Rendell returns to U.S. with Haitian orphans

A triumphant Gov. Rendell returned to Harrisburg late this morning after a whirlwind trip to Haiti to rescue dozens of orphans.

"The good news is, we went down not knowing how we were going to fare," said Rendell, who spent 6 1/2 hours on the ground in Port-Au-Prince yesterday. "And we got every child but one out of the orphanage -- 53 out of 54."

Rendell said the 54th child was accidentally left on one of the buses in Haiti, but that the child was quickly found and would arrive in Pittsburgh later today.

Rendell said he agreed to accompany a Pittsburgh group heading to the devastated country after Haiti's ambassador said his help might be needed to cut through any red tape.

The ambassador said, "'If problems crop up you are the only one to get it done.'" said Rendell. "To some extent that proved true."

Rendell said it was touch and go all day Saturday as authorities gave different numbers on how many orphans would be permitted to leave. When it appeared that not all the children would be allowed out, the operators of the orphanage - sisters Allison and Jamie McMutrie of Pittsburgh - said all children would go or none would go.

Rendell used his connections with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and later met with representatives of the National Security Council to secure visas for the orphans to leave the country and fly to Allegheny County.

The plane also delivered three doctors and 2 1/2 tons of supplies from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

"We had two goals," said Rendell. "Get the goods down and bring the kids back. Happily we accomplished both."

The children are being treated for dehydration, diarrea and other ailments at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. The children will be placed in group homes until adoptions are finalized.


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