by Glenn Reynolds
Haiti’s earthquake has produced extreme devastation, both in the capital city and in the surrounding countryside. The current wave of reporting is examining problems in getting relief to where it’s needed, and the tone of the coverage is often hostile: Why are things taking so long?
For starters, Haiti is a poor country. The Port-au-Prince airport has a single runway and not much room on the tarmac. There’s room for a single wide-body jet, four narrow-body jets and a few smaller aircraft at any one time. Then the supplies have to be delivered on ground, moving over damaged, often blocked roads under dubious security conditions. When U.S. forces arrived, the entire airport had only one forklift. The seaport, meanwhile, was wrecked by the earthquake, and although repair crews and temporary port structures are on the way, setting them up takes time, too. Aid shipped overland from the Dominican Republic faces an 18-hour drive over miserable roads, made even worse by earthquake damage. In short, the situation in Haiti is a mess.