© 2024 WFIT
Public Radio for the Space Coast
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Florida continues evacuations from Haiti to Central Florida. Here’s what to know

The governor and FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie address the press ahead of a flight carrying 14 Floridians from Haiti touches down in Sanford on Wednesday night.
Governor Ron DeSantis Facebook screenshot
The governor and FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie address the press ahead of a flight carrying 14 Floridians from Haiti touches down in Sanford on Wednesday night.

Rescue missions between Haiti and Sanford will continue under an executive order by Governor Ron DeSantis. Fourteen Floridians arrived from Haiti Wednesday, March 20 at the Orlando Sanford International Airport.

U.S. Representative Cory Mills flew an additional 23 Floridians out of Haiti over the weekend.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management continues to evacuate Floridians from Haiti. That will continue for the next few weeks under an executive order by the governor.

“We are willing to dedicate the resources,” said DeSantis. “We understand that this is important, we understand that there’s people that are really in danger right now that are our fellow Floridians.”

FDEM director Kevin Guthrie said the helicopter missions, which can ferry about six to eight people at a time. All flights have Sanford as their home base, as that’s where state agencies are set up to provide assistance.

“But most of these people came with a backpack on their back. So we have the ability to help them out with all kinds of assistance to include hotels, a cell phone, if they had to leave their cell phone behind,” said Guthrie.

Upon arriving back in Florida after being evacuated from Haiti, families and individuals will receive a number of resources including help with:

  • Meals
  • Lodging
  • Transportation
  • Basic health and medical screenings
  • Care supplies for infants, toddlers, seniors and pets
  • Family reunification center 
  • Hope navigators and counselors
  • Children’s activity center
  • Florida License on Wheels (FLOW) center for replacement of identification

Guthrie said his department has received over 600 forms from Floridians looking for help for themselves or their family members who are stuck in Haiti.

Over 400 Floridians have been rescued from Haiti so far.

Faith in Florida’s Nathalie Setoute said she’s grateful for these flights, but she hopes more can be done to help Haitians trapped in their own country. These flights are only available to American citizens.

“The same way that I see that they were capable of chartering private aircraft to that end, to provide protection to make sure that folks were airlifted out of Haiti safely, I believe we can do the same type of effort in providing humanitarian relief,” said Setoute.

Setoute said right now gangs are making it impossible to get any kind of humanitarian aid into the country, including to her own family members who are still in the country.

Florida has the largest population of Haitian Americans in the United States. Haiti experienced a catastrophic earthquake in 2010. Then in 2021, Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated.

Last week, as violent gangs stepped up their attacks on the capital city of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti’s prime minister Ariel Henry resigned, leaving the country without a leader.

Floridians and their families who need help evacuating Haiti, can fill out this form on the FloridaDisaster.org website.

Read Governor Ron DeSantis’ full executive order here, that also set up an additional 250 troops in South Florida to prepare for a possible influx of people trying to leave Haiti.

Copyright 2024 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur