Jan. 15, 2010 -- We watched Friday as aircraft arrived nonstop, carrying massive amounts of food, water and U.S. military personnel along with it.
Some 20,000 large water containers arrived today and 80,000 more are on the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of Haiti, along with 600,000 daily food rations which are continually flowing in.
But all this effort and all these supplies moving does not mean Haitians are getting the large supplies of food and water that they need. Instead, most of the supplies are sitting idle at the airport.
The widespread distribution of desperately needed supplies to Haiti's earthquake victims won't happen until tomorrow.
Stuck In the Pipeline
Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, who is overseeing the operation, says he wishes things were moving faster but there are procedures that must be followed.
"Security is the issue" he said, "What has to happen from a planning and a coordination part has to happen with the United Nations, the government of Haiti and all the relief organizations."
We went around to various aid organizations asking the same question: why aren't these supplies getting to the people who need them?
Security Is Key
We were told this is a layered effort. First, the government of Haiti must choose distribution points, the World Food program then works up a distribution plan and then U.N. forces in Haiti provide security with the help of the U.S. military to get the food out. The bottom line: it's not going to happen until tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the people wait.
After a day of asking questions, we have an idea why there is such a wait for supplies. But the Haitians don't, they have no communications.
"We have no idea why we are waiting," said one person.
We did see some food and water distributed today but it was on a small scale for such a huge disaster. Nothing about the distribution was organized, but it was welcome all the same.
As for the U.S. military, they made some deliveries by helicopter, but the 82nd Airborne, which has now begun to arrive, was mainly providing security at the airport. Among other things, they were busy helping injured people just getting dropped and trying to hold back those frantic to get out of the country.
Of course, there are greater complications involved in this delivery of aid than normal. The Haitian government itself has been decimated and so many humanitarian workers, from the World Food program to the U.N., were killed in the earthquake. So, all this country can do now, is wait.