President Obama met with Haitian President Rene Preval
today, pledging aid
to the distraught nation. “The situation on the ground remains dire,” Mr. Obama said after meeting with Preval at the White House. “And people should be under no illusions that the crisis is over.” Navy officials said earlier today that the hospital ship U.S.N.S. Comfort had completed its mission and would leave the area for its home port of Baltimore. The medical crew of the huge hospital ship treated 871 patients, including 540 of the critically injured who were brought on board in the first 10 days the ship was off the Haitian coast. With the March 31 donors conference rapidly approaching, U.S. officials and lawmakers are eager to finalize Haiti’s wish list. Congressional staffers reportedly said
they expect the administration to request an aid package of between $1 billion and $3 billion by the conference deadline. USAID has pledged
to pay for 25,000 transitional house kits at $1,000 apiece, most recently.