BUREAU FOR DEMOCRACY, CONFLICT, AND HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE (DCHA)
FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE (OFDA)
BACKGROUND AND KEY DEVELOPMENTS
- On January 12 at 1653 hours local time, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck southern Haiti. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake epicenter was located 10 miles southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince, West Department. Numerous significant aftershocks followed the initial quake. According to the U.N., the earthquake caused extensive infrastructure damage in Port-au-Prince, including to the Haiti presidential palace and the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) headquarters. Residential dwellings and transportation networks also sustained significant damage.
- Immediately following the earthquake, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to provide assistance to Haiti, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reported that the U.S. Government (USG) would provide military and civilian disaster assistance to affected families.
- USAID/OFDA has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) to Haiti-comprising up to 17 members-and activated a Washington D.C.-based Response Management Team to support the USAID/DART. The USAID/DART will assess humanitarian needs and coordinate assistance with the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, the international community, and the Government of Haiti (GoH).
- As of 1615 hours local time on January 13, seven members of the USAID/DART, the 72-member Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team, and four support staff had arrived in Port-au-Prince.
- Two USAID/OFDA-supported heavy USAR teams from Fairfax County, VA, and Los Angeles County, CA, composed of approximately 72 personnel, 6 search and rescue canines, and up to 48 tons of rescue equipment, are also deploying to Haiti. USAID/OFDA expects to support up to two additional heavy USAR teams from Florida. USAID/OFDA has also authorized the deployment of a three-person Americas Support Team (AST) to Haiti. The AST, staffed by additional Fairfax County USAR members and funded by USAID/OFDA, will supplement the U.N. Disaster Assessment Country (UNDAC) team in Haiti. In addition, both the Fairfax County and Los Angeles County Fire Departments are seconding staff members to directly support the UNDAC team.
- On January 13, U.S Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth H. Merten declared a disaster due to the effects of the earthquake. In response, USAID/OFDA provided an initial $50,000 through the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince for the implementation of an emergency response program. USAID/OFDA plans to provide additional assistance in accordance with the findings of USAID/DART and humanitarian community assessments, as access to affected groups expands over the coming days.