InternationalStacy M. Brown

Desperation, Despair Escalate in Haiti as Relief Efforts Stall

Desperation has accompanied despair in Haiti following a deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14 that has claimed more than 2,200 lives and a tropical storm, which struck two days later and further decimated the island nation.

Relief remains scarce and residents reportedly have grown so impatient that they recently attacked supply vans and a caravan carrying former president Michel Martelly who visited a hospital in Les Cayes offering supplies.

The United Nations estimates that 40 percent of Haiti’s 12 million residents need emergency aid but flash flooding and landslides have many relief workers fearing illness and disease.

Wes Comfort, a recovery and response leader at Heart to Heart International, told Time Magazine that his medical team chose to sleep on their car hoods to protect themselves.

“Everyone is very wary of sleeping indoors,” Comfort declared. “We camped out and listened to the aftershock rattle the tin roof of the mayor’s office.”

Weather officials said large parts of Haiti experienced as much as 15 inches of rain, leading to flooding and deadly mudslides. Multi-story buildings immediately collapsed while rescuers pulled many survivors from under heaps of rubble in the country’s southern peninsula.

“In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

“We send our deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one or saw their homes and businesses destroyed. I have authorized an immediate U.S. response and named USAID Administrator Samantha Power as the senior U.S. official to coordinate this effort.”

Through USAID, Biden said America supports efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those injured and those who must now rebuild.

World Central Kitchen in northwest D.C. plans to distribute 30,000 meals per day in the earthquake and storm-ravaged nation.

“With an increasing number of climate disasters, we’re going to continue to work hard and do everything that we can for support,” said Nate Mook, the CEO of World Central Kitchen.

Mook noted that JetBlue had provided an airplane to the nonprofit for the mission.

World Central Kitchen uses locally sourced ingredients to make traditional Haitian dishes like chicken and vegetable stew over rice and beans in Haiti. The organization plans to deliver meals to hospitals, emergency crews and families, Mook noted.

The Red Cross has also responded, providing first aid,  shelter and assistance with search and rescue operations.

“Preventing and controlling the transmission of COVID-19 and guaranteeing access to water, hygiene and sanitation are essential for volunteers on the ground,” Red Cross officials said in a statement.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have sent 15 tons of essential goods to Haiti and more than 37 tons of aid, including shelter tool kits, tarps, buckets, jerrycans, kitchen sets, blankets, personal protection equipment and mosquito nets.

Officials activated a humanitarian corridor in the Dominican Republic and collected prepositioned non-food items for at least 4,500 people, the Red Cross stated.

“The United States remains a close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti and we will be there in the aftermath of this tragedy,” President Biden declared.

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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