Anderson Cooper | BIO
Editor’s Note: Anderson landed in Haiti this morning to report on the devastating aftermath of the earthquake. He spoke to us live throughout the day with his impressions of the situation. Tune in tonight for our live report from Haiti at 10 p.m. ET.
Anderson Cooper: The situation in Port-au-Prince is stunningly bad. I'm actually right outside what remains of the National Cathedral. It's hard to tell, frankly, that it was a national cathedral, so much of it is just completely destroyed. We're about a block away from the Presidential palace, which pretty much everyone knows by now has been severely damaged.
But the human drama occurring on every single street is extraordinary. No matter what street you go down in this area, there is someone trying to be rescued. There are flattened buildings with small groups of neighbor and family literally digging through the rubble, digging through concrete with their hands, with their fingers. Occasionally you see a shovel or pick ax or a chisel.
It is slow, laborious work and it is often unsuccessful work. Many times the voices which were crying out hours ago are now silenced.
I've just seen a remarkable rescue of a young girl name Bea. She was 13 years old. It happened about a block from the national palace. She was in a building trapped since last night. They discovered her this morning. They've been trying to dig for her for several hours. I just happened upon the scene about 30 minutes ago. You could see two of her feet. You could hear her crying out, and there was a lot of arguing about how to try to get her out. They were literally digging with their hands, and just an extraordinary moment a few moments ago, they pulled her out. She's alive, she's well. Four members of her family are dead. They are piled up right outside the destroyed building that she was rescued from.
But it's one small victory on a street that has seen so much misery. There are bodies, I don't want to say on every block, but it's every few blocks, you see a white shroud on the street corner or in the gutter and you know it's a body, or three bodies or four bodies. Sometimes they're not even covered in shrouds, they're just laid out. I just saw what must have been probably a 6-year-old girl, whose body was covered by a part of a cardboard box.
It is a somber sight here. and people are just milling around. They don't have anywhere to go. Their homes are destroyed. Some of them have just been sleeping out in the streets or in open fields in tents. I just talked to one man who's just walking around, he doesn't know what to do. He doesn't have water, he doesn't know what happens now. He wants his three kids in America to know he is alive, that's why he was talking to me.
The only thing to compare it to is Hurricane Katrina, but the last 30 minutes, or the last hour that I've been driving, I've seen about 20 to 25 bodies on the streets, and that's just on the main avenues in downtown Port-au-Prince.
Fredricka Whitfield: Anderson, when you arrived a few hours ago at the airport, was there sign of any kind of rescue or recovery effort under way there? Were there people who have arrived from other parts of the world to try to help out, to bring in some of this machinery, bring in some of these resources that are describing is in great lacking there?
Anderson Cooper: I can tell you, in the downtown streets of Port-au-Prince, I see no heavy earthmoving equipment whatsoever. I've seen a few Haitian police vehicles driving by, it seems they are trying to pull other people out of the wreckage and not stopping. Maybe they had somewhere else to go, that was more urgent, I don't know.
But I haven't seen any concerted, organized relief effort. What I have seen is neighbors pulling together for neighbors, family members desperately trying to do what they can to save their loved ones. But you find a lot of people just standing outside of destroyed buildings. You go up and you start talking to them, and they'll say my wife is inside, and you ask, is she alive?
They just shake their head, no, she's dead, and yet they have nowhere else to go, they're just standing there and there's no sign, there's no chance the person will be removed from the building anytime soon.
At the airport, there are small groups of people coming in. I talked to four members of the International Red Cross who were flying in at the same time that we were flying in. But in terms of large-scale, c-130s and the like, I personally haven't seen it yet.
Fredricka Whitfield: Even though the Red Cross people that you ran in to, they themselves, they don't have any kind of equipment whatsoever. When you talk to the number of people there that are looking at the rubble, trying to reach loved ones or have simply given up because their loved ones are crushed, are people saying anything about what their greatest need is? Whether they have any hope that anyone will be able to get there within sometime to help those people who just might be alive still underneath the rubble? Or do they feel rather forgotten or do they feel this is a perilous situation?
Anderson Cooper: This is a city of 2 million people, and right now there's a city of 2 million different needs. Everybody has something different, but certainly water is going to be a major issue. There's no electricity. That's going to become an issue over time. But at this point it's water. It's going to be shelter, and it's going to be medicine for the sick and recovery of those who have died.
Literally as we're speaking, a man is pushing a wheelbarrow, and in the wheelbarrow is what looks like a teenager, wrapped in a shroud that he's taking her to the hospital, because that's what's later on down this street. That's where I'm headed next. I've seen people walking with coffins over their heads. I've seen a man walking with an old lady in a wheelbarrow as well. There's not a sense of what's happening next. People are literally just trying to get through today. I don't even know that people can think about what happens tomorrow.
Fredricka Whitfield: When you talk about on your way to the hospital, tell me about the concern about how sturdy, how safe that hospital is, if indeed, it is still standing? We mentioned a lot of Doctors without Borders' facilities, clinics, they are inoperable, they are simply not safe for anyone to go to. What do you know about the hospital that you're on the way to?
Anderson Cooper: I've heard stories, but honestly I don't want to pass along stories. I only want to tell you what I have seen firsthand. I don't know what the situation of the hospital is, that's why I want to head there next. You plan to head to a place, and you stop literally every block, because there's a person in need and they call out. They see you in a vehicle and wonder if there is something you can do and it's so frustrating, you're only there with a camera. You try to do what you can, but it's hard to describe.
Fredricka Whitfield: Anderson, it's obviously so quiet where you are. Oftentimes in emergency situations like this, you would think that would you hear voices, or people yelling.
Anderson Cooper: I'm sorry to interrupt. Literally right now as we speak, there are two men carrying a small child in what looks like an office chair. the child is completely wrapped up. I think the child is still alive. It's really bad.
Fredricka Whitfield: It sounds really bad. When people are trying their hardest to get to these loved ones, get to this young child that you described, once they get the child or person out of danger, are you witnessing whether anyone is trying any kind of CPR? What kind of lifesaving or lifepreserving-type measures can people do right now when they have absolutely no resources? What are you witnessing?
Anderson Cooper: People are doing what they can. They rescued this little girl Bea a short time ago and they pulled her out and they sat her down on the street. She hadn't broken anything, she was walking, talking, but she was overcome by relief,at the same time. She had obviously just been through a horrific trauma.