Soledad O'Brien on Reporting From Haiti

Soledad O'Brien has reported on the tsunami in Thailand and Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans and most recently from Haiti after the earthquake.

In an interview on tri-statedefenderonline.com, she discussed those experiences and how they differed.
To me, the scope of Katrina was so much bigger than where I was in Thailand. In Thailand, after a couple of days everyone could kind of get their act together, except for in the affected area, which they needed to continue working on rebuilding. By comparison, Katrina was just giant, space-wise. As for Haiti, the damage caused by the earthquake is even more widespread than Katrina, and they have much less infrastructure. I found the same sort of devastation I saw in Port-au-Prince, when we drove to Jacmel and beyond. Plus, the population density is so much greater in Haiti where they build homes right on top of each other into these hills. So, there was a domino effect when they collapsed, especially because of the substandard construction work.

On the experience of reporting from a disaster area:
It’s sort of the same feeling you get at any of these disasters. You don’t have a 500 lb. bag of rice to feed people who are really hungry, or a dump truck to remove cement from a spot where someone might be trapped. It’s frustrating, but I think I’ve sort of reconciled in my own head that my job is to bring notice to the world of these people’s plight. And if I try to get involved in rescuing, too, I’ll end up not doing either job very well. Although at one point, I helped out at an orphanage when an overwhelmed doctor pointed out a dehydrated baby that basically had about a couple of hours to live unless she got an IV. She was so dehydrated; it was obvious that she wasn’t going to make it. After I got the IV in, I had never been so relieved in my life, because the risk had been so high. Fortunately, once we did get the IV running in her, she was fine.

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