Bill Hemmer From Haiti: 'This Is The Most Inaccessible Story I Have Ever Covered'
Fox News' Bill Hemmer arrived in Haiti Wednesday, and spoke to the Huffington Post from Port-Au-Prince Thursday afternoon.
"I've had the good fortune of seeing a good part of this world, and a lot of the 3rd world, and this is the most inaccessible story I have ever covered," Hemmer said. "It's inaccessible in so many ways: our ability to communicate, our ability to move around, our ability to get information."
Hemmer said that he was expecting Haiti to be poor, but was still not prepared for the level of poverty that greeted him when he arrived.
"I was expecting a substantial amount of poverty and that's exactly what greets you here," he said. "It's the poorest place I've ever traveled. I've traveled in Iraq and Afghanistan and I've worked in this business a long time but Haiti beats them all in terms of an impoverished nation. Haiti is so poor, they don't have cars. But I don't see many bicycles either. I see hundreds of people streaming up and down the roads at all hours of the day. I think that's the nature of the environment here."
He added that he was surprised by the fact that there are 45,000 Americans living in Haiti that are now trying to get out.
Hemmer also said that there is some frustration that water and other aid have not yet reached the island.
"I would expect water to be flowing off these cargo planes, but that's just not the case yet," he said. "The Haitians have expressed to us that they've been very patient so far. I don't know how long that patience lasts. I think they've shown a good measure now. This story isn't even 48 hours old. These people are used to getting beaten up, and they have shown strength through that. And so far I've seen a measure of their strength also, and I hope they'd just exercise a little more patience to get these supplies. We're still talking about getting water and food to people who need it. My biggest fear is that we're doing that a week from now."
Hemmer praised the "damn good crew" working with him and said that, from a production standpoint, modern technology has made covering stories like Haiti — where there is no electricity — possible.
"Technology today allows us to go places like Haiti when there is no electiricty and still broadcast," he said. That's the miracle of technology. We found out during the war with Hezbollah during the summer of 2006 that we could go places in that war and still report live because we had the technology to do it. Technology allows us to go places that we would not go before. It is challenging in the following way: there is no electricity. A lot of our technology is not helped at all by the infrastructure here."
He compared the coverage of the earthquake with the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, but said that ultimately the two are very different situations.
"Katrina was challenging because there was standing water all over an American city which made it tough to get around and tough to bring in supplies," he said. "Here it's the nature of the country. The backbone of Haiti is a mess. Haiti was a tough place to be during good times; you can imagine when the capital city has collapsed on itself."