January 16, 2010
Posted: 08:04 PM ET
By Brad Parks - Larry King Live producer Brad Parks is currently deployed in Haiti. He filed this report about his journey and horrors he witnessed in the earthquake ravaged Haitian capitol of Port-au-Prince.
Friday, 11:30p Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Left Santo Domingo at 2:30a headed for Haiti Friday morning in a CNN convoy carrying supplies and several CNN staffers along with LKL producer David Theall. Also riding along was CNN’s Bogotá Correspondent, Karl Penhaul. We made it across at the Jimani border crossing without incident and continued on towards Port-Au-Prince.
While bottlenecks on the ground at the PAP airport Thursday slowed incoming supplies and relief efforts it made it nearly impossible to land at the Port-au-Prince airport. As a result, early Thursday was the first time reporters drove in to Port-au-Prince – many like ourselves making the drive from Santa Domingo (took us nearly 12 hours). With the exception of large pot holes and heavy traffic congestion surrounding gas stations along the roads, we had little problem getting across the border and into Port-Au-Prince. In an interview earlier this week, Colin Powell told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that roads between the Dominican Republic and Port-Au-Prince need to be repaired before relief efforts can be trucked in. However, based on what we saw yesterday, there is no reason why supplies can not be airlifted to the Dominican border and trucked in to Port-Au-Prince.
Driving in to Port-Au-Prince there are structures on the outskirts of town that are still standing. There’s no rhyme or reason why some buildings held up and others were all but leveled. The true devastation becomes visible as you drive into downtown. It resembles nothing short of a war zone.
After unloading the two trucks of supplies at Le Plaza Hotel in Port-Au-Prince, we got word that earlier this afternoon a cell phone call was made from a man trapped in the basement of a collapsed school down the street. The word spread quickly as a large crowd from an adjacent park gathers in front of the collapsed school down the road to watch as a crane pulls the debris apart in search of the man. As we walk up, we hear loud yells and muttered screams as the crowd parts and a group of men emerges carrying a corpse away on a board.
“Welcome to Haiti,” someone says to me.
Although it seems many bodies were cleared from the street Thursday night, the crane digging through the debris fills the air with the smell of rotting bodies and people begin covering their faces.
During the search, a woman’s bag apparently full of money is discovered. The crane operator tries to shield the bag from a crowd that begins to swarm him as it appears he wishes to return it to the woman’s family. A man quickly snatches it and runs away as crowd chases after him yelling. Some appeared to want the money; some appeared angered that he took it.
When you work for a news organization like CNN, your inbox is flooded with emails giving you latest information, pictures and video hourly. Watching similar situations like this develop from the safety of my desk in Los Angeles – I have to admit, there is part of me that has always unintentionally assumed since I have such constant access to information that I maybe understand situations like this more than the average person. After being on the ground in Port-Au-Prince for a day now, those notions have been completely shattered. When I returned to the hotel later that night, I found the taste of rotting corpses on my tongue.
The fact remains – I eventually get to go home. But for the people of Haiti, this is the reality they have been dealt.
Journalist yes, but human first.
From around the web
Go Behind The Scenes
LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.
With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.