Obama pledges $100 million aid to Haiti
By Michael D. Shear
President Obama pledged $100 million toward what he called a massive logistical effort to rescue people in the demolished capital of Haiti and vowed that the world will not abandon the devastated nation.
"You will not be forsaken. You will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you," Obama said Thursday morning. "Today you must know that help is arriving. Much, much more help in on the way."
Flanked by Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama pledged that the immediate rescue of Haiti's people, as well as its long-term recovery, will be a top priority of the U.S. government.
Obama said Biden will meet with Haitian Americans in south Florida over the weekend to coordinate that community's efforts even as the military and diplomatic efforts continue in Haiti.
In his second remarks on the crisis, Obama called the aftermath of the earthquake "nothing less than devastating." But he appeared eager to offer the people of Haiti -- including thousands of American on the island -- some amount of hope in the days ahead.
"None of this will seem quick enough if you have a loved one who is trapped, if you're sleeping on the streets, if you can't feed your children," the president acknowledged. But he added, "More American search and rescue teams are coming, more food, more water, doctors, nurses, paramedics."
Obama said the U.S. military had secured the city's airport and had begun a 24-hour a day airlift of water and medicine. He said the Coast Guard has begun evacuations of American citizens that will continue in the days ahead.
The 82nd Airborne Division has arrived, Obama said, and the Navy's hospital ship, Comfort, is on its way. More Coast Guard cutters are steaming toward the island, he said.
The president acknowledged that distribution of the goods and services arriving on the island is difficult. The roads are damaged, he said, and communications in the city are just beginning to recover. He said a U.S. survey team had provided its assessment to government agencies and non-government aid groups last night.
"This morning, I can report that the first waves of our rescue and relief workers are on the ground and at work," he said.
Obama said the initial $100 million investment will grow as America helps to rebuild its neighbor's infrastructure in the coming year. He said the government's resources will be combined with the generosity of Americans who he thanked for the contributions they have already made.
Michael D. Shear
January 14, 2010; 10:42 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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