Larsen works to get constituents home from Haiti

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) got a big thank you on the Today Show Thursday from two constituents for helping to get their adopted children out of a Haitian orphanage following Tuesday's magnitude 7 earthquake.

The couple, Brett and Kendra Schlenbaker, said the lawmaker has been great about contacting the U.S. embassy and working out official paperwork.

"[The Schlenbakers] first contacted our office in October," Larsen told ITK, "when they were in the final stages [of the adoption]. Since then, we've been working with the U.S. embassy in Haiti, and they've been absolutely great with information."

Following the devastating earthquake, Larsen said the embassy is concentrating on "getting injured American citizens home," not working out passport and visa situations.

"As soon as they get back to working on passports, we're hoping to get the two kids home to Washington."

The Schlenbakers aren't the only constituents Larsen is helping to get out of Haiti.

A 22 year-old missionary, Katie Zook, from Larsen's hometown of Arlington, Wash. (one of 26 towns in the country named Arlington, he notes) was trapped under rubble for three hours before rescue workers were able to pull her out. She had been in Haiti since September, teaching English.

Her family had no word of her after the earthquake, but eventually learned from other missionaries that she was safe, although injured.

Larsen called Zook's dad on Wednesday after he learned that Katie was on her way from Haiti to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for medical treatment.

"Next stop is to fly her to Miami, where [parents] Greg and Donna can meet her," Larsen said.

"It's part of what we do, we want to be helpful."

Larsen said he couldn't speculate on whether other members of Congress are facing similar situations, but "if the most Northwesterly district in the continental U.S. has people there, then the rest likely do, too."