United States Government Haiti Earthquake Disaster Response Update
January 21, 2009
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
On January 12, a massive earthquake struck the nation of Haiti, causing catastrophic damage inside and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince. President Obama has said, “at this moment, we are moving forward with one of the largest relief efforts in our history -- to save lives and to deliver relief that averts an even larger catastrophe. In these difficult hours, America stands united. We stand united with the people of Haiti, who have shown such incredible resilience, and we will help them to recover and to rebuild.”
The United States Government has mobilized resources and people to aid in the relief effort. At the direction of President Obama, this is a whole-of-government effort, and USAID has the lead in this swift, aggressive and coordinated response. Military personnel are playing an indispensable role in supporting this humanitarian effort, including making the logistics chain possible and distributing life-saving assistance. Aid workers are working around the clock to deliver more aid more quickly and more effectively to more people in need.
Below, please find some key facts and examples of government actions to date. All numbers below are current as of 3 p.m., Thursday, January 21.
At the request of the Haitian government, the U.S. continues to coordinate America’s relief efforts with the United Nations and the international community. We are coordinating closely with more than 30 nations and hundreds of NGOs to deliver food and water quickly throughout the country.
- Secretary of State Clinton discussed Haiti with UK Foreign Secretary Miliband and the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Catherine Ashton, earlier today in Washington. The Secretary stressed the vital partnership underway in Haiti, with the U.S. and EU countries working side by side on relief and rescue operations, and the need for a “coordinated, integrated, international response to the reconstruction and the return of prosperity and opportunity to Haiti.”
- At the United Nations, the U.S. Deputy Ambassador, Alejandro Wolff, addressed the UN press corps to draw attention to the broad international character of the rescue and relief effort in Haiti. Held just before another pledging round for the UN Flash Appeal, Ambassador Wolff was joined by UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes and the Ambassadors from Haiti, Brazil, Canada, France and Uruguay.
- Yesterday, the hospital ship USNS Comfort started receiving injured patients from the local hospitals and international medical facilities. The Comfort has a crew of 850 to provide a host of medical services, and will eventually provide nearly 1,000 hospital beds, and 11 operating rooms.
- The USNS Comfort has treated more than 230 patients received from 10 hospital sites already.
- As of January 21, more than 7,000 patients have been treated by the 5 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) from the Department of Health and Human Services and one International Medical Surgical Team (IMSuRT) in Haiti (all funded by USAID/OFDA). These teams treated 2,160 patients on January 20.
- Each DMAT has 35 staff members and 40 beds and functions as a field emergency room, while the IMSuRT has 50 staff members and 35 beds and performs disaster surgery.
AIRPORTS & PORTS
- The airport in Port au Prince is open around the clock. The U.S. Air Force continues to manage air operations at the request of the Haitian Government. And the State Department continues to coordinate closely with our international partners and NGOs to facilitate the smooth arrival of aid and personnel. This is a consultative process with the government of Haiti and the UN involving dozens of international assistance flights, beyond U.S. civilian and military flights.
- On January 20, 153 flights arrived (38 of those were official U.S. flights).
- For example, of the 330 arrivals from January 16 - 18, approximately half were civilian/humanitarian, and less than 30% were military:
- 155 were civilian aircraft,
- 91 from U.S. military and government aircraft, and
- 84 from international governments and militaries – the proportion of international flights is rising.
- On 1/18, flights landed from: Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United States, Ukraine, and from the United Nations and numerous international aid organizations such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the World Food Program (WFP).
- The WFP has placed a coordination cell at the airport in Haiti to assist with the prioritization of flights and the movement of humanitarian assistance through the airport to areas of need in Haiti.
- The port is beginning to receive some ships and is about 30% operational. The port at Jacmel, southwest of Port-au-Prince is currently operational during daylight for certain vessels. U.S. Army/Navy dive teams with underwater construction teams continued to assess port structural damage.
- U.S. Transportation Command reports that since commencing air operations, a total of 160 missions have been flown that have carried more than 2,600 tons of relief supplies and more than 2,500 military and relief personnel into Haiti.
SAFETY & SECURITY
- As of January 21, approximately 13,000 military personnel (10,000 afloat and 3,000 ashore) are a part of the relief effort.
- The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) continues to provide assistance in support of Leogane and Petit Goave. They currently have 356 Marines ashore.
- The remaining assets from 2/82 Brigade Combat Team and equipment will complete deployment to Port-au-Prince by January 22. They currently have 3,062 soldiers on ground.
- As of January 21 there are 20 U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships, 63 helicopters, and 204 vehicles in the joint operations area.
- The U.S. Coast Guard has 12 aircraft operating in Haiti:
- Five C-130 airplanes
- One C-144 airplane
- Three H-65 helicopters
- Three H-60 helicopters
- The U.S. Coast Guard has 6 vessels:
- Coast Guard Cutter Valiant
- Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma
- Coast Guard Cutter Forward
- Coast Guard Cutter Oak
- Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton
- Coast Guard Cutter Legare
- Additionally, the Coast Guard has 3 vessels in the Florida Straits to support any tasking related to Haiti relief efforts: Coast Guard Cutters Alert, Dependable, and Venturous.
- The U.S. Coast Guard has 801 service members on site assisting with recovery:
- 26 ashore,
- 719 afloat,
- 56 aircrew.
- The U.S. Coast Guard has 12 aircraft operating in Haiti:
- SOUTHCOM funded and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) contracted for the purchase of 50,000 hand held radios to distribute to the Haitian people.
- As of the last night, 43,800 radios had arrived in Port-au-Prince. The remaining 6,200 radios are slated for delivery to Special Operations Command South by January 25 and flow into Haiti thereafter
- The Military Information Support Team (MIST) in coordination with USAID will begin distribution of these radios immediately. 60,000 stickers, with the frequencies on them, and 60,000 hand bills that demonstrate (with pictures) how to operate the radio will be distributed with the radios.
- This hand held radio initiative is part of an overall effort to reach the people of Haiti via FM/AM broadcasting of VOA programming and CJTF Haiti public service announcements.
EVACUATION & RESCUES
- The U.S. government continues evacuations from Haiti around the clock. The total number of people evacuated from Haiti by the U.S. is approximately 10,500, of which 8,300 were American citizens. More than 1,100 Americans have been evacuated today, as of 3 p.m.
- Search and Rescue: Currently, 43 international USAR teams, comprised of 1,739 rescue workers, with 161 dogs, are working in Haiti. 6 of those teams are from the United States – with 511 rescue workers from Fairfax County, Los Angeles County, Miami, Miami-Dade, Virginia Beach, and New York.
- USAID/OFDA has provided more than $36 million in support of U.S. USAR teams deployed to Haiti to date.
- U.S. USAR teams are currently conducting secondary reconnaissance missions throughout Port-au-Prince following the aftershock yesterday.
FOOD & WATER
- C-17 air delivery of food and water resumed today -- 14,000 water bottles and 14,500 MREs/Humanitarian Rations were slated for delivery. The drop zone is in the vicinity of Mirebalais, about 25 miles northeast of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. A MINUSTAH battalion secured the site.
- U.S. military aircraft, helicopters, and vessels are giving the highest priority to the shipment of water. Over the past several days, JTF-Haiti has distributed more than 600,000 bottles of water and more than 400,000 meals/humanitarian rations. The USS Carl Vinson is producing 100,000 gallons of potable water daily. Water tanks are being installed in each zone of the city and potable water is now available at 45 distribution points. The U.S. Coast Guard has distributed a total of 38.5 tons of water (62,880 bottles). And USAID/OFDA has delivered 9 water treatment units to provide 900,000 liters of safe drinking water for 90,000 people per day.
- More than 238,000 meals/humanitarian rations and 400,000 bottles of water were delivered yesterday alone.
- The Crowley vessel Maracajam arrived in the Dominican Republic yesterday with more than 60,000 meals/humanitarian rations and water for the WFP.
- The USNS Lummus, capable of producing 94,000 gallons of potable water, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.
- USAID/FFP has contributed food assistance worth $68 million.
- To date, International Organization for Migration (IOM) has delivered 240,600 water purification tablets for household use, 3,300 water containers, and 1,920 hygiene kits (funded by USAID/OFDA) to several neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince.
- Today, World Vision, in partnership with USAID, started distribution of 2,000 metric tons of Food for Peace (FFP) commodities. The commodities will meet the immediate food needs of 18,670 families, or approximately 93,350 individuals, in Petion Ville, Delmas, and Port-au-Prince.
- Yesterday, a USAID/OFDA-funded flight carrying emergency relief supplies arrived in Port-au-Prince. Commodities included equipment to maintain a field hospital, including a trauma kit and air-conditioning unit. This is in addition to the water treatment units, ten-liter water containers, hygiene kits, rolls of plastic sheeting, and water bladders provided in recent days.
ADOPTIONS & ORPHANS
Yesterday, Secretary Clinton announced that the State Department is heading up a joint task force with the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to focus on orphans and unaccompanied minors, to streamline the process of adoptions, and to ensure that these families are united as quickly as possible while still ensuring that proper safeguards are in place to protect children in our care. An interagency working group has been established to focus on the humanitarian needs of highly vulnerable children. And the Administration is also working closely with the many Members of Congress who are understandably very concerned about this process.
On Monday, Secretary Napolitano announced humanitarian parole for certain Haitian orphans. We remain focused on family reunification and must be vigilant not to separate children from relatives in Haiti who are still alive but displaced, or to unknowingly assist criminals who traffic in children in such desperate times. To do so, we strongly discourage the use of private aircraft to evacuate orphans. All flights must be appropriately coordinated with the U.S. and Haitian governments to ensure proper clearances are granted before arrival in the United States.
As of January 20, USAID had contributed $90 million to the U.N. appeal, including $22 million in non-food assistance and $68 million in food assistance. An additional $73.9 million in bilateral assistance for search-and-rescue and other assistance had also been committed as of December 20, bringing total USAID assistance to Haiti to nearly $165 million.
HOW TO SUPPORT RELIEF EFFORTS
We are all deeply affected by the devastation in Haiti. Our common humanity demands that we act, as does America’s leadership and deep ties with Haiti. At the request of President Obama, former Presidents Bush and Clinton are coordinating private assistance and urging Americans to help at www.clintonbushhaitifund.org
- You can contribute online through ClintonBushHaitiFund.org.
- Text “QUAKE” to 20222 to charge a $10 donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (the donation will be added to your cell phone bill).
- Funding Raised Through State Department’s Text Message Program (keyword "Haiti", and short code number "90999"): nearly $26 million.
- Find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information (www.cidi.org).
Get Information about Friends or Family
The State Department has set up a web page that will serve as a clearinghouse for information on Haiti: state.gov/haitiquake, including a new tool, the “Person Finder,” to allow people to find and share information on missing loved ones in Haiti.
The State Department Operations Center has set up the following phone number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747 (due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording). You can also send an email to the State Department. Please be aware that communications within Haiti are very difficult at this time.
The State Department has also partnered with the tech community to launch a free SMS relief information service to help people in Haiti. The text message program allows people with service from Digetel and Voila to text their location and needs to a free short code: "4636." Since the initiative was launched on January 18, NGO partners have received over 2,000 messages, including on food distribution, missing persons, water.
Whitehouse.gov — The White House website continues to serve as a focal point for information for about the relief effort, including accounting for family and friends in Haiti and contributing to the relief effort.