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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Rep. Waters Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake

January 11, 2020
Press Release

Rep. Waters Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake

Commends Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Search and Rescue Efforts in Haiti

The 2010 earthquake is one of many tragedies in Haiti’s rich and inspiring history. The hard work, determination and resilience of the Haitian people have enabled them to survive centuries of slavery, repression, political violence, and natural disasters. No matter the challenges, the Haitian people always rebuild.”

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee and a long-time friend of Haiti, issued the following statement on the tenth anniversary of the 2010 Haiti earthquake:

“Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and now ranks among the top 10 deadliest earthquakes in all of human history, according to a recent report by the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). As I recognize the tenth anniversary of this devastating event, I remember the victims and their families, and I stand in awe of the resilience of the Haitian people.

“I traveled to Haiti twice during the three months following the earthquake, where I met with injured victims, survivors, displaced families, first responders, and personnel involved in relief efforts. During these trips, I saw firsthand the devastation, but I also witnessed the determination of the Haitian people.

“My first trip took place on January 25-27, 2010, barely two weeks after the earthquake. The destruction was absolutely horrendous. Homes and office buildings had been completely flattened, and rescue teams were still working to dig bodies out of the rubble. I met with Haitian President René Préval and officials from the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations (UN), and numerous organizations involved in relief efforts.

“I am especially proud of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which deployed its urban search and rescue team to Haiti to assist with rescue and recovery efforts. These tireless first responders traveled all the way from my home town of Los Angeles, and they were doing incredible work. I also commend the dedicated staff of the U.S. Embassy, who were sleeping on floors while doing everything possible to save lives and assist survivors.

“In addition to gathering information, I was able to secure direct assistance for people in need by picking up the phone and requesting help. For example, a call to USAID resulted in two tents and other medical supplies – provided by the Los Angeles County Fire Department – for a health organization known as Aimer-Haiti that was seeing up to 300 patients per day. Within hours of receiving the new equipment, their teams performed an operation to save a pregnant woman and her child.

“I returned to Haiti early in March and stayed in the home of former Haitian prime minister Jean Henry Céant, who accompanied me as I observed relief and recovery efforts more closely. Together, we distributed food and supplies to numerous people in tent camps who had been displaced from their homes. We toured a large camp for displaced persons that was housing approximately 12,000 survivors, and we were taken by locals to a camp unknown to relief workers where about 700 people were living. After I alerted USAID of the camp’s location, USAID entered the camp into its database so it could be evaluated and receive relief supplies moving forward.

“I also attended one of the “cluster” meetings, which were organized under the leadership of the UN in order to coordinate recovery and response efforts, and I found myself deeply disappointed by the Haitian people’s lack of representation in these critical meetings.

“The challenges seemed insurmountable, yet I was amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of the Haitian people. I was amazed to see people working by themselves to clear the rubble from their homes and make them livable again. There were women in tent camps working together to distribute lights in the camps and protect themselves from gender-based violence. Everywhere I went, there were displaced people who had lost everything, and they were working to help one another survive and rebuild.

“The 2010 earthquake is one of many tragedies in Haiti’s rich and inspiring history. The hard work, determination and resilience of the Haitian people have enabled them to survive centuries of slavery, repression, political violence, and natural disasters. No matter the challenges, the Haitian people always rebuild.”

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