a country, to basically escape the chains of the past 200 years. I still believe that if we rally around them now and support them in the right way, the Haitian people can reclaim their destiny."
The response from our region must help sustain hope, as Clinton expressed.