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Home > January 2010 > Helping Out in Haiti - Report from a NY relief mission
Helping Out in Haiti - Report from a NY relief mission
Posted: 1/29/2010 10:18:24 AM

This piece originally ran in the New York Post on January 28, 2010

Report from a NY relief mission



WE just finished our fourth day in Haiti. I implore everyone who can to make positive change for the wonderful people here.

We arrived Sunday -- a small New York-based group escorting supplies donated via the Intrepid Foundations. We've seen more suffering and more heroism than the mind can comprehend:

* Hundreds of thousands of people are sleeping in the streets -- using bedsheets as tent tops -- and cinder blocks from their fallen homes for walls out in the street, for fear that a truck might run them over.

* We helped arrange the airlift of a young Haitian girl to the Marine hospital on board USS Nassau. Her legs had been badly cut up -- but even more unfathomable was what had been next to her legs: a box marked "Don't throw away -- baby in box."

* Yesterday we took a helicopter flight over Port-au-Prince. The devastation was horrific -- yet the outer areas remain so beautiful, a treasure of nature. It's frightening to think what nature did in 40 seconds to such a paradise and to three million people.

More than 10,000 people have experienced -- or still need -- the amputation of a limb. Desperation is growing among those who need food, water, clothing -- and especially medical supplies. In many cases, an amputation leads to death from the simple lack of an IV antibiotic.
Stop and read that sentence again. People are dying here every hour simply because of a broken leg. The agony of this situation is beyond words.

We've spent time with three amazing groups doing the Lord's work on the ground:

* Our US military -- all five branches, in a joint operation under the able command of Gen. Doug Fraser and Lt. Gen. Ken Keen. US troops (and their foreign counterparts) are doing much and will be doing more in the days and months ahead.

Gen. Keen and his team were actually here on an official visit when the earthquake hit. Some were seriously wounded; the last I heard, one remained unaccounted for. (Fisher House is taking care of his family.)

* The Catholic Medical Mission Board (full disclosure: I'm an incoming board member) is supplying the hospitals and clinics with vital medical supplies. Every penny you give to them goes here ASAP -- and ASAP help is critically needed; consider donating online at

* FOKAL -- La Fondation Connaissance et Liberté -- is the Haiti-based branch of the Open Society Institute. Its NYC executive director, Linda Mellon, is an American-born Haitian who formerly was an executive at the Intrepid.

Thanks to Linda, our group received text messages from people still trapped in the rubble. Because of our strong military ties from our Intrepid work, we were able to get these emergency messages immediately out through Southern Command to the search-and-rescue teams on the ground. We know that lives were saved in at least eight instances.

FOKAL strongly recommends that we equip the provinces with the tools they need to empower people fleeing there from Port-Au-Prince (as many as 275,000 have) so they can be self-sustaining. In other words, Haiti needs a Marshall plan -- and it needs one now.

We're escorting almost 300,000 pounds of supplies (food, water, clothing and other essentials) donated by the public and collected by 13,000 New York City livery-car drivers and bodega owners. SG Blocks donated six 50-foot earthquake-proof shipping containers, while city Sanitation trucks and trucking companies got them to GMD Shipyard at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for shipment to Florida -- where the US military, under Air Force Gen. Ray Johns and his amazing team, is taking them to Haiti.

We met with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Haitian port owners here to ensure that this delivery doesn't sit anywhere waiting for distribution, but will absolutely get out to those who need it most. And yesterday we met with Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, who asked us to thank the people of New York City for their help.

Steven Fisher, Charles de Gunzburg, Joe Plumeri, Joe Moinian, Larry Silverstein, Roe Stamps, Naveen Jain and Gally Mayer gave generously to this effort; some donated their private planes to help us get doctors into Haiti.

We want to thank all the brave men and women of our armed forces and all government agencies and private groups that have again rallied to aid people who so badly needed them.
When the news coverage drops off sometime next week (it will -- it always does), I beg you to remember the Haitian people in your thoughts and prayers. They still need our assistance -- and we can, as a people and a nation, do much to help them.

I will never forget what I've witnessed -- the suffering, and the gigantic rescue and relief effort that has changed the lives of all who've taken part.

Bill White is president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.



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