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Haitian-American Leaders See 'Devastating' Haiti Earthquake Destruction, Meet Haitian PM

 U.S. miliary personnel in Port-au-Prince help Rudy Laurent and other Haitian-American elected officials get ready to helicopter over earthquake-ravaged southwest Haiti on Monday.
Courtesy NHAEON
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U.S. miliary personnel in Port-au-Prince help Rudy Laurent and other Haitian-American elected officials get ready to helicopter over earthquake-ravaged southwest Haiti on Monday.

A National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network delegation flew over 'crumbled' southwest Haiti Monday and stressed the diaspora's eagerness to help.

Much of the Haitian diaspora wants to play a larger role in the relief-and-recovery effort after the Aug. 14 earthquake in Haiti, and one major diaspora group conveyed that message to the Haitian government during a visit to the country Monday.

An eight-member delegation of the National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network, or NHAEON (pronounced "neon"), saw the earthquake destruction in southwest Haiti from a U.S. military helicopter.

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Alix Desulme, a North Miami city councilman and NHAEON’s chairman, says the fly-over made it even more urgent to him and his group that humanitarian aid, just now getting to many of those remote communities, keep being ramped up.

“It’s devastating," said Desulme after the delegation's return to the U.S. Tuesday.

"You get to see the totality from a larger scale. And it made me completely sad that you see homes and schools that are just crumbled down.”

NHAEON has started an online transparency portal to make donations and funds sent to the Haiti relief effort more accountable. Lack of such transparency was a big problem after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

The NHAEON representatives met with Michele Sison, the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry. Desulme said they emphasized the Haitian diaspora — which sends $3 billion a year to Haiti — is poised to do more to complement the U.S. aid effort.

“The prime minister knows that the diaspora play a very intricate role in everything that Haiti does," Desulme said.

"And one of the things that I’m glad that I see the government [is doing] is to start a rebuilding preparation plan, versus the last time, in 2010, when it waited too long,” he added.

NHAEON represents Haitian-American officials in 16 U.S. states.