Logistics is both the most important factor and the biggest obstacle facing a massive international aid operation rushing emergency supplies to Haiti. The problem isn't getting goods to Haiti, but how to store and distribute them once they arrive.
The devestating earthquake destroyed much of what infrastructure Haiti had, complicating efforts to get food, water and medical supplies to survivors. As in the past, the disaster brought logistics to public attention, and the logistics industry is rising to the occasion.
National Public Radio detailed some of the problems in “Logistics a Challenge for Groups Trying to Aid Haiti.”
It singled out AmeriCares, which was planning to send 10 tons of medical supplies to Haiti from the U.S. and Europe — but wasn’t quite sure how to get them to the people who needed them in Port-au-Prince and other striken areas of the Caribbean nation.
The International Committee for the Red Cross is chartering aircraft to get emergency supplies, doctors and other relief workers on the ground — see "Haiti: ICRC Relief Effort Gathers Pace." One plane carried ICRC medical staff, the next will bring 40 tons of supplies.
Transport and logistics companies can help save lives.
The American Logistics Aid Network is marshaling support among U.S. transportation and logistics providers. Contact them if you can help — their Web site helps transport and logistics operators donate goods and services.
Keep track of logistics relief efforts in a special online report in our Maritime section. And if you're involved in relief efforts, let us know.
Contact William B. Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org.