Tag Archives: miami

Time in Miami exile

I picked up a copy of Einstein’s Dreams, a whimsical book which offers glimpses into worlds with different forms of time – each as real as the next.

We have encountered multiple versions of time here in Miami also: the thrilled rush of a new holiday, the lazy time of full days with long breakfasts, the constricting time that accompanies a holiday’s end and imminent return…

… and then the thunder of the earthquake, profoundly personal yet from afar, time flying by at an extraordinary pace, all rush and noise, phone-calls and fast conversations, yet concurrently suspended, our lives in limbo, uncertain.

That time has lasted a while, but is ceding to another form of nervous time, where minutes tick by slowly, yet driving us closer to an uncomfortable new reality. Miami’s weather has been unusually unsettled. Now cold, now hot; now dry, wet, or windy. These fluctuations have contributed to our sense of time at any one moment.

Our time now is spent learning the full extent of what has happened to our community, asking questions inappropriate in those first days, picking up our pieces, re-establishing our children, choosing where to live. All over again.

It looks possible I will head to Haiti for a while, and Anna to New York. Nothing final yet. I would like to do this; it gives me purpose. Anna will try to find her way forward at headquarters.

But our life remains shrouded in uncertainty. What are we going to do with our family in the long-term? Is there any way of recovering our house, our life in Haiti?

In this version of time, events are happening out of our control; we consider their merits in hindsight, not advance. I am sad to be apart from the children; I am glad to catch a wave heading somewhere out of nowhere.

I have been in a suspension for a little while. Most of my life, career, was a charge towards something – becoming a journalist, traveling the world, telling stories; then a switch of style, an exploration of new disciplines, choosing sides, kids, fatherhood.

But the past year has been one of contemplation, transition. A new direction resolving slowly. We were finally settling into a new place, re-establishing a household in a community.

Now I can feel time speeding up again, the clacking of the track gathering pace and intensity; Miami blurring around the edges. A new journey. I have little idea where it leads.

US grants temporary protected status to Haitians; but what kind of welcome would refugees receive? Mariel Memories

The New York Times reported this on Friday –

The Obama administration extended a special immigration status on Friday to Haitians living illegally in the United States that protects them from deportation for 18 months and allows them to work here.

Calling the aftermath of the earthquake “a disaster of historic proportions,” the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, said she was granting the designation, known as temporary protected status, for Haitian immigrants because their safety would be at risk if they were deported.

Administration officials said the special status would cover at least 100,000 Haitians believed to be living in the United States illegally, as well as about 30,000 Haitians who had been ordered deported. Haitians who receive the temporary status will be able to obtain documents allowing them to live here and work legally.

This was a humane decision. I have been wondering however, how much longer US sympathy for Haitians will last if large numbers of new refugees begin to arrive on these shores.

So far, Americans have responded generously, but from our limited conversations with residents in Miami (where Anna and I are currently waiting for our next move) we have detected a growing sense of concern at what may lie down the road. People have evoked memories of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift of Cubans, which led to camps being set up around the city.

Some very kind parents who offered us lunch today said they were hearing mutterings of a less than sympathetic nature. Another resident specifically noted that many houses around a nearby park still had security bars from the Mariel days, which brought with it an influx of former Cuban criminals. (An issue immortalised in the early scenes of Scarface).

Any refugee crisis is difficult, for both refugees and host communities, but destitute Haitians might have particularly little capacity to adapt. Let us hope the world manages to set up an aid operation of sufficient quality that such a migration need not take place.

Meanwhile, this is a new update of the US response:

United States Government Haiti Earthquake Disaster Response Update

On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck the nation of Haiti, causing catastrophic damage inside and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince. President Obama has promised the people of Haiti that “you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten.” The United States Government has mobilized resources and manpower to aid in the relief effort. Below please find some key facts and examples of government actions to date.

All numbers below are accurate as of noon Sunday, January 17, 2010

AIRPORTS AND AIRSPACE

*     The airfield is open for 24/7 operations and has a 100-aircraft

per day capacity, this is an increase from yesterday’s 60 aircraft per day capacity.

*     The airport has received more than 600 short tons of supplies.

*     USAF air traffic control and airfield management personnel

continue to manage air operations at the airport with approval of the Government of Haiti.

*     There are 30 military helicopters providing relief to the people

of Haiti.

*     These helicopters are operating out of nine landing zones,

including five drop-off points.

SAFETY

*     Approximately 5,800 military personnel on the ground or afloat.

*     Approximately 7,500 additional military personnel are expected

to arrive by 1/18.

*     More than 1,000 personnel from the 82nd Airborne Division

arrived in Haiti on 1/16.

HEALTH

*     More than 250 HHS medical personnel have arrived in Haiti. 

*     2 planeloads of medicine, medical equipment and supplies from

HHS have arrived in Haiti with a third expected to arrive today.

*     3,840 hygiene kits taken from USAID stockpiles in Miami have

arrived.

*     The USNS Comfort is currently underway and expected to arrive on

1/20 with 600 medical personal on board.

EVACUATION AND RESCUES

*     As of 0900 a total of 1,760 American citizens have been

airlifted out of Haiti.

*     USAID/DART reported that a U.S. Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)

team had rescued an additional three individuals at the Caribbean Market.

*     As of 0900, US USAR teams have rescued 26 individuals. 

*     There are currently six US USAR teams operating in Haiti along

with 21 international USAR teams from around the world.  US teams are based out of Fairfax VA, Los Angeles CA, Miami FL (two teams), New York NY and Virginia Beach VA.

*     Each USAR team includes approximately 70 team members.

FOOD AND WATER

*     U.S. military aircraft have airlifted 130,000 humanitarian daily

rations and more than 70,000 bottles of water to Port-au-Prince.

*     Three water purification units are operational and can supply

180,000 liters per day.

*     USS Carl Vinson continues to provide potable water production.

*     U.S. military aircraft will continue to support the delivery of

an additional 600,000 daily rations over the next several days.

*     Six additional water purification units are scheduled to arrive

in the coming days from USAID stockpiles in Dubai. Each unit provides 1000,000 liters of safe drinking water serving 10,000 people per day. 

*     12,000 water containers have arrived from Miami.

*     Yesterday, the U.N. World Food Program distributed high-energy

biscuits to a total of 50,000 people.

*     The World Food Program Port-au-Prince metropolitan areas

schools feeding program is no serving hot meals to 50,000 affected people

How to Help Support Relief Efforts

*     Contribute online through ClintonBushHaitiFund.org.

*     Text “QUAKE” to 20222 to charge a  $10 donation to the Clinton

Bush Haiti Fund (the donation will be added to your cell phone bill).

*     Find more ways to help through the Center for International

Disaster Information.

Get Information about Friends or Family

The State Department Operations Center has set up the following phone number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti:

1-888-407-4747 (due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording). You can also send an email to the State Department.  Please be aware that communications within Haiti are very difficult at this time.