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Now U.S. Marines are handing out small radios so Haitians can hear important public service and safety announcements. They can learn when and where precious commodities like food and water will be distributed.
A U.S. Air Force C-130 has been flying in pallets of hand-held emergency radios from Homestead Air Force Base in Florida for earthquake survivors. The radios have the advantage of not needing batteries: they are powered by the sun or can generate power by hand cranking.
The first shipment of radios was distributed in Port-au-Prince nine days after the earthquake hit.
U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Mark Leuis showed some of the first recipients how easy they are to use.
The U.S. military’s Joint Task Force Haiti coordinated with the Préval government to use a special communications aircraft, known as Commando Solo, to broadcast on certain FM and AM frequencies. Messages about the international relief efforts and health information are aired on three frequencies: 92.4 FM, 104.1 FM and 1030 AM.
In addition to the radios, the military is distributing 60,000 stickers advertising the AM/FM frequencies. Sixty thousand fliers that provide operating instructions in Creole and French have been produced.
The specially equipped radios have another advantage: they can be used to charge cell phones and as modest flashlights.
So far, 43,800 radios are in Haiti and another 6,200 are due in country January 25.
The radios are being distributed as part of “Operation Unified Response.” The U.S. Southern Command provided the money to buy them.