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Second rescue, relief flight this week leaves from Treasure Coast to Haiti

A Missionary Flights International plane departs Treasure Coast International Airport on March 21, 2024 to bring relief supplies to Haiti.jpg
Posted at 6:18 AM, Mar 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-21 08:46:07-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — A rescue flight from the Treasure Coast took off Thursday morning to bring supplies to Haiti and also pick up dozens of people who want to evacuate the country.

Missionary Flights International, a non-profit organization based in Fort Pierce, left Treasure Coast International Airport at approximately 6:30 a.m. for its second trip of the week to the island nation.

A plane packed with food, hygiene products, and other supplies was due to arrive at Cap-Haïtien International Airport in the northern part of the island, pick up 15 evacuees, then arrive back in Florida at approximately 5:30 p.m.

"The airport [in Port-au-Prince] has been taken over by gangs and we just don't have permission to get in there," said Bud McLaughlin with Missionary Flights International.

Meanwhile, a state-chartered flight from Haiti landed in Sanford, Florida less than 24 hours ago with 14 evacuees on board.

The island nation has been sinking into chaos amid rampant gang violence and political instability. Haitians are desperate for food, shelter, and supplies as political tensions grow and violence continues to escalate..

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said they are going door-to-door in Haiti, getting people who have asked to be evacuated on the state's website.

The first flight carrying 14 people — 12 from Florida, including families and children — landed in Sanford Wednesday evening.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said it was the first of many rescue and relief flights.

The goal Thursday is four flights, but they are running into challenges. The state tried to get some people out on Tuesday, but conditions did not allow the flights to take off.

"It took a couple of tries and they didn't give up," said Philippe Armand, a passenger on a flight out of Haiti. "They stayed with us until the end of the mission, which I can happily say was a mission accomplished. And we're finally reunited with Julian our two-year-old son. It took about two and a half weeks. So the days were turning into weeks. The weeks were turning into months. But we're very grateful."

As for how many Floridians still remain in Haiti Thursday morning, the state said that number sits at roughly 300.