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Help for Haiti; Doctors Face Hurdles Getting to Haiti; Relief Effort Hampered

Aired January 15, 2010 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're at 67 hours now and counting since that powerful earthquake in Haiti. The situation now, a lot of people are saying, is going from desperate to dire.

Planes bringing lifesaving supplies have landed at the airport in Port-au-Prince. That sounds great. That's good news.

The problem here is that that aid is not getting through to the people in that capital city. Why? Because the roads are so badly damaged. Also, they're blocked in a lot of cases, so you can't even get the food, the supplies, the medical supplies, as well. You can't get it out.

Thousands of survivors have nothing to eat or drink. They have had nothing since Tuesday.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson docked today in Haiti. Tons of aid aboard, hospital beds as well. Nineteen helicopters on board. Those are going to be critical in trying to get a lot of that food and those supplies out.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates addressing the situation just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The security situation remains OK. The concern is, as people -- the key is to get the food and the water in there as quickly as possible so that people don't, in their desperation, turn to violence or lead to a security situation deteriorating. And that's why there's such a high priority now in getting food and water in to people. But at this point, other than some scavenging and minor looting, our understanding is the security situation is pretty good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, the White House says President Obama spoke with Haiti's president for about 30 minutes this morning.

We want to go back to the ground now with our Ivan Watson, who has been giving us a look at not really relief efforts so far, you're seeing in a lot of the areas, certainly where you are right now, just people trying to hold on.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It is a very difficult situation here.

Thousands of people who have been camping out here, I mean, this has become basically a giant, open-air refugee camp. And there are wounded people who have set up little shelters here to protect them from the sun. The temperature is hot here.

You know, the city is so crippled, even the United Nations peacekeepers here are still digging out some of the 50 to 100 people who were buried in their headquarters. And we spoke with the representative of the police here, of the government, and he says, a major difficulty is just going to be keeping law and order after the penitentiary broke up.

Let's take a listen to what this man had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALIX FILS-AIME, NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR DISARMAMENT: We're in a situation where the police are both involved -- or much more involved in rescue operations than in maintaining order here, because that's where the priority is. So, therefore, there will be a shift in the deployment of the police.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: OK.

Now, there are some pockets of assistance, people trying to help. We come over this way, you can see over here the mayor's office has set up a makeshift first-aid clinic. And there are people laying on the ground right here, injured, sick, awaiting first-aid treatment.

But I've spoken with the nurses back here -- I don't know if you can see here -- they say that they don't even have enough needles to do sutures, to sew people up, to stitch them up. And that's basic first aid. Imagine what the difficulties are in the hospitals right now.

HOLMES: All right.

Ivan Watson giving us a look at what's happening there.

And I want to ask you before we do get out of here, Ivan, what have you seen in terms of any relief to that group there? Has there been -- are they essentially going out during the day and fending for themselves? Is anything starting to flow into those folks?

WATSON: Well, I've been talking to people here, trying to ask, you know, how are you getting by? Everyone here tells me their homes have been destroyed. Everybody.

As far as the food and water, they're spending their savings basically to buy staples like rice and food. And we heard from one person -- he saw a crowd -- they saw a man carrying a bag of rice, and they descended on him and tore the bag of rice apart. We're starting to get the first indicators of people so desperate, that they are starting to fight over food in some pockets, starting to break open shops to try to pull out supplies and goods. And many of the people of Port-au-Prince are simply heading for the hills, trying to get out of town to areas that aren't so badly damaged by the earthquake.

HOLMES: All right.

Ivan Watson reporting for us in Port-au-Prince.

Ivan, we will be checking in with you again, for sure.

We do want to share with you now some pictures that are going to be difficult to see, but they are a major part -- or a lot of people could say this is the story right now in Haiti, the dead.

Decaying bodies, what you're seeing here, piled up outside a morgue there in Port-au-Prince. The morgue is full. There's nowhere else to put these bodies, so they begin to just stack them up outside.

A lot of bodies have simply been left at hospitals, on the streets as well, all over that city. Thousands are being buried in mass graves as well.

Well, getting help to so many who have lost everything certainly not an easy task. There's a bottleneck now at the airport, which is damaged. Plus, the road are impassable by so much destruction and also the debris, that you can't get that aid out.

A relief worker with World Vision talked about the challenges. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE TOYCEN, RELIEF WORKER, WORLD VISION: Once again, this morning, coming here, it was, I would say, a mile-long line of people waiting for gasoline, for petrol. And so that's another issue.

We're short the basics that allow you to distribute effectively. And there's logistical challenges at the airport, in the -- you know, getting the goods through. There's no question about that.

So, there needs to be more support to get the coordination and the logistics in place as well. I mean, it's, like, there's not one thing here. It's just a combination of so many things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, some of those trapped by the quake were lucky enough to get out of Haiti and get treatment. Among them, Christa Brelsford. She's an American student who survived the quake, along with her brother, Julian (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTA BRELSFORD, PART OF RIGHT LEG AMPUTATED: We were on the second story of a two-story house. I felt the first shock and thought that maybe a truck had hit the building, and then I felt the second shock and knew it was an earthquake.

So, all of us started to run down the stairs to leave the house because it was -- we knew that the house wouldn't stand. Julian (ph) was first down the stairs, I think, and he ran and sheltered in a doorway.

I slipped while I was going down the stairs, and so the roof of the house fell down a story and a half onto the -- onto my leg and crushed my right leg. But my left leg was fine -- well, crushed, but...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Our medical correspondent, our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is in Port-au-Prince. She flew there with a group of American doctors.

Elizabeth, hello to you. And so much of the trick these days is trying to get people in, trying to get aid in. So, exactly how was it for you getting in there in the first place?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: T.J., I'll tell you, it was very difficult to get in here. The doctors who I came in with yesterday, they faced all sorts of hurdles.

Here's what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.

COHEN (voice-over): A moment to celebrate. After eight hours of waiting, this group of doctors from the University of Miami finally made it in to help save lives in Haiti. I accompanied them on the flight in.

No one was happier to see these physicians than Dr. Enrique Ginsberg, who had been working in this makeshift hospital near the airport for two days.

(on camera): So, last night, you had three doctors for how many patients?

DR. ENRIQUE GINSBERG, WORKING IN HAITIAN MAKESHIFT HOSPITAL: Probably 250.

COHEN: Three doctors for 250 patients. Are you kidding me?

Let me show you around this makeshift hospital in a tent. The screams of the woman that you're hearing right now -- she's six months pregnant and during the earthquake, a boulder fell on her stomach and now she's miscarrying.

This little boy over here, he has a bleed in his brain. The doctors say he hasn't been conscious since he arrived here, and they don't think there's very much that he can do for him. You hear children crying, you hear orphans crying through the night, "Mommy, mommy."

(voice-over): Dr. Ginsberg gives the Florida doctors an assessment on each patient.

GINSBERG: She also has the pelvic fracture, I think. We need one person to change the dressings on this child. We need an IV on this girl.

COHEN (on camera): Now, the new doctors will help, but there is a limit to what they can do. And that's because they're missing even the most basic of supplies. For example, when they do amputations, they don't have general anesthesia, so they cut off the limb while the person is still awake. One doctor I talked to calls it "Civil War medicine."

(voice-over): In all this pain, in all this trauma, there is one bright light and his name is Reggie.

(on camera): This little boy just came out of the rubble two hours ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just came out, just came out. His grandmother, his brother and two of his cousins.

COHEN: And they were all dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were all dead.

COHEN: How did he live for more than two days all alone crushed under dead bodies?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm telling you, that's God. That's the only thing I can say.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COHEN: I mentioned earlier that they were doing amputations here without general anesthesia. They just did one an hour ago that I watched.

As you can see, it is just outside, by the side of the road. The woman was given a local anesthetic and was also sedated, but she was awake. And I'll tell you, it was horrifying to watch, this woman's foot get caught off when she was still awake and aware of what was going on -- T.J.

HOLMES: I cannot imagine what you just described there, Elizabeth.

We want to ask you a couple things here now.

Now, of course, you kind of just want to get to some of the folks that need help, those that need immediate help, and help them out, but you've got so many survivors now, people wandering around.

What is going to be the biggest concern of doctors there now? I would imagine it has to be disease.

COHEN: Right. Infection is the biggest concern, actually, right now, and that's because most of the people that you see behind me, they have open wounds. And in the next couple of days, they could develop what's called septicemia, which is a blood-borne infection which can kill very quickly. And the reason why is they can't operate on these people and they can't give them IV antibiotics.

There's no operating room. There's no IV antibiotics. So, that is the biggest fear, is that they're going to see death numbers go way up in the next couple of days.

HOLMES: Well, you just described there, there's not enough of this, not enough of that, not enough supplies, not enough doctors. So where is hope for these people coming from? What's on the way?

COHEN: Yes. The hope for these people is to get them out of here, T.J.

For example, just moments ago, they airlifted eight of the most critically injured patients to Martinique, including that woman who was miscarrying, because she needed surgery. So that is the best hope.

HOLMES: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much. We'll be checking in with you again.

Again, our Elizabeth Cohen, senior medical correspondent, there for us in Port-au-Prince.

And running an enormous relief operation like the one in Haiti, you can imagine how difficult that is. We'll get an assessment of how things are going from the man who ran the military relief mission after Hurricane Katrina. You know that face right there and you know the name.

General Russel Honore coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, the impact of the earthquake in Haiti evident in before-and-after pictures.

And CNN's Tom Foreman shows us some of these images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of the best measurements of how extensive this damage is, is coming from before and after pictures taken from space. Look at this, this is a digital globe Google earth image of the Port before the earthquake hit, and now I want to show you a GeoEye image of it afterward. Look at this, whole parts of the pier have disappeared. This big crane which was sitting up here on the ground is now out in the water, and the concrete over here is fractured with five-foot craters in it.

Let's move into town a little bit more, and I'll show you another area.

You've heard a lot of talk about the idea of needing to clear the roads to make it possible for rescuers to get to people who are stranded. Look at this intersection, big buildings here in the picture from before.

Now, look what happens after, they completely have collapsed into the road. This is repeated many, many times up and down these roads. That's why aid cannot get in or out easily.

Let's go and look at another before and after picture. If I move it up this for a little bit, I can show you, nearby, this is a cathedral, obviously a landmark in any big city.

Look at the cathedral right there. Now that we go to the GeoEye image and look at the cathedral after, nothing but a shell of what it was, and there is one more before and after I want to show you, because it's a very, very important one. Take a look at this. All over the city, wherever you can find big, empty fields and big empty spaces like this, this is what they looked like before, and this is what they look like after.

These places are absolutely filling up with refugees, people setting up temporary housing of some sort, and these are the people who are waiting for help to arrive, when the port can be fixed, when the airport can be operational, when the roads can be cleared.

This is a battle right now for time and space. They're trying to figure out how to close the space between the aid and these people in enough time to prevent a second disaster, which is all these people being stranded within their own city waiting for help.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Stranded in your own city.

This massive relief effort in Haiti has been hampered by a gridlocked airport, impassable roads during these critical hours.

Let's get some insight now from somebody you're certainly familiar with for major humanitarian efforts, retired General Russel Honore, in command of the military response to Hurricane Katrina.

Always good to have you and your insights on things like this.

The relief and the aid is headed there. The problem is the streets are clogged. It's so sad that the stuff is just sitting there and can't get out.

First of all, how critical are these helicopters going to be that just arrived on this aircraft carrier to getting this stuff out?

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they will have the capability to take this food and water to distribution points, which we normally call here in the United States pods. That would be established by the local government, along with the local security forces. And one of the big issues now is, how do you adapt and overcome, T.J., and transition the people of Haiti from victims to survivors?

HOLMES: Now, how does the military -- because we are seeing the military starting to get there, more on the way.

HONORE: Absolutely.

HOLMES: More U.S. troops. What is going to be their role? So many jobs I guess they can do here, but one of them, how big of a job or responsibility to actually clear the roads?

HONORE: Absolutely. I think what -- the absence of equipment, until that equipment comes in -- and some of it will start flowing in by air -- it will be components put in, aircraft, and get in there light equipment that they can move around. But how do you -- as we did in Katrina and Hurricane Rita, how do you get the local people involved to clear spaces for the helicopters to land?

You know, it doesn't take very much for a helicopter to land and drop a package and take people out. But you have to have that landing pad here. So, how do you get the people of Haiti, who have been their own first responders up to this point, taking care of themselves, and then get them organized to start taking care of the remains of those who have lost their lives?

HOLMES: How much longer can they take care of themselves? You talked about this a second ago, they are their own first responders. But how long can they keep that up?

HONORE: Well, it's depending on the access to water.

HOLMES: OK.

HONORE: There's some water on the ground. In the coming hours and days, there will be water purification units going in to provide clean water. But there's some water there on the ground, and people are sharing that water.

But that response will come once we pass the medical phase, but in the coming days and hours, you will see the military moving those assets in. USAID owns a lot of that facility. FEMA owns some. It's a function of getting in the queue and getting it on the ground.

HOLMES: How difficult -- this is part of the role, but a delicate balance there with the community. You see these soldiers walking around. I mean, it's part of their equipment, they have to have their weapons with them, and they have to secure this food, because this situation is about to -- it could get ugly and messy if these folks don't get food and water quickly.

How important of a role is it to just keep the stuff, the supplies, secure? And how do you, as a guy on the ground trying to help the people, how do you balance standing there and having a show of force, if you will, at the same time saying, I'm here to help you? HONORE: Well, the U.N. forces have about 9,000 troops in there. And I can guarantee you from the troops that are going there from the 82nd Airborne and from the Marines are well trained and well disciplined from the experience that they've had in Iraq and Afghanistan in going from security missions to pure humanitarian issues.

That won't be an issue for our troops. They're well trained in that.

HOLMES: All right. Critical day. Is this it? Is this the day we are about to see something happen or it's about to get ugly? We're up to three days now for relief.

HONORE: I think, well, it's going to continue to be tight until we get the port open and until you start seeing the effects of the Carl Vinson down there and what it will do. But this is going to be many more dark days.

You're talking about a number of people and opening roads and establishing pods. How do you get the Haitian people involved? How do you get the local mayors and start getting some organization among the people, where that food is dropped at locations and it's controlled, and it's equally distributed, as well as getting the medical supplies to all the makeshift -- the first Samaritans have done a good job of establishing makeshift medical places.

How do we get them supplies in there? And that can be done by the helicopters.

HOLMES: That's a massive effort to coordinate. I can't imagine. But you're a man who has done it before. And by all accounts, some pretty good success you had.

So good to have you. Good to see you and good to have your expertise.

HONORE: Well, the mission now is how we cheer on the first responders, the people of Haiti, and how we keep those donations coming in.

HOLMES: That's critical. President Clinton was talking about that as well. Got to keep that money coming in.

Good to see you, as always. Sorry we have to see you in situations like this, but good to have your expertise.

Thanks, General.

All right. We're going to check some of our top stories here now.

Of course, the Pentagon releasing its review of the Fort Hood massacre in Texas. Thirteen people died, of course, in that November shooting. According to the defense secretary, Robert Gates, the investigation found the military isn't sufficiently prepared to prevent similar attacks in the future.

Let's turn to Yemen now. The Ministry of Defense says air raids in the northern part of the country killed six leaders of the Yemen- based group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Yemeni government also said a top al Qaeda commander was among those killed.

Also, China will be hearing from the United States soon over the hacking of Google's e-mail service in China. A State Department spokesman says they will file a formal complaint and ask what Beijing plans to do about it.

Another check of our top stories coming your way in just 20 minutes.

We're also trying to connect people in Haiti with family members who haven't been able to get in touch with them since that quake. We'll show you where you can find their stories.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

HOLMES: Well, charities, of course, turning to new technology to raise money for victims of this quake. We'll look at how well that's going.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

***1230 T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, let's bring in our Chad Myers, keeping an eye on planes. We were trying to keep track and planes are trying to get in, but they don't have anywhere to land. So what's happening over the skies as you can tell right now?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A big sigh of frustration for anybody trying to get in and out of there. They are literally stopped on the tarmac, not able to take off, because the Haitian authorities saying, we have no place to put you. And what I'm saying is, get the planes out of there so you have a place to put them.

T.J., there are two planes -- two planes in the air to Haiti right now. Right here, this is a blocked flight. It's a Gulfstream II coming out of Opa-locka. And then here, this is a Ruby 782 flight. In fact, this is a Vision Airlines flight.

I talked to some PR people from Vision Airlines. They are donating the planes to be able to fly. And airline brokers actually donating the fuel to get there. And that's important. Why is it important to donate fuel? Because, guess what, there's no fuel in Haiti. It's completely empty.

All the tanks of jet fuel in Haiti are gone. They are empty. So, if you want to go to Haiti, you have to bring enough fuel to get off the ground, either fly to Punta Cana, back over to Santo Domingo, or fly all the way back to Miami. So, then you have to land heavy because you have to have that much fuel to get back in the air. It is so frustrating.

We're going to switch now, show how many planes are leaving. One, two, three, four. Well, if there was over 75 on the ground clogging the airport, you would hope there would be more than four planes leaving. Not happening.

And here's why. It is not an FAA -- this is from the FAA site. And I want to read you the words because it is actually -- it's so disappointing. A ground stop going in to Haiti, no ramp space. Here are the words, "due to no available ramp space at the Port-au-Prince Airport, MTP," which is the name of the airport, "and with the international heavy jets inbound, the Haitians are not accepting any aircraft into their airspace. Airborne aircraft holding can expect in excess of one hour. Aircraft operators are also reminded that there is no available fuel at the airport. Operators may also call FAA command center to recovery desk. Aircraft canceling the IFR (ph) and flying in VFR (ph) are actually contributing greatly to the airspace saturation issue and are preempting other humanitarian flights from entering Port-au-Prince airspace." Which means that people are trying to fly there without permission and they're clogging the airspace as well.

It's unbelievable to me that only two planes are on the way there right now and they can't those planes off the ground.

HOLMES: You know, I'm so glad you read that alert to us. But people are trying to understand exactly what's happening there with that airport. And this is not like Hartsfield-Jackson, you know. This ain't that kind of airport. They just don't have the space for so many people trying to get in there. We really appreciate that.

MYERS: This is not the heartless FAA saying, no, you can't fly.

HOLMES: No. Not at all. Not at all.

MYERS: This is -- there's no place to put the planes once you get on the ground. And you can't just circle around for a couple of hours and waste all your fuel, because you're going to need the fuel to fly home.

HOLMES: To get back. Oh, my goodness. That is frustrating.

MYERS: Absolutely.

HOLMES: But appreciate you giving it to us in that perspective. Thank you so much. We'll be checking in with you again, Chad.

MYERS: Sure, T.J.

HOLMES: Well, folks out there, you can write a check, of course. You can use your credit card to donate to the relief efforts in Haiti. But millions of dollars pouring in another way. I want to bring in CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow.

This has been the coolest thing to see to me. I guess it was just a matter of time.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes.

HOLMES: But to see the millions raised by simply sending a text message.

HARLOW: It's perfect. It's easy. Who doesn't have a cell phone in this country these days? And a lot of young people, that's what I find fascinating, are getting into this more than ever. It's this mobile giving. And what we're seeing, T.J., is that this is really being taken to another level.

What the Red Cross just told us this morning, $7 million raised just by text message alone. That is as of last light. That has blown away any other worldwide record for text message donations. And what they said, this is astounding, they're getting $100,000 on average an hour through those text message donations.

Now, the first lady, Michelle Obama, interestingly enough, filming a public service announcement telling people how to do this. Take a quick listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We can help the American Red Cross as it delivers the food, water, and medicine that can save lives. Donate $10 by texting Haiti to 90999.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All right, so there you have it. That's how you can do it. So far, 700,000 customers have texted in a donation. This is the first time, T.J., the Red Cross has used text messaging for an international disaster. This, obviously, proving it is incredibly effective.

We talked to a spokeswoman from the Red Cross. She said, listen, we're very pleased. We're very grateful. And she says this has really changed the face of philanthropy. They didn't promote this. It was others that came on our air, on networks around the world and promoted this. And social networking, like Twitter and Facebook, pushing this forward. So a very, very effective tool that almost anyone can use, T.J.

HOLMES: And, you know so often when we see all kinds of things that say text this to that, text this message to here or there . . .

HARLOW: Right.

HOLMES: It's at standard texting rates apply kind of a thing. Is that the same case here?

HARLOW: No. Great point. No. What we know is that every single major U.S. cellular carrier is eliminating those fees for any donation to the Red Cross for Haiti.

There are a lot of other groups you can donate to. So we want to tell you about them. Let me go through this list for you.

First of all, you can donate $10 by texting the Bill Clinton Foundation or the International Medical Corps. You see the numbers there on your screen. Write those down.

You can donate $5, by texting Wyclef Jean's foundation, Yele Haiti. Remember, he announced this on "Larry King Live" on Tuesday night after it all happened.

You can also donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee.

And we should say there are reports out there saying it takes as much as three months for the money to get to people. And, T.J., that is true. Sometimes it does. However, what the Red Cross is saying is they're pushing that money forward, speeding up the process because they know so many donations are in the pipeline. So those are ways you can help.

And, also, we're going to be updating you throughout the day, throughout the following weeks on cnnmoney.com so we can show you how much money is being raised just by a text message alone. It will a interesting fact (ph).

HOLMES: OK, that's another important point, I think you answered it there, but it takes a little while still for that money to get in to the Red Cross and the organizations.

HARLOW: Yes, it does.

HOLMES: But they can go ahead and spend ahead of time because they know that money's in the pipeline, like you said.

HARLOW: Yes, absolutely.

HOLMES: Good information for us today. Poppy, thank you so much.

And despite these difficult, economic times we've been seeing here in this country, Americans still opening up their wallets to help out in Haiti. CNN's Alina Cho looks at your money in action.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, T.J.

In just the past few days, millions of dollars have been donated to charities to help the victims in Haiti. But we wanted to know, when you give your money, how quickly does that turn into aid and how much of your money goes to people who need it. And with all the different charities out there, how do you know where to donate? We went to UNICEF to find some answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHO (voice-over): The phones at UNICEF are ringing off the hook. Millions are pouring in online. So follows the money, where are those dollars going and how fast?

CHO (on camera): When you click on that "donate" button, and you give your money, how quickly does that money start getting used?

LISA SZARKOWSKI, UNICEF: That money is converted into aid within hours.

CHO (voice-over): UNICEF's Lisa Szarkowski says these early days are crucial.

CHO (on camera): This critical window is now. How long does it last?

SZARKOWSKI: I would say for the next week. The disease post disaster has the potential to kill as many, if not more people than the occurrence itself of the earthquake.

CHO (voice-over): Which is why charity experts say getting your money to the right organization is key. Rule number one, think big.

TREVOR NEILSON, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL PHILANTHROPY GROUP: Think about the organizations that are most likely to get the dollar that you donate directly to the people of Haiti. That's unlikely to be a small, local organization. That's why the U.N. is such an attractive place to donate money right now, or the Red Cross.

CHO: UNICEF is a U.N. agency, and its first wave of donations is going toward essential supplies. And it doesn't take much to make a difference. Water purification tablets, plastic jugs to hold clean water, first aid kits, total cost, just pennies because UNICEF buys in bulk. What the victims in Haiti need right now, supplies that could save lives.

SZARKOWSKI: This is something called oral rehydration salts. These cost seven cents for this package. It literally can bring a child back to life.

CHO (on camera): How much does a tent like this cost?

SZARKOWSKI: About $700 for a tent. And it literally is a shelter. It's a community center. It can be a hospital.

CHO (voice-over): Even a school. This school in a box costs $190 and provides supplies for 80 children. These will be sent to Haiti in the coming weeks.

SZARKOWSKI: It's often surprising to people that this would be such a priority. But if we don't do it now and soon, our years of experience show us that it can cripple children and really seriously impede their recovery. What we need to do immediately is restore some sense of normalcy. Literally a safe haven.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: As of 2:00 this morning, UNICEF says it has raised $8.5 million. And representatives tell me that donations on the web are three times higher this time than the same time frame, meaning the first 48 hours, post tsunami. And what's important to know, T.J., is if you donate using a credit card, UNICEF says that's as good as money in the bank. They can then go and take that money and start ordering supplies.

T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Our Alina Cho, thank you so much.

And if you want to pitch in and help Haiti's quake victims, you can go to cnn.com/impact to find a list of charities that are working in Haiti.

Our top stories now.

Reports on the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, will include recommendations for holding the suspects' supervisors accountable. That word today from Defense Secretary Robert Hates. An official says the report found the suspect was promoted despite concerns about his extremist views on Islam. Thirteen people died in those shootings.

Well, Yemen says six al Qaeda leaders were killed today in air raids in the north. The dead include the military commander for the group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. That's the group claiming responsibility for the attempted bombing of a U.S. airplane on Christmas Day.

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HOLMES: Well, former President Bill Clinton plans to set up a Haiti disaster fund, similar to the one for victims of the Asian tsunami. This time he's teaming up with former President George W. Bush. Clinton says he's optimistic about Haiti's long-term future, but the focus now is on meeting people's immediate needs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Think how you would feel if you'd lost everything, you were wandering around streets at night, they were all dark, you were tripping over bodies, living and dead, and you didn't have water to drink or food to eat. That's what we're facing now. That's what we've got to get through now.

Once we get through that, you will see Haiti rebound. I know this country and they have made a decision to claim the future for the first time in my lifetime. We can do this, if we can survive the next week or two. And that's why everybody's help is so important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: We're going to be taking you inside the command center where aid for Haiti is being coordinated in Washington. Stay here.

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HOLMES: The United States is taking a lead role in organizing and supplying relief to Haiti. CNN foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is following that angle for us live.

I can't imagine how huge of a process and challenge this is to coordinate all of this. You got a tour, though. I guess you could call it the nerve center there in Washington, USAID.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, T.J., early this morning, we got an exclusive look at the epicenter of the U.S. government Haiti operation. It's working 24/7 at the USAID, Agency for International Development, headquarters here in Washington.

First, we sat in on a conference call for the Haiti Interagency Task Force, head up by the new head of the USAID, Rajiv Shah. And there's a real sense of urgency there. Seventy people on that call. Representatives from a slew of government agencies, USAID, the State Department, Defense Department, FEMA.

And then we had an exclusive tour, seeing the USAID response team in action. And they're the people who send search-and-rescue teams to Haiti. They coordinate food supplies. And our guide was Susan Reichle. She's the coordinator for the Haiti Interagency Task Force.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN REICHLE, USAID: He is trying to find out where the search- and-rescue teams right now, how do we get the search-and-rescue teams to the most vital areas within Port-au-Prince. Obviously focusing not just on the international community, but the Haitians, and getting to those Haitians that are desperately in need and can be pulled out of the rubble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGHERTY: Yes, so it was really impressive to see those people. They're real pros. They know what they've been -- they are doing because they've done it literally for years. But this is really a massive challenge, T.J.

HOLMES: Well, USAID, I guess, what is their track record here? I guess their history, their resume, if you will, in dealing with a disaster, something of this magnitude?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, I asked them if they'd ever seen anything quite like this. And they did say that they learned a lot from the tsunami. But one thing that is different, is that this is concentrated in Haiti, really right in the capital Port-au-Prince, basically devastated, and that's where you normally get some command and control from the government. But there is very little left in Port-au-Prince. So that's a big difference in this.

And then the other thing, T.J., is they said, you know, their local staff had been decimated by this. So, you know, they really are trying to get them to help, but a lot of them have lost their own families. And she said that -- Susan said that it's like asking 9/11 families to turn around immediately and start helping other people. It's really tough.

HOLMES: Wow. That is a heck of an analogy there. Thank you so much, Jill Dougherty, keeping an eye on things, again, the nerve center there in Washington. Thank you so much. We also have some new video we're going to share with you now. I'm looking at it here on the monitor. And we're going to take a listen to this as well. But we're seeing this -- I guess what you could call this just a show of support and a rally. And we have seen some of the -- some of the people that have been, and, quite frankly, just hanging out outside. Nowhere to go. Looking for little homes and places to live in parks and also squares and singing has broken out. Just, quite frankly, people keeping the faith.

I want to take a listen, if we can. I think there's some of this that we can hear them singing. Just take a listen for a quick second.

And, again, folks what you're seeing here is video we're just getting in. And we've been talking about, and you certainly heard plenty of times, that they're a proud people, a resilient people, a tough people, but these are the folks that you're seeing here, just like so many others there in Haiti, in all likelihood have lost a not, if not everything, and right now just a peaceful demonstration, a show of support, and what we've been seeing the past few days, people singing and chanting and, quite frankly, just keeping the faith.

We'll continue our coverage here in the CNN NEWSROOM after a break.

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HOLMES: Well, we are coming up on some really critical hours here for the people of Haiti, coming up on that 72-hour period that so many experts will tell you is critical after a disaster. Certainly the fight continues to find people and rescue people and to save them. But for those survivors, it's a fight now to keep them alive. So, so much going on, on a couple of fronts.

Also today, we are expecting to hear from President Obama in just a little bit at some point. Certainly we'll bring that to you live when it does happen. But the president talking about the continued U.S. effort and the U.S. certainly leading those efforts rights now to help the people of Haiti.

A quick break. We're right back.

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HOLMES: Like I mentioned a moment ago, the fight now is to try to keep the survivors of the quake in Haiti, to keep them alive. Here we are now three days after the quake and not a whole lot of relief in sight. Our Anderson Cooper reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every hour is a struggle. Each day seems harder than the last. Early in the morning, we find people searching through a pile of concrete rubble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a spot where they used to make sandals. And it's incredible that people are so desperate. They are looking for what remains of the sandals, so they can go either out to sell or wear. That's what's going on.

COOPER: Makeshift camps now fill public parks and open spaces.

(on camera): Hundreds of people are sleeping in this park. It's called the Central Park in downtown Port-au-Prince.

You see this in soccer fields. Anyplace there's an open field, a little bit of shade, people will congregate. Hundreds of people have slept here overnight.

Now, they're just starting to wake up. Some of them have actual tents. Some of them just have plastic sheet like this. Some people, of course, have nothing at all.

There's not really anyplace for them to go. They can't go back to their homes. If their homes haven't been destroyed already, they're afraid that their homes may crumble in some of these aftershocks, because some of the aftershocks have been pretty significant.

So, people just congregate here and every day, when they wake up, they gather up the few possessions they have, and they just start walking, searching for food, searching for water, searching for some day to get through the day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it is bad, man. It is bad. It's bad, too much for us here, man. Too much!

COOPER (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) says his restaurant and home have been destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is dead. So, all my (INAUDIBLE) are dead. So, I lost everything. What I got here is my bag. That's all. Nothing left. And all I got here is some quartered that I got left, nothing left. I'm broke. Everything -- I lost everything. That's all I got. It's all I got.

COOPER (on camera): One of the things that is so heartbreaking is all throughout the day people constantly are coming up to you and saying, you know, they have relatives in America, and they want you to somehow get a message to their loved one. And the message, it's always simple; it's never a complex message. It's always just, "I'm alive." "I'm alive and I'm OK."

(voice-over): Families seek shade wherever they can. On the streets, the dead are silently carted by.

Aid is arriving. Help is coming. For Eddie Jazzman (ph) it's already too late. He is 10-years-old and his father just died. All he has are these three small pictures. All he wants is to be with his father again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)