Red Tape Snarls Search Team's Trip To Haiti

Indiana Task Force One Commander Sent Home

A handful of the nation's top search and rescue teams, including two Hoosiers, have been told they aren't needed in Haiti, despite widespread destruction after last week's earthquake.

Indiana Task Force One Commander Bill Brown told 6News' Jennifer Carmack on Monday that the decision to cancel the group's mission is a failure at the federal level.

More: Haiti Earthquake Special Section

"Frustration isn't even the word," he said by phone from Miami, where he spent the last four days preparing to deploy to Haiti.

Four other Federal Emergency Management Agency search and rescue teams were also sent home, including members of Ohio Task Force One, who already had their gear loaded onto a cargo plane.

Brown said he believes FEMA has done everything possible to get teams on the ground, but blames federal red tape for the delays.

"When we see on news reports … people pleading for help, asking the president to send additional resources, and then teams are being demobilized, it's just incomprehensible," he said. "The question needs to be asked of the state department, U.S. Aid International, Office of Disaster Assistance why these decisions were made."

The United States Agency for International Development declined a phone interview on Monday, but released a statement saying they were focusing on getting food and water to the country first.

"At this point, in order to continue our lifesaving and life sustaining efforts, USAID, in consultation with the Haitian government, is prioritizing the shipments of life sustaining commodities, including food, water and medicine. Therefore, we have begun standing down the four additional teams," the statement read.

Brown said each task force group is self sustainable and would not put a drain on food or medical supplies needed for victims.

Indiana Task Force One has 200 members who respond primarily to domestic disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

A three-person disaster response team from Salvation Army Indiana left Indianapolis Monday afternoon to join a national team in Florida. The group will stay in Port-au-Price for two weeks before being relieved by another team.