Canadian generosity for Haiti quake victims overwhelms charities
Donations crashing Internet servers
Toronto Star article Louise Brown, files from Canadian Press
OTTAWA-Canadians are opening up their hearts and wallets so quickly for disaster-relief efforts in Haiti that some agencies are having a hard time coping with the outpouring of support.
"They've actually managed a few times to cause the (Internet) servers at our online donation processing company to (crash) and the call centres have had trouble dealing with the call load," Kieran Green, of Humanitarian Coalition, told the Toronto Star Thursday.
The coalition includes Care Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Quebec and Save the Children.
"It literally has been overwhelming," Green said, adding that not since the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 have Canadians responded with such fervour.
The servers were soon back up and the coalition was pleading with Canadians to keep trying.
Médecins Sans Frontières reported the same massive response, and said it had to hire outside help to keep its server from crashing.
World Vision, which launched campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, says the number of donations being made were 10 times the usual.
The government announced earlier it will match individual charitable donations up to $50 million to help Haitians recover from their worst earthquake in 200 years.
"All Canadians have their hearts broken, everybody has seen the devastation in Haiti. I think that everyone is really affected by this. And I know that Canadians, one and all, want to help," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.
As well as money - Ottawa has already committed an immediate $5 million - Canada has responded by sending ships and large aircraft with food, equipment, personnel and security forces.
HMCS Halifax and HMCS Athabaskan set sail from Halifax on the five-day trip to Haiti with supplies and about 500 personnel.
Charitable groups say the government's agreement to match donations could be an added incentive for Canadians to donate to eligible charities.
"When people see it is important to the Canadian government, I think Canadians will open up their wallets and be assured that Haitian people will receive it," said Revenue Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn.