Friday, January 15, 2010

The Problem in Haiti

Frustrations are increasing in Haiti as millions run low on food and water amidst building heat and a relatively slow emergency response.

One of the biggest issues has to be infrastructure. I'm not an expert on the island--never been there--but Google Earth provides a wealth of information as to roads, waterways, rail and airports. There are precious few of any in Haiti. A cursory glance shows there are only two heavy duty runways in the country, and only one close to the damage. Here's a view of the Port-Au-Prince airport:

One east-west and a crummy ramp:

Not much room there, and it's doubtful they could park anything very heavy on what looks like a dirt area between the runway and ramp. Also, since there's only one taxiway from the main runway to the ramp that limits two-way traffic. Landing aircraft may have to do a u-turn at the end of the runway after touchdown, since there is no parallel taxiway beside the runway. This all makes for a very slow operation as traffic increases. They will have to get real creative.

Neighboring Dominican Republic is a stark contrast even though it's also a fairly poor country. There are freeways, a major deep water port and several airports. The roads leading into Haiti appear pretty spartan. They will have to change this going forward.

The military is even using a Global Hawk UAV to assess the damage and most likely the security situation. While everyone feels for the people in need, we should expect nothing less to ensure the safety and efficiency of any mission to take place down there.

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