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Storms Batter Haiti, U.S. Responds

As residents of Haiti struggle to recover from yet another major storm to hit the island nation this summer, the United States is responding with emergency aid and disaster relief.

Tropical Storm Hanna caused major flooding in Haiti, leaving at least 137 people dead and many more stranded on rooftops without food or clean water. Some low-lying areas were cut off from the rest of the country by floodwaters or mudslides, a situation that Haitian President Rene Preval has called catastrophic.

International aid teams from the United Nations are already on the ground, and the United States was quick to follow. U.S. Coast Guard aircraft and cutters are evaluating damage, searching for survivors, and delivering aid. The U.S. Navy helicopter aircraft carrier Kearsarge arrived off Haiti’s southwest coast September 8 to assist with delivery of emergency supplies and medical services – an outstanding example of the Fourth Fleet in action.

Thus far, the U.S. government has provided $5 million in new money and has redirected $5 million in existing funds, for a total of $10 million to address the current crisis in Haiti. USAID is also directing emergency food distribution to affected areas, drawing down on commodities brought into Haiti as part of the $45 million dollars in emergency food assistance provided following the April food price crisis. Stocks of relief supplies stored on the island are being released, and additional supplies from emergency stockpiles in Miami will follow soon.

Even as Hanna and other potential storms target the U.S., the nation will continue efforts to aid Haiti both with immediate humanitarian assistance and longer-term recovery as information continues to come in.