Hebrews 12:1-2

"..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." - Hebrews 12:1-2

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Response to Haiti is Deadly

Reading this story about Haiti this morning, I was shocked by this line:
A U.S. Air Force C-17 circumvented airport congestion by dropping 55,000 pounds -- about 40 pallets -- of bottled water and food into Haiti on Monday, the first U.S. airdrop of supplies.
The first airdrop of supplies into a nation that has basically zero infrastructure left just took place yesterday?!??!
Almost one full week after the initial 7.0 magnitude earthquake?
That's right.
The quake happened at 3:53:10 last Tuesday and the first airdrop of supplies happened the following Monday after 6 days of struggling to get aid in through the overcrowded airport.

It is 681 miles from Miami, Fl to Haiti.
That means that it took approximately 144 hours to moves 40 pallets of goods almost 700 miles. That's an average travel time of just under 5 miles per hour (4.729 to be exact). That means that if you could walk on water, you could have walked to Haiti and delivered a bottle of water faster than this first airdrop took place.

I guess that I have been assuming that we were doing airdrops from day 2 (last Wednesday) and assumed that we were getting supplies to the people who desperately needed them. It took us 2 days to begin airdrops in Banda Aceh, Indonesia after the tsunami there and that is on the other side of the globe (over 6,000 miles from Hawaii).

Why is it taking us so long to figure out how to attach some parachutes to some pallets of water and food and fly it to a place that is less than a 4 hour roundtrip away?

In my opinion, FEMA Administrator Fugate has got some explaining to do.
After Hurricane Katrina, our President caught a lot of flack for telling Mr. Brown he did a "heck of a job" with hurricane Katrina response, most of it altogether justified and deserved in my opinion. With an understanding that this is not on US soil and there are other nations involved, how do we not look at Mr. Fugate's response and question its effectiveness?

Do we need to try and work within the confines of the international community and get "permission" to carry out missions in their country? Sure. But while all of that bureaucracy is taking place, you load the planes and get them airborne. If you don't get the "all clear" to enter their airspace before you arrive you can either continue circling the island or simply fly over it and drop your supplies. Let's face it, Haiti is not going to shoot you out of the sky and the people need the supplies you would be delivering. Sure, some countries might raise a stink about us violating their sovereign rights as a nation or whatever, but I am pretty sure the people of Haiti and the government of Haiti would be quick to overlook such a deviation from international protocol.

In my opinion, something is terribly broken with how we have responded to this disaster. And I fear that many Haitians have paid for the delay with their lives.

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