'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, January 15th, 2010
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Guests: Kerry Sanders, Brig. Gen. David H. Berger, Edwidge Danticat, Marie Michelle, Olivia Wilde
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Keith. Thank you.
And thank you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
It is now day four of the ongoing crisis just south of the American border, in Haiti. And at this hour, there is sobering news to report about the presumed death toll in that country. According to Haiti‘s interior minister tonight, as many as 200,000 people may have lost their lives in Tuesday‘s massive earthquake and since.
If that number turns out to be accurate, Tuesday‘s magnitude 7.0 earthquake may go down as one of the 10 deadliest earthquakes ever recorded anywhere in all of history.
This catastrophic enormity of the loss of life in Haiti is itself contributing to the logistical nightmare of trying to get aid to the people of Port-au-Prince. This is just one street in Port-au-Prince today. What you are looking at are bodies piled up everywhere, stretching across the entire street.
In terms of the immediate needs on the ground right now, there are essentially two things that we are told are in highest demand. They are clean water and antibiotics. And the U.S. military is now taking a lead role on both fronts.
Today, the USS Carl Vinson provided about 35,000 gallons of portable water for distribution in the Haitian capital. As for antibiotics and first aid, NBC‘s Ann Curry reports tonight that American sailors on the ground in Port-au-Prince are providing first aid and are being forced to improvise to do so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are making splints out of wood, out of plastic, everything that we had on the ship. We took plastic ceiling tiles down and made some splints out of them last night to try to help.
ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And because they have no doctors and only two medical foremen, a computer specialist is giving shots to fight infections. A ship‘s engineer is treating a man with lacerations and a chef cook is helping a woman with disfiguring injuries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They haven‘t had the luxury of talking to a doctor at all. They‘ve been doing everything on their own with their training. They‘ve been trained really well, but they‘re doing everything from their training and if they aren‘t sure, they‘re just going with what they think is best. They‘re the best.
CURRY (voice-over): Another choice?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no other choice. These people have no other hope right now. This is it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: U.S. involvement on the ground in Haiti right now is still further ramping up. Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she will be traveling to Haiti tomorrow along with the USAID administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, who‘s been named the government‘s point person in responding to this tragedy.
Secretary Clinton will be bringing USAID officials and supplies in with her. She‘ll be taking evacuees back to the United States with her when she leaves.
According to the State Department, more than 1,000 Americans have been evacuated from Haiti back to the United States. In addition, 200 Haitian earthquake survivors have been brought for treatment to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
And in a really significant move today, the Obama administration announced that an estimated 200,000 Haitians who are currently living in the United States illegally, they have been granted temporary protected status. That allows them to stay here for the next 18 months.
But the big story on the ground in Haiti tonight appears to be the growing frustration with the lack of aid getting the people in the streets. A senior defense official is telling NBC News tonight that the ineffectiveness of the police presence in Haiti now is becoming a real concern. According to this unnamed official, again, speaking with NBC News, U.S. soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division will be tasked with security when the situation there deteriorates. Again, according to this official in his words, it‘s not—it‘s not if the situation deteriorates, but when, which itself is a harrowing choice of language.
NBC‘s Kerry Sanders got a close up look at that deteriorating situation earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Emotions are at the breaking point. The Haitian government late today said its main concern is violence. The scramble for food has turned desperate. Overnight, the U.N.‘s food warehouses were ransacked. In some places, dead bodies are now used as roadblocks to protest the lack of help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these people here. Look at this, Red Cross don‘t show up, the minister don‘t show up, nobody showed up here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now live from Port-au-Prince is NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders.
Kerry, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. I appreciate your time.
SANDERS: Sure. It‘s another day, and the progress is in very tiny increments.
MADDOW: In terms of logistics, getting relief supplies to those who need them, are things improving at all? We last spoke to you 24 hours ago. How things—in what have they measurably improved if at all?
SANDERS: Well, I‘m going to give you the positive, and that is that some of the lesser known organizations have been able to get some supplies out to people who need them. But because they‘re lesser known and they‘re smaller, they‘re unable to get much out.
By and large, just about everywhere I went today, people asked me, “Where‘s the food? Where‘s the water?” And those that couldn‘t speak English tapping their tummies and putting their hands to their mouths.
I think there‘s a greater expectation of delivery that‘s actually taken place thus far.
MADDOW: Kerry, where you‘re standing right now, we can see tents behind you. We have footage today of U.S. military vehicles and helicopters arriving on scene.
Are distribution points for any supplies safely set up anywhere within Port-au-Prince?
SANDERS: Well, you‘ve got the 82nd Airborne over my shoulder here. In the distance, you might hear the rumble of a C-130 cargo plane that is here. It‘s been like this all day. And it‘s been extremely busy.
You‘ve got—as you mentioned—the Carl Vinson offshore here. They have been flying with their helicopters, their Sea Hawks, over the city, coming in here.
Yes, there‘s a lot going on. And the logistical display appears to be, thus far, right here, not in a city, not in the—not in the places where people are again tonight, you know, sleeping on sheets or pieces of plastic in a park who need food and need some water.
MADDOW: I feel like, Kerry, we have had a very similar conversation three nights in a row now in terms of aid and activity being evident at the airport and it just not getting to the people who need it. The desperation so clear on Tuesday night, and then Wednesday night and then Thursday night and now, it‘s Friday night. And I keep hearing these explanations that help is on the way that there are logistical difficulties. But it doesn‘t seem like there‘s any sign that this bottleneck is breaking.
I just—I know I keep asking the same question, but—is there any sign that anything is changing?
SANDERS: Well, I think the personnel are here. Two companies from the 82nd Airborne, 220 soldiers on the ground tasked with getting that humanitarian aid out, and I was told this morning it was going to happen today. I‘ve got to believe it‘s going to fall into place tomorrow and that we‘re going to see that taking—be very evident.
And I just say that optimistically because I know that people who are here—I mean, we spoke to some young soldiers here. They‘re just waiting for the order to go. They‘re ready to go, they want to go.
It‘s just a matter of the biggest picture logistics, which doesn‘t mean much to somebody who‘s sleeping out there, who needs a little bit of water, or who needs a little bit of food.
And, you know, you‘ve got to remember, you can get water in this city right now if you have money. The price of that water has doubled. So if you are living in the poorest nation in the western hemisphere and you‘re unemployed long before this happened, you can‘t afford that water.
If you have a car and you want to get your family out of this crisis and go out to the countryside, which is unaffected, and you have a place to go, and you need fuel for your vehicle, it‘s $8 a gallon at the gas station, if the gas station‘s open, it‘s $20 a gallon at the black market price.
And there were folks sitting in a gas station today that have been there for two days. And I asked them, “So, what is your expectation that there‘s actually fuel here? And if the fuel is in the tanks, why is it not being pumped? Is it simply a matter of no electricity to bring the pumps up to speed to get the fuel out?”
And to a T, every person said, “No, and we‘re from Haiti. We know exactly how this works. We‘ve been through other types of crises, maybe not as big as this,” but the man who owns that gas station is waiting, he‘s waiting because every day he waits. What he has in the fuel tanks there is more valuable and he can sell it for more. So, it‘s $8 today, it‘ll be $12 tomorrow.
And so, there‘s this expectation of people who are being opportunists and, you know, taking advantage of the situation. I never found that gas station owner today to ask him that question, but there seemed to be a consensus belief among folks here that that‘s what was taking place.
MADDOW: Kerry, one of the things we had mixed reports on today is that some cell phone service may be being restored on the island. Obviously, a lot of people trying to reach family members are hoping that that‘s going to be the way they do it. It‘s obviously also key to coordinating relief efforts.
SANDERS: It is back.
MADDOW: It is back.
SANDERS: It is back. It is back. My phones are on the AT&T system. One blinked on earlier this afternoon, the second one blinked on about an hour ago. So, yes, they‘re working BlackBerry service. For folks who use text messaging or sending e-mails, that‘s back up.
And so, I think it‘s a very hopeful sign that people can begin getting word out. I‘ve got to tell you, I have received personally the names of about 600 people from viewers of NBC who have asked me to look for their loved one at this address or look for their loved one at that address. And I‘m really hopeful for all of those people who are anxiously living in the dark wondering if their loved ones are OK. We‘ll start to get a text message and e-mail or something so that they can answer that horrible question of what happened to the person I love.
MADDOW: Kerry, we had a somewhat ominous comment from a military official tonight to NBC News saying that there‘s an increasing concern about the security situation. From your perspective and from what you‘ve seen, is the security—worries—are the worries about security justified as a sporadic and scattered problem? Or is this something systemically is becoming a major worry?
SANDERS: Well, I would say that the concern is very real just from the history of this country. It‘s not uncommon for people to take the violent route to get what they need. And while the police were out and one police officer today shot somebody and killed that person, the violence that I have seen has been very tiny, people fighting over some water, 30, 40, 50 seconds and then it calms down. But it‘s all right there on the edge.
And I think that‘s why the military is trying to—they‘re trying to do two things here. They‘re trying to make sure that they help the people, and they‘re trying to make sure that they don‘t create a new problem, and that is an American soldier being injured, wounded, or something worse.
And it‘s just difficult. I think we‘re going to see—once it hits the streets—I think we‘ll see things play out the way they will play out. And that—that‘ll probably happen tomorrow. I know I said it the other day. I think it was yesterday, Rachel, and I said it, but I think it‘s going to happen tomorrow.
MADDOW: NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, tonight. Kerry, you‘re reporting has just been thank invaluable to us. Thank you for being there. Thank you for joining us.
SANDERS: Thank you.
MADDOW: In terms of what he‘s talking about with the military moving in to Port-au-Prince, moving into Haiti, we will be talking with a commanding marine general on the show tonight. The director of operations for the U.S. Marine Corps is Brigadier General David Berger, he will be our next guest on this show. We‘ll get some answers in terms of what people are hoping for from the U.S. military presence there.
And later on, some large donations are pouring in from—of all places—the entertainment world. A George Clooney hosted relief telethon is reportedly scheduled for January 22nd. Say what you will about American celebrity culture, it happens to be that American celebrities are stepping up big time right now.
For more information, we will talk with actor Olivia Wild from the show “House.” She was volunteering in Haiti. Just a few weeks ago, she‘s been furiously raising money for relief efforts now.
Please do stay with us. A lot more to come.
MADDOW: The U.S. military‘s response to the crisis in Haiti now includes a piece of equipment normally used in wartime. It‘s a spy drone. You‘re looking here at images of the destruction in Haiti taken yesterday by an RQ-4D Global Hawk. This specific unmanned aerial vehicle, this drone, was supposed to be sent to Afghanistan. It was diverted to Haiti.
U.S. Southern Command saying that yesterday this drone took more than 400 images over 14 hours. Today, they were hoping for 1,000 more.
The official-use-only version of that imagery is going to be disseminated across the Department of Defense. But all access versions of that same imagery are being made available broadly to people working in the relief effort, which means the highest tech military spec imagery we‘ve got can be used to target aid where it is most needed.
MADDOW: The logistical logjam on the grounds in Port-au-Prince right now has become the crisis on top of the tragedy of Tuesday‘s massive earthquake. Governments and humanitarian groups from all over the world are trying to rush relief to the people of Port-au-Prince. Donations are pouring in, supplies are on hand, but with the airport, the sea port, and the roads all damaged from the quake, getting help to the actual people who need it is proving extraordinarily difficult—fatally difficult.
Haiti‘s prime minister today officially turned over control of the country‘s main airport in Port-au-Prince to the United States. The airport, of course, was itself damaged in the earthquake. It only has one runway. It has about a dozen parking spaces for planes.
Today, an FAA alert warned that planes trying to get into Port-au-Prince could expect to wait to land for more than an hour. And that there would be no fuel on the ground for planes to refuel once they did land. The Air Force says it is considering using aluminum matting to try to create more runway space at the airport.
But once planes full of aid and supplies did manage to land at the airport, the few that did, “The New York Times” reported today on further logistical problems—saying, quote, “There was only one warehouse to hold the expected influx of materials and no clear plan of how to distribute supplies from the airport to the city.”
Other than the airport, there are alternative routes for getting aid into the country, but each one comes with its own logistical hurdles. Haiti‘s main sea port in Port-au-Prince was badly damaged with no cranes available to load cargo on and off the supply ships.
The hope now is that so-called roll-on/roll-off vessels could be used, ships that don‘t use cranes. They have their own ramps so cargo can be rolled off of them unto land bypassing the need for those nonexistent cranes.
Relief organizations are also sending aid for Haiti through Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republican. A spokesman for the U.N.‘s World Food Program is saying that getting supplies across the border from the Dominican Republic into Port-au-Prince by ground transportation is about 12- to 18-hour prospect.
For every problem, there is that potential work around, at least a potential alternative. But finding those and implementing those all take time, which is what everyone who needs help in Port-au-Prince right now is running out of.
Joining us now is Brigadier General David H. Berger. He‘s director of operations at U.S. Marine Corps headquarters. He served in Haiti in 2004 during a period of civil unrest in that country. He‘s now coordinating the 2,200-member Marine Corps unit that‘s heading to Haiti as we speak.
General Berger, we‘re grateful for your time tonight. Thank you for joining us.
BRIG. GEN. DAVID H. BERGER, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: When is this Marine unit expected to arrive in Haiti? And what‘s their primary mission once they‘re there?
BERGER: Rachel, first, I‘d like to make sure that you understand all of our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti. And today and into tonight, the Marines that are from Camp Lejeune, from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, will load three ships during the afternoon and into tonight and they will load all through tomorrow morning and be underway. And it will be about a two-day sail to get down to Haiti from Camp Lejeune.
MADDOW: What‘s the expectation about what will they be tasked with once they arrive?
BERGER: Like all of the forces that are in route or already at Haiti, that‘s determined by the commander down there now. But what they bring in the Navy and Marine Corps team aboard the ships is everything from relief supplies to heavy equipment, water-producing capability to drinking potable water, capability that we have with the Marine/Navy team.
So the supplies, the heavy equipment, and the people needed down there.
In terms of the logistical problems that we are hearing about on the ground right now—there is material, there are a lot of personnel in Haiti right now. The problem is getting it that last mile, getting supplies, relief, expertise, rescue to the people who actually need it in the streets rather than just to the airport, say. What‘s the expectation for how these Marines will dock and unload their equipment and get out to the people who need their help the most?
BERGER: That‘s the real value of bringing in what we call an amphibious team down there is that they do not become part—more of the part of the problem. They don‘t place a burden on either the Port-au-Prince area or the rest of the infrastructure that‘s there. These ships and the Marines will be able to stay offshore and not required to come into the port. And then they can bring the supplies and the equipment off of the ships in a couple of different ways.
They can bring it by helicopter, what we call vertically, so they can fly it in either day or night, or they can bring it across the water on the vessels that are inside the—in the ships on the way down. And they can do it both at the same time if needed and they can do it around the clock.
MADDOW: What are your expectations for your Marines in terms of the need to provide security and policing either for their own operations to allow their own relief efforts to operate safely and effectively, or for other relief efforts that are already there?
BERGER: They‘ll provide their own security, but the rules of engagement apply to all of the forces down there and they apply equally. So, the Marines and the sailors who were involved are briefed on the way down there of what those rules are. And they‘ll provide their own security, but we don‘t, at this point, see that as a primary mission. This force is being sent down there to provide relief and supplies.
MADDOW: The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, what else have they been involved in in recent years? What other sort of deployments have they faced? And what are their special skills?
BERGER: That‘s one of the reasons—that‘s a good point, Rachel—but that‘s one of the reasons why this unit was able to form and get underway so quickly. This particular unit just returned from deployment in the Middle East last month. So, the Marine commander and the Navy commander had worked together prior to their deployment and then for the seven months that they were overseas.
So, when this call came, can you provide this kind of capability, it was an easy match. They know how to work together. Like I said, they‘re loading this afternoon and tonight.
So, this team has been working together for sometime.
MADDOW: How long are they expecting to stay in Haiti?
BERGER: That will be determined by the commander on the ground. They will be down there until the mission is over or until they‘re released.
MADDOW: Brigadier General David H. Berger, director of operations at U.S. Marine Corps headquarters—thank you very much for joining us tonight. Good luck to you, sir. Appreciate your time.
BERGER: You‘re welcome, Rachel. Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: OK. Acclaimed author Edwidge Danticat lived in Port-au-Prince before coming to America at age 12. Many of her relatives are still in Haiti. She will join us next from Miami.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: It‘s impossible to tell at this point how many people are still missing after Haiti‘s devastating earthquake. But their family and friends are doing whatever they can to find them. Among several organizations using the Internet to help people search for the missing, the Red Cross has registered 5,000 names on a special Web site set up to help try to reunite people. Media outlets, including “The New York Times” Web site, have posted photos and identifying information for some of the missing.
Some of the people they‘ve highlighted include Madona Pogy, last known location: Port-au-Prince.
Richard Perrault, approximately six feet tall, medium built, last known location: Port-au-Prince. His brother Eric is also listed as missing.
Mesley Jean, last known location: Port-au-Prince.
Rebecca Guirand, last known location: the St. Martin Neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
These folks are just chosen at random from the many, many people listed online by friends here as missing in Port-au-Prince.
Among the Haitian-Americans searching for word of missing loved ones is the celebrated author, Edwidge Danticat. She was born for Port-au-Prince. She moved to the United States when she was 12. Her most recent book, a memoir called “Brother, I‘m Dying” won the National Book Critic Circle Award.
Last year, she was awarded a McArthur Foundation Genius Grant.
Edwidge Danticat joins us now from Miami.
Ms. Danticat, thank you very much for your time today. Appreciate you being on the show.
EDWIDGE DANTICAT, HAITIAN-AMERICAN SEARCHING FOR FAMILY: Thank you very much for having me.
MADDOW: Can you describe just what your week has been like since you heard about the quake on Tuesday? How you spent these last few days?
DANTICAT: I think it‘s been like a lot of Haitian-Americans. On Tuesday, when we heard the news, just—there was a total blackout of any news and then we started searching from that day on. People gathered. They called each other. We go to churches, we cry, we—it‘s up and down.
And for a lot of people, we‘ve been waiting for so long. And some news trickles through and sometimes it‘s good news, thankfully. But unfortunately, for the most part, it‘s—it‘s often bad news.
MADDOW: How have you been trying to track down your family and your loved ones and other people that you know? Is it just calling and calling and calling and hoping that somebody answers?
DANTICAT: Well, we—the calling is certainly a part of it. And we talked to other people from the same areas that maybe we are from and the people have been doing the social networks heavily, and again, posting everywhere. But you—it‘s just the constant need to stay in communication and hope that some news will come through.
Sometimes, people are hearing news and they‘ll say, the cousin of the friend of the neighbor of so and so stated and your—you know, your heart skips and you hope that it‘s true. And there have been cases where, you know, it‘s a—it‘s a huge emotional rollercoaster.
MADDOW: We‘re just now beginning to learn about the devastation beyond Port-au-Prince. There are reports of thousands of people homeless and sleeping on an airfield runway in the town of Jacmel, on Haiti‘s southern coast, a place you‘ve written about, I know.
Have you been able to get any sense of how bad things are outside the capital?
DANTICAT: I think that‘s one of the points as we move forward from here that places like Jacquemel where people have stated something like 80 percent destroyed. I have a friend who used to live in Jacquemel and we‘ve spent most of the day together today supporting each other. And she has been getting distress calls from Jacquemel of people saying, “I‘m in front of the school. There are 45 children in there. You know, I‘m in this field.”
And people - there‘s not that doctor inside. There‘s not an aid worker. These foreign places - I think by the time they get aid, it will definitely be too late. Because even a place as close to Port-au-Prince as Carrefour - I also know people who have - are trying to help there.
And it‘s very - they‘ve not seen any of this that we‘re seeing on the television. The roads are blocked, so it‘s very difficult. They‘ve not gotten much help.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: The world has responded to disasters in Haiti before, though, of course, nothing on this scale. As somebody who has done so much to educate the broader American public about Haiti and about Haitian Americans and about the Haitian diaspora and experience of Haiti, is there anything you feel that we should learn from crises in Haiti in the past to make sure the most good is done now?
DANTICAT: Well, I think this is one of the most crucial element of this. And that Haiti is sort of - people have that kind of put-out-fire attitude about Haiti and that we often see Haiti in moments of crisis. And when the cameras go away and when the journalists are gone, then that attention subsides.
And that is one of the things, I think, as we go forward, we need to learn from this disaster, that to really build so that we‘re not always circling around this thing, and we‘re building infrastructure, that that we reforestation, resettlement, decentralization - all of the things that would be important to survival from now on so that it‘s not always - we‘re not always putting a band-aid on a very difficult wound.
MADDOW: I am encouraged by the fact that we are hearing that more and more from even people who represent the government, talking about the fact that there needs to be a long-term commitment that this is a reconstruction commitment and a long-term help commitment, not just disaster response.
One last question for you. As one of the nearly 800,000 Haitians who live in the United States, the government today granted temporary protective status to anybody who is Haitian who is here illegally. They also stopped deportations, even those that were already in progress. What do you think is the importance of that decision?
DANTICAT: Well, it‘s a crucial decision. And it‘s not granted to people who are necessarily illegal. It‘s people who - it‘s 30,000 people who - and this is a request that is long in coming. People who are here watching their families and their loved ones die and aren‘t able to work and aren‘t able to help in the situation.
So it‘s - applaud the government for that. And it‘s a long time coming and hallelujah.
MADDOW: Edwidge Danticat, someone whose contributions to literature have brought Americans closer to Haiti than we otherwise would be, thank you for your time and best of luck to you and your family and your friends.
DANTICAT: Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So she was the very first survivor in Haiti who we spoke to on Tuesday night after the earthquake. Up next, how she is doing now three days after the earthquake.
And later, an inspiring number of Americans are contributing to the relief effort. Famous Americans are among those contributing the most and encouraging all of us to do more. Olivia Wilde from the TV show “House” has been among the well-known Americans most active in the effort. She joins us tonight. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: Haiti does not have its own military. There are thousands of United Nations peacekeeping troops stationed in Haiti. And they‘re about to have about 10,000 American military personnel there in short order.
But the military is not the lead agency coordinating America‘s response in Haiti. That agency is USAID, a part of the State Department - a part of the State Department that‘s been considered under-resourced for a very long time.
And in 2006, it even had its authority over its own budget and policy taken away. In this administration, USAID is back in a big way and now in charge of this massive humanitarian effort. We will have more on that in just a moment.
But first, on Tuesday of this week, barely six hours after the earthquake leveled so much of Port-au-Prince, we managed to get to someone live on the ground. Her name is Marie Michelle, she is a New York-based nurse who happened to be in Haiti for her mother-in-law‘s funeral.
This is Tuesday, the day of the quake, she described surviving the earthquake that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIE MICHELLE, EARTHQUAKE SURVIVOR IN HAITI (through telephone): We ran out to the courtyard. And it was screaming all around us. People screaming, standing on top of the mountain, overlooking the capitol, and a beautiful, breathtaking view turned into basically white, dusty cloud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The view of the capitol turned into a white, dusty cloud. Marie Michelle told us on Tuesday that she had had plans to leave Haiti the following day on Wednesday. She has not left.
Tonight, three days after we first spoke with Marie Michelle, we got back through to her. She told us she and her family are, in her words, “fine.” But she told us she‘s seen all around her ever since the earthquake is anything but fine. This is what she told us.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MARIE MICHELLE: The pictures do not even show justice. I mean, the pictures - the pictures don‘t tell you the full story. You have to live it to fully understand the scope of this.
Haiti is going to have to be built from the bottom up. I mean from the bottom up. There is - there has not been one neighborhood that wasn‘t affected by this. Not one, not any of the places I‘ve been. The main street in Port-au-Prince is cinderblock.
You can‘t find food. There are a few stores that are left standing. They are afraid of opening because they‘re being mobbed. There is no churches left standing. There are - hospitals are turning people away because they are so overwhelmed and overcrowded.
There is no morgue. The streets are - as of yesterday, they started to pick up bodies. But I have seen babies, young girls, all the people - I have seen the street littered - both sides of the streets - with dead bodies. Dead people.
And I guess the neighbors and friends have done their best to maintain their dignity because every other person you see has been shrouded and covered. So it‘s hard enough to see them.
I don‘t think I will ever be able to get that image out of my head for as long as I live. People were trying to protect loved ones in the morgue in desperation. When they get to the morgue - there was - there were just too many dead bodies.
We‘ve had people actually leaving the bodies in front of the morgue and just move on. The day after this happened, we had a dead woman to us who died. We combed Port-au-Prince to find a morgue to put her in. We were driving around with a dead body for more than two hours.
We ended up in a place called (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It‘s not in Port-au-Prince, and we finally, finally accepted her. We came to her funeral. We had the funeral that morning. The church that we had been in - one of the walls had collapsed.
We had the reception following the burial at his cousin‘s house, which has now leveled, coming back up to my brother‘s house at the Caribbean market. I was in the market no more than an hour before we came home. And that market has collapsed over - OK.
So forgive me if I‘m emotional because, in retrospect, I feel like I met the path of the destruction and I was being (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And I was - we were lucky to have escaped this.
MADDOW: There are many Americans who are personally directly involved in the relief efforts for Haiti right now. Members of the military units that are part of the response and the search and rescue teams and the government agencies and the existing aid organizations with a presence in Haiti.
But beyond those folks who are directly involved, there‘s really not that wide a range of ways for Americans who want to help, to help. Essentially, we are giving money and trying to ensure that the charities we‘re giving money to are using our money well.
And we‘re counting on our government to do this right. In our name, the federal government is directing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American assets and cash and personnel into our national American response to this tragedy.
Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” last night dinged me for doing a segment on USAID and the State Department being named the lead agency for our response in Haiti. And for me, putting that in the context of what a big deal this administration has made about bringing the State Department back, having them take a lead role in government again since the Bush administration, somewhat downgraded the State Department.
That led into a discussion about USAID with Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW (on camera): Is it inevitable that USAID would be the lead agency here? And how capable are they of doing what needs to be done?
STEVE CLEMONS, THE NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: USAID is probably the most vital under-resourced and often neglected institution in the international portfolio of the United States. When a big natural disaster or we have foreign policy objectives that need USAID, they‘re there.
But during times of calm, they‘re neglected and severely under-resourced as I think they were in the Bush administration. And of course, they were a major target in the old days of Jessie Helms and Newt Gingrich and others who really didn‘t value this kind of international engagement.
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MADDOW: I know that‘s politics, but - listen, I love me some Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.” I‘m a big fan, but no apologies for reporting on which agency is the lead of our national efforts to respond to Haiti, whether or not that agency is well-resourced, whether I has been subject to partisan attacks, how much the current administration values and prioritizes and, indeed, brags on that agency.
We all, as Americans, are counting on our government to do a good job in responding to this catastrophe. This is what it looks like to report on our government‘s capacity to do just that.
When President Obama gave USAID the lead role in the coordinating response to the disaster in Haiti, he handed that agency its biggest humanitarian mission in years. Six days before the earthquake in Haiti, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had just given a major speech about how the Obama administration was going to elevate USAID to a primary position in the government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: It‘s time for a new mindset, for a new century, time to retire old debates and replace dogmatic attitudes with clear reasoning and common sense, and time to elevate development as a central pillar of all that we do in our foreign policy. And it is past time to rebuild USAID into the world‘s premiere development agency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Six days later, the earthquake in Haiti. And USAID gets put in charge of America‘s response to it. They report that as of today, USAID is $55 million into that response. They‘re the ones coordinated America‘s search-and-rescue efforts, water and emergency food aid, the way that supplies get into the country, shelter and sanitation and hygiene.
At this point, the road to being the world‘s premiere development agency runs through Haiti and we‘ll keep reporting it.
MADDOW: For most people, sending money really is the best way to help with earthquake relief in Haiti. And some of the famous among us with the most money have sent a lot. Madonna, Tyler Perry, Lance Armstrong - they‘ve all announced donations of $250,000 for Haiti. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, $1 million. Giselle Bundchen, reportedly giving $1.5 million.
And then, there are the fundraisers. MTV‘s “Hope for Haiti” telethon co-hosted by George Clooney next Friday. Ryan Seacrest is working with “Save Haiti Saturday” for restaurants and bars to donate a portion of their proceeds tomorrow.
For some stars, the devastation is personal. Haitian musician, Wyclef Jean is fundraising through his Yele for Haiti Foundation which was started in 2005.
And our next guest, “House” actor Olivia Wilde, spent time just before Christmas in Port-au-Prince volunteering at schools. Just after the news broke Olivia Wilde posted this message on twitter. She wrote, quote, “Places where we stood weeks ago are now rubble. I‘m gutted. Please keep spreading the word.”
She tweeted today, “Just heard horrible news. At least one of our schools in Haiti collapsed killing all the beautiful children inside. My heart is broken.”
All this week, Olivia Wilde has been using her Twitter account to try to raise money for “ArtistsForPeaceAndJustice.com” and credit her with the novel fundraising idea of offering a personalized video, “Thank you for donations,” of $200 or more.
Olivia Wilde now joins us from Los Angeles. Ms. Wilde, thank you very much for making time for us. I really appreciate it.
OLIVIA WILDE, ACTRESS: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me ask you first about the group you‘re raising money for, Artists for Peace and Justice. What do they do and what has been your involvement with them?
WILDE: Artists for Peace and Justice supports a local organization in Haiti run by a doctor and priest named Fr. Rick Frechette who has been there for over 20 years. He builds schools, the only free pediatric hospital in Port-au-Prince, distributes the only free clean drinking water in Port-au-Prince. And he‘s certainly very critical right now as he is rebuilding and saving lives every minute.
MADDOW: I understand that the pediatric hospital in particular was hit very hard by the quake.
WILDE: It was hit very hard but still standing, unlike all the other hospitals in Haiti. They are accepting patients but they‘re quickly running out of supplies.
MADDOW: I know that the news that you‘ve been able to get about Fr. Frechette and people who you have worked with in Haiti has been mostly all bad. I know that Fr. Frechette himself has survived. What have you heard about the people you worked with and the facilities there that you‘ve been involved with?
WILDE: Unfortunately, our school seems to have collapsed, at least one of them killing all the children inside. We had hoped that because it was late in the day, they would have been gone. But unfortunately, they were there.
The hospital is still standing, but badly damaged. Some volunteers were killed in one of the hospitals when it collapsed. Our orphanage is still standing because it was high up in the mountains.
But unfortunately, a lot of the medical staff was around Port-au-Prince when the quake hit and they have also died.
MADDOW: How recently were you there and what were you doing when you were there?
WILDE: We were there in December, and we were volunteering and really just helping Fr. Rick and observing what he does so that we could come back to the States and tell potential donors from personal experience how critical this work is and tell them how effective it is.
It‘s very different to be part of a local organization that knows the history, knows the culture and the language, particularly in a place like Haiti.
MADDOW: One of the reasons that I really wanted to have you on the show tonight is because of this idea of people giving what they‘re capable of giving. And famous actors and musicians are not only capable of giving themselves but of using their fame as a force multiplier, right, to try to get more people to do more.
How are people who know you as an actor responding to you now as an activist?
WILDE: People have been very, very generous and very responsive. Twitter is incredible. In one day, on Twitter, we raised over $30,000. Many of those donations were small, some under $100.
People seem to have responded to my offer for a personal video message. That was just me grasping for ideas but it seems to have worked. People seem to trust me because I was just there. I think that really helps.
And people want to help. And we‘re giving them a way to help. And I can tell them with 100 percent confidence that these dollars will go to the right people. One great thing about Artists for Peace and Justice is 100 percent of what we raise goes directly to Fr. Rick, to the programs he‘s running. We don‘t take any overhead. And that‘s unheard of for a nonprofit.
MADDOW: Am I right that I‘ve heard part of the way the proceeds are getting delivered to Haiti is that they‘re being hand-carried to Haiti by somebody from Artists for Peace and Justice?
WILDE: That‘s correct. The banks are gone, so there‘s no way for us to wire the money. The only way is to hand-deliver it, and I mean literally bundles of cash. That‘s one way we‘re doing it.
But we‘re figuring out every other way we can get them supplies and that we can use the money to help the operations on the ground because they‘re really desperate. I mean, they‘re running out of equipment fast.
MADDOW: Olivia Wilde plays Dr. Remy Hadley on the Fox TV series, “House.” She‘s also on the advisory board of Artists for Peace and Justice, online at “ArtistsForPeaceAndJustice.com” and available to take your donations now.
Olivia has been furiously raising money for their work in Haiti. Thank you for your activism. Thanks for taking time tonight to talk with us about it. I really appreciate it.
WILDE: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: OK. Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith talks with the emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations. It‘s Sir John Holmes. Keith talks with him about the international effort to help Haiti.
Next on this show, how you can help, too. There‘s actually some good news to share about that. And that‘s next.
MADDOW: Donating money to help the estimated 3 million people affect by the earthquake in Haiti is very necessary and very simple. Americans have already donated $11 million just through text messaging. That‘s about 10,000 mobile donations per second.
And now, I‘m happy to tell you your donation dollar will go further than it did before. AT&T, Verizon, T-mobile and Sprint have all agreed to waive standard text messaging rates for texted donations.
And this is new. To combat concerns that collecting money through the cell phone billing process would take something like 90 days to actually get charities the money, the cell phone companies are all now - are also now starting to step up to shorten that period of time.
Verizon says they will donate 100 percent of your donation immediately. They will not wait for you to pay the bill. They will assume that you will. Sprint will send 80 percent immediately, the rest later. AT&T told our producers tonight that they are working on ways to expedite funds.
Verizon obviously setting the pace here. The other big companies are going to need to match what they‘re doing. To donate by text, which you can do multiple times, here‘s how you do it.
$10 to the Red Cross - text “Haiti” to 90999. $5 to the International Rescue Committee - text “Haiti” to 25383. $10 to the Salvation Army - text “Haiti” to 52000. $5 to Yele, Wyclef Jean‘s organization, text “Yele” to 501501. $10 to the Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief Fund - text “Haiti” to 20222.
All that information and more is available on our Web site, which is Rachel.MSNBC.com.
That does it for this hour of coverage. Please stay tuned to MSNBC throughout the night and through the weekend for the latest on the rescue and recovery operation. “COUNTDOWN” with Keith Olbermann starts right now.
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