PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Another 4,000 U.S. troops are bound to Haiti to take part in the relief effort. That will raise the number involved to more than 16,000.
The four U.S. Navy ships dispatched to assist with the relief efforts in Haiti arrived off the coast of that country late Monday. But with the port facilities out of commission in Port-au-Prince they first had to identify a suitable staging area on land where ships could offload their heavy equipment and supplies.
After a low-level fly-over, they found a Christian mission compound with a suitable beach on the outskirts of the capital.
Captain Thomas Negus, the commodore of the amphibious readiness group, contacted the caretaker.
"I tracked down the owner of the land and I explained the situation and told him of the requirement to move things across the beach for relief supplies and permission if we could use his compound," Negus said.
Soon afterward, landing crafts were heading for the beach.
The Marines and sailors came ashore and established a beach out in Port-au-Prince. They brought in vehicles and supplies and are hoping to be able to get them out to the Haitian people as soon as possible.
"We're here today to try to bring some aid to this area, like most of efforts so far seems to be for Port-au-Prince," said Shirley Reijo of U.S. Navy Affairs. "We were hoping to be able to start some distribution points this afternoon, trying to work together so we can do a coordinated effort and do the most good in the most places."
Crowds of curious Haitians, many of whom had eaten very little since the earthquake, flocked to watch the Marines and sailors come ashore.
"Yeah, when we see the Army come. We got hope that they are going to do something for us to improve our situation," Haitian school teacher Alberto said.
Kency Christophe, working as a Creole translator, grew up in a village near the area and hopes to get word that her family in the area is ok.
"When I first got on the beach, it was heart-breaking because the first thing they said to me was, 'Haiti's gone. There's no more Haiti,'" Christophe said.
Shortly after sunrise, the next morning, a series of aftershocks underscored the urgency of the operation and the sailors re-doubled their efforts to get the aid ashore.
"I imagine that this is the first of many beaches that we will be establishing the service to a very large area," Negus said.
"God will provide. Even right now our hearts are broken, but we know God can rescue our heart," Alberto said.