Haiti Food Delivery Fails Due To Poor Communication

04/03/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With 15 trucks full of beans and rice and an experienced security team, Scott Lewis, founder of the disaster relief-focused Eagles' Wings Foundation, expected to distributed hundreds of thousands of meals over the course of the day. What happened was a series of snafus that, through miscommunication and bungled routes, led to what Lewis called the "convoy to nowhere," reports Christopher Rhoads in the Wall Street Journal.

t's not typical for so much to go wrong on a major operation like this--in fact, on Thursday, the Army successfully delivered the cargo, in the largest single-day food distribution here. But a diary of Wednesday's journey reads like an anthology of the obstacles stifling efforts to deliver aid since an earthquake turned the Haitian capital to rubble two weeks ago.

"The whole world wants to know why we can't get food to the Haitian people," said Ed Minyard, a 59-year-old former U.S. Army Ranger running the convoy, after Wednesday's debacle. "Well, you just saw why."

A two-hour traffic jam and concerns about violent looting of their truck forced the convoy into scrounging for a safe place to stop and distribute their goods. They thought they had some good fortune when a U.S. army division offered to provide security. The unit took over an hour to get clearance for the mission, which further hampered distribution efforts.

"We failed today!" Mr. Lewis shouted. "People are dying and we failed."

But the day wasn't over yet. The food-laden trucks couldn't stay at the airport. The Army told Mr. Lewis to take them to the soccer stadium, where more U.S. troops were based and where the food could be stored overnight. A military official in Port-au-Prince didn't respond to an email seeking comment.