Friday, September 26, 2008

Doing What Needs To Be Done!

Today marked a milestone for our disaster relief efforts herein Haiti – our aircrew have now dropped over one million pounds of supplies over the country of Haiti. While we continue to drop bags of rice, beans, and flour, jugs of cooking oil and bottles of water, it is with a sense of remorse that we must prepare to depart this country. Operation Continuing Promise beckons us in other countries, and we must resume our commitment to these partner nations.
During the past 17 days that we have been in Haiti, we have worked and cooperated closely with USAID, OFDA, World Food Program, the UN, and many others. During the last few days, we put together portfolios of our efforts, resources, and lessons learned. Kearsarge’s capabilities will now transition to other surface and air lift assets. World Food Program contracted their own helicopters to continue the heavy air lift capabilities that Team Continuing Promise has provided these last 17 days. Our crew is working double time, still arranging for food and supplies to reach Haitians before we depart, and also preparing for a smooth transition to the NGOs who will take over. We will not leave this country without ensuring a smooth transition, and NO gap in the amount of aid delivered.
Today we conducted our first combined assessments with medical NGOs and government agencies. Our medical team visited the cities of Ennery and St. Michael. Our engineers have also been busy; today we procured material to repair a well and water distribution system in the town of Bainet. This town is home to 6,000 people, and this one well is the single water source supporting not only the town, but also the region of 20,000 residents and the only hospital. The materials were delivered to the airport in Port-au-Prince today; at the crack of dawn tomorrow our engineers will be hard at work repairing this very important well.
In the midst of grueling labors and detailed planning, Kearsarge hosted a reception this afternoon. In attendance was the Deputy Chief of Mission, Haiti Minister of Public Works, USAID Director, and senior members from OFDA, World Food Program, MINUSTAH, and the Canadian Embassy. After coordinating and communicating with these individuals for 17 days now, I was touched to see everyone sit down together, sharing food and laughter. Friendships have been forged in Haiti, and we will never forget those who we worked along side with these many strenuous weeks, those who labored as hard as us, those who share our commitment to the people, and the country, of Haiti. As we continue to transition our relief efforts to the NGOs, this one reception illuminated the impact we all have toward Haiti. There is lots to be done, so let me get back to it...

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