PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - U.S. soldiers directed crowds of local citizens, blocking off a street of a particularly hard-hit section of the city, while their comrades operated heavy equipment in the streets, removing piles of rubble, rebar and garbage into trucks owned by the Center of National Equipment.

Paratroopers assigned to 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion and 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, both part of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, joined with the Center of National Equipment to clear the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan. 26th.

CNE, a road construction company based in Port-au-Prince, has been working to clear away the damage left by the earthquake on Jan 12, but this was the first day 2BCT soldiers coordinated with CNE to employ fourteen team to remove rubble from the streets throughout the city.

Each day, 2BCT representatives meet at the CNE headquarters to plan what part of the city is a priority and where they will be working.

Clearing the streets provides the citizens with a safer living environment and makes it easier for soldiers, non-government organizations, and the government of Haiti to provide humanitarian aid.

"This is a huge mission," said Maj. Richard Ojeda, operations officer, 2BSTB. "The streets need to be cleaned so we can get food, water and medicine to people in need."

"I feel that we're doing a good thing helping these people out," said Spc. Anthony Duggan, D Co., 2/325th AIR. "I'm really glad to be here and help them out. We can see they really need it."

The soldiers brought two Bobcats and one loader, and CNE's employed eleven dump trucks and one loader, said Cpt. Sean Shields, commander of A Co., 2BSTB.

While it would have taken the soldiers all day to take their small loads to the dump, the mission is greatly accelerated by the use of the larger CNE dump trucks, Shields said.

Already working to speed and improve the mission the 2nd BCT plans to work with the local government to distribute radios and fliers to citizens to notify them in advance where rubble removal will be conducted and which roads will be blocked off, reducing confusion and increasing the soldiers' ability to close the roads, he said.
Although it is only the beginning of what is sure to be a lengthy process, Ligonde Gardye, operations manager of CNE, said he is glad to have the U.S. Army here to assist.

"This is the first step," Gardye said.

Page last updated Thu January 28th, 2010 at 14:57