MONTREAL -- With information from the island in short supply, members of Montreal's Haitian community could do little but anxiously wait for news about family members following a devastating earthquake.

At CPAM Radio Union, lines were filled with callers, all trying to get information about loved ones. Robert Ishmael was one of the hosts fielding the calls, but acknowledged there was precious little he could tell them.

“It's very difficult to tell the truth to people because we don't have that information,” he said.

Over at Maison D'Haiti, one of the cornerstones of the community, director Marjorie Villefranche was also trying to offer reassurance.

“People here, they fear, they don't know what to do,” she said. “They are far from their families, far from the country, so what can they do?”

“The feeling of helplessness is very strong.”

Despite the lack of news, members of the community were already beginning to plan ways to help Haiti's recovery on Saturday. But the distance, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the country's unstable political climate combined to make that a difficult task.

In a tweet, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante pledged a donation to the Red Cross, but did not specify an amount.

Villefranche said it's too soon to say what sort of relief is needed.

“The coming week, we'll have the feeling that we can do something. We learned something from the last earthquake and we've learned what to do and what not to do.”