Conrad assesses recovery efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti

Kent Conrad

FARGO – North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad is in Haiti today with other Democratic members of Congress to assess recovery efforts in the Caribbean nation that was struck by a devastating earthquake more than 14 months ago.

Conrad’s office said he met in Port-au-Prince with leaders from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to discuss ongoing reconstruction efforts and humanitarian assistance.

In January 2010, Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that decimated the island nation and killed more than 316,000 people.

Today, Conrad’s office said less than 5 percent of the debris has been cleared and about 800,000 people still remain homeless.

North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad speaks with Kenneth Merten, U.S. ambassador to Haiti, about reconstruction efforts in the Caribbean nation, as they stand in in front of the ruins of the presidential palace March 22 in Port-au-Prince. / Source: Kent Conrad's office

“The damage here in Haiti is staggering.  More than a year after the earthquake, the needs remain immense,” Conrad said in a statement.  “But the volunteer efforts have been no less than miraculous. The relief agencies are making a real difference, helping to rebuild the country and providing Haitians a sense of hope for a better future.”

Also during his visit, Conrad met with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and leaders from the nonprofit J/P Haitian Relief Organization, founded by actor Sean Penn. Conrad met with local residents at a makeshift camp for people displaced by the earthquake and visited medical facilities and a local school.

The congressional trip came in advance of a presidential election in Haiti to be held Sunday.

“The people of Haiti deserve a fair election, one that offers a brighter future,” Conrad said.

He was joined on the trip by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).