When a major earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, tragically killing over 150,000 people the United States immediately mounted an emergency response, deploying search and rescue teams and medical personnel as well as hundreds of tons of emergency food, water, medical and hygiene supplies, and temporary shelters.
On August 14, 2021, another major earthquake shook Haiti resulting in significant death, injury, and destruction, and the United States again offered immediate support to the people of Haiti.
“In what is already a challenging time for the people of Haiti, I am saddened by the devastating earthquake that occurred in Saint-Louis du Sud, Haiti this morning. We send our deepest condolences to all those who lost a loved one or saw their homes and businesses destroyed. I have authorized an immediate U.S. response and named USAID Administrator Samantha Power as the senior U.S. official to coordinate this effort,” said President Joe Biden.
“Through USAID, we are supporting efforts to assess the damage and assist efforts to recover those who were injured and those who must now rebuild. The United States remains a close and enduring friend to the people of Haiti, and we will be there in the aftermath of this tragedy.”
Haiti is prone to natural disasters, be they hurricanes or earthquakes. Taking this into consideration, USAID began providing support to the International Organization for Migration and the UN World Food Program to pre-position emergency relief supplies and food in the event of disasters, as well as to develop Government of Haiti personnel capacity to manage facilities and deploy supplies when necessary. This means that when disaster strikes in Haiti, life-saving pre-positioned supplies are immediately available for distribution to affected populations.
The wisdom of this decision became apparent following the earthquake when USAID partners were able to quickly begin distributing lifesaving relief supplies. In addition, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team or DART, within a day of the earthquake. By August 16, at the request of the Government of Haiti, USAID deployed a premiere Urban Search and Rescue team, which is now on ground conducting search and rescue operations as part of the DART and in coordination with Haitians on the ground.
USAID is also receiving support from the Department of Defense U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Coast Guard, which is ferrying DART personnel to and around the disaster area, and injured Haitians to Port-au-Prince for treatment.