February 26th, 2010
12:40 PM ET

Red tape, bad traffic, no power: 'That's Haiti'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/americas/02/24/obrien.haiti.notebook/story.line.haiti.cnn.jpg caption="People line up for food in Port-au-Prince, Haiti." width=300 height=169]

Soledad O'Brien and Rose Arce

You hear it all the time in Port-au-Prince: "That's Haiti," people tell you when things move slowly, when the electricity goes off or traffic mysteriously comes to a halt. Some say it was like that even before a devastating earthquake reduced most homes to a few hours of power from a generator and made some streets impossible to pass.

Today we followed a group of American relief workers to the airport to pick up several tons of donations. They were expecting tents, food, heavy equipment to help them rebuild and repair. Relief supplies had been flowing freely from the airport since the earthquake. Rescue workers had been able to avoid customs delays and taxes imposed on foreign imports.

But when we arrived at the airport, the whole system had been upended. A doctor from Milwaukee was screaming through a fence at customs officials. She had come for six days with plans to treat 300 patients a day. She had been in Haiti three days and her medicine was still being held. "We were bringing in medical equipment as well as medicines and we have nothing. We don't have anything to see the patients we're supposed to see," she said.

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