Todd Shea reports from Haiti

UPDATE: Donations can be made for Todd's organization's work in Haiti here.

3QD friend Todd Shea arrived in Haiti from Pakistan a couple of days ago to assist in managing the relief effort. Today he has filed this report via Facebook:

Dear Friends,

ScreenHunter_03 Jan. 17 11.30 I'm sad to report that the situation in Haiti is acute and worsening-people are beginning to get even more desperate and frustrated. The leadership of the Government of the U.S. and its partner nations are “forming up” great things that will take shape in a week or so down the road, but they really need to quickly work through the current paralyzing logistical challenges with harder work and innovative and dramatic re-thinking of the fundamentally flawed, incomplete and inadequate “fly mostly into one airport, then organize and deliver a huge majority of critical aid into one central point and fan out from there” train wreck of a strategy that is not reaching the majority of Haitians in time to avoid major conseuences and an unacceptable level of after-event mortality and morbidity. The collective official response should have been completely on-track by today. As usual, many big shots are failing to think selflessly and share their financial, operational resources with smaller but super-effective agencies- acting like they are the only game in town and the smaller agencies are merely a nuisance underfoot that should just be ignored. This attitude is is not helping anyone. Quite frankly, I would have thought some of them would have learned an important lesson from other disasters where some of the same mistakes were made.

Here's the bottom line: If things don't start improving very rapidly, then life and limb-threatening infections and deadly dehydration and unnecessary conflict will likely emerge within the affected population on a scale that has the potential of becoming rampant and widespread, resulting in more death and injury that could still be avoided, though time is fast running out. The current path to giving Haiti the relief it desperately needs is simply taking way too long in developing in order to be a reasonable and defensible short term emergency strategy. Each country should, by now, be realizing that it is very much the correct option would be to stage multiple and overwhelmingly robust and well managed multi-national supply lines and helicopter sorties using locations and bases other than Port Au Prince Airport, particularly from the Dominican Republic through the border near Jumani, D.R. It's 7-10 hours by road (depending on the kind of vehicle and size of the load), but it's a darn good road compared to the roads in the Pakistan earthquake affected areas that I've been traveling on for the past four years. Distributing aid from several points over a more widespread area can reach far more people far more quickly.

Everyone needs to accelerate and better coordinate relief efforts to avoid conflict and a potentially dangerous escaltion of tensions being felt by Hatians throughout the country, some of whom I found waiting and suffering without any outside help whatsoever so far.

The medical teams of our multi-organization joint mission's Medical teams have begun to arrive in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The first team (four doctors from IMANA and a nurse from Destiny World Outreach) is here. I came back from Haiti to pick them up and will deploy them and more medicines/supplies at 9 am Sunday, after picking up one more doctor. At least 5 more teams are planning to arrive in the next 7 days.

The border is OPEN for our mission. Some rumors have led people to believe that the border is closed. The gate in shut and locked it at night, I have been coming and going at all times, including 2 am last night/morning. The road is in great condition all the way from Santo Domingo to the eastern side of Port Au Prince. Commander Santana of the Dominican Repulic Army Border Station has become a friend and has assured me that teams I am deploying will not have a problem getting in and out.

Some ground rules for volunteers: Only call me if it's important (I should have a working number in Haiti in less than 24 hours), Any teams or individuals need to provide me with Name, DOB, Passport Number, Occupation/Specialty/Skills, flight numbers (with dates and times), I need to be given the date that you plan to fly back (or make me aware if you are deploying indefinitely). In the interest of proper communication and coordination, give me as much notice of ALL flight info as soon as possible. Rember that deployment strategies and ground realities from day to day and often several times a day, and know that you are entering one of the most tragic, toxic, difficult and challenging environments (in every way you can imagine) that you will ever encounter. Medical Teams shoud deploy out of Santo Domingo and not Santiago. Santiago is closer to the border. And a request to the U.S. Government: please set a up a large helicopter supply and medivc operation out of the Barahona airport, in the Dominican Republic, only about an hour or so from the Hatian border by road. It's a beautiful but horribly under-utilized in this disaster response. It has decent airfield capabilities and has a 3,000 meter runway.

Photos of our mission will be provided when I come back to Santo Domingo to deploy more volunteers (Tuesday)


Current Strategy
We will continue and strengthen Supply Lines and deployment of aid volunteers to Haiti via The Dominican Republic as a critically important secondary staging areas at Croix De Bouqueis (45 minutes east of Port Au Prince) and Eastern Port Au Prince. This effort is working to support the movement of volunteers, relief goods and healthcare services to those people in the eastern and northern parts of the city and surrounding areas (and those fleeing eastward and northward away from the city) who are not recieving enough (or any) relief from the airport, which is still struggling to smooth out congestion and severe logistical challenges.

As I emphasized before, the painfully slow flow of relief goods and services fanning out from a central but devastated and logistically problematic area (The Airport and Seaport of Port Au Prince are in the most catastrophically affected areas) is not yet helping most of the affected population. After assessing and exploring the feasability of employing a strategy of establishing relief staging areas with coordinating parters on Jan 15, it was decided by all to immediately accelerate this undertaking and encourage more agencies, teams and nations to follow suit. Other entities have also correctly assessed the ground realiies and independently recognized the great need of bringing aid into the airportand move it westward by road across the Dominican/Hatian Border

Needs: a steady supply line of syringes, I/V Fliuds and lines, anti-inflammatory pain medication, Oral Rehydration Salts, first line anti- biotics, Pediatric Medicines and supplies, ob/gyn medicines and supplies, surgical gloves, alcohol swabs, Q-tips, baby formula, baby wipes, tents, clothes, cash for renting more trucks and purchasing fuel and critical field supplies AND as much water (and water purification systems) as can be procured through donations or government distribution.


Todd Shea