The main morgue in Port-au-Prince is completely full, and hundreds of bodies are piled up outside and abandoned. It's been two days since Haiti's devastating earthquake, and power is still out in the capital and much of the country, food and water supplies are running out, the Haitian National Police have virtually disappeared, and looting is being reported. Ships can't deliver supplies into Haiti’s damaged port, the airport is barely functional, and roads are impassible. But don't worry Haiti, master of disaster George W. Bush has agreed to help!
Sources tell the Times that Obama tapped Bill Clinton and, it's true, George W. Bush (always good in a crisis) to help raise money and "keep attention on Haiti through a long recovery process." This should end well. Maybe Dubya can fly over the Caribbean for a serious-looking photo op? In addition to the ex-presidential assist, Obama today promised an initial $100 million investment to the relief efforts. He also had a message for desperate Haitians who might eventually hear it over the radio, perhaps:
To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction, you will not be forsaken. You will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you. You have endured a history of slavery and struggle, of natural disaster and recovery. And through it all, your spirit has been unbroken and your faith has been unwavering. So today, you must know that help is arriving. Much, much more help is on the way.
125 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C., were expected to arrive in Haiti today, and by the end of the weekend their number would grow to 3,000. The Times reports that some 2,000 Marines are due to arrive in Haiti by Monday, to "help create a safe environment for the flow of humanitarian relief and assistance." An aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, will arrive tomorrow and serve as a staging platform for helicopter relief flights to Haiti. It also has the capacity to produce fresh water and has three operating rooms and a number of hospital beds.
"They are slowly getting more angry," David Winhurst, the spokesman for the United Nations mission, told the Times. "We are all aware of the fact that the situation is getting more tense." People are sleeping in the roads, which also makes it more difficult for aid to get through. "I think it’s going to be worse than anyone still understands," said Richard Dupin, the vice president of Haiti Shipping Lines, based in Miami.
Severe bottlenecks are being experienced by relief planes trying to land at the Port-au-Prince airport, and French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said, "There is a risk of the airport getting crowded with all this aid flying in. Coordination is going to be extremely hard." A coordinator for Haiti’s Red Cross told Reuters, "Our organization thinks between 45,000 and 50,000 people have died. No one knows with precision, no one can confirm a figure."