On January 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti. There is major damage to Port-au-Prince, the capital, including several government buildings. Over three million people are estimated to be affected by the earthquake, and while estimates vary at least 100,000 people were killed, according to the Government of Haiti. President Obama has pledged $100 million in aid to Haiti and tasked Rajiv Shah, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, to coordinate the U.S. relief and rescue mission. The House Republican Conference has compiled an update on the U.S. government's immediate response to the disaster.
Search and Rescue Operations: To date, U.S. urban search and rescue personnel have conducted multiple operations in Port-au-Prince, including at least five search and rescue missions and at least eight reconnaissance missions. For example, a Fairfax County team successfully completed one live extraction from the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Joint teams continue to conduct assessments of heavily damaged areas in downtown Port-au-Prince and Carrefour to determine future search and rescue priorities.
Food Assistance: USAID is providing approximately 14,500 metric tons emergency food assistance valued at approximately $18 million to feed an estimated 2 million disaster-affected individuals during the next six months. In order to expedite delivery, the food aid will come from prepositioned stocks in Jacinto, Texas. The contribution will include rice, corn soy blend, and vegetable oil. Food aid will be transported in multiple shipments, with the first shipment expected to arrive on January 28, 2010. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and non-governmental organizations plan to distribute emergency food aid.
USAID has contacted all active partners in Haiti to determine the availability of commodity stocks there and the capacity of organizations to reach earthquake-affected individuals. The U.N. recently reported that previous reports indicating that WFP warehouses had been looted were erroneous.
Logistics and Transportation: A January 13, 2010, U.S. Coast Guard preliminary port assessment indicated blockage due to significant debris and a collapsed crane, as well as considerable damage to port piers in the capital. A Coast Guard assessment of the Gonaives port, located 69 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince, indicates that the port is currently functional. Under normal driving conditions, the port is approximately three hours travel by land to Port-au-Prince. USAID is coordinating with DoD to establish an air bridge for daily transportation of emergency relief supplies to Haiti on C-130 aircraft. On January 15, 2010, the USS Carl Vinson air craft carrier arrived off the coast of Haiti, carrying 19 helicopters and 30 pallets of relief goods.
Humanitarian Assistance: On January 12, 2010, USAID stood up a Response Management Team to support the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team that deployed to Haiti on January 13, 2010, to assess humanitarian conditions and coordinate activities with the humanitarian community. To date, USAID has provided nearly $55 million in humanitarian assistance for the Haiti earthquake. USAID continues to communicate with partners on the ground to assess and prioritize humanitarian needs, including for emergency relief supplies, shelter and food assistance, and health and water, sanitation, and hygiene services. The humanitarian community is currently focusing on life-saving search and rescue operations.
Information on Family Members: To obtain information on family members in Haiti, call the Haiti Earthquake Task Force at 1-888-407-4747. For those located outside of the U.S. and Canada, call 202-501-4444. Americans in Haiti may call the U.S. Embassy's Consular Task Force at 509-2229-8942, 509-2229-8089, 509-2229-8322 or 509-2229-8672. Americans are urged to contact the Embassy via email at ACSPaP@state.gov to request assistance.