U.S. officials responsible for overseeing the flow of aid and resources to the victims of last Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti say the security system is stable, despite reports of widespread looting and chaos.
Capt. Andrew Stevermer, commander of the Health and Human Services Incident Response Coordination Team (IRCT), said in a conference call with reporters that he's seen nothing to suggest widespread disorder or panic. He characterized the looting that has taken place as "isolated incidents."
Although search and rescue teams are in a race against time, Capt. Stevermer said they remain in full rescue mode, adding that there have been 39 live extractions as of this morning. Victims are being flown to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson or transported to the hospital in Port-au-Prince, where American medical workers are staffed. Two additional planes carrying medical supplies are expected to land Monday evening.
The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort will arrive in Haiti on Wednesday. Capt. John Kirby, the military's joint task force spokesman, said the slow-moving ship would typically take five days to arrive on scene, but its deployment was accelerated due to the situation on the ground in Port-au-Prince. The Comfort left its home port of Baltimore on Saturday.
The U.S. government is working closely with the Haitian government to run the air space and coordinate traffic entering the airport. And while the airport is up and running, non-government organizations and foreign countries carrying aid and supplies have been prevented from landing. Captain Kirby addressed the issue, explaining that the airport isn't big enough to handle the volume.
"There are more planes that want to land than we can accommodate," he said.
The goal is to get a more even split between military flights and humanitarian flights entering the country, but ultimately the Haitian government is deciding who to let in and who to turn away. It's a system that Captain Kirby dubbed "imperfect."
More U.S. troops are expected to arrive in the next few days. Officials estimate a presence of up to 5,000 soldiers in the region by week's end, a significant increase from the 1,700 troops presently on the ground.