We don't really understand how bad it is because the news correspondents are themselves restricted to certain areas, out of fear for their lives. For instance, the city of Port-au-Prince has no electricity, which means total darkness at night for the vast majority of the victims. This is something that the average American would find hard to picture. And this in a city of some 2 million people.
So far, it seems as if most people there are still recovering from the shock. With almost no technical means, or infrastructure in place to respond to such a catastrophe, the immediate response of the people there was to try to find loved ones, digging into the rubble with there own hands.
From the reports I have observed, it seems as if almost any structure over two stories was either levelled or severely damaged
The Haitian president, Rene Preval, is essentially helpless. The 'presidential palace' is destroyed, as is his own home. With the lack of any essential services, he is being guarded by UN troops who have been stationed there for a number of years, and by his own 'security forces' or what remains of them.
What we are witnessing here will make Hurricane Katrina look like 'child's play'. We already have reports of Haitinans creating roadblocks with piles of corpses, certainly done out of frustration. There are some reports of organized gang/criminal activity, which is waht occurs when the thin veneer of civilization is stripped off.
The UN troops have been trying to distribute the slow trickle od essential relief supplies that are coming in, but they are scared, and in some cases are met with mob scenes.
Bill Clinton has been on CNN, doing whatever Bill Clinton does: 'mobilizing support' I guess. Iceland actually has a rescue team on the ground, and they are digging people out. Obama has been on TV, too, looking 'serious' and saying the right things. But no real help from any US Government agencies. Hillary Clinton cut short a vacation.
US Marines and Army are reported ready to land at the beginning of next week, and this will bring some needed leadership and mechanics to the situation. But what they are walking into is chaos, and this chaos will not be resolved any time soon, no matter how Herculian the effort.
Those Haitians who live out of the city, no matter how poor, can thank God that they are removed from this present scene.
Haiti has always been the poorest country in our hemisphere, and although some progress has been made economically, this disaster will wipe out much of that. In doing some research for this short article, I have found a profound lack of information about the true economic and political situation in Haiti readily available on the Internet. For instance, who really rules Haiti? Who are the ruling elite who have taken no steps to improve the lives of their people? I can find no names. I read one blog, the Rene Preval Blog, where I tried to gain some insight on the major business people, the rich ones, who they are, but all I read was that 'wealthy mullatoes' were taking the money out of Haiti and building mansions in the US and Europe.
Haiti is a transhipment point for dope, but this money does not go into essential services.
So, we can simply watch as this unfolds. Various service organizations, and Christian charities are attempting to expedite the relief effort. The websites of these organizations can be easily found, say, if you type in 'Haitian relief'.
In the meantime, my prayers are with these people.
Haiti says 200000 may be dead, violence breaks out | Reuters