Haitian Quake Survivors Welcome U.S. Military Aid

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- As Haiti's homeless struggle to get food, water, and security, the ongoing arrival of U.S. military forces has been a welcome sight for many victims.

Nokeiza Samedi, a survivor of last week's tragic earthquake, picked a spot that was close to her destroyed home to spend the nights.

But never in her wildest imagination did she think that she and her family would be pitching their tent across the street from the Haitian presidential palace.

CBN News Reporter George Thomas was in Port-au-Prince when Wednesday's 6.1 aftershock rocked the already devestated region. He appeared on CBN News' Midday program to share more about that. Click play for his comments and for his report on Haiti's quake survivors.

"Look at it," Samedi said. "It too has been destroyed. My country is finished, every beautiful place has been crushed and destroyed. So now we are living on the ground."

Like the plaza around the presidential palace, much of Port-au-Prince has been turned into large refugee camps. Security at these camps and throughout much of Port-au-Prince remains tenuous.

"That's why we are thrilled that the Americans are here," Samedi continued. "They will make us feel much better."

Some 12,000 U.S. forces are expected in the region in coming weeks to help with relief and security. All week, U.S. Navy helicopters have been dropping food and water from the air.

For Pierre Rivenson, a proud father of two 2-month-old twins, the arrival of the Americans cannot come fast enough.

"We are very appreciative of what the Americans are doing," Rivenson said. "But they need to get out on the streets quickly. We are really suffering."

So late Tuesday night, the 82nd Airborne conducted their first relief mission just south of the airport distributing food and water. It drew thousands of Haitians who stood patiently for hours in straight lines.

"What does it mean for you to be here?" CBN News Correspondent George Thomas asked an 82nd Airborne soldier.

"I am happy to be here helping them in their time of need and giving them any support I can support them with," the 82nd Airborne soldier answered.

Some critics are accusing the Americans of invading the country in the name of aid. But many said this time it is different.

"I think now we are asking for them to come. That may have been the difference in the past, where we felt that, maybe they are being forced on us," earthquake survivor Tanya Chihimie said. "This time we really need them here, we want them here."

As aid workers try to get water and food to ravaged parts of the city, thousands are trying to get out of the capital hoping to seek shelter elsewhere.

More than 200,000 people died in last Tuesday's magnitude 7.0 quake. At least 250,000 more are injured and nearly 2 million people like Samedi are without a place to call home.

"This is like a bad dream. I can't believe this is happening," Samedi said. "But I hope the situation changes once the Americans are on the streets."

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CBN News
George Thomas

George Thomas

CBN News Sr. Reporter

CBN News is a national/international, nonprofit news organization that provides programming 24 hours a day by cable, satellite and the Internet.