Echo Park Haitian restaurant raises $14,000 for quake relief

About $14,000 has been raised for Haiti earthquake victims by the owner of a Haitian restaurant in Echo Park, who said he has been unable to contact anyone in his ravaged homeland since the magnitude-7 quake struck.

"Haiti is at a point where they really need great help," TiGeorges LaGuerre told a wire service late Thursday. "I don't think Haiti is prepared to deal with disaster of this magnitude. They are really crying out for help."

About 300 people visited TiGeorges' Chicken on Thursday night to donate money and share concerns about the quake that shook the Caribbean island nation at 4:53 p.m. Haiti time on Tuesday.

"We raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $14,300," LaGuerre said, speaking from his restaurant. "We are going to have another fundraiser on Saturday" at 2 p.m.

The 56-year-old LaGuerre moved to the United States 39 years ago. He is from Port-de-Paix, about six hours form the densely populated capital of Port-au-Prince. The quake's epicenter was 10 to 15 miles southwest of the capital city, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Countless buildings lie in ruins in and around Port-au-Prince. Tens of thousands of people are feared dead.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is home to about 9 million people. The nation occupies an area slightly smaller than the state of Maryland on the western third of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic.

LaGuerre said the money raised at TiGeorges' Chicken will go to Yele Haiti, a foundation founded by musician and rap artist Wyclef Jean in 2005.

"The funds will go directly to the people who need it right now," LaGuerre said.

TiGeorges' Chicken is at 309 Glendale Blvd., south of Echo Lake.