Our family experienced the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989.  We lost our chimney, 3 feet of water in our pool and all the contents in our kitchen (everything landed in a heap on the floor).  We live 10 miles from the epicenter and our wood structure house swayed several feet when the 15 second quake hit.  Several people were killed in Oakland (collapse of the Cyprus Structure) and San Francisco (collapsed buildings and fires in the Marina District); and we were somewhat inconvenienced for several days as we cleaned up the mess in our kitchen.  

We in the Bay Area experienced nothing compared to the devastation going on in Haiti from the earthquake last week. 

Experiencing or viewing on TV the results of a natural disaster is an acute reminder that our lives, as we know them, can be turned upside down in a matter of seconds.  There is no discrimination between wealthy and poor, employed or unemployed or the county one lives in.  Natural disasters take few prisoners.

As I’ve watched the news on Haiti, I was trying to bring some perspective into the recent economic damage we all experienced from the mortgage meltdown.  You see many of us saw our home values drop 30%-40%, stock prices fall 50% or more and income levels decline 10%-40%.  Some of us have even lost jobs and/or our homes.  Most of us got economically “crammed down” as a result of the mortgage mess.   However, nothing we have experienced in the last 12 months compares to suffering the people of Haiti have experienced in the past or today because of the recent quake.

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.  Like the US, it had a revolution and declared independence from a European country (France).  Their independence, in 1804, was the result of a rebellion against sugar plantation owners.

Even before the earthquake last week, it was reported that the unemployment rate in Haiti might be as high as 70% and that most employed workers earn $2.00 per day.  The country has been plagued with government mismanagement for decades and provides little safety net for its citizens.  Haiti will need massive support from the world to help rebuild its country and economy.

We need to have a perspective when we have an occasional economic inconvenience or setback.  Most of us do have that perspective based on the donations pouring into Haiti.  There has been over $22 million alone in text message donations provided to the American Red Cross.