Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) — Haiti’s capital seemed to spring back to life Wednesday, more than a week after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake flattened many parts of the city and killed tens of thousands.
Electrical power was still out most places, but traffic lights were functioning and chaotic traffic clogged many streets. Aid trucks, some guarded by blue-helmeted United Nations peacekeepers, were seen leaving the airport. Water trucks also were spotted in parts of Port-au-Prince.
“There’s energy in the air,” said Haitian-born J.B. Diederich, who lives in Miami but returned to Haiti for a few days after the earthquake.
More U.N. convoys were seen moving through the city than in previous days, and so could vehicles for large nongovernmental organizations.
Haitian police seemed to take a more active role, directing traffic and getting out of their vehicles to deal with some problem or other. For several days after the earthquake, heavily armed police officers were often seen speeding by in their trucks but did not seem to stop or do much.
There also seemed to be more street vendors Wednesday.
Some banks and wire-transfer companies plan to open Thursday, as do some stores, Diederich said.
To be certain, Port-au-Prince still has a ways to go. But on Wednesday, the city seemed ready to leave the tragedy behind.
A way out for U.S. citizens
Any U.S. citizen who wants to leave Haiti on a U.S. military transport aircraft can do so simply by going to the airport and applying for voluntary departure at a State Department office placed on the tarmac.
About 5,000 people have left in the past week, an official said.
The service is available to U.S. citizens or anyone escorting a U.S. citizen who is a minor. Although the flights are initially free, the U.S. will try to recoup costs from individual passengers.
The cargo planes would return to the United States empty if they weren’t transporting citizens.
Cubans wait with no way out
A handful of Cuban citizens stood in a line next to the U.S. State Department tent at the airport while about 100 U.S. citizens were processed for a flight Wednesday afternoon.
The Cubans wanted out, too, but there were no waiting planes. There weren’t even any indications that a Cuban plane would arrive at all.
“Here everyone resolves their problems, and we don’t even have a way to get home,” said a woman who did not want to give her name.
None of the three people interviewed by a CNN reporter would give their names. They laughed nervously when first asked and then said it would be too dangerous for them to comment openly.