I’m not even going to set it up. Suffice it to say, with the local Red Cross’s medical supplies already gone and up to three million people needing emergency treatment, the dilemma faced by the rescue workers in the clip is recurring all over the country.

The more I read, the more I think the only difference between this and an atomic bomb being dropped is the absence of radiation.

The quake destroyed much of the Route du Canapé Vert, according to eyewitnesses, leaving both Haitians and relief workers arriving from the U.S. and around the hemisphere with one fewer piece of infrastructure that was actually serviceable. Even in good times, services like potable water and sanitation are primitive in Haiti. But in the quake’s aftermath, in an e-mail to friends and family, an official with an international organization based in Port-au-Prince wrote bluntly, “The city [now] has no infrastructure for health care, no security forces, all roads are full of debris and [fallen] walls. My hotel has totally collapsed.” He said there was “nothing on the ground to support relief,” and added, “I will need help to make it through the next few days. I am faced with a decision to evacuate or stay here to help.” He signed off somewhat ominously by noting, “There are already people knocking on our gates for help.”

There were other ominous developments: the head of the national police told CNN that he believed there may be 1,000 criminals on the loose after the country’s main prison collapsed in the quake. Port-au-Prince is already vulnerable to gang law during emergencies like this, and it will be hard for relief workers to do their jobs if they do not feel secure. Meanwhile, buildings continued to totter in the wake of the temblor. Ian Rodgers, Save the Children’s emergency response adviser, wrote on the group’s blog, “We could hear buildings still crumbling down five hours after the earthquake.” And the destruction wasn’t just confined to Port-au-Prince: officials say the quake affected at least a third of Haiti’s 9 million people.

Two clips for you here, the first from CNN and the second of Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan unable to hold it together at the thought of not only the physical trauma but the mental trauma being suffered. (I can confirm that Shep is right about the smell after 9/11.) So urgent is the situation that Obama momentarily put aside his differences this morning with The Cause of All of America’s Problems to see if he’d be willing to help head up the relief efforts. The offer was, of course, accepted. Click the second image to watch.

Update: Who’s running Haiti right now? No one.


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