In the United States, Rose Leandre was anxiously trying to get through to any family members in her native Haiti on Tuesday evening.
The Spring Valley, N.Y., woman runs the Haitian-American Cultural and Social Organization, which provides immigration, social and educational outreach to the sizable Haitian community --- estimated to be at least 11,000, according to U.S. Census figures -- in Rockland County, one of New York City's northern suburbs.
"Everybody's been calling all over and calling each other, 'have you heard from your family?' And so far, no one's getting through ? so far, within the community, no one has gotten through to anyone in Haiti," Leandre said.
Leandre added that she was desperate to make contact with her mother, who traveled to Haiti, to an area 20 minutes outside Port-au-Prince, just Monday.
"She's disabled, she has severe arthritis, so during the wintertime, it's horrible for her, so she usually goes and spends a month or two in warmer weather," Leandre said.
Leandre said the community would likely meet today to discuss relief efforts.
A tsunami watch was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, but it was canceled after several hours.
"There could have been destructive tsunami waves near the earthquake epicenter but there is not a threat to coastal areas further away," said an advisory from the warning center.
Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with a population estimated at 9.8 million people, according to the World Bank.
Kirit Radia, Phoebe Natanson, Christophe Schpoliansky, ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.