In a special envoy recently approved by the US State Department, HFTH director Michael Bonderer will be departing Wednesday evening, January 20, from Miami, Florida with hopes of landing in Port-au-Prince. Although there is an extreme level of uncertainty, the team is planning to deliver aid supplies and will be working to establish a base camp of rebuilding efforts in Haiti. Please begin praying for the travelers in this and every envoy of aid workers to Haiti.
Actor Sean Penn has chartered a military cargo plane which will be packed with doctors, medical supplies, food rations, and ceramic water filters. Michael Bonderer will be joined by Rob Beckham, a long time volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing. Rob has led volunteers on service trips around the world and traveled extensively in countries with difficult conditions. HFTH friend Ruben Durand will be providing translation services for the group as well as many years of disaster response experience.
After delivering everything the plane can carry, part of the crew will begin work identifying locations where rebuilding can commence. Our ultimate goal is to find a way to begin building homes, clinics, and other necessary facilities in Haiti within 30 days. This may involve the clearing of damaged or demolished structures and assuring that truck access is possible to any piece of land to be used. Possibly the greatest challenge will be supplying a potential work site with quality building materials. We will need to locate or arrange the delivery of extremely large quantities of quality cement, steel wire mesh, reinforcing bar, and of course labor.
Another great challenge the team will need to overcome is the ability to move construction equipment into the city area as soon as possible. In El Salvador we have a warehouse full of aluminum forms, cement mixers, and other equipment which is immediately available for deployment to Haiti if access to the country were made available. Since it looks like the main Port-au-Prince shipping port will be out of commission for the foreseeable future, it will be necessary to locate alternative methods of land access. This could be accomplished through a smaller port in Haiti or through a port in the Dominican Republic.
The most important thing is that any structure built in Haiti needs to be built to sustain a multitude of future disasters. The rainy season is just around the corner, from May – July, and the inevitable hurricane season will be from July – October. It is critical to move as many of the nation’s now homeless people as possible off the streets and into reasonable living environments within the next four months. Entering damaged buildings is out of the question for safety reasons and giving the people of Haiti a sense of security is extremely important. The much needed, long term cleanup and infrastructure redevelopment work in Haiti can only begin when the masses of people are cared for and away from the damage.