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THE SITUATION ROOM
Haiti in Ruins
Aired January 14, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: How worried are you right now, Sanjay, about disease, disease from the corpses, the bodies that are all over the place, the mosquitoes that are flying around, the heat? How big of a concern is this to you?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a country that has very high rates of waterborne diseases even before there was a natural disaster, so it is always going to be of concern.
What is interesting is the bodies, themselves, do pose some threat, these corpses that are lying around the city. And they are starting to be cleaned up, and brought to hospitals like this.
The thing that worries me the most really is if you have a significant rainfall, and you start to contaminate the water supply with what all of this that is in the city and in the streets. If that happens, that could be a significant problem, people who are otherwise healthy, people who have been just slightly injured suddenly getting a significant infection, a significant waterborne infection.
You could have a new subsection of people who are becoming very ill, so that is of concern. But I think that is starting to get addressed, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Sanjay, we are going to have you stand by, because I know you have important work to do. We are going to also show our viewers what you did to help save the life of that little kid, that little child, that baby who suffered a head injury.
Sanjay Gupta is not only a journalist, but he's a neurosurgeon, so we will show our views that. That is coming up.
But let's go Chris Lawrence right now. He is on the scene for us over at the airport in Haiti in Port-au-Prince.
What is the latest, Chris, that you are seeing there as nightfall approaches?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, well, I can tell you the activity is definitely continuing here.
Just about five minutes ago, another Coast Guard plane just landed. The difference I have seen in the last couple hours is a switch from receiving mostly search-and-rescue personnel to what you're seeing now. A lot more aid is starting to come in.
You can look at this plane from Chile right there and you can see just the number of pallets that are being off-loaded. We spoke live on THE SITUATION ROOM in the last hour with an official for USAID that is heading up this effort, and she told us live on the air that that is the normal priority, that they were trying to get search-and-rescue teams into Haiti as soon as possible, because they felt there was still a chance to rescue people.
In fact, she said it was some of the dogs, the specially trained dogs that were key to alerting them to some trapped hotel, and she said efforts were already under way to try to rescue those people, four people trapped in a hotel, and they were led by the dogs with their acute sense of smell.
The other half to getting aid here is the port situation, Wolf. And I can tell you, we spent about half-a-day down there and saw a major problem. We talked to some officials down at the pier. There are real questions about the structural integrity of the port system there. We saw the main road where normally you would just off-load a lot of the food and water and supplies and you load them on a truck and you drive that truck straight on the road and right out into town.
That road had completely buckled. I saw the road buckled about five feet high, almost as tall as I am, absolutely no way to get supplies through there. And we spoke with a gentleman who had three ships with food and water and other aid on it, and he was still trying to figure out exactly how he could get those unloaded.
So, getting the supplies here is just one hurdle. The second hurdle now is actually getting it off-loaded and getting it out to the people who need it the most -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Stand by for a moment. We are going to get back to you, Chris.
But joining us now is Mark Stuart. He runs an orphanage in Haiti. He's joining us via Skype.
Mark, tell us what is going on from your vantage point. I know you have been trying to save the lives of the little kids, orphans. How is it going?
MARK STUART, RUNS ORPHANAGE IN HAITI: Well, we are keeping pretty busy.
We have taken a pretty good hit, you know. And last year with the hurricanes, this year with the earthquake, we have -- you know, nerves are petty shot, but we are still doing the work down here and the kids are happy.
This is Rusovel (ph). This is Taini (ph) right there. They always like to be on the camera. But here in the aerial shot, you will notice a lot of damage, and the road from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel has crumbled, so we can't get any supplies into Jacmel. So, today, we loaded up with supplies. We were driving around Jacmel and for the first couple days, you could sense almost a hypnotic state over the Haitian people, as so many people have died, so many people lost their houses, even here on the south coast.
But, today, you started to sense a uprising of I guess maybe anxiousness and frustration. People are starting to get afraid that they are going to run out of food here, run out of medicine, and that is kind of our fear here at the orphanage. But, as of right now, things are going well. At night, they
BLITZER: How many children are with you there, Mark?
STUART: We have 43 children here at this orphanage. We have another orphanage in (INAUDIBLE) that got hit even harder than we did.
We didn't have any structural damage, but many of the houses around us are completely demolished. And hotels, the Jacmel hospital is completely demolished, and local schools are demolished as well. There's dead bodies laying around.
In the village today, as I went shopping, there is nobody to get any of the bodies out. They are stuck, and you can see them right there on the streets. People don't know what to do here, because there is no one -- no help has arrived here in Jacmel as of yet.
BLITZER: Are the kids OK? All the orphans who are with you, did they emerge from the earthquake in OK shape?
STUART: Yes. Yes. They are just a little bit shaken up. They're a little bit scared, but, as most kids, they bounce back and forth from different emotions. And they are very happy. In fact, they are really enjoying camping out and not sleeping in their buildings right now. They like to sleep out on the dirt.
We have sleeping bags and mattresses, and they really enjoy it. Even tonight, they want to sleep outside, so we are going to sleep outside, I think.
BLITZER: And do you have enough food and water for all the kids?
I think that connection from via Skype just froze up, but that was Mark Stuart. He runs an orphanage called Hands and Feet Project in Jacmel in Haiti. And we wish him and his colleagues only the best, one of many stories out there.
Let's to Tom foreman right now. He's got some more images he wants to share that are just coming in.
What do you there, Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi, Wolf.
I wanted to give people a reference as to where Jacmel is. We know that this area has been hit hard. We don't have any new satellite images of it, but I wanted to give you a sense of where it is. As we widen out, you will see this is Jacmel down here, and we have been talking all these days about Port-au-Prince.
This is the epicenter here. port-au-Prince is on the other side, so we know almost nothing about what has happened down here, other than the testimony of people like that, which is pretty important.
The other thing that we have been looking at very closely here, Wolf, as we move in and we look at these pictures, this is the city we have before and after. We have been talking about this for some time using these before-and-after images from GeoEye. If I bring them up, you can see the difference, the amount of destruction in any given one area.
But here is something important to look at when we turn it into the current state. Look at all the people moving out here. Wolf, this is going to become a bigger and bigger issue in the days that come, because if you look around, you can see that they are already beginning to set up their own makeshift camps in a sense. This is the presidential palace, huge numbers of people here.
Look at this. These are camps beginning to form of people having nowhere else to go. So, they're making a place to do. We will fly up here to a park nearby. You can see the same thing happening in a bigger way. Look at this, all these people beginning to gather out here. Look at this lot down here. I don't know what this is exactly in terms of what the space was, but look at how many people are setting up temporary homes here.
You can fly all over this city. And everyplace that you will find an open space, in stadiums, on soccer fields, all sorts of places, huge number of people. Look at this. This area right here -- I'm going to slide this back and forth so you have a sense of the difference. That is what it looks like now. This is what it looked like before. Now. Before.
So, you can see what is happening, Wolf. Whether or not all these resources are ready for them, the truth is, we have a tremendous number of refugees within this city right now, and as every hour goes by the connection between these people and all those supplies that Chris Lawrence was talking about earlier has to get tighter or all of this will turn into really dire, difficult circumstances for the survivors, let alone the people who were hurt or killed in this -- Wolf.
BLITZER: This is a huge, huge issue.
Fran Townsend is here, the former homeland security adviser to President Bush.
There are people who are deeply concerned. We are speaking with General Colin Powell, the former secretary of state. He is very passionate. He's very concerned about what is going on in Haiti. His parents are from the Caribbean to begin with, but it could get ugly, as they say, out there. It is awful right now, but people are desperate.
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, just as we heard from Tom and from Sanjay, what you have is -- the first order of business is search-and-rescue. You get the people in. Then you get the supplies in.
But then the problem, of course, is marrying them up when you have road conditions like this. And that's why you have the SouthCom four-star general yesterday talking about the importance of assessment teams. What those teams are looking for, what are the routes that are available?
Even if they're secondary roads, even if they're not the main thoroughfares that people are used to taking, they will map those, so they know how they can get the supplies as close as they possibly can. And then they will have to make provisions, Wolf, even if it means moving things on foot.
Tom is right about that. We saw what happened at the Superdome. People will congregate because they take some comfort in being around their neighbors and their community, but when they can't supplies, water, basic things, into those areas, it makes for a very difficult and very dangerous condition.
BLITZER: Yes, it is a good point. And I know General Powell is deeply concerned about that. We are going to be speaking with him.
And, also, we are going to be showing you Dr. Sanjay Gupta's medical procedure, what he did to try to save the life of a young child.
All of that coming up. Our breaking news coverage will continue right after this.
COOPER: There is a desperate need for doctors in Haiti right now. There are simply not enough of them to treat all the people who were badly injured in the quake.
The father of an injured baby asked our own doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, if he could help. He is a practicing neurosurgeon and he checked out the baby's head wounds. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The house collapsed and the mother died.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: How has she been? What has she been through?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just that bandage.
GUPTA: Well, she is moving both of her arms. That is a good sign. She is moving both of her legs.
Can you look through there again and see if you have any more gauze and bandages?
She has a pretty significant laceration here and what I need to make sure is that she doesn't have a skull fracture underneath. The good news is that I don't think she does. So, that's good. This is OK. No skull fracture underneath here. She's got a big laceration underneath her skull. But, she is moving all four extremities.
She's going to need some antibiotics. And we're going to need to redress this wound. So, let's go ahead to do that with some clean -- let's get a clean piece of that and that gauze.
So, this is what is happening out here in the streets of Port-au- Prince. In this case, a 15-day-old baby who is in the earthquake -- let me have you hold that for a second. Yes, once around the forehead.
So, she has no skull fracture. She does have a big laceration. She is going to need antibiotics. But she does not appear to have a head injury. I think she's going to be OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Good news about that baby. And thanks to Dr. Gupta.
Ivan Watson is on the scene for us, has been doing a lot of reporting.
Ivan, what are you seeing on this day? Tell our viewers, first of all, where you are.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a little difficult to hear you. I'm sorry, Wolf.
But we have been out in the streets. And what we have been seeing over and over again is people still struggling to pull out survivors from under the rubble.
And I would like to show you images of one girl that we met today. Her mother came up to us desperate for help. Her name is Anaika Sanlouis (ph). And she's 11 years old. And when we saw her this afternoon, she had already spent 48 hours pinned underneath the rubble of a house surrounded by the corpses of neighbors, at least 25 other people that locals said were trapped in here.
Now, this -- this beautiful little girl, she's 11 years old. Her arms were free, her left leg was free, but her right leg was stuck underneath a beam. And it was pretty heartbreaking to hear her screaming there, screaming for her life, Wolf. She was eating. She was drinking.
We gave her a granola bar. There were volunteers from the neighbors trying to get her out. They said all they needed to rescue her was an electric saw. They were trying to do this manually. And when we left, they had brought in an electric saw and a generator, but they were still having trouble getting that working.
And that is just one example of the drama that is out there, as people fight for their lives after this terrible earthquake -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, if you can hear me, Ivan, is she OK? Did they get her out? What is her status?
WATSON: We don't know yet, because the cell phone network is down, the telephone network is down, and it is difficult to reach out to people.
So, we are going to try to reach out to her in the hours to come to see if they have been able to pull her out. And she's not the only girl we saw in these conditions. There was another family, two young French girls trapped in a similar position underneath rubble. And there was a French fireman by himself passing bottles of water to them, the distraught mother nearby, those two girls also trapped under the rubble for 48 hours.
At another location, the posh Montana Hotel, where diplomats, foreign journalists used to stay, a five-story building that had collapsed, there, we saw dozens of recently arrived professional American, Chilean, French rescue workers. They were struggling to rescue a woman named Sarah (ph) that they had contacted, but they were clearly stationed at that location and not able to disperse to help some of these other desperate Haitians at other points around the city.
BLITZER: And are you still seeing a lot of corpses and bodies all over the place, Ivan?
WATSON: It is awful. You see them almost on every corner, bodies piled up. And just next to that little girl, Anaika (ph), we saw a woman with a piece of corrugated tin roof laying on top of her just 20 feet away, as the volunteers were struggling to try to get some water through a hose to that little girl.
At another location, we saw two men pulled out. The volunteers, again, no rescue training whatsoever -- they are just improvising on the spot -- they cut the clothes off of these two men, and managed to pry them out, but then the question was this. They had these guys on wooden boards.
Their arms and legs were broken, and there was a police official there, and he was desperate. He didn't know how to treat these two men for their wounds. He sent out a police patrol asking around what hospital could accept these men for treatment.
As we saw yesterday in Port-au-Prince, all of the medical clinics were completely overwhelmed. They did not have the medical supplies to treat the most basic wounds. And that situation probably has gotten worse, even though some, we are hearing that some aid is starting to come in through the airport, Wolf.
BLITZER: Ivan Watson is on the scene for us, one of several CNN reporters. Our journalists are doing an amazing job for all of our viewers. Ivan, stand by. We are going to be getting back to you.
The former Secretary of State General Colin Powell feels very close to the people of Haiti, and he is now speaking out. He is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You're going to want to hear what General Powell has to say.
BLITZER: We're going to right back to the breaking news, the scene of the earthquake in Haiti. Our reporters are standing by. I will also speak with the former Secretary of State General Colin Powell. He's passionate about this subject.
BLITZER: Fran Townsend is here, the former counter -- homeland security adviser to President Bush.
This credible threat, how big of a deal do you think it is?
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what they're saying, Wolf, is credible, but not imminent.
Not surprising that we see al Qaeda in Yemen still active, people worried that they would adapt to the threat. Secretary Napolitano issued a statement. She's calling for more random screening measures, more watch-listing. She asks passengers, if they see something, to say it, to be vigilant.
Also, you will see these random screening measures will delay airport security, and she's asking for people to be patient. This is going to continue to be an issue, Wolf. And, as John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, told us during the Christmas run-up, al Qaeda in Yemen is the closest affiliate to the al Qaeda central core, and so they are very, very dangerous, and they will adapt. And so, continuing, we have got to watch it.
BLITZER: We have got to be prudent right now. It's better to be safe than sorry. All right, Fran, thanks very much.
Back to the top story right now, the breaking news, the nightmare unfolding in Haiti. The United States is detailing the first death of an American in this tragedy.
Let's go straight to our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty.
What are you picking up there, Jill?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the first person identified, actually, is one of their own here at the State Department. Her name was Victoria DeLong. She was a cultural affairs officer who worked in Port-au-Prince.
And she died in her home during that earthquake. She actually specialized in cultural affairs, educational exchange, longtime State Department employee going back to 1983. She had been in Haiti for one year. And they also called her -- we talked with some people who worked with her, and they said that she was really one of the best they had in cultural affairs. So, that is the sad news from here.
And, unfortunately, although they do not have any more confirmations, there are some missing, and this may not be the last of it, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. It is one death. The Haitian ambassador here in Washington told us a little while ago he still believes that 100,000 number is realistic, 100,000 dead or missing, unaccounted for right now. It is a huge, huge number.
Thanks very much for that, Jill Dougherty, at the State Department.
There has certainly been outrage over credit card companies that are taking their usual cut from donations for Haiti. What is going on here?
Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, has been looking into this part of the story for us.
There are new developments, Jessica. I know people want to give money and they want to give a lot of money. What are you learning?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this afternoon, we learned that the credit card companies were actually charging charities what is called a swipe fee on the donations that folks make to Haiti relief. A swipe fee is about 2 to 3 percent of the total cost of a charge. And that really does add up, especially with these numbers.
Operation USA says 100 percent of its donations to date have been by credit card. Oxfam puts theirs at 77 percent. They say it is $2.3 million worth of credit card charges. And the American Red Cross says 75 percent of their donations were all made by credit card.
Well, after our calls and after letters from Representative Betsy Markey and Senator Chris Dodd, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express have all announced they will now waive these swipe fees and will not profit from your donations to charity. So, the swipe fees that have already been assessed, they will reimburse those and they will not assess any going into the future.
So, Wolf, that is a little bit of good news amidst all this very upsetting news -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good news, because every penny will be important. They need a lot of money in Haiti right now.
Jessica, thank you.
And to find out how you can make a difference, a huge difference, and help those who are helping Haiti, go to our Web site CNN.com/impact. That will be an opportunity for you to impact our world.
As the U.S. ramps up a massive relief operation for Haiti, the U.S. military will certainly play a huge role.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And joining us now, General Colin Powell, the former secretary of state.
General Powell, I know this story has hit very close to home for you. You hail from the Caribbean. You know Haiti quite well. Tell us what you've been going through over these past few hours.
COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I do know Haiti quite well and I've been associated with Haiti for many, many years with respect to the political turmoil and the humanitarian difficulties they've had in that country. And when the first pictures started coming across the morning after and I saw the presidential palace flattened and some of the churches flattened, it hit me very deeply.
I've been in that palace. I've been to negotiations in that palace and it's a beautiful building. To see it collapse and when you realize what that meant to the rest of the city, it struck me deeply and my heart immediately went out to the Haitian people who have suffered so much.
And just two years ago, they lost 800 people in a hurricane floods and now here we have this terrible earthquake that has taken the lives of how many thousands we don't know yet. It's a terrible tragedy and my heart goes out to them.
BLITZER: And these are people -- these are wonderful people. They're very, very poor, obviously the poorest country in the western hemisphere, but you know these Haitians.
POWELL: I know these Haitians and I also know the Haitians who are here in the United States part of that diaspora and they are so close to their relatives in Haiti. They're a wonderful people. They're a gracious people. They just want a better life. They want a country that's functioning properly. They want an economy that's getting them jobs and the wherewithal.
And that's been the most difficult challenge we've had with Haiti. How to get a government fixed and in place that is efficient and functioning and how do we get an economy going that will help these terrific people.
BLITZER: Now you come to this story, this crisis with both experience as the top U. S. military officer and the top diplomat of the United States, two very different roles. Let's talk about diplomacy right now. What can the United States do? What should the United States be doing, because everyone wants to help?
POWELL: Yes. Let me say I'm very impressed by the way in which the administration has handled it so far. They've given response -- clear responsibility to different people. Dr. Shah, the new AID administrator, is going to be the on-scene director down in Haiti.
We have elements of the 82nd Airborne moving. We have elements of a Marine expeditionary unit moving. Aircraft carrier Vinson is on the way. Flights have started. Vice President Biden is heading to Florida to talk to the Haitian community in Florida.
So I'm impressed by what the administration has done so far. You can always say well, maybe somebody else should be in charge, but I'm not worried about that, because Dr. Shaw will have the assistance of the military coming in, the other government agencies coming in.
I'm sure what Secretary Clinton is spending time on now is how to mobilize the international community. The United Nations will have a major role to play with their relief activities, but everybody now wants to help, and you got to make sure that the help is useful.
The best way to help is to send money and let international agencies such as a Red Cross, the best of the bunch, I think -- let them have the money and they know where to put the money to work and don't just dump commodities that are not useful.
So you have to have a coordinated effort to decide what is really needed, what's the first priority, and the first priority right now is rescuing people, saving lives, stabilizing the medical situation, and bringing in shelter and food and water and to improve the sanitation in the region.
BLITZER: The U.S. military can get that job done. They train for these kinds of humanitarian operations, but is the military stretched too thin right now with wars going on in Afghanistan and Iraq? Can the U.S. military do this?
POWELL: Well, they're doing it. I mean they're on the way. We have two wars going on and it puts added pressure on our force structure when a mission like this comes along, but the capacity exists, and so we've got a brigade of the 82nd and we've got the Marines on the way and we've got an aircraft carrier on the way.
Now how long they're going to be down there remains to be seen, but these tend to be combat units and combat service support units -- engineers, quarter master troops of that nature. And they're very, very good and they're very, very disciplined, and they can get in there and do a job that doesn't require shooting.
It just requires helping people, clearing away rubble, setting up tent cities, setting up feeding points, bringing in potable water for people, and how long they stay there remains to be seen.
BLITZER: We've seen these pictures of these bodies just on the streets...
POWELL: Bodies... (CROSSTALK)
POWELL: Just dealing with the crisis of the casualties of the dead people, and how to treat them with respect, but at the same time, remove them from the area, and give them a decent burial and so that we don't create an epidemic problem of some kind.
But here is one thing we really have to talk about, Wolf. Once we kind of get over to hump, and the streets are open, the airport is flowing, supplies are coming in, we can't just then walk away and say, well, we've stabilized the consequences of the earthquake.
What happens then? This country is economically devastated as a result of this earthquake and past problems that it's had. So the international community has to be prepared this time to keep investing in Haiti long after the immediate consequences of the earthquake have been dealt with.
They need a functioning economy. We need to give them trade preference. We might have to give temporary protected status to the Haitians who are here in the United States or who might come here. We're going to have to help them with the medical problem...
BLITZER: But this is not in a matter of a few days or a few weeks?
POWELL: It is not a matter of a few days or a few weeks, it's a matter of years. This is a country that has suffered for so long with bad governance, the destruction of their land, cutting trees down to have charcoal to have fuel.
It's a devastated country, and it desperately needs help in creating an infrastructure, putting in roads, putting in electricity, putting in cell phone connections, everything that a country needs.
BLITZER: And we remember back in the '90s when thousands of Haitians were just getting on boats to try to escape.
POWELL: They were trying to...
BLITZER: And they were trying to come to the United States.
POWELL: And we had to intercept them and put them on Guantanamo until we could figure out a proper disposition for them and to make sure that they were taken care of.
BLITZER: Thousands were placed in Guantanamo at the time.
POWELL: Thousands. And it is a country that has potential but it has never lived up to that potential. It's always been exploited by those in powerful positions in Haiti, but let's give them a chance this time. And one element of this that's going to have to play an important role is the Haitian Diaspora in the United States. There are hundreds of thousands of Haitians here in America, and they have an obligation to use what they have gained here in the United States to either go back and be part of that rebuilding of the country or they to provide resources for rebuilding.
I'm glad that President Obama has allocated at least $100 million to start for this effort.
BLITZER: It's going to cost a lot more than that.
POWELL: It's going to cost a lot more than $100 million. When they clear away the rubble and remove the -- those who have lost their lives and tended to those who are ill, and take a look at what's left, they're going to see buildings that are collapsed and they're not going to be rebuilt overnight.
An electrical system that is not up to the challenge. The government structure is down. The President Preval was saying the other night he had no place to sleep.
POWELL: Last night. And then the real work is going to start. Then the real problem begins. How do we rebuild this city and how do we rebuild the government and how do we start up an economy.
BLITZER: We're going to have much more of the interview with the former secretary of state, General Colin Powell. That's coming up.
Brian Todd is now on the way to the scene. We're going to be checking in with him as well. Much more of the breaking news coverage out of Haiti, the earthquake, the devastation, right after this.
BLITZER: More of my interview with General Powell coming up, but in Haiti right now, there is a shortage of caskets with bodies piling up on the streets. Haitian officials say one of the most important things they need right now is help trying to bury the dead. And there are so many bodies all over the streets.
Right now, in addition more, than 250 aide workers are on the ground in Haiti along with more than 300 members of the U.S. military. President Obama says they are working around the clock to help earthquake survivors, many more are on the way.
Mr. Obama also has tapped former presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, to help with fundraising efforts for Haitian relief. They'll play a similar role as Mr. Clinton and former president George Herbert Walker Bush played after the 2004, 2005 tsunami in Asia.
Stand by for more on that.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military is stepping in to help with the relief efforts for Haiti. The U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson is set to arrive today. Some quake victims are already being treated at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
CNN's Brian Todd is on his way to Guantanamo right now. He's is joining us from phone from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida.
Brian, what are you hearing from the U.S. military?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Wolf, we're hearing that there's a massive operation under way and a lot more needs to be done with the deployment of forces and supplies and that's essentially what we're going to be monitoring.
We're going to hop on a plane at Guantanamo tonight and be on the USS Vinson by tomorrow morning. This is a massive vessel. Three thousand to 5,000 personnel on board. It's three football fields long. And they're sending it there essentially because of the helicopter capability.
This vessel usually has two to four helicopters on board. They've got 19 helicopters on board that vessel right now. Its main mission, Wolf, is to move supplies on to Haiti and also move existing supplies that are there to remote areas. And we're going to be following along with them as they do it.
They're going to be taking sandals, Gatorade, water, sheets, towels, you name it. They're going to be moving massive amounts of it on shore, then try to get it to those areas where people are such in desperate need -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, we're going to be checking in with you. We're going to be staying stay in close touch. This is an urgent, urgent situation.
Let's get to the phone right now. Rachel Prusynski is joining us. Yesterday at this time, her father was telling us how Rachel was injured when the orphanage where she was a volunteer collapsed in this earthquake.
Rachel suffered a broken arm and other injuries. She was treated at that U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. She's just arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where she's joining us on the phone.
Rachel, how are you doing?
RACHEL PRUSYNSKI, QUAKE SURVIVOR (via phone): I am physically intact, thank you. I'm doing fine.
BLITZER: Tell us about your injuries.
PRUSYNSKI: Very minor, considering, just a broken arm, some lacerations. I was able to get stitches from a doctor at the embassy in Port-au-Prince. Some antibiotics and the rest is just superficial.
BLITZER: Tell us what it was like when that earthquake hit. PRUSYNSKI: It felt like the floor tipped completely, and I didn't know what was going on. I don't remember much of that. I remember hitting the ground, being under something and realizing I was trapped. I was able to run towards the street side of the building, and so I think that I -- I remember fighting a little bit, and I have some scabs to prove that I was crawling, but I believe I was lifted out within half an hour of the earthquake.
BLITZER: How long had you been in Haiti and what exactly were you doing as a volunteer?
PRUSYNSKI: I had been there since December 30th. I was visiting my friend Molly who has been in Haiti since June. She helped me find a physical therapist who was working with her organization, MPFS, and I was in the clinic with her most of the time.
BLITZER: And how is your friend Molly doing?
PRUSYNSKI: We don't know. She's still in the building.
BLITZER: She's still in the building? Wait, tell us what that means.
PRUSYNSKI: She was at the time of the quake two floors below me, taking a nap. We had just gotten back from the market. So from what I know, she hasn't been found yet. She's the only one I think that out of the Americans in the Father Wasserman Center that is yet to be accounted for.
BLITZER: Oh, my god. You must be heartbroken at your friend, she's still missing. We hope of course -- did you have any indication that people are searching there? Are there rescue workers at that building right now?
PRUSYNSKI: Yes, from -- I have been in contact with Molly's father, he sent me an article showing that there are people actually searching. Luckily, there was a construction site next door and that they have had some heavy machinery around, so hopefully, they'll be able to put that into use.
BLITZER: Well, keep us up to date on Molly, how she's doing. We spoke with your dad yesterday. You're about to be reunited with your mother, is that right?
PRUSYNSKI: Yes. She's here right now.
BLITZER: She's there with you right now?
PRUSYNSKI: Yes, she is.
BLITZER: Did she give you a big hug and kiss?
PRUSYNSKI: Yes, she hurt me though, I have a broken jaw.
(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: All right. Well, I'm sure it's a good hurt right now to have your mom there. All right, Rachel, our prayers and thoughts are with your friend Molly right now, and we'll stay in close touch with you. Thanks very much.
Rachel Prusynski was a volunteer at an orphanage, Friends of the Orphans building, when it collapsed in the earthquake more than 48 hours ago.
We'll continue our coverage. More of our interview with General Colin Powell after this.
BLITZER: As desperation grows in Haiti right now, will U.S. troops have to act as a police force?
More now of my interview with the former secretary of state, retired U.S. Army, General Colin Powell.
BLITZER: Here's what I'm worried about in the immediate next few days. It's a country of 10 million people, two million in the capital of Port-au-Prince. For all of the country there's a police force of about 9,000 police officers, virtually no military at all.
I'm afraid of the tensions could get going. There could be rioting, there could be looting. There could be some serious violence.
Does the U.S. military -- the 82nd airborne and the Marines who are going in -- do they get involve in trying to deal with this scenario t if it develops?
POWELL: Well, you have the Haitian police force. They eliminated their army some years ago and they have basically a police force, but you also have U.N. peacekeepers who are in Haiti and who've done a rather excellent job in recent years, and with the addition of U.S. troops, and maybe troops that are coming from elsewhere, I don't know.
But that should be enough to stabilize things. It's not to say there won't be looting, there won't be fights, there won't be problems, but a very small military force in the course of Haitian history has been able to control that population.
BLITZER: So you wouldn't have a problem with elements of the 82nd airborne, for example, going in to do law enforcement police operations?
POWELL: Well, I'm not sure what mission they have been given. I don't want to second guess them, but I don't have a problem if they were to patrol the streets. They were to patrol communities, and do something about people who are looting. Right now what you want to do is to stabilize the situation, bring some security to the population, take care of the wounded, remove the dead. Restore sanitation, health, clean water, facilities and the things that you need just to live from day-to-day.
BLITZER: How do you make sure -- and this is a major problem. You get stuff to the airport, in one airport. You get stuff to the port. But the roads are destroyed. They have no infrastructure. How do you get that kind of emergency and medical supplies or water or food out there to the people who need it most?
POWELL: That's the challenge. It's easy to wholesale stuff to a port or to an airport, but then how do you retail it out? The road structure from the airport of Port-au-Prince into the city is pretty rugged, so maybe engineer units will have to come in and improve those roads or find alternative ways of getting it on.
BLITZER: It takes a lot -- that could take a lot...
POWELL: It takes time. It takes time. You know I hear some commentators saying well, aid is arriving slowly, but it's arriving. Well, it always arrives slowly initially. It just doesn't suddenly happen that you have everything you need right away. But you get started.
And I have great confidence in our military people and our AID people and others who are going in to find ways to get that retail supply downtown.
BLITZER: And then the big equipment you need to remove rubble.
POWELL: To remove rubble.
BLITZER: There are individuals who are still alive underneath that rubble.
POWELL: I have seen the film clips of it. There are people who are alive and who'll remain alive for days. The human body can be quite resilient and remarkable, and we have seen cases in other countries where a week, 10 days later, somebody emerges alive.
But you want to get on with this as fast as possible. And unfortunately, these are buildings that were concrete and not particularly well reinforced. They're cinder blocks stacked up, and they all came down when they get -- when they're shaken.
And you've got to get that concrete out of the way to get to people. And you've got to get it out of the way just to start the rebuilding process.
BLITZER: You've got to get that equipment -- that heavy equipment in which is not easy...
POWELL: And there's not that much of it in Haiti so I...
BLITZER: Or if there was any of it in Haiti. POWELL: Quite a bit will have to be brought in, yes.
BLITZER: You're being seen by people not only in the United States, but around the world. Talk to people around the world right now as the former secretary of state, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What else can folks around the world do -- not just regular folks, but world leaders?
POWELL: I think the world's leadership has responded well. What I have seen on the television today, see the prime minister of Australia, and I don't want to single out Australia, but I've a lot of leaders stand up and commit either rescue teams or funds or commodities that are usable, so I think the world leadership understands the problem.
In the last few years, we've seen a lot of such catastrophes occur. Think of the tsunamis in late 2004, early 2005 in Asia. Think of the earthquake in Iran a few years ago. So we have seen these and I think the international community has a better understanding now of how you have to respond and how quickly you have to respond.
And I think we're seeing a pretty good response. An excellent response so far from the administration, from the international community. And let's not so sell short the great work that the United Nations can do with its peace keepers and with all the agencies of the United Nations that so such great work but often don't take the credit.
BLITZER: The so-called NGOs, the non-governmental organizations.
POWELL: The non-governmental organizations, charitable organizations, religious organizations. I think it's going well, but as with anything, it takes a little while to get going, to get out of first gear. And then second, third, finally you get into overdrive and everybody shows up.
BLITZER: But you say you're happy with the way the president of the United States is dealing with this?
POWELL: I have no -- nothing to critique the administration's responses right now. Designated commanders, they have identified who's going where, the National Security Council seems to be on top of it, the president's Cabinet seems to be active, but you know, it's only a couple of days since this happened, and you've got to give it time to shift into second and third gear.
BLITZER: A lot of people would look at Colin Powell and say, you know, he can provide some leadership in a time like this.
POWELL: I hope in just having a conversation with you this afternoon I'm able to put this in some context, and I'm in touch with people who I think have assets and resources that they can contribute to those organizations who are, you know, providing support.
I think the president has done well by asking President Clinton and the President George W. Bush to assist in that relief effort. BLITZER: So you'll help whatever it takes, if they call on you, you're there.
POWELL: I'm around.
BLITZER: You're still a soldier, and if the commander in chief says do something, you'll say...
POWELL: I think the commander in chief -- he seems to have everything under control.
BLITZER: General Colin Powell, thanks as usual for coming on.
POWELL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, we've got an update coming in. Earlier we spoke with a woman who is desperately searching for her sister in Haiti. We have new information. We'll share it with you right after this.
BLITZER: So many people here in the United States are desperate. They're desperate for any information about missing loved ones in Haiti. Wolin Delerme is one of them. She's joining us via Skype from Miami Shores in Florida. Her sister has been missing in Port-au- Prince.
We spoke with you just a little while ago. You were desperate for any information about your sister, but you've just received some information while I'm -- didn't you?
WOLIN DELERME, SISTER MISSING IN HAITI: Yes, about 10 to 15 minutes ago.
BLITZER: What happened?
DELERME: OK, I received a phone call from a young gentleman that says that he's seen the broadcasting via Internet, and he saw my sister not too far from where he is standing. So what he did, he went and reached out to her and told her that he's seen me broadcast her picture.
So he delivered a message to her, then he phoned me and told me that she's doing OK and he will let her use his phone later on tonight or early tomorrow morning.
BLITZER: How happy are you?
DELERME: I am very overwhelmed and full of joy, my heart. I mean there's no words that could explain it. I'm just so happy, just so happy. My family is happy, all the friends are happy. We're just waiting for her to give us that phone call to let us hear her voice. So that's all I can say right now.
BLITZER: All right. Well, we're happy for you, too. It's a happy ending, and we'll stay in close touch with you. Give our love to your sister, thank God.
Thank God she is OK.
DELERME: Yes, thank God.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
DELERME: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story and we're happy to report it. So much bad news. Once in a while there is a happy story to report as well.
The First Lady Michelle Obama is calling the images coming out of Haiti heartbreaking and she says she's been deeply, deeply moved by this disaster.
Listen to her remarks today during a visit over at the Labor Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: It is important for the people of Haiti to know that we are keeping the victims of this tragedy and their loved ones in our thoughts and our prayers. And that also includes prayers going out to all of the Haitian Americans who have families and friends there and they're worried about them back home.
It's difficult to get word. People don't know where folks are. This is a tough time for Haitian American citizens here as well. And we also want to send our thoughts and prayers out to the American citizens who were working and living in Haiti.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The first lady speaking out. By the way, to find out how you can make a difference, a huge difference, and help those who are helping Haiti, you can go to our Web site, CNN.com/impact.
That will be a chance for you to "Impact Our World."
Fran Townsend is here. These stories are so heartbreaking, but when we get some good news, when someone is told a loved one is alive and well, it's just -- we're joyful.
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, that's right, Wolf, and so you realize the impact that the media can have especially through the Web site when you're posting pictures of people who are missing, families who are looking for loved ones.
You know the State Department has their phone numbers for the missing folks, and that's also out there. But really, the pictures make the difference. Even if because if -- they may not know the name of someone they see on the street, and so encouraging our viewers to send pictures in, to check the Web site, to watch and to interact with the media is really very important. There is so little opportunity to do that. So it is nice to have a good news.
BLITZER: Yes, so you have to be proactive and you've got to search and search and search to get involved.
All right, thanks very much, Fran, for that.
It's the kind of hell rarely ever seen. What's happening in Haiti right now is, oh so disturbing, and many of the images you're seeing are equally disturbing, and yet, the world should not turn away from the staggering toll of death, devastation and need.
(VIDEO FROM HAITI)
BLITZER: And remember, you certainly can make a difference, an important difference. You could help those who are trying to help individuals in Haiti. Go to our Web site, CNN.com/impact. It's called "Impact Your World."
A lot of organizations are listed there. We have links, you can make a charitable contribution, you can volunteer, you can get involved as you should right now. Lives are literally at stake right now in Haiti.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Our news continues right now on "CNN TONIGHT."