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Portland groups helping victims of deadly 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti

Mercy Corps and Brighten Haiti, both based in Portland, are working to help the victims of Saturday's powerful earthquake that killed at least 300 people.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — More than 300 people in Haiti are dead after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the country on Saturday. Now, groups from the Portland area are mobilizing and some are already in Haiti trying to help. 

Kevin Keene runs the Portland-based nonprofit Brighten Haiti, which installs solar panels at schools that don't have power.

"70% of the country doesn't have electricity, doesn't have running water," said Keene. 

Keene's team shipped 4,000 solar panels to the island a couple months ago. Now, after the quake, those panels will be distributed on a wider basis to help people in need. 

RELATED: More than 300 killed in 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti

"Haiti just can't catch a break," Keene said, pointing out the island has been plagued with violence, corruptions and natural disasters over the years.

"It seems to be one after the next, after the next," said Cara Buck with the Portland-based humanitarian aid group Mercy Corps. 

Buck was in Haiti's capital of Port-Au-Prince, about 80 miles from the quake's epicenter, when it hit. 

"And I was jolted out of bed," she said. 

Buck is helping guide her team of 19 a part of Haiti called Nippes, which is close to the epicenter. She said Mercy Corps crews are assessing what people need before more help arrives in the next few days. 

RELATED: Gangs complicate Haiti effort to recover from assassination

However, for Haiti, problems are compounded by endless disaster recovery. 

In 2010, a magnitude 7 earthquake in Port-Au-Prince  killed at least 220,000 people. Then in 2016, Hurricane Matthew, a category 5 storm, killed hundreds. 

This latest disaster, on top of surging COVID-19 cases and political and gang violence, means the need is all the greater.

"And we can do a lot better as a country to help them out," Keene said. 

Mercy Corps is taking donations to help Haitians impacted by this earthquake.