South Carolina has been designated as a staging area for victims of the Haiti earthquake and consequent humanitarian disaster. A statement from the governor’s office said that South Carolina will fill two roles.
One role is that the federal government has chosen Charleston as a site to receive American citizens returning to the United States that were living in Haiti during the earthquake. The Charleston International Airport is expected to serve as a hub for transporting potentially thousands of Americans to their final destination in the United States. These are American citizens who are likely returning to their former hometowns or going to relatives elsewhere in the US.
Charleston County and the state Emergency Management Division (EMD) is being supported by federal funding and working in conjunction with law enforcement, the state Department of Social Services and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control and will assist in providing triage, food and shelter, and help with travel plans for these American repatriots as they enter South Carolina and continue on their way home.
The second role is that the federal government has activated the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to deal with Haitian patients needing advanced medical care in the United States. This means there is a chance that some NDMS hospitals in South Carolina may accept a limited number of patients over the coming weeks. If this happens, the federal government would provide financial support for these medical evacuees, along with support for their day-to-day living expenses.
On both these fronts, the repatriation of American citizens living in Haiti and the possibility of Haitian medical evacuees, SLED and local law enforcement will be involved in all steps in the process as the issues of security and legality will be paramount.
South Carolinians are helping aid the situation in other ways. There are two South Carolina Air National Guardsmen currently stationed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with an air traffic control unit.
In the statement by the governor’s office it emphasizes “the profound impact that citizens can have in helping those in need in Haiti. Whether it’s through the Red Cross, Water Missions International in the Lowcountry, or a variety of other avenues, each of us can make a real difference in the lives of those still suffering in Haiti, and we’d encourage you to do so. “