Eyewitness account: “I don”t know what I”m going to find’


by Hauke Hoops, regional emergency coordinator in Haiti

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hauke Hoops, CARE”s Regional Emergency Coordinator, flew from Panama to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, just after midnight Jan. 13. We reached him at the airport in Santo Domingo Jan. 13 at 6 a.m. local time, as he was preparing to board a humanitarian flight to Port-au-Prince.

Eyewitness account: “I don”t know what I”m going to find’ image 1
Hauke Hoops, Regional Emergency Coordinator

''I arrived this morning in Santo Domingo, just after midnight. I
haven”t slept all night. I stayed a few hours in a hotel that was fully
booked with aid workers. The airport was full of aid workers, rescue
teams. A lot of different aid agencies are coming into Santo Domingo
and trying to get into Port-au-Prince.

''The airport in Santo Domingo is organized, very under control.
It”s still on the quiet side, because we are some of the first aid
workers to fly in through Santo Domingo. It will start to get busier
today as more aid workers fly in. It is turning into the humanitarian
hub. The government of Dominican Republic is charging ahead at full
speed to help. This is a big tourist country, so they have the
infrastructure in place to handle so many flights and people coming in.

''At the airport, I met with many other agencies, and we are
discussing how to get humanitarian supplies into Port-au-Prince. I
don”t know what I”m going to find when I get to Port-au-Prince. I
haven”t been able to reach our staff there by phone today, so I don”t
know if anyone knows when I arrive. It”s far from the airport to CARE”s
office, and it will not be easy to find transport. Roads are blocked,
and fuel will be hard to come by. Electricity is a real problem.

''I brought a hammock and sleeping bag and I am prepared to sleep
outside. I don”t know where I will be staying because hotels have been
destroyed. The houses of our colleagues have been destroyed.''

''Reports are that there is no water or food in Port-au-Prince. I”m
bringing some water and food, but luggage is limited. That will be
CARE”s first priority for the emergency response, and I am working with
other agencies to find options to procure food and water for the people
affected. Maybe from Gonaives, maybe from Dominican Republic. I will
know more when I arrive what is available and what is not.''