Clarke Unites New York City Congressional Delegation to Assist with Haiti Crisis
Today, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement after hosting a press conference with Members of the New York Congressional Delegation and local New York officials supporting humanitarian efforts after a magnitude of 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti:
Good Morning everybody and thank you for coming to such an important press conference. First, my thoughts and prayers go out to my Haitian brothers and sisters who have been affected by this tragedy.
Secondly, I want to thank my colleagues from the New York City Congressional Delegation, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Representatives Edolphus Towns, Anthony Weiner, Gregory Meeks, Mike McMahon, and other elected officials for joining me in a concerted effort to provide comfort, information and galvanize support from our respective constituencies.
As Mayor Bloomberg stated yesterday, New York City is home to over 125,000 Haitians. It is the second largest Haitian population in the country. And my district, the 11th Congressional District of New York, has the largest concentration of Haitians in the city.
That said, my office has been working around the clock to gather information about search and rescue efforts, restoration of communications and to connect constituents to resources that will aid them in finding information about their loved ones.
I have also partnered with my esteemed colleague Congressman Mike McMahon in sending a letter to USAID Administrator Shah, requesting that the NYPD and FDNY be placed in rotation within the Urban Search and Rescue Program (USAR). This will facilitate their participation in the search and rescue efforts. New York’s first responders and search and rescue teams are some of the most well trained and skilled teams in the world. Plus, they have a significant Creole speaking presence within each department.
Additionally, I am also sending a letter with the Congressional Black Caucus to Congressional Leadership asking for robust emergency funds to assist Haiti in the next legislative vehicle before the Senate.
Please know that Congress is working diligently with the White House and Department of State to gather as much intelligence on the ground as possible.
Reports have indicated the following:
Haiti’s critical infrastructure has been severely damaged.
Telecommunication systems are virtually non-existent; with extremely limited access to the internet and cell phone usage. Haiti lacks the capacity to hospitalize victims and as a result, the expectation is that the death toll will rise significantly.
Haiti’s airport communications tower and terminal have been destroyed, yet the runway is functional, allowing aid to be transported into the country.
Running water and electricity are non-existent.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has dispatched its Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and has activated its partners, the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team and the Los Angeles County Search and Rescue Team (USAR), to deploy to Haiti, to assess the situation and provide assistance.
DOD Southern Command officials is sending 30 people, including military engineers, operational planners, a command and control group, and communication specialists to help with the assessment of the situation and to provide additional support.
Additionally, the DOD has deployed the U.S.S. Comfort, a hospital ship, to provide medical services to the injured.
The U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA are leading DHS actions to support the larger assistance effort. Several Coast Guard cutters and aircraft have mobilized and are currently assisting the humanitarian effort.
We understand that the hotline number, 1-888-407-4747, has been experiencing extremely high call volume and many of our constituents cannot get through. This has caused undo anxiety and panic. However, I have been assured by the State Dept. that they are working to address this and to create additional forms of communication.
For status reports on the current situation in Haiti, please log onto the State Department’s Consular Affairs website at www.travel.state.gov, the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov or the USAID website at www.USAID.gov.
For inquiries about loved ones, again there is the hotline number, 1-888-407-4747, which should be used to find out information about U.S. Citizens. To find out information about Haitian nationals, please call the Haitian Embassy in Washington, DC at 202-332-4090 or the New York Haitian Consulate at 212-697-9767. Lastly, you can go to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) website at www.icrc.org/familylinks.
As for donation efforts, for now monetary donations are the best way to help immediately help the region. Please refer to the USAID website or the Center for International Disaster Information’s website at www.CIDI.org for a listing of reputable donation organizations.
In the meantime, as the assessment teams gather information about what material goods are needed, I urge the New York community to consolidate their efforts in gathering provisions like clothing and medical supplies. To coordinate donation efforts, please call CIDI at 703-276-1914.
In light of this humanitarian tragedy, now is the time to grant Temporary Protective Status, also referred to as TPS, to Haitians already here in America. I urge President Obama to strongly consider this in his efforts to address this tragedy. TPS does not lead to permanent residency status; when TPS expires, Haitians will revert to the same immigration status that they had prior to being granted TPS. What TPS does, is it offers Haitians a reprieve from dangerous conditions back home I plan to send a letter to the President requesting TPS for Haitian nationals in this country and I believe this current tragedy justifies my appeal.
We are as much apart of Haiti as Haiti is apart of us. This is a time for the world to come together and help our Caribbean neighbor, not for national interest or political expediency, but because it is the right thing to do.
Again, I thank you for you for coming and our next speaker will be the Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.