A week after a devastating earthquake flattened the Haitian capital, relief agencies worked Tuesday to reach the estimated millions of survivors in need of water, food and shelter.
A handful of U.S. helicopters landed Tuesday on the grounds of the ruined presidential palace in the capital, sparking the curiosity of dozens of Haitians, who gathered outside the palace gates to watch.
It was not immediately clear what the mission of the crew, from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, will be.
Some Haitians welcomed the arrival of U.S. troops. But one man said military force was not needed — more relief supplies were.
Such frustration appeared to mount Monday, as hundreds of Haitians broke into a damaged store in downtown Port-au-Prince, stripping it clean and then moving on to another store a half-block away.
The flow of supplies into Haiti has been hampered by congested roads and the crowded airport, and thousands of survivors have been left to scrounge for food and emergency aid.
The U.S. military considers the security situation stable, Rear Adm. Mike Rogers, director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday.
Nothing suggests widespread disorder and panic, he said, describing well-publicized incidents of unrest as “isolated events.”
A U.S. Air Force C-17 circumvented airport congestion by dropping 55,000 pounds — about 40 pallets — of bottled water and food into Haiti on Monday, the first U.S. airdrop of supplies.
But the congestion and distribution problems showed signs of easing Monday, with 180 flights passing through the airport, said Gen. P.K. Keen, who is leading U.S. forces in Haiti.