Strong words. Decisive action. A promise of "unwavering support" followed up directly by the might of the United States government. In an emergency, for us and for our neighbors, this is how we hope our government will respond. On Day 4 of the Haitian earthquake catastrophe, this is how the Obama Administration is responding. Not only are they making our nation proud, they are showing us that we are in good hands if such calamity hits us at home.
On Thursday, the President promised a first installment of $100 million in aid, and gave us this update:
I can report that the first waves of our rescue and relief workers are on the ground and at work. A survey team worked overnight to identify priority areas for assistance, and shared the results of that review throughout the United States government, and with international partners who are also sending support. Search and rescue teams are actively working to save lives. Our military has secured the airport and prepared it to receive the heavy equipment and resources that are on the way, and to receive them around the clock, 24 hours a day. An airlift has been set up to deliver high-priority items like water and medicine. And we're coordinating closely with the Haitian government, the United Nations, and other countries who are also on the ground.
Just as reassuring was Secretary Clinton's declaration that "we have a full court press going on here." And that American aid efforts would be "long-term."
Monday evening, I wrote the blog post "Obama's Haiti Moment." While our leaders said they were observing and planning, it was hard to tell just how quickly they would mobilize resources, on what kind of scale, and with what level of commitment. Now they are showing us. The President said that he "made it clear that Haiti must be a top priority" for our military, for our diplomatic and development agencies and departments. This is what a President must convey if our assistance is going to be maximized and not squandered.
Just as reassuring was Secretary Clinton's Today Show declaration that "we have a full court press going on here." And that American aid efforts would be "long-term."
This is the kind of leadership that inspires confidence in the hearts, in the bones, of Americans that have worried that in true times of national crisis, no one is at the wheel.
This is the kind of leadership that shows us that our Katrina response was not inevitable. That we can do better now and in the future.
The Obama Administration is showing the world that we know how to use our power for good, in a timely manner, in a way concerned with saving lives and creating stability. With President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Special Envoy for Haiti President Clinton at the helm, we are being shown that we have the kind of team that can truly assist the resilient Haitian people in these daunting days, months, and years ahead.
However, it is up to us to keep letting our leaders know that we care, that after two weeks we won't have disaster fatigue. I encourage you all to write the White House and your representatives, to post online as well, and let them know how you feel about aid to Haiti, and how we treat immigrant Haitians stateside. The more they know that we prioritize assistance to our neighbor in need, the more support they will feel, the better the chance we will continue to offer meaningful help.