CJTF-Haiti clears way to south

14 May 2004 | Sgt. Ryan S. Scranton

Marines, sailors and soldiers from Combined Joint Task Force - Haiti, Marine Air Ground Task Force -8 and Combat Service Support Detachment –20 recently cleared a road leading from Port-Au-Prince to the southern region of the country.
The road, located in Grand Goave, was washed out by rainwater, creating an obstacle for both local Haitians and multinational forces traveling to and from the south.
“There were military and civilian vehicles getting stuck along the road,” said Capt. John J. Miles, assistant operations officer, MAGTF-8. “It was causing traffic to backup and became a real problem for everyone.”
Multinational Interim Force-Haiti personnel used dump trucks, bulldozers and road graders to clear the road within hours of beginning work and freed numerous civilian vehicles that had been stuck for days.
“I’m very glad the Marines came here to help today,” said a local Haitian whose truck had been bogged down in the silt and mud. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to get my truck out of here,” he continued.
Before the MIF-Haiti personnel began work, many “tap taps,” local buses and trucks which are a main source of transportation here, lined both ends of the blocked roadway, leaving their passengers to walk through the water with shoes in hand.
“Now I can get people where they need to go, and can keep my ‘tap tap’ moving,” said a local driver.
With the Multinational Interim Forces expanding further south, the road is a key component to the task force’s mission.
“The road clearing was vital,” Miles explained. “It will help us provide safety and security in the southern claw region of the country.”
According to Pvt. Mason G. Carl, Combat Service Support Detachment – 20, clearing the road was a worthwhile effort.
“The people here seemed really glad to see us, and they even wanted to pitch in where they could. So it felt good to help them out,” the Bluefield, W. Va. native said.
“The road clearing project was an interim fix until we can do more at a later date,” said Marine Maj. Timothy McLaughlin, assistant engineer for the task force.
A river, a few kilometers from the flooded road, changed course after recent rainfall, causing significant damage to the surrounding farmland and burying some homes under mud and silt.
“We hope to dig a canal as an intermediate fix until the Haitian government can find a permanent solution,” McLaughlin said.
The flooded road, which is the only paved surface between the capital city and the southern portion of the country, was a good project for the task force according to McLaughlin.
“The road clearing was necessary for everyone’s mobility, it’s good for our re-supply missions into the southern claw and it’s good for the Haitian people traveling from Port-Au-Prince to the south.”