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Haiti's Logistical Nightmare; Elite Rescue Team From California En Route to Haiti; Rescue and Reuniting Efforts Continue Live After Devastating Haitian Quake

Aired January 14, 2010 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Nearing the 48-hour point since a massive earthquake hit Haiti, the window for finding survivors and keeping them alive, really, it is shrinking. The Red Cross now estimating about 50,000 deaths in Haiti. Yesterday, Haiti's prime minister figured hundreds of thousands could be dead.

Governments and aid groups across the globe also rushing to get help to the island, despite an overwhelmed airport there. And as our Dr. Sanjay Gupta told us from outside a hospital, just getting people and supplies from point A to point B is really a nightmare.

This hour, we're showing you the many ways that you can help out. And we'll show you how survivors are trying to get word back to their loved ones as well. No easy task considering the quake pretty much cut off the island from the rest of the world.

More U.S. military aid is heading for Haiti right now. The Coast Guard cutter Forward has already reached Port-au-Prince. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is expected this afternoon, and other military ships are headed there, too, including the USS Bataan, with 2,000 Marines on board.

And hospital ship Comfort is expected later this weekend. Comfort has 12 operating rooms and space for 1,000 beds.

But like I mentioned before, the quake decimated the port in Haiti's capital city, and it's going to be a real challenge getting the aid and the manpower to the people there.

We want to go now to CNN's Chris Lawrence.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Right now, there is no way to offload all that food and water and actually get it on the vehicles that could get it out to the people who need it the most.

We just got off talking with shipping, a man who works for a Haitian shipping company. He's got three vessels out there right now. He said they're all loaded up with food and water from different charities in Miami, in other countries around the area, but he said, "I don't have any way to offload it right now."

They're concerned about the structural integrity of the pier. Even if he got it off, there's no truck to that could get through here to get it to anyone. So they are really trying to come up with option B, C, D, anything they can do. It just is really showing you that getting the aid here is just step one. Getting it offloaded and getting it out to the people, that's maybe even tougher.


LEMON: That was CNN's Chris Lawrence.

You know, unexpected problems, delays, shortages, red tape, just a few of things that can complicate disaster relief. But maybe the biggest challenge rescuers and groups and troops will face in Haiti, that's going to be the clock. They are really racing against the clock.

We turn now again to Lieutenant General Russel Honore, a CNN contributor. He is back with us to talk about timelines here. He marched into New Orleans in 2005 to lead the military's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Before we get to that, I have a really good question that came to me on Twitter, General. The last time we spoke, just a few minutes ago, you mentioned people getting information. Here is what someone said on Twitter. He says, "Why not drop flyers to people there on the ground with the information so they can get it?"

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Don, there are a lot of techniques to do that, and that' one of them. And it is one that was absent during Katrina, and it created a lot of anxiety for people, because they didn't know what was going on. And we didn't have the capacity to give it to them. We need to correct that, and as soon as we can, start to pushing information to people, because rumors can cause the victims to make bad decisions.

Look, Don, this is about logistics. There's an old saying when I grew up in the Army, "Amateurs study tactics, the professionals study logistics." Because at the end of the day, water, food, ammunition, housing, those are the things that kept an Army running.

And this is a significant logistics operation that will require the best minds we've got and the best equipment. But we're running against time to get that airport up 24 hours a day and to get that port open. We're talking about hours, not days, Don.

LEMON: So, listen, you went in -- as we said, you marched in and you took care of the situation back in 2005 for Hurricane Katrina. So this is one city. How many of you do they need there in order to help in this task? Because we're talking about a place that's bigger than New Orleans.

HONORE: Well, the thing right now is to empower who is coordinating the operations on the ground. And in the beginning of a disaster, that's always traditionally a problem.

But we've got experience with this. How do we capture those lessons from the last time we did this -- the big one was Katrina and the hurricanes last year -- by putting somebody in charge on the ground who can make the decisions?

Ultimately, constitutionally, law-wise that's the president of Haiti. But in the point in time, who is he going to put -- who is going to be the significant coordinator on the ground to coordinate relief efforts as well as set the priorities on that airport?

LEMON: General, you bring up a very good point when we talk about the red tape and dealing with different governments there. What's happening now? In situations like this, is there a lot of red tape? Might the U.S. and other countries get a lot of pushback from the Haitian government?

HONORE: I don't think you'd get a lot of pushback from the Haitian government. I think what we create is our own pushback.

In the case of what we have, we've got USAID as the lead agency. They're having to request support they need through the Department of Defense and through the other agencies. Then those agencies look at it and they work the timeline.

This is why I have been preaching for the last two days, doing the search and rescue and the initial deployment should be led by the Department of Defense so they can assess what they need and they are not waiting on a request from USAID to request that. This should be led by military.

They get on the ground. The port's open. The people evacuated. Then turn it over to USAID to run the recovery.

Right now we are running the chain of command there with USAID in the lead, and there should be a military lead. This is a military operation, initially. They've got the capacity to do it. They've got the command and the control. Let them do it, then let USAID take the lead.

LEMON: General Russel Honore, thank you.

We'll get back to General Russel Honore throughout the day and evening here on CNN. He is a CNN contributor now and helping out in this situation.

Much, much more to come here on CNN about the dire situation in Haiti.


LEMON: As you have been witnessing, right along with us here on CNN, so much destruction, so many lives lost under the rubble. But search and rescue teams are on the ground there, and they are already hard at work.

Listen to this.

That man, his name is Tarmo Joveer. He's a security officer. He is throwing his fists into the air there. You can imagine why. He's happy to be out from underneath that rubble. He is able to walk with a few helpful hands off that mountain of crumbled concrete that was once the United Nations headquarters. Around him, members of Virginia's Fairfax County Urban Search & Rescue team. They spent five hours digging him out.

And with more than 100 people still missing at that building, just at this building, there is little time to dwell on the success.


SAM GRAY, FAIRFAX COUNTY URBAN SEARCH & RESCUE: It was pretty nice to be able to find somebody that we were able to help. Unfortunately, we couldn't get to everybody we can, but we're going to keep trying and keep working while we are here.

This is the first of many people that we plan to help over the next couple of weeks. I think it always matters to the people's families no matter who it is, whether it's one or 100. We're going to try to save one person at a time. Each person that we save, it goes back to their families as a success.


LEMON: Those Virginia rescuers were among the first Americans on the ground in Haiti, but support is on the way. Another elite team is en route from California.

And CNN's Casey Wian caught them before they deployed.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Minutes after news broke of the massive earthquake in Haiti, 3,000 miles a way, the Los Angeles County Fire Department's urban search and rescue team began to get ready.

INSP. FREDERIC STOWERS, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: We're preparing for the worst. As you can see, we have these flat bed trucks that's are loaded here with all the gear, water, food, we have a transport here. We plan on being self-sufficient inside these bins and bags, our specialized equipment. There are search cams; there are jackhammers; there are saws; there's all type of specialized equipment.

WIAN (on-camera): What's the man power of the search and rescue unit?

STOWERS: The search and rescue unit has 72 members of that are comprised of doctors; there's women, K-9 handlers; there are structural engineers, there's urban search and rescue personnel, search teams or search and rescue teams. This is one of only two in the country.

WIAN: Obviously, there's a great need for search and rescue teams in Haiti right now. Why is the equipment still on the ground here in Southern California? What's the holdup? STOWERS: Again, like I said, everything has to be done right. We have to account for everybody. We have to account for the equipment. We have to make sure the transportation is adequate to be able to move all the equipment.

WIAN: You've got to make sure it's safe for your crews on the ground to even land there, right?

STOWERS: Absolutely. We want to make sure of that.

WIAN: What's the information we are getting in relation to that right now?

STOWERS: We're hearing various reports, but again, we're not taking those reports for granted. We're waiting for the proper intel to be given to us, which is a notification that it is okay to go in, and it is okay to do what is necessary to affect the rescues over there.

WIAN (voice-over): Jasmine Sagura and her dog, chocolate, are one of the six K-9 teams trained to find live victims trapped under rubble.

How much information have you been able to receive about the situation on the ground in Haiti right now? What are you expecting once you arrived?

JASMINE SAGURA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: You know what? A chaotic situation for sure, obviously, and weather conditions, and just basically just get in there and doing our job because that's what we're trained to do is to go in situations like that and do the best we can to deescalate the chaos and save some lives.

Our dogs are live human scent search dogs, so for example, earthquakes, 9/11, people who are trapped where we can't see right away, they're unconscious underneath rubble, wood, mud, these guys will come up and they will sniff them out. They will stay in that area and start alerting, barking, and they're letting us know that there's a live human trapped there, because typically sometimes, even if we yell which is, L.A. County Fire Department can you hear us? Some people are unconscious so they can't hear us, they can't respond, but his nose will take us right to a live human being.

WIAN: Imagine some of these folks are pretty anxious to get going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our guys are always anxious. We love a challenge, and we do expect to be challenged.

WIAN (on camera): This is actually the first time this entire unit of search and rescue personnel is being deployed together. Individual members have worked in previous disasters, including the North Ridge and Indonesian earthquakes, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11.

Casey Wian, CNN, March Air Reserve Base, California.


LEMON: All right, Casey.

The medical situation is dire and Haiti survivors are waiting for help among the corpses. Coming up in just about 10 minutes, we'll talk to a doctor, Dr. Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for Doctors Without Borders, about the situation on the ground.

And make sure you stay informed on all things Haiti. We've created a special section on It's called Find out how you can help.

Go to as well. Send us your stories, your images, and make sure you stay connected on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Use the hashtag pound, HaitiCNN so that we can find your requests.


LEMON: So you want to keep it here on CNN, because the situation is developing at every single moment. We're getting pictures and information and video.

And right now we want to go to our Ivan Watson on the ground in Port-au-Prince, where rescues are under way.

We understand an 11-year-old girl where you are is being rescued -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Don, right behind me. And you can hear her voice sometimes. There is an 11-year-old girl named Anaika San Luis (ph).

She's pinned underneath this rubble, and the volunteers here are snaking through a hose right now to give her some drinking water. She's about 10 feet away, and you can see the braids of this little girl's hair.

I talked with her. She's wearing glasses, and she is crying. She's in a lot of pain right now and she is terribly scared.

This little girl, it's kind of heartbreaking to this hear this, because she's pinned there, Don. The right leg is underneath the concrete, and her hands are free and the leg is free, and she is talking to us.

They are trying to give her some drinking water right now, and they have given her some food already. They only discovered her today, two days after the earthquake.

They think there are several dozen other people trapped under the rubble who probably did not survive. They're desperately trying to figure out how to get her out.

They are thinking about trying to cut her leg. They have anesthetics, but they don't have blood to help her if they have to cut her leg off to get her out, so they don't know what to do right now.

LEMON: Ivan, we're going to stick with you a little bit, because, again, we know it's heartbreaking, but this is really the reality of what's happening there now. And Ivan, I'm trying to get someone who speaks French -- I, myself, do not -- so that they can tell us -- if you speak French, what is she saying, Ivan, as they are trying to remove her? You said she is calling out.

WATSON: Yes, she is calling out and she's calling for "Father." When they cut with a saw, she doesn't like it at all. It hurts a lot.

Now, they have put a little bible next to her. You know, there's a pretty little girl. She's got braids. She's got black reading glasses and a chipped front tooth.

And we were talking to her, and she is terribly scared right now. And her mother is beside herself.

And what is -- this is just one case here. You know, we were on a neighboring hilltop, and there were two little French girls trapped under a building there, and only one French fireman working to try to help them out. And he was passing them water.

This is something that is probably replaying itself all across Port-au-Prince, and there's just not enough rescue workers to help. These guys, they say if they could just get the right equipment they need, they could perhaps lift some of this and get her out without cutting her leg.

They don't have that equipment, so they want to cut the leg, but they don't have the blood supplies to keep her alive if they have to amputate. And she is calling out again, and it's really hard to hear, to listen to this.

On a neighboring hill, there's a hotel, a posh hotel a lot of foreigners were staying at. There, there are dozens of American, French and Chilean rescuers there working to rescue at least one woman named Sara (ph) who is trapped.


WATSON: She's saying it's pretty painful right now, Don.

Anyway, back to you.

LEMON: So, Ivan, listen, we know this is tough for her, obviously, and for the people who are her rescuing her, and for you and the folks who are watching, so if you will continue on to tell us what the rescuers are saying and what she is saying, and then I will jump in every once in a while if we need to move things along. But we're just going to listen, and if you could just sort of tell us what's going on there.

WATSON: Well, right now -- oh!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a dead body. WATSON: They have pulled -- we don't want to really show that. They have pulled a piece of a dead body -- this is very difficult -- that was next to her. And they are trying to free out some area around this little girl.

And we understand that there are perhaps some 30 other relatives and neighbors who were trapped underneath the rubble. This is just one house. We are seeing scenes like this all over this city. And these men say they do not have the equipment they need to do this operation properly.

LEMON: Hey, Ivan, stand by just for a second here, and you can continue to listen to them and not me.

But if you are just joining us here on CNN, our Ivan Watson is in Port-au-Prince. A building has collapsed. He's live on the scene there.

There is an 11-year-old girl who is trapped, and it's believed that she is trapped, her leg is trapped. And right now, here's what rescuers are dealing with.

They don't have the right equipment to free this young lady, so they are contemplating what they do next. And in all honesty, it's terrible. Do they cut off her leg off in order to get to her?

The picture now is frozen. We're going to try to get that back.

So, what do they do and how do they get the equipment in to save this girl's life? And there are hundreds, we are told, of similar situations happening all over Haiti.

We're on top of it here on CNN.

A very sad moment, but that is the reality.

We're back in a moment.


LEMON: And just riveting and unbelievable stories unfolding here today on CNN, really unfolding since this tragedy happened in Haiti.

The Red Cross estimates some 50,000 people have died in the Haiti quake. Officials in Port-au-Prince believe that number is much, much higher.

Let's get the latest now from CNN's Michael Holmes. He is manning our Haiti desk.

Hello, Michael.


Listen, this is unfolding even as we speak as we continue to -- 50,000 could end up being a very low figure. We have heard estimates up to 100,000, even more.

And the social media side of things is interesting. We're still getting more and more input from people on the scene. They've become a very important tool for covering this.

The other thing is we're getting more video from other sources, too. We've got one from an observation camera, if you like, a traffic camera in Haiti.

Now, this came in just this morning. Have a look at this, and you can actually see as the earthquake begins. And have a look at the building in the background as you watch.

It's incredible stuff. You see this car comes out, starts to go to the right. Another car is going to come into the left of the frame, and the earthquake begins.

You see there the movement is absolutely extraordinary. The cars come to a halt. People get out of the vehicles, start to run down the street. You see the building in the background starts to collapse and the dust rises.

Absolutely chilling stuff to watch. It gives you some of the sense of drama.

Now, something else we have been following here has been the number of people who are looking for loved ones -- husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews. The numbers have been extraordinary.

We've been doing this on And you see all here we've got all kinds of people, these people.

This lady actually turned up. She turned up, which was some good news. This lady here.

Endless, endless, endless.

Now, what has happened is that this is has become so big, that we have now put a search function -- if you can get that, Jerry (ph), there -- you can search by name. Because I've got to tell you, I was here eight hours ago. There was, I think, nearly 30 pages and 12 cases on each page.

It's 200 pages more, 210 pages. That's 2,000 people who have posted on here about their missing loved ones, asking anyone who has seen them to post so they can get some information. And we have had cases, as I just said, where people have been found, and they have posted there. So, some good news, but there's an awful lot of people out there who just don't know anything.

LEMON: Boy, oh, boy. Michael Holmes manning our Haiti desk.

Michael, thank you very much.

Again, as we said, information just coming in, and also something that is just coming in to CNN, another unbelievable story.

Joining me now from Port-au-Prince on the phone, his name is Mike Wilson. He is an American. His daughter, to the best of my knowledge -- and I will check with him -- was volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti.

And they found a baby girl, his wife -- Mr. Wilson's wife and himself -- and they were going to adopt this child. Her name is Tia (ph).

They couldn't get her home, so she was stuck there when this earthquake came through. She was stuck there, and also his daughter.

So, we want to go and talk to him now. He's from Nashville, but he is in Port-au-Prince now and he joins us now by phone.

So give us your story. When did you get there? Did you experience the quake, or was it just your daughter and this baby?

MIKE WILSON, FATHER OF TWO MISSING QUAKE VICTIMS (via telephone): Well, we flew in -- a team of three of us flew in last night. We were fortunate to be able to hop on a medevac plane.

We got in touch with our daughter, our 21-year-old here in (INAUDIBLE), where the epicenter is. Talked to her yesterday morning at 6:45. And through an unbelievable set of circumstances, we were on a plane headed here yesterday. It arrived last night at 6:00.

And we actually experienced some aftershocks last night. We slept at the airport outside.

LEMON: OK. Listen -- Mr. Wilson...

WILSON: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

LEMON: ... full transparency for our viewers, because I want them to get the story here, explain -- what I heard was that you were planning to adopt a little girl from this orphanage. But take us through. Your daughter was volunteering.

WILSON: Yes, we have been in the adoption process for over a year. We were here last week to fill out paperwork, our last set of paperwork filed with the American Embassy here. And we left last Thursday to come home and just wait for her passport.

LEMON: And you're from Nashville, right?

WILSON: Yes, sir.

LEMON: In the meantime, was your daughter volunteering at this orphanage before you were in the adoption process?

WILSON: Yes. She came down the Monday with us, last week, and she was starting a six-month orphanage internship with a great group of people. So, we came and we were able to spend the first few days with her, and then we left her here. And so when we got the news, we actually got the news through CNN on a text at our office. And we immediately went into overdrive trying to find out if she was alive.

LEMON: So then all this happens. You find out that your daughter is OK, and also the baby -- or the little girl that you are about to adopt, also OK. And then you somehow manage to get on a medical helicopter. Correct?

WILSON: That's exactly right. We blanketed Facebook, Twitter. We sent e-mails. We found them alive, and we needed to come get them, because at the orphanage where are our 21-year-old Katy is, there are 38 babies from birth -- 48, from birth through age 6.

And some of them have adoptive families waiting on them. They're like us, they're just waiting on a passport. Others of them are a little, not as far along in the process, but there are 48 babies, children with their lives here, and -- sorry.

We just got them on a bus. They escape a five-story building in the heart of the earthquake. They got across the street to an empty lot with a concrete slab on it. And they have been there for the last two days in the blazing hot in the day, and freezing cold in the night. They've slept there, they've been there. The babies are there. The workers at the orphanage are tirelessly changing them, feeding them, cooking for them, cleaning, and the process starts over.

And now there are probably 200 people in the empty lot, begging for help. They are doing anything they can to try to help each other. There is a lady with a broken leg, and they have kind of have adopted her and just brought her in and trying to help her to nurse her back to health, giving her simple things like Tylenol.

LEMON: You are breaking up there. I imagine it is hard to tell this story, and you probably feel very lucky yourself. But then as you are witnessing this, I would imagine it is a joy and pain at the same time. How old is the little girl you are adopting?

WILSON: The little girl we are adopting just turned five.

LEMON: Five. Her name is Tia, is that right?

WILSON: Yes. Her name is Tia. She is one of 48 children in the orphanage that -- I don't know if you heard that. And we are here trying to rescue these kids from a building that has all but collapsed. They don't have a place to go, and we are getting them to safety tonight.

LEMON: Mike Wilson, all of the best to you. Thanks for sharing the story.

WILSON: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Appreciate it. Well, he knows what is it like. A doctor with experience in working disasters, and he is going to join me next. A firsthand view of what it will take to treat the injured in Haiti.



GUPTA: Can you tell me what happened, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The house collapsed and the mother died.

GUPTA: How has she been?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just that bandage.

GUPTA: Hi, sweetie. She's moving both of the arms. That's a good sign. She's moving both of her legs. See, look through there again see if you have any more gauze.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have big gauze I can cut it down.

GUPTA: She has a pretty significant laceration here and what I need to make sure is that she doesn't have a skull fracture underneath. The good news is that I don't think she does. So, that's good. This is OK. No skull fracture underneath here. She's got a big laceration underneath her skull. But, she is moving all four extremities.

Hi, sweetie. Hi, sweetie. Hi.

How old is she?


GUPTA: She's going to need some antibiotic. We're going to need to redress this wound. Let's go ahead to do that with some clean gauze.

So, this is what is happening out here in the streets of Port-au- Prince. In this case, a 15-day-old baby who is in the earthquake -- let me have you hold that for a second. Yes, once around the forehead.

So, she has no skull fracture. She does have a big laceration and is going to need antibiotics. But she does not appear to have a head injury. I think she's going to be OK. She is sucking her thumb. She's good. There you go. She should get some antibiotics. We'll try and find some, if we can find some.


LEMON: Our Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in the best position there to be able to report and also help people there on the ground. I want to remind you that you can see more of Dr. Gupta's reporting this weekend on his show it's called "DR. SANJAY GUPTA, MD." It's Saturday and Sunday, at 7:30 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. You don't want to miss it.


LEMON: Live coverage here on CNN of the Haiti earthquake. We have been watching a number of rescues go on. A 40-year-old woman there on the scene. We've also been also watching an 11-year-old girl being rescued, really just sad images there. And someone being reunited with their daughter and reunited with a little girl that he adopted.

We want to get now to Dr. Greg Elder. He's from New York. He's a Deputy Operations manager for Doctors Without Borders.

So you saw the little girl, the 11-year-old girl screaming out for her dad, them giving her water. You saw Dr. Sanjay Gupta's reporting. Not only his reporting, but him treating someone there on the scene, as well. And the dire need for medical supplies. Also doctors in that area. You guys have been working in that area a long time. So has Partners in Health with Dr. Paul Farmer (ph).

The problem there is with really the infrastructure because it's collapsed now.

DR. GREG ELDER, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Yes, and we were lucky in some ways to be on the ground and having functional programs in Haiti, in Port-au-Prince when this happened. That's put us a couple of steps ahead of where we normally are at 48 hours after an emergency like this. We had teams on the ground, we have 800 or so staff now, regular programs in Port-au-Prince, and several different sites, some of which focus on the surgical management of trauma.

So, you know, that puts us a few steps ahead. And now what we're trying to do is to reinforce the programs that the teams have been able to salvage out of the ruins of the hospitals that we were previously working in.

LEMON: Dr. Greg Elder, thank you so much.

The Deputy Operations manager for Doctors Without Borders. We appreciate you helping to guide our viewers and us here at CNN, through this horrible, horrible tragedy, as well.

ELDER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: You know, the images are gripping. The stories, equally so. We're following the devastation in Haiti. We're back in a moment.