Donations Are Soaring While Haiti's Problems Are Mounting

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," January 18, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: By now, you have certainly heard all the pitches.


FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA: We can help the American Red Cross.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: To donate, you can text the word Haiti.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: All of you who want to help, to do so through White, where you can learn about how to contribute.

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: For those of faith who want to help, our advice is send money now.

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Anybody who gives us money now, we are going to flow it right through there.

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: Shoot some money to Partners in Health.

MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, ACTRESS: And give as generously as you possibly can.


CAVUTO: And we have, but is throwing all this money at Haiti really the answer? Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.

One hundred million dollars per day — about $600 million to date. Nearly a week after the quake struck, the donations are soaring, even as Haiti's problems continue mounting, problems like widespread looting, because folks there are panicking, amid reports the desperate are still languishing, elderly patients at this nursing home dying, their pleas for help not getting out even as they sit within a mile of an airport where relief supplies is coming in.

So, money isn't the issue. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says getting it to the right people and fast is.

The secretary joins me right now.

Secretary, good to have you.

TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY CHIEF: Yes. Nice to join you. I'm sorry it has to be under these circumstances, talking about the horror associated with the tragedy in Haiti.

CAVUTO: Indeed.

But, nevertheless, it does remind folks, as if they had any doubt, about the generosity of the American spirit, but we want to make sure that that money gets into the right hands. And, invariably, it does not, or it's severely delayed. What do you make of that?

RIDGE: Well, I think there are a couple of challenges associated with this, Neil.

First of all, I think, at the outset, people should be very, very careful to whom they send money, their traditional organizations, their faith-based organizations, the Red Cross, the Bush-Clinton fund.

So, in the appeal to America's generosity and compassion, we will respond, but I just would caution and urge your viewers pay very close attention to whom you send your check or to whom you give your credit card number.

The second challenge, I think, is not unlike those we have seen in other natural events of this magnitude. This is a poor — this is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere, very little infrastructure to start with, very little pipeline, very inadequate road system.

And given the magnitude of the devastation, we shouldn't be surprised that, initially, there are some real problems associated with distributing the aid that we know they need so desperately. We will work it through.

CAVUTO: All right. But we...

RIDGE: Logistically, they will work it through.

CAVUTO: We do. We do work it through.

But are you saying that, Secretary, that the better part of valor might be to avoid Haitian government authorities and find either respectable international relief agencies to do that?

RIDGE: Yes. Yes. I think, at the outset, I think Americans would be — I would advise Americans to contribute to those entities they know of and perhaps have supported in the past, to direct their aid in that fashion.

I think the longer-term question is what this country will do and other countries will do after some of the most important emergency initial — emergency needs are met, as you go about building a country that started with nothing — after this disaster, they seem to have even less than nothing — and how you rebuild an entire country, how you rebuild a city, how you rebuild what may have been an inadequate infrastructure, but now no infrastructure exists.

And that, I think we're going to need probably international organization to oversee it, with strong, strong American oversight.

CAVUTO: What if it is exclusive American oversight?

RIDGE: Well, I don't think it should be.

CAVUTO: What if, when it comes time to pass around the tin cup here, it's our tin cup?

RIDGE: Well, one of the challenges I think associated with this, as it has occurred in other occasions, in other places around the world, there's going to be a lot of people and a lot of countries making pledges, but the further we get from the initial disaster and the intense reporting, the less money will be trickling in.

And I think it's probably about time that the Western Hemisphere — and I mean all nations — understood that this is the poorest of the poor. They didn't have any public sewage system to start with, inadequate transportation, one airport, poverty level about 80 percent.

And this is about time that the hemisphere got together and helped rebuild this country. Out of this debt, out of this destruction, out of this horror, they can help rebuild, if they're willing to sustain an effort. But it can't be America doing it alone. America needs to take the lead, but we're going to need a lot of partners as well.

CAVUTO: As a former decorated Marine yourself, Secretary, are you ever concerned about the 12,000 or so troops committed to this region, that they might be there a while?

RIDGE: Well, I'm — you know, the Marines and the Army and our military will — will, as they have done in the past, respond with the same kind of courage and commitment and valor required of them in all these precarious situations.

The biggest concern I have is that, if there is so much social unrest, that, if it becomes a violent arena, it really places these men and women in harm's way as they try to be peacekeepers. That's why I think it's very, very important that this effort, not only to keep to peace, but to rebuild the country, is multinational, and not left solely to the United States of America.

CAVUTO: Very well put.

Secretary Ridge, very good seeing you, especially now, I'm sorry under these circumstances. But thank you again.

RIDGE: Yes. Good talking with you, Neil. Thank you.

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