Aid keeps on helping Haiti rebuild from devastating quake

Posted July 28, 2011 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2011 5:59 p.m. EDT

— Eighteen months after a massive earthquake killed up to 250,000 people in Haiti, the American Red Cross continues to direct aid to the more than 1.5 million people left homeless.

Emergency aid poured into Haiti in the days after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. North Carolinians gave more than $10 million, and the American Red Cross received $484 million for earthquake relief.

"The money went in many different ways, and it's going in many different ways, from the disaster response to the transitional moment to the recovery," said Ricardo Caivano, head of the American Red Cross team in Haiti.

For now, many in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, are still in survival mode. Tent cities, including one outside the presidential palace, shelter hundreds of thousands, and cholera is an ever-present threat.

Signs of progress are also present, including at a Red Cross distribution site in Pentonville, about 25 minutes from the capital.

"This is the Red Cross helping people be prepared for the next season," Caivano said. "Right now, we are distributing hygiene kits for people that live in tents, for people that live in camps."

Some Red Cross funds are helping supply basic needs, such as huge water containers that provide clean water for families.

Other funds go to big, long-term challenges, like housing.

The Red Cross is helping build transitional shelters near where people used to live and to the tent cities where they've established some means to support their families.

"These are transitional shelters the Red Cross, along with other partners, have built thanks to the generosity of American people," Caivano said.

Caivano said he understands that people are angry and frustrated at the pace of recovery and that he is too. He pointed, though, to ongoing reconstructions efforts in the United States after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as an example of how long it can take to recover from a catastrophic natural disaster.