Hartsfield could be repatriation site for Haiti evacuees

Georgia Department of Human Services is looking for families to host Haitian children as they arrive in the United States from Port-au-Prince and elsewhere.

According to an email from DHS, officials are looking for "french-speaking resource families that could care for a child should they arrive unaccompanied by an adult."

Few details were available Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport soon could receive thousands of American citizens who are being evacuated from Haiti as the nation struggles to recover from last week’s earthquake.

More than 45,000 American citizens living in Haiti are headed back to the United States this week, traveling en masse through Florida, New Jersey and Maryland.

Besides airports in those states, the federal government has said Hartsfield-Jackson  also may be a repatriation site, said Lisa Janak, spokeswoman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

“We’re on standby,” Janak said. "As soon as they start evacuating, they put states on standby."

It will be up to the federal government – the Department of Health and Human Services  – to notify the state whether Hartsfield will be a repatriation site, Janak said.

“The state will be verbally notified that an evacuation is being considered,” Janak said, reading from a memo.

GEMA, then, would be a supporting agency, working with other organizations such as the American Red Cross and Atlanta Fire and Rescue, to get first aid, personal hygiene and counseling services, to citizens that need them, Janak said.

“That’s what we do, we coordinate,” Janak said.

The government selects various airports as repatriation sites so the evacuees can quickly enter the United States.

The citizens would not be housed at Hartsfield, Janak said. Should they need to spend the night, they would arrange a hotel stay with the other agencies, she said.