MTV News Team In Haiti: Boots On The Ground

MTV News has a team of reporters in Haiti to chronicle the recovery effort in the wake of last week’s devastating earthquake. We are following their journey via e-mails, tweets, BBMs and video in the lead-up to Friday night’s “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” telethon, which will air on MTV and dozens of other networks at 8 p.m.

Suchin Pak, 6:35 p.m. Thursday (January 21): “We have finally landed in Haiti. We arrived on a helicopter filled with MREs (meals ready to eat), but with barely any seats. It’s controlled chaos here. I’ve talked to soldiers who have been moving medical supplies all through the night: gauze, medicine and tools.

“While the operation to distribute water and MREs halts when the sun goes down because of security concerns, the medical units work through the night. We were allowed into the surgical tent and saw first hand what an injury looks like when it has gone untreated for days. Thousands have undergone amputations like this one, and as the surgeon says, ‘It’s a loss of limb, but not a life.’ A large helicopter filled with nurses arrived moments ago and they were told to grab water and find a patch of grass for the night.

“It looks like we’ll be sleeping under the stars tonight — or more specifically, on a tarmac at a busy airport. Even water is scarce at this point, so we’re conserving as much as we can. I spoke to a young captain in charge of distributing aid via airlifts who arrived last Saturday and he stressed the need for donations of money, not supplies, as it takes more effort to distribute those materials. We go out on our first mission in Haiti tomorrow at first light.”

Akshay Bhansali, 7:35 p.m. Thursday: “After a chopper ride to the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Bataan to pick up more MRE’s for the troops to hand out, we were on our way to Port-au-Prince. As soon as we hit the Haitian capital’s airspace, I found myself harnessed and holding onto my camera for dear life, shooting out of an open bay of the chopper overlooking the city.

“The first thing that struck me was the smell of burning and oxidized structures and … life. It brought me right back to September 11, 2001, as I made my way out of Tribeca, New York after the towers fell. But this scene surpasses 9/11 in scale by far. Entire sections of residential neighborhoods are leveled. Plumes of smoke are visible from the air and dump trucks and debris-clearing machinery are moving along the roadways. Landing at the airport made me realize just how much energy is being put into the relief efforts here. Three and four helicopters with relief goods and supplies take off at a time. One chopper pilot said they are flying close to 290 flights a day now.”

Head here to learn more about what you can do to help with earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti, and for more information, see Think MTV. Join George Clooney and Wyclef Jean for MTV’s “Hope for Haiti” telethon, airing commercial-free Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET.