Col. Rick Kaiser, JTF-Haiti, Engineer and commander of the 20th Engineer Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., spoke with the media about restoring essential services to the people of Haiti Jan. 27.

The JTF-Haiti engineers are assessing ports, airfields, roads, the electrical grid and water to determine what is needed for repair so that the Government of Haiti can restore essential services as quickly as possible, Kaiser said.

"Military forces are not in Haiti for reconstructive services," said Kaiser "They are here to enable essential services restoration as quickly as they can."

"As soon as the Government of Haiti no longer needs military assistance that would signal success on the part of the U.S. military" said Kaiser.

When asked about the electric grid, Kaiser said, "Before the earthquake, electricity was sporadic." The Haitian electrical grid was unreliable so many people have personal generators at home. That is typically how people had power."

"My engineers have helped assess key infrastructure including the Peligre Hydroelectric Dam and found that it was structurally sound and capable of producing of electricity" said Kaiser.

Before the earthquake, Haiti had two main piers, the north and south piers. After the earthquake, the north pier was submerged and completely unusable and the south pier lost half of its length. The remaining part of the pier was surveyed by Army and Navy divers using hydrographic surveys of the bottom of the port to determine its depth. With that data, they found where they could offload.

Currently there are 80 functional points of water in Port-Au-Prince. With the help of USAID the Government of Haiti has contracted 130 water trucks to help distribute water where it is critically needed. Getting water is not an issue right now in Haiti, said Kaiser. Public showers are now operating and that in itself is a positive sign because personal hygiene is very important to help reduce disease.

Kaiser said refuse trucks are running regularly. Haitians tend to pile refuse on the street. Then refuse trucks drive by and collect it. Kaiser also said USAID is looking to offer Haitians jobs clearing roads of rubble.

"We will also assist USAID and those who ask for help with digging some of the sanitary systems in camps where some people live" said Kaiser, "We will focus on those things that are within our military capacity."

Page last updated Thu January 28th, 2010 at 17:22