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Quake Victims Struggle to Find Clean Water

January 14, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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Hari Sreenivasan gets a report from Matthew Marek, head of programs for the Red Cross in Haiti, about the problems aid organizations are having providing relief to the earthquake victims.
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MATTHEW MAREK, head of programs, American Red Cross, Haiti: What we’re expecting over the next few days are our emergency response unit teams, medical, telecommunications, logistics, relief units, and our — whatever supplies we can identify the population need.

But, right now, what’s most important is what’s happening in the search-and-rescue sectors. A lot of the population and the family in neighborhoods are trying to get still wounded victims out from under rubble. One of the major concerns that all of the international community has, including the Red Cross, is also to tend to the deceased, which are, very sadly, littering — littering the streets of Port-au-Prince right now.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Which causes a larger health concern for the population that’s still alive.

MATTHEW MAREK: Absolutely. And we have to take that into consideration immediately for our short-term relief efforts and our long-term planning. The population needs to be concerned with that as well.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Where are people getting their water?

MATTHEW MAREK: There’s — that’s a very good question — wherever they can get their water from.

It’s — right now, in Haiti’s economy, there’s a large informal sector on a lot of the…which is the small market women, you know, that occupy the streets and the market kiosks on the side of the road.

I would assume that a lot of their stocks are dwindling. Where Haitians would normally go to for water and drinks and small food items, a lot of the larger markets have been destroyed by the earthquake. We can assume that a lot of the warehouses that have housed shipments of food prior to the earthquake that normally are imported into Haiti have also incurred a lot of damage. People are very desperate, very desperate right now for everything, for food, for water.

And they’re holding out right now. They’re holding — they’re holding off right now.

HARI SREENIVASAN: How are you planning to get supplies in? We’re hearing about damaged ports.

MATTHEW MAREK: Right.

The news is reporting that the port itself is damaged. That’s accurate. The airport is reporting that the tower is out, but it’s being worked on, if it hasn’t already been worked on, as we have seen news reports as well that landing in the country on the — in the tarmac is possible. But it’s going to be a — very difficult regarding traffic, air traffic control.

At this point, a lot of cargo planes are coming in. And that is going to be the main source of getting things into the country right now, until other routes can be established.