U.S. assets have been deployed and more are on their way to Haiti in the wake of the horrific earthquake that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
The Coast Guard Cutter Forward arrived off Port Au Prince this morning and was the first U.S. asset on the scene. The cutter is equipped with a helicopter flight deck, satellite communications equipment, and the ability to provide coordination to military aircraft in the area, according to Homeland Security sources.
The Coast Guard cutter Mohawk is scheduled to arrive this afternoon. Two Coast Guard C-130 airplanes are flying the coast of Western Haiti doing damage assessments and searching for people in need of assistance. Two Coast Guard helicopters are also forward deployed in the area to provide rescue or other assistance, the sources said.
"The entire Department of Homeland Security extends its sympathy for the devastation and loss of life in Haiti following last night's earthquake - a disaster that has called the world to action in response," said U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napoliatano.
"The U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are leading DHS actions to support the larger assistance effort. Several Coast Guard cutters and aircraft have mobilized and are on the ground to assist the humanitarian effort as needed. FEMA has been in close contact with the State Department and USAID, the lead U.S. federal response agencies, and stands ready to provide assistance as requested.
"I am being kept closely apprised of the developing situation, and the department will continue to support the people of Haiti and others affected by this tragedy. I encourage the American people to donate what funds they can afford to disaster relief organizations such as the American Red Cross to allow these voluntary groups to provide goods and services to disaster survivors as quickly as possible," she said.