Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some more on the situation in Haiti

Among other things, at the airport,
One challenge in getting aid to Haiti has been the backlog of airplanes trying to land on the airport's one runway. Keen said it was like "pushing a bowling ball through a soda straw." He said the U.S. Air Force helped the Haiti government get its airport operational within 24 hours of the earthquake and the service is now helping to manage the air traffic control with the Haitian government determining the priorities of which planes should land first.

In the days that followed the disaster, some planes, carrying much needed emergency supplies, doctors and field hospital equipment, were turned away because there were delays in getting planes on the ground to take off. That created a backup of other planes that were flying in and needed to land.

"There were planes that were scheduled to land but didn't," he said. "The pilot at some point has to make a decision about continuing to burn fuel or divert to the Dominican Republic. . . . That's unfortunate and not what we want to see."

Another problem at the airfield, Keen said, has been that air traffic control officials often didn't know what was aboard incoming planes so that made it difficult to prioritize which ones should land first -- an issue that he said is being fixed. And there was only one forklift at the airport when U.S. military arrived to help. More equipment has been brought in to help quickly unload planes

Very happily, a lot of Haitians are stepping up to help control and run things:
Despite the initial chaos of the event, Foster called it a success. Haitian volunteers came forward to organize the distribution and to help in providing security.

"They were ones who got all of the kids up the hill and brought them first, not us. I think that's an enormously positive step," Foster said. "The handful of times you may have seen a guy or two want to get rowdy, they policed those guys up themselves. I think that is very, very important to how this continues to flow."

Really, what you both expect and hope for: unless people have been beaten completely into the ground, there are those who'll step up; and every one that does makes the whole job that much easier.

Both links pointed to by Insty.

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