January 29, 2010

IF THEY WEREN'T KATRINAESQUE WE WOULDN'T CALL THEM CATASTROPHES:

Haiti Aid Efforts Go Awry in the 'Convoy to Nowhere' (CHRISTOPHER RHOADS, 1/29/10, WSJ)

Mr. Lewis's plan Wednesday morning seemed simple enough, and he had reason to be confident. His team was well seasoned from responding to brutal hurricanes in southern Florida the past decade. He had Mr. Minyard, the former Army Ranger, leading his 15-truck convoy. He had a unit from the 82nd U.S. Airborne providing security.

He'd also hired 150 Haitians from a nearby missionary school, as well as a team of Haitian security personnel, to help do the work of loading and unloading the 150 or so tons of food.

It was supposed to be a proud and symbolic step in this city's recovery. Mr. Lewis's organization put out a news release that morning, trumpeting the effort.

"This is about Haitians helping Haitians," Mr. Lewis said early Wednesday as the convoy got under way.

The goal for the day: Mr. Lewis's 15 smaller trucks would meet at a warehouse to pick up about 65 tons of bulk food, and then meet up with five larger WFP trucks to get still more food. Then, his smaller and more maneuverable trucks would distribute the food at a site to be determined during the day.

It was imperative that all this happen during daylight hours, out of concerns for security. Even during daytime, some food drops in recent days had turned violent. In one case earlier this week, U.N. troops providing security for the group had squeezed off several rounds from their 50-caliber guns over the horde of desperate Haitians fighting for food.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 29, 2010 7:39 AM
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