After a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the southwestern part of the island Saturday, crumbling homes, destroying roads, and killing over 2,000 people, the United States dispatched a massive transport ship and began delivering field hospitals to Haiti.
According to a spokesperson for US Southern Command, the USS Arlington, a transport dock ship, left Naval Station Norfolk, Va. on Tuesday and is scheduled to arrive in Haiti by Sunday. A fleet surgical team, 200 marines, two helicopters, and a landing craft unit are aboard the ship.
Haiti was still reeling from the earthquake, the worst since 2010, when a 7.0-magnitude quake killed over 250,000 people, mostly in the capital of Port-au-Prince. According to Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, the death toll from Saturday’s earthquake has risen to nearly 2,200, with over 12,000 injured. Hospitals in the hardest-hit areas have been largely rendered inoperable, increasing the desperate need for additional medical care and assistance, according to Haitian officials.
On Thursday, SOUTHCOM’s Joint Task Force-Haiti planned to deliver a field surgical hospital to the southern city of Les Cayes. Samaritan’s Purse, a nongovernmental organization that provides spiritual and physical aid around the world, will run it. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday that four field hospitals would be established this week.
Since Saturday, the US military has sent three Coast Guard helicopters and three US Coast Guard cutters to Haiti, assisting hundreds of people and transporting nearly 7,000 pounds of medical supplies. In addition, the United States provided eight military helicopters from Joint Task Force-Bravo in Honduras.
Following the earthquake, members of Congress and Haitian American leaders urged the Biden administration to provide additional assistance, including extending the deadline for Haitians in the United States to qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). However, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated on Thursday that TPS was extended following President Jovenel Mose’s assassination last month and that DHS has no plans for further extensions.
“We looked at the tragedy of the assassination that occurred a while ago, and we did extend our originally designated date, but we are not looking at extending that date again,” Mayorkas said at a news conference in Miami before meeting with Haitian Americans leaders.
Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) said Thursday that the Congressional Haitian Staff Association met to continue assessing legislative responses to present to Congress when it returns next week.
Several organizations in the Haitian diaspora, including the Haitian Alliance Nurses Association International, a nonprofit coalition of 11 Haitian American Nurses Association chapters, have mobilized to provide aid.
Dr. Marie O. Etienne, President of HANA-I, stated that the organization has been raising funds and collecting medical supplies, as well as developing plans to safely deploy nurses to Haiti. “We’re actually involved with several organizations that are mobilizing,” Etienne said, adding that the group has been working with other organizations and participating in daily conference calls with Project Medishare, the University of Miami’s nonprofit health care arm that is at the forefront of coordinating relief material shipments.
Etienne explained that the group has been “ensuring that whatever care is provided is not only culturally relevant but also appropriate and that we exercise that humility.”
At least two HANA-I nurses have volunteered to conduct a needs assessment in the coming weeks, and other members are already volunteering in Haiti through health care organizations, such as Partners in Health.
“The needs assessment is critical; lodging, security, safety, where we’re going to put our nurses,” said Etienne, who was part of the 2010 earthquake relief effort. “Know the norms, know the proper psychological aid that is being rendered to those individuals and making sure that you use linguistic interpreters. … [If] you just come here and do it the American way, the way you’re used to, you can cause detriment.”