Greetings from the United Nations room at Santo Domingo airport. No we did not get our three flights today so the situation remains fluid.
I have spoken with my brother Jim quite a few times both to bounce ideas off of him and to commiserate with this situation. Sadly it is not unusual.
Haiti's people are being negatively impacted by a disconnect in the coordination of efforts. On one hand we have the United State's government and the other hand is the UN. Both entities from the top to the bottom are trying their best to be as efficient as possible.
We have three (UN sponsored) airliners that need to make the 30 minute flight from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince. The US military is handling air traffic control and the acquisition of a landing slot is most difficult. We have had a number of false alarms today in which we were going to head out only to be called back.
I am doing what I can to help this situation. I have gotten to know everyone in the room; lots of good and committed folks. The UN staff are ready willing and anxious to start moving bodies and equiment into Haiti. I don't know who the US contact is I am sure someone on the US side of the equation is working the problem no one here seems to know that process. I have made contact with the USAID folks to try and make sure the UN and the US can work together. I have connected US AID and UN here so maybe they can get things going.
There are two rotary wing aircraft coming in tonight for the use of the UN and NGO people in Santo Domingo. The local UN coordinator is hopefully talking to the right US folks so that once these two helicopters are unload and assembled the initiation of transport shuttle flights can begin. Everyone wants that to happen but no one quite knows how to do that. We will get through it.
Some feel good stuff, at least it makes me feel good: The Dominicans continue to be gracious hosts as we all realize we are spending the night on the floor. JetBlue Airways is feeding us and providing logistical support. That's not a commercial plug it is the truth. Thanks to both from me.
One last thing: All of the above report is my own understanding of the situation. It may be totally incorrect at some level however the observed facts are just that. My opinions are my own of course.