Our team is now back from their mercy mission to deliver relief supplies to Port-au-Prince (PAP). The following post comes from our team leader's notes resulting from the trip.
Today was one of the days which I will remember for the rest of my life. I've seen disasters on television, and heard reports of terrible events in our world. Although it impacted me, none of it compares with what I saw today.
This morning we decided to take food, clothing, and water into PAP to help whoever we could. We ended up taking about 150 meals that would feed approximately 300 people, plus 660 small pouches of water and 100 bags of clothing (shoes, tops, shorts, hats of varying sizes).
Karen, Luckner, and I along with six Haitians (three of whom were Haitian police officers) travelled into the city to distribute what we had, and to get a real idea of the extent of the disaster that had taken place in this country.
On the way in, the Haitian radio was on. The announcer said that the estimates at this time could be as high as 600,000 dead, which is a quarter of the city's population. But, with disease this could well jump to 1,000,000 people. I know this is a huge figure, and I can't even believe it when I say it, but I saw some of the reason behind these reports today.
Going into the city, we were about half way there when we started to see buildings that had collapsed. Just before we reached PAP we started coming across places where the road had heaved and cracked, so we had to drive very carefully across those sections. Our intention was to go to Del Mass, one of the main streets in PAP, where a lot of the commerce and retail takes place. It's also a section where the mother of one of the people with us lived - we wanted to see if she was safe. (Thankfully she was.)
Our first stop was at a school that had 1050 students and teachers. It had collapsed, with almost all inside. The death toll was almost 100% there. We talked to one young man who escaped, but his brother (a teacher there) did not. They were still hauling bodies out when we arrived, and I believe they will be for many days.
We saw military planes flying in and out bringing supplies, so I know help has started to arrive. But I can`t see how a few planes can bring enough food, water, and shelter for so many people.
I also saw a lot of looting going on, where people were digging into collapsed stores and taking whatever they could find there and running away with it. The UN forces and the police are everywhere doing their best to keep the city under control, but it`s a massive job with so many displaced people.
As far as the buildings of Port-au-Prince are concerned, the center of that city is completely devastated and destroyed. It will take many years to rebuild.