Marines on their way to Haiti
Marines on their way to Haiti Residents line up for food after Hurricane Matthew in Anse D'Hainault, Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. Nearly a week after the storm smashed into southwestern Haiti, some communities along the southern coast have yet to receive any assistance, leaving residents who have lost their homes and virtually all of their belongings struggling to find shelter and potable water. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery/Ben Finley)
Marines on their way to Haiti
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A U.S. Navy warship is bringing hundreds of Marines and sailors, along with power generators, water purifiers and bulldozers, to bolster relief efforts in Haiti, the Caribbean country where Hurricane Matthew has left at least 750,000 people desperately in need of assistance.
Capt. James Midkiff, commander of the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, said the eight helicopters on the ship will start ferrying food and medical supplies for aid organizations upon arrival. The Iwo Jima can also provide medical help in Haiti, where hundreds have died, the injured languish unattended in hospitals, doctors warn of a surge in the disease cholera and anger is rising in remote communities still awaiting aid a week after the hurricane struck.
The Iwo Jima is carrying more than 1,100 sailors and 600 Marines, and with them the number of U.S. military personnel in Haiti to provide relief will rise to about 2,500.
While the Marines and sailors have yet to be given their marching orders about what they will be doing, the plan is to "alleviate some of the suffering that is going on and prevent any additional loss of life," said Lt. Col. Christopher Hafer, the commanding officer of the Marines' Combat Logistics Battalion 24.
Matthew has officially left 473 people dead as of Oct. 11, according to the National Civil Protection headquarters in Port-au-Prince. But local officials in one southwestern region, Grand-Anse, said the death toll there alone tops 500.
The U.N. humanitarian agency in Geneva has made an emergency appeal for nearly $120 million in aid, saying that about three-quarters of a million people in southwest Haiti alone will need "life-saving assistance and protection" in the next three months.
Speaking from his cabin aboard the ship, Midkiff said the Iwo Jima dodged Hurricane Matthew twice and Tropical Storm Nicole as it collected Marines and supplies and headed for Haiti. The ship left its homeport in Mayport, Florida, as the base was being evacuated ahead of Matthew.
"It sounds like I'm making some of this stuff up," he said.
The Navy then directed the Iwo Jima to Norfolk, Virginia, to pick up some Marines and head for Haiti.
Along the way, it encountered the outer bands of Matthew and then the swells from Nicole, which later strengthened into a hurricane. It also collected some Osprey aircraft and more Marines from the George Washington, an aircraft carrier whose orders to help out in the storm-hit Bahamas were canceled. The Iwo Jima will relieve the USS Mesa Verde, another U.S. ship that has been helping in Haiti but needs to prepare for a future deployment.
Standing in one of the hallways of the Iwo Jima, Matthew Estes, a 31-year-old Navy medic from Corryton, Tennessee, said he's excited to help Haitian civilians who are "devastated down there."
"Before I left, I was nervous, anxious and overwhelmed with excitement," he said. "I'm doing the job that I want to do - that I joined to do."
He was an emergency medical technician in Tennessee as well as a landscaper before joining up.
"My wife was a little upset, but she understands the pick-up-and-go," he said. "She cried a little on the phone but then texted me and said this is what you joined to do, what you love to do."
Marine Lance Cpl. Zachary Younts, 20, of Dallastown, Pennsylvania, said he usually works on trucks as a diesel mechanic.
"I hate sitting in a bay working on an engine all day," he said. "I love this. This is awesome. It gives me a sense of doing something in my career."
Younts said he's excited to hand out food to civilians or ship out equipment, whatever is asked of him. He didn't know he was going to Haiti when he boarded a bus from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
"I just knew I was going somewhere," he said.
Marine Lance Cpl. Shawn Durrell, 20, of Compton, California, said he expects to work hard.
"It's one of the biggest experiences of my life," he said. "Not only are we going to a different country, we're seeing what we can do. And we're here to help. One of the biggest things in life is to help."

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Why are the marines traveling by ship instead of by air?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • kaileew-ste
    10/18/2016 - 02:47 p.m.

    Hurricane Matthew has left 750,000 people injured in Haiti. The U.S. Navy is helping the survivors recover from this tragedy. Navy Captain, James Midkiff, states that two helicopters will start sending in food and medical supplies. It is great that they are helping put this behind the people of Haiti.

  • zakrym-ste
    10/21/2016 - 01:04 p.m.

    This is well deserved. The Haitians deserve help from us. Theyve been through so much with the hurricanes that they shouldnt have to fight on their own.

  • irisp-ste
    10/24/2016 - 09:21 a.m.

    After the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew, Marines have taken action to help relieve the surviving Haitians from their destroyed homes and washed up shores. I find it very reassuring to know that the US government has taken action to help, it is hard for missions to raise money and import goods there to help everyone. If the Marines are there, hopefully more will be done to help are larger area of people.

  • emmab-cel
    10/24/2016 - 10:00 a.m.

    Its nice to see our country helping the people that where affected and that they are excited to help. It is very sad what happend but nice to know their are things we can do and are actively doing to help.

  • metau-cel
    10/24/2016 - 10:25 a.m.

    They are traveling by ship instead of air because they can carry more supplies and aids on the Iow Jima to help people than by air. The ships are also easier to get over there with all of the supplies on them rather than going back and forth by air due to lack of size.

  • matthewd2-har
    10/24/2016 - 03:21 p.m.

    The marines are traveling by sea instead of air because they had to dodge hurricane Matthews twice and tropical storm Nicole once. If they attempted to go by air they would have had a hard time and they would not be able to bring nearly two thousand and five hundred people to help.

  • annakatep-cel
    10/31/2016 - 10:07 a.m.

    Hurricane Matthew has left thousands of people dead and injured in Haiti. The U.S. Navy has decided to help the survivors by sending in ships with supplies and people who can help the survivors with medical attention. the marines decided to travel there by boats instead of by air in order to dodge the hurricane and tropical storm that were still in the area.

  • armandoq-man
    11/03/2016 - 09:21 a.m.

    They need our help the highly deserve the attention Haitians are in danger and in no living standards we need to give them our attention

  • carsonw1-bri
    11/08/2016 - 09:44 a.m.

    The marines are traveling by ship, so that they can take more people and supplies. helocopters and airplanes cant hold as much as an aircraft carrier can.

  • paytonb-bri
    11/08/2016 - 10:35 a.m.

    to clean up

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