February 11, 2010
PHOTOS: CHF INTERNATIONAL
CAT operators among first on ground in Haiti
Caterpillar Inc. is providing heavy equipment and trained operators to its Haitian dealer HayTrac in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.
“Given our past experience with natural disasters in other parts of the world, we know our dealers on the ground in the region are typically among the first to respond,” said Caterpillar spokeswoman Bridget Young. “Caterpillar offers assistance based on the assessment of their dealers on the ground.”
HayTrac has been supporting recovery efforts, since the earthquake hit the Caribbean country.
“Since the very beginning of the disaster, HayTrac has been supplying equipment to both governmental and non-governmental agencies,” said Young.
“This is done in a variety of ways, including leasing, purchasing and in some cases donation.”
Initially, Haytrac sourced equipment from their inventory.
However, as additional requests came in, they worked with Caterpillar and other dealers in the region to meet demand. Hydraulic excavators and medium wheel loaders are being deployed to Rio Haina, Dominican Republic to provide a faster response for the needs in Haiti.
Caterpillar temporarily suspended parts emergency order fees and established an escalated parts ordering process for HayTrac.
The company also donted two backhoe loaders and three hydraulic excavators to Haytrac to use in the relief effort for one year.
Haytrac, in turn, loaned the machines out for two months to an international development and humanitarian organization called CHF International.
The machinery is being used to clear debris from key transport routes to speed the delivery of relief supplies to Port au Prince.
A team of engineers accompanied Caterpillar operators and the Mayor of Delmas, Port au Prince to remove rubble in critical points and clear up road access.
“As we pulled the rubble and debris away, personal objects such as photos, shoes, broken ceramic statues, and even a Christmas tree served as reminders that we weren’t just removing piles of rubble, but broken pieces of people’s lives,” said CHF International spokesperson Kristie van de Wetering.
“It was clear, in the atmosphere that people had died in that rubble, and that our job was to help the remaining survivors put some of the pieces back together.”
The debris removal work began on Jan. 21 and will continue for a several weeks.
By Jan. 25, 17 sites in Delmas had been cleared, which amounted to 148 truckloads and 73,000 cubic feet of debris.
Before the earthquake, CHF had already partnered with HayTrac to train young Haitian men and women in heavy machinery operations, as part a U.S. aid-funded program.
Eighty-two young people (68 men and 12 women) graduated from the three-month long training sessions.
The graduates never expected their training would become so vital to their country.
Young said Caterpillar dispatched four heavy equipment operators to Haiti, who gave these graduates hands-on training in rubble removal and demolition.
The Caterpillar operators returned to the U.S in the first week of February.
According to Young, HayTrac didn’t esacpe unscathed. The dealership suffered structural damage as a result of the earthquake, but it was minimal compared to other structures.
All of HayTrac’s employees survived the earthquake, but some lost family members.
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