Skip to comments.Puerto Rico responds to earthquake devastation in Haiti
Posted on 01/14/2010 6:22:04 AM PST by rrstar96
As the island mobilized to help Haiti, Interim Gov. Kenneth McClintock sent three military helicopters and two C-130 cargo airplanes from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard filled with emergency personnel and equipment to aid the neighboring Caribbean nation, which was devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake Tuesday evening.
Since this morning I have been in contact with United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton and Haitian Consul General in Miami Ralph Latourtude to put Puerto Rico at Haitis service, McClintock said during a news conference to announce various collection centers where local residents can make donations of water, over-the-counter drugs, personal hygiene products, food and clothing.
Among the first round of emergency personnel Puerto Rico sent Wednesday afternoon to Haiti were 20 structural engineers and logistics, communications and rescue personnel, as well as two rescue dogs. This advance team will set up the command center from which 150 to 200 members of the islands Urban Rescue Team which became well known for their participation in New York after 9/11 will operate, said State Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Heriberto Saurí.
As of Wednesday, it was feared that 100,000 people may have died in the quake, whose epicenter was 8.7 miles to the southwest of the nations capital of Port-au-Prince, which has been devastated by the disaster. The nations university, presidential palace, cathedral, and the headquarters for some 9,000 U.N. relief workers stationed in the poverty stricken nation were among the buildings destroyed by the temblor, which reportedly is the worst Haiti has suffered in the past 200 years.
Among the 3 million people affected are approximately 45,000 U.S. citizens living there, many of whom remained unaccounted for.
Federal government sets up hotline
The federal government has set up a hotline for people looking for updates on U.S. citizens in Haiti at the following telephone numbers: 202-647-5225 and 202-647-5226, McClintock said.
McClintock also put Puerto Rico National Guard military units for water purification, police, engineering and communications on call to be sent to Haiti pending deployment orders from U.S. Armys Southern Command.
Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador Charles Shapiro who is in Puerto Rico to participate in a conference of economic advisers of all American embassies in the hemisphere said emergency flights in and out of Port-au-Prince are being handled by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter off the coast of Haiti, because while the citys air strip remains intact, Port- au-Princes control tower was completely destroyed by the earthquake.
The Puerto Rico government, in conjunction with the local Red Cross, will also launch a three-day blood drive starting Friday for the injured, McClintock said. We must hurry [in the collection of articles] because the first days are the most important, Saurí said, adding that water, medicine and items for personal hygiene will be the products most needed in the first days of the disaster.
Collection centers at Hiram Bithorn Stadium and public schools
The central governments main collection center will be in Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Hato Rey and will operate from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, McClintock said. The government will also set up collection depots in the islands 1,500 schools, at government agency offices and regional offices of the State Insurance Fund. All the donations will be ferried to Haiti, free of charge, by Ferries del Caribe. The transfer of relief is being coordinated with Dominican officials, McClintock said.
The Legislature also will have a collection center on the north side of the Capitol that will operate from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, said Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Jenniffer González, who also attended the news conference.
The government is also in talks with the pharmaceutical industry association to see if they can donate prescription drugs needed for the relief effort, McClintock said.
We have also talked to both the Mayors Federation and Association so that local mayors can set up collection depots in their municipalities to help the relief effort, he said, while urging local residents to donate to their devastated neighbors in Haiti. We want the people of Haiti to feel the warmth of the hug they will receive from Puerto Rico.
In times like these you do not donate what is left over, you donate what you dont even have, McClintock said.
Once rescue efforts begin to wind down, Puerto Ricos public television station will hold a telethon on Jan. 22 at the Guaynabo Fine Arts Center to raise money to help Haitians rebuild their lives, he said. The central government will also be offering transport to local media because it is important that people know what is going on with our neighbors, he said.
Besides Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Panamá, Guatemala, Jamaica and Cuba are among the Latin American and Caribbean nations that have sent relief to Haiti within 24 hours of the devastating earthquake.
I can hardly wait for Couric or matty lauer refer to this report and the name of the author.
The three helicopters are from the Army National Guard, not the Air National Guard.