The United States Government's Haiti Earthquake Response
President Obama pledged a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort in response to the earthquake in Haiti in January and called for sustained commitment to Haiti's reconstruction. In light of Haitian President Preval's attendance at the G8 today, the President reiterated the importance of this sustained commitment by the international community.
The following provides an update on the U.S response.
I’ve directed my administration to launch a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives and support the recovery in Haiti. The losses that have been suffered in Haiti are nothing less than devastating, and responding to a disaster of this magnitude will require every element of our national capacity – our diplomacy and development assistance; the power of our military; and, most importantly, the compassion of our country.
President Obama, January 14, 2010
At the President’s direction, more than 20,000 U.S. civilian and military personnel were deployed to carry out activities ranging from search and rescue operations; to restoring air and sea ports; to providing life saving health and medical service; and to helping meet the basic food, water, and shelter needs of the Haitian people. At the height of the crisis, the United States also evacuated over 21,000 U.S. citizens and provided for the respectful return of the remains of U.S. citizens who perished as a result of the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
At the May Haiti’s Donor Conference in New York, the United States pledged $1.15 billion across fiscal years 2010 and 2011 for Haiti’s reconstruction pending supplemental funding from the U.S. Congress, representing about 22% of the $5.27 billion pledged by nearly forty countries and international institutions over the next two years. This reconstruction pledge is in addition to the nearly $1.1 billion that the United States has already contributed towards relief and recovery efforts, which includes $623 million from USAID and $459 million from the Department of Defense.
President Obama also asked former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to join together to lead a major public fundraising effort. They subsequently established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and have so far raised over $36 million from U.S. businesses and more than 200,000 individuals to help the people of Haiti rebuild – on top of the $1 billion that American citizens have donated since January through the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, including the American Red Cross.
President Clinton serves in his personal capacity as the Special Envoy to Haiti for the Secretary General of the United Nations. He has also been appointed by President Preval of Haiti to serve as co-chair the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, alongside Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. The United States has been fully supportive of President Preval and the Government of Haiti’s efforts to establish the Commission, which will conduct planning, coordination, and implementation of development projects and priorities, including by reviewing and approving projects and programs funded by bilateral and multilateral donors, NGOs and the private sector, and projects that are funded through the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, a multi-donor trust fund established by the World Bank. The United States has made an initial pledge of $30 million to the Fund. The Commission’s first approved projects, totaling $66 million, have already been announced.
SEARCH & RESCUE
- U.S. urban search and rescue teams from Fairfax County, Los Angeles County, Miami, Miami-Dade, Virginia Beach, and New York City were deployed and, with rescue teams from other countries, pulled a total of 136 survivors from the rubble.
- The Coast Guard transported 696 Urban Search and Rescue team members into Haiti in the immediate days after the earthquake.
AIRPORTS & PORTS
- Elements of the U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing restored flight operations to the Port au Prince airport within 48 hours of the earthquake and facilitated 3,334 flights in the following 34 days, with as many as 162 flights in one day, more than ten times the pre-earthquake capacity at the airport.
- Coast Guard and Navy combined team assessed port damage, installed aids to navigation, began interim port repairs and conducted site surveys for temporary joint over the shore logistics package (JLOTS) that was used to move cargo while more permanent pier repairs were completed.
- Using interim capabilities the capacity of the port was doubled from pre-earthquake standards; 8,400 twenty foot equivalent container units (TEU) were offloaded while the permanent repairs to the south pier were completed. Enabled the Haitian Ports Authority to assume operation, management, scheduling and security in the port by March 1.
- Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and International Medical Surgical Response Teams from the Department of Health and Human Services conducted 31,365 patient visits, performed 167 surgeries, and delivered 45 babies.
- U.S. military medical professionals treated 9,800 patients, admitted 1,464 patient admissions, performed 1,025 surgeries, 2,200 patient transfers and carried out 255 MEDEVACS. Coast Guard aircraft conducted an additional 240 MEDEVACS.
- HHS activated two Federal Coordinating Centers in Atlanta and Tampa as part of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). These centers processed medical evacuation flights from Haiti and arranged ground transport to appropriate hospitals in the U.S. In total, NDMS evacuated 79 Haitian nationals and 10 U.S. citizens with life-threatening conditions that could not be addressed in Haiti.
- Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) participated on Initial Rapid Assessment teams that collected health, food, water, nutrition, and sanitation data from 224 sites across Haiti and are assisting with surveillance of health conditions and communicable diseases to prioritize public health interventions and anticipate resources needed by health care facilities.
- The USAID-led emergency response team continues to support government-led vaccination efforts in the IDP camps. Through June 15, 1 million people were vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus, and other diseases.
- U.S. food aid contributions and members of JTF-Haiti providing logistical and security supported the ongoing provision of emergency food assistance to more than 2.9 million people by the World Food Program and partners through May. The United States continues to support emergency food aid operations in Haiti.
- USAID water purification units are providing water for 110,000 people per day, and the United States is providing 15 desludging trucks to help with sanitation in IDP camps.
- Approximately 360,000 children under the age of five and pregnant and lactating women are receiving supplementary food distributions; and over 618,000 children are receiving school meals.
- Together with the Government of Haiti, the United Nations, and NGOs and other partners, the United States Government has delivered shelter materials to more than 1.5 million Haitians. USAID has so far provided 189,000 plastic sheets and 24,500 family size tents that will help 949,000 of an estimated 1.5 million people in need of shelter assistance.
- DoD units working for the Joint Task Force (JTF) have conducted rubble clearing operations across 283 acres or 87 city blocks of Port Au Prince and conducted engineering assessments of 2,043 structures allowing many displaced persons to return to their homes. The U.S. Government has also helped to clear eight of nine major canals in Port-au-Prince to help prevent flooding and additional displacement in the city. In total, 79,151 buildings have been assessed for structural integrity; of which forty-one percent are deemed safe for habitation.
- USAID shelter partners have constructed 2,021 more durable transitional shelters in earthquake-affected areas, while nearly 1,000 transitional shelters are under construction. In total, USAID has funded the construction of 47,500 shelters and contributed to the overall efforts of the United Nations and recovery agencies to assist with the repair of 11,800 houses.
TRADE OPPORTUNITIES THAT CONTRIBUTE TO HAITI’S RECOVERY
- Awaiting final enactment, the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act expands duty-free access to the U.S. market for Haitian textile and apparel exports and extends existing trade preference programs for Haiti through 2020. This legislation complements USTR’s announced Plus One for Haiti program, which calls on the U.S. apparel industry to source one percent of its apparel imports from Haiti. The HELP Act supports that goal by making it more cost effective for U.S. companies to import Haitian textiles and apparel.
- U.S. relief programs are prioritizing activities that benefit the local Haitian economy, and buying commodities locally where it is feasible. USAID-funded cash-for-work programs are employing over 20,000 people per day at hundreds of sites nationwide for public works projects like rubble removal.
COORDINATION/UNITY OF EFFORT/COMMUNICATIONS
- A joint Coast Guard-FEMA team supported USAID and Defense Department leaders at the Joint Task Force in coordination of relief efforts with the Government of Haiti, MINUSTAH, elements of the UN Cluster system and over 900 non-governmental agencies providing relief in Haiti.
- The Defense Department distributed over 68,000 self-powered radios ensuring that the people of Haiti could receive important information on how to obtain emergency assistance, food, water and medical care as well as important messages from the Haitian Government.
- The Defense Department provided airborne broadcasting services in the days immediately following the quake with emergency services information to the people of Haiti until Haitian radio stations could recover and begin transmitting again.