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Saturday, January 16, 2010

An Update from the Haiti Embassy

Update on Nadia: (Embassy info below): We met a retired special forces guy who is transporting patients from Port ay Prince to Jimimi. I'm hoping he can bring Nadia to the border with us. From here we can work on her visa.
An email from our friend at the embassy: Saturday 10pm.
From: Joseph Vorgetts - US Embassy - Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Attaché--USDA APHIS--International Services

These are the facts that I have.

At this time, the situation is a search and rescue operation. This is
a type of triage. That means that the focus has been on getting
emergency teams in here who can pull people out of collapsed
buildings, and provide the severely injured survivors with emergency
medical treatment. These rescue teams began arriving at least 48
hours ago and there are many from all over the US. Most, if not all
of them have deployed in the city by now, and are headquartered at the
embassy compound. The embassy compound is a sea of tents for
providing accommodations as well as emergency medical attention. Thus,
they may not be so visible to people in town. They are in the
compound because there is no security in the city.

If the Belgians have been here for three days before yesterday
(Friday), then they actually arrived before the quake, so just
serendipitously happened to come in at the critical moment, when easy
access was available. After the earthquake, the airport was closed
to commercial traffic and to all traffic for a while. It is still
closed to commercial traffic and will be for quite some time I am
told. Haiti is a small country with only one major airport. In many
disasters there are alternate routes for rescue teams to come in using
commercial flights through other airports more remote from the
disaster locus, or by other means of transportation. There are no
such alternative options for getting into Haiti. In addition, much of
what little infra-structure Haiti had has been destroyed because
virtually all of it was in the capital, as is true in most small
countries. Most disasters don’t take out the capital city, so it
serves as a major resource to funnel assistance to the affected area.
Another huge problem is that the seaport is not functioning and won’t
be for a while. This normally would be the way to move the enormous
amounts of supplies that are needed. The airport cannot handle it,
even if it were not clogged with rescue teams entering and evacuees

Most of the helicopters are picking up the most severely injured and
ferrying them to the military hospital at Guantanamo. Delivering
supplies to a soccer field by helicopter is not a good option because
even with a security force in place, good crowd control would be
difficult or impossible. Riots would likely ensue and the supplies
would likely be looted and/or destroyed.

We are just past 92 hours into this, which is roughly the transition
point from a rescue operation to a recovery operation. This is the
point where chances for survival of those trapped are becoming so
limited that efforts and resources must shift to recovery. As the
recovery phase begins focus will shift to moving people, and getting
supplies, water, food, etc. distributed. Right now, the big conundrum
is how to do this without a seaport operating. Getting enough
supplies into Haiti is and will continue to be an extremely difficult
challenge. I understand from a news report I saw that one strategy
under consideration is to used amphibious landing craft. This would
require shipping supplies to the DR and offloading them onto ALCs that
have the shallow draft that would enable them to land at P-a-P.

Hope this helps to clarify the situation for you.


Joseph Vorgetts
US Embassy
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Attaché--USDA APHIS--International Services

1 comment:

  1. Tom and Carol,

    Are you bringing Nadia to you for help where you are at, or are you attempting to take her home with you? For you to be able to see her and examine her would be valuable, and either help where you are at or back home would be consoling.

    Do you know how Nadia's family is doing?

    God bless you and all. Love, Fr. Larry

    P.S. Do you have a phone number that you can email to me where I can try to reach you? Let me know if we can try to assist you in any way. Except, I don't have a pilot's license, and I don't have a plane. But . . .


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