the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

United States Government Haiti Earthquake Disaster 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

In response to the President’s direction, a whole of government effort has been launched to support the people of Haiti.  More than 20,000 U.S. civilian and military personnel have been directly engaged in carrying out activities from search and rescue to restoring airports and seaports to providing live saving health and medical service to helping meet the basic food, water, and shelter needs of the Haitian people.  They have also engaged in efforts to evacuate more than 21,000 U.S. citizens and provide for the respectful return of remains of U.S. citizens who perished as a result of the January 12 earthquake.

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 3,842 flights, delivering 18,040 tons of commodities 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 main port in Port Au Prince was doubled from pre-earthquake standards; 8,867 twenty foot equivalent container units (TEU), with 103,000 tons of commodities were offloaded while the permanent repairs to the south pier were completed.

HEALTH/MEDICAL

  • 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 has supported government vaccination efforts in IDP camps.  To date, 233,251 people have been vaccinated.

FOOD/WATER

  • U.S. food aid contributions and members of JTF-Haiti providing logistical and security have supported the ongoing provision of emergency food assistance to more than 2 million people by the World Food Program and partners through March.  
  • USAID water purification units have been providing water for 110,000 people per day. 

JOBS

• U.S. relief programs are prioritizing activities that benefit the local Haitian economy, including buying relief commodities locally where it is feasible.  USAID-funded cash-for-work programs have employed 14,232 people at 267 sites 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 more than 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.

SHELTER

  • USAID has provided 160,000 plastic sheets and 24,500 family size tents that will help 185,000 families out of the estimated 260,000 families in need of shelter assistance.
  • Defense Department 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.

EVACUATION & RETURN OF REMAINS

  • HHS deployed to Haiti a disaster mortuary team and a disaster portable morgue unit, and continues to work with the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and families of U.S. citizens to identify and repatriate the remains of 38 U.S. citizens who perished in the earthquake.
  • More than 21,000 U.S. citizens have been evacuated from Haiti since the earthquake.