U.S. Government Works to Assist People of Haiti after Earthquake

Santo Domingo – The U.S. Government, through the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Southern Command, has initiated extensive efforts to assist the people of Haiti following the earthquake that struck the country on January 12, 2010.

In response to requests from the Government of Haiti, USAID dispatched a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and has activated its partners, the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team and the Los Angeles County Search and Rescue Team Miami Dade USAR.  Each USAR team is composed of up to 72 personnel, 6 search and rescue canines and up to 48 tons of rescue equipment.  The USAR teams will be accompanied by USAID disaster experts who will assist with assessments of the situation and coordination of the response.  USAID is also working on deliveries of food assistance to Haiti.

Shortly after the earthquake struck, President Obama issued a statement saying, “My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by this earthquake. We are closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist the people of Haiti.”

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said, “This is a tragic situation and we will work alongside the Haitian government to provide immediate assistance in the rescue effort… On behalf of the American people, I wish to convey our sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti who have been affected by this devastating earthquake.”

USAID is working through the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) to coordinate private assistance offers.  Since 1988 the Center for International Disaster Information has handled hundreds of thousands of public inquiries related to international emergencies.  President Obama has said: “I would encourage those Americans who want to support the urgent humanitarian efforts to go to whitehouse.gov where you can learn how to contribute.”

The U.S. Southern Command has three Blackhawk helicopters from the Puerto Rico National Guard ready for service in Haiti.  The Southern Command is also currently mobilizing a variety of assets for deployment in Haiti, including a U.S. Navy ship, two C-130 transport planes and a C-12 twin-engine turboprop.

U.S. Coast Guard officials in Miami have mobilized cutters and aircraft to positions in close proximity to Haiti to render humanitarian assistance as needed.  The Coast Guard has deployed two Coast Guard helicopters, a C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft, the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant (a 210-foot reliance class cutter), and the three 270-foot medium endurance class cutters Forward, Tahoma, and Mohawk.  All four cutters have a helicopter flight deck, satellite communications capabilities, and the ability to coordinate military aircraft in the area, along with crew that have expertise in disaster relief.  Additional Coast Guard assets patrolling the area have been alerted of the situation and stand by to render assistance as needed.