By JENNIFER FRIEDLIN, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK – City officials went to Haiti on Saturday to assess the damage caused by flooding that has killed hundreds of people and left thousands missing in the Caribbean.
Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and two disaster management specialists from the city’s Office of Emergency Management were participating in the mission to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“They will look at areas of health and human services, infrastructure, sanitation and mass casualty care,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. A similar team went to the Dominican Republic on May 27.
The death toll was at least 1,100 across the south-central part of Hispaniola island, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
New York City is home to hundreds of thousands of people from the two nations.
“There are a lot of nervous people here in New York because at this time no one knows what the figure (of dead) will be,” said Ricot Dupuy, station manager for Radio Soleil, a Haitian station in New York, who said he would try to compile a list of the dead and missing.
Meanwhile, volunteers trying to send relief supplies to flood-affected areas have come up against post-Sept. 11 regulations that restrict such shipments.
American Airlines agreed to ship drinking water and nonperishable food for flood victims, but it said regulations concerning unknown cargo shippers placed the effort in limbo.
“We have to look into whether we can really do this for them,” American spokeswoman Minette Velez said Friday.
State Assemblyman Jose Peralta attempted to learn Friday why a shipment of medicine and clean water had not been sent on to Jimani, a border town in the Dominican Republic.
“There are problems over there. They are not allowing these goods to go into the country,” said Peralta’s spokeswoman, Yonel Letellier.
Larry Pierre, executive director of the Center for Haitian Studies and Project Medishare in Miami, said that group shipped syringes, electrolytes and other supplies to Port-au-Prince.
“Let’s see what happens, if things can make it there,” he said.
Jean-Robert Lafortune, chairman of Miami’s Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, said donations were being accepted at five churches and Haitian organizations in Miami and two churches in Pompano Beach, home of a sizable Haitian community.
“I’m hoping that the political players in Haiti and also in the international community can take this as an opportunity to mend fences,” he said. “This should not be about the differences.”
Other relief organizations were sending staff and supplies.
AmeriCares, based in Stamford, Conn., planned to send an air shipment of supplies such as water purification tablets, fortified milk, bandages and antibiotics.
“We’re trying to go to the areas that have not yet received as much assistance,” said Celina de Sola, AmeriCares’ director of emergency response.
U.S.-led troops were taking food, medicine, plastic sheeting for shelter and aid workers by helicopter to the worst-hit areas.