Hillary In Haiti; Bill Clinton, Bush Form Fund Drive
GUY RAZ, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
President BARACK OBAMA: At this moment, we're moving forward with one of the largest relief efforts in our history, to save lives and to deliver relief that averts an even larger catastrophe.
RAZ: That's President Obama just hours ago, announcing that his two predecessors will spearhead a campaign to raise money for Haiti.
This hour, we'll get the latest from Haiti and hear the story of how one American, Rick Santos, survived buried under the rubble.
Mr. RICK SANTOS (President and CEO, IMA World Health): And then that evening was really tough. I mean, the space was starting to actually contract a little bit as the rubble was starting to kind of settle the room - the compartment we were in actually was getting smaller and try to make it through. It was just a very hard night.
RAZ: For the first time since he took the oath of office, President Obama was flanked by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The White House has now set up a fund where you can contribute. The Web site is clintonbushhaitifund.org.
Pres. OBAMA: As the scope of the destruction became apparent, I spoke to each of these gentlemen, and they each asked the same simple question, how can I help?
Mr. BILL CLINTON (Former United States President): I have no words to say what I feel like. When you - I was in those hotels that collapsed. I had meals with people who are dead.
Mr. GEORGE W. BUSH (Former United States President): I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water, just send your cash.
RAZ: Presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush at the White House today. Haiti's interior minister says 50,000 bodies have already been collected across the country. Tens of thousands more may be buried under the debris landscape that is now Port-au-Prince. The government has now handed over control of the country's main airport to the U.S. military in order to handle the number of aid flights coming in.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived to that airport this afternoon carrying relief supplies.
We begin our coverage with NPR's Carrie Kahn, who's at the airport in Port-au-Prince.
And, Carrie, what is Secretary Clinton planning to offer right away?
CARRIE KAHN: Well, she brought some nominal supplies with her on the C-130 that she flew in from Washington, D.C. She brought about a hundred cases of water and some MREs for the Haitian people, and she also brought some supplies for the U.S. embassy staff.
But what they're talking about is the real guts, the logistical needs that Haiti has and she's talking with the president and asking him exactly what it is. She says the military is prepared to clear up as many bottlenecks as they can and do whatever they need to do.
I think one of the big concerns is the airport and also a seaport so that they can bring in heavy equipment and more equipment faster, because the airport here has just one single small runway...
KAHN: ...and it gets crowded quick and the traffic piles up quick.
RAZ: All right, Carrie, and I understand that the U.S. military is now in charge of the airport in Port-au-Prince. Is it clear that the U.S. military is there in charge?
KAHN: Yes, it is very clear that they're in charge. Planes are landing quicker and taking off quicker. The runway is not as chaotic as it has been. There seems to be a lot of order.
I did talk to a couple pilots today, some from the Dominican Republic who had just brought in some doctors from all over the world to help out, and they were just saying they were so much more at ease and it wasn't as dangerous as it had been in previous days and things seemed to be running more smoothly. And you can see that.
You can hear loudly, I'm sure, planes taking off and landing every five, 10 minutes here.
RAZ: So there's a clear sense that supplies are now coming in more quickly.
KAHN: I saw some amazing cargo planes come in, park, UN trucks pulled up, soldiers popped out of the back of the cargo planes and just started loading up to the U.N. trucks. And the U.N. trucks were out of the airport. I can't tell you what happened once they got past the gates of the airport. That's where a lot of the problems are now.
I spoke to a USAID worker who said that they feel like they're getting the airport under control. Now, they got to get all the aid out into the streets.
RAZ: Carrie, with respect to recovery efforts, are you seeing major recovery efforts all over the city?
KAHN: I can tell you, Guy, yesterday, I saw one giant Caterpillar front loader truck. I saw one. Today, we saw this flotilla dump trucks coming through the city. It can't even measure up to the immense job ahead for the Haitian people, but at least you see it. You didn't see it for the first three days, and I'm sure that just gives everybody more anxiety, more desperation when you see nothing.
KAHN: At least you're seeing something.
RAZ: And is there a sense that the supplies and that food are actually being distributed fairly quickly?
KAHN: That's their logistical problem now. I asked the U.S. ambassador to Haiti what is your bottleneck problem now, and he said getting the aid to those distribution centers and then getting the aid to the people. They're getting it done. It's happening, but not nearly as quick as the people need it.
RAZ: What about the fear of violence? There has been some concern, I understand, by Haitian officials that there could be riots.
KAHN: I haven't seen any of that so far. What I did see are very tense situations. I can tell you that the gas stations, it is scary. There is screaming, yelling, pushing, long lines. There isn't enough gas. And people can't get where they need to go. They can't do anything. And so, that increases the frustration level.
RAZ: That's NPR's Carrie Kahn in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Carrie, thanks so much and stay safe.
KAHN: You're welcome.
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