Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and several members of Congress visited Haiti today to review ongoing reconstruction and recovery efforts after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the country Jan. 12, 2010.
The lawmakers met with leaders from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development about recovery efforts and humanitarian assistance following the quake, which is estimated to have killed more than 316,000 people and left 800,000 homeless more than a year after the disaster.
In a written statement, Conrad said the damage in Haiti is “staggering.”
“More than a year after the earthquake, the needs remain immense,” he wrote. “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.”
Conrad met with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and then was briefed on humanitarian efforts by leaders from the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, a nonprofit founded by Sean Penn. The senator also met with local residents at a makeshift camp for people displaced by the earthquake and toured a school and local medical facilities.
He also inspected a vote tabulation center in Port-au-Prince to review Sunday’s presidential election between pop star Michel Martelly and former First Lady Mirlande Manigat. Preliminary results are expected March 31 and final results will be confirmed April 16.
“The people of Haiti deserve a fair election, one that offers a brighter future,” Conrad wrote.
Other members of Congress on the trip to Haiti were Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Va., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Reps. Peter Welch, D-Va., and Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.