Haiti Receives Immediate US Aid After Earthquake
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo August 18, 2021
At Haiti’s request, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, deployed an urban search and rescue team on August 15, 2021. This is the second unit USAID has sent to the Caribbean nation following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the country on August 14, the institution said in a statement.
The unit — 65 search and rescue experts and four sniffer dogs — joined the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that the organization deployed on the day of the earthquake to assess damages. “We’re working quickly to assist Haitians and save lives,” USAID administrator Samantha Power said on Twitter.
The team of experts arrived with nearly 23.6 tons of specialized tools and equipment, including hydraulic equipment to break concrete, saws, torches, and drills, in addition to sophisticated medical equipment to support the operations, USAID said.
Members of the team immediately traveled to the Les Cayes district to help find missing people, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti reported.
USAID also deployed five additional members of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, Virginia, to assist the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team.
On August 15, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) set up Joint Task Force-Haiti to support the DART that is leading U.S. government response efforts, USAID said. As a first step, a delegation of 14 officers arrived in the Haitian capital on August 14 to assess the situation in the affected areas, the institution added.
In addition, SOUTHCOM is providing air support to move DART personnel and supplies to affected areas, and has eight helicopters capturing aerial images to assess the damages, USAID said.
To strengthen support, the U.S. Coast Guard is transporting DART personnel to affected areas. Two Joint Task Force Bravo aircraft are also providing critical airlift support to relief operations, SOUTHCOM said in a statement.
The earthquake, more powerful than the 2010 quake, caused widespread landslides, with rocks and debris blocking many roads, making it difficult to reach injured and affected people to help them, The New York Times reported on August 16.
Hospitals have collapsed; schools, churches, and hospitals were destroyed or badly damaged, the news agency France 24 reported.
“We will move faster […]. We will multiply efforts tenfold to reach as many victims as possible with aid,” Ariel Henry, prime minister of Haiti, said on Twitter on August 16. “There is no rest in the face of emergency,” he added.
Two days after the earthquake, a Chilean Air Force (FACh, in Spanish) aircraft arrived in Port-au-Prince with 16 tons of humanitarian aid, including medicines, water, and food and personal hygiene kits, the FACh said on Twitter.
Also on August 16, a Mexican delegation of humanitarian assistance arrived in the Haitian capital with two Mexican Air Force aircraft and more than 15 tons of medicines and supplies, the Mexican government said in a statement.
The Mexican government added that another aircraft, from the Mexican Department of the Navy, had brought 3.6 tons of emergency supplies to Haiti, such as water filters, shovels, solar lights, wheelbarrows, cots, and food to assist in the emergency.