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.
“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.).