Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti and Critical Needs

The worst earthquake in two centuries hit Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, yesterday. The pain, suffering, and devastation are horrific. This natural disaster is creating havoc for humanitarian operations because of the destruction of much of the infrastructure, such as roads and hospitals, in the capital, which was the hardest hit. Interestingly, the World Food Program had stockpiled food supplies in Haiti in preparation for disasters, with hurricanes, being the most expected ones. It is now also airlifting food supplies. Haiti is on an island which is also home to the Dominican Republic.

Exactly one year ago, my daughter and her classmates at the Bement School in Deerfield, Massachusetts were packing up to go on their trip to the Dominican Republic to help out in an orphanage. This year's 9th grade class at Bement is also scheduled in early February to travel there. The airport in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is now being utilized to assist in Haiti's recovery. Last year, with excitement and nervous anticipation, I let my daughter travel there on a community service mission, which deeply affected all those who took part. I wonder whether this year's trip will take place given the extreme seriousness of the disaster in Haiti. She had, this past weekend, completed a huge photo montage of memories from last year's trip to the Dominican Republic that a teacher was going to deliver to the orphanage. I, in the meantime, was busy working on a research paper with a co-author on the assessment of supply chain performance in the case of disasters (an ironically timely topic) for submission to a special issue of a journal on transportation network vulnerability.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected by this earthquake.