Air and sea access improves, hospital ship receives patients
Transportation bottlenecks are starting to clear after Thursday’s opening of three additional airfields, one in Jacmel and two in the Dominican Republic, and restoration of limited port traffic at the south pier in Port-au-Prince. The new access points should help lessen the backlog of 1400 flights waiting for landing slots.
Additional steps to speed up the flow of aid from outside the country included recruiting aid officials to help air controllers decide which flights have landing priority and implementing a new web-based system that allows aid groups to monitor flight cargo and scheduled landings.
In the vicinity of Mirebalais, the US military made an air drop of food and water, its second since Monday. A service launched on January 18 allows Haitians with service from Digitel and Voila to text their location and needs (food, water, missing persons, etc.) to a free short code, “4636.”
Some banks and wire services have resumed service, but many Haitians are still waiting to get access to money and remittances. The orphanage Maison de Lumiere and a neighboring orphanage have been robbed in recent days by armed men looking for food, water and supplies, and other orphanages are reporting that security is a concern.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the White House provided an updated summary of the US response, including the following statistics (Note: numbers are approximate):
- 7,000 patients have been treated by US medical teams
- 160 U.S. missions have transported 2,600 tons of relief supplies and 2,500 military and relief personnel
- 10,500 people have been evacuated, including 8,300 American citizens
- 230 patients from 10 hospital sites have been treated aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort, which will be able to provide 1,000 hospital beds when fully staffed
Yesterday, Congress sent the President a bill to sign that allows taxpayers to deduct on their 2009 tax returns charitable donations to Haiti relief made in 2010 (between January 11 and March 1, 2010).