Saturday, January 30, 2010

Haiti Evacuees

Yesterday we flew into Haiti and spent several hours on the ground. 

We unloaded 38,000 tons of cargs (to include 10 shower units).  We, the media and another Public Affairs guru, met up with the Air Force PAs staying at the airport and arranged a few minutes outside the airport.  While we were there we saw a group of orphans being carried by aid workers to try to get on an airplane. We talked with one worker who was carrying what seemed to be an infant and turned out to be a 3-year-old. He was just so tiny (and adorable).

We also arranged an interview with an Aerial Porter.  This guy was on the first USAF jet that landed after the quake.  They have been working so hard to unload supplies and get airplanes out of there (space on the tarmac is limited).  When they landed they not only had to unload their own airplane, but they also had to set up their own tents - anything they needed, they had to make or set up themself.  Now that's intense.

Then we loaded 177 Haitians onto our plane.  This was quite a process because they first put the elderly or disabled folks in the seats that were on the side of the airplane.  Then the folks who didn't have physical problems had to sit on the floor of the aircraft and they were about 8 to a row with cargo straps across their laps.  I'm sure it wasn't comfortable but they were so happy to be getting back to the US.  They were all US citizens or legal aliens (meaning they had a visa).

Right now we're in Charleston, SC and waiting to get our marching orders as to when and where we're going.  We hope to get one more mission to Haiti.

Friday, January 29, 2010

At Pope bound for Haiti

We're at Pope AFB with all of our cargo and passengers.  (I'm blogging from inside the plane.)  We loaded 38,000 pounds of cargo on our C-17 and picked up two Army soldiers.  In our cargo is 10 decontamination untis that can be (or have already) been converted into showers.  The soldiers know how to work the units and are going to Haiti to set them up.  (It's cold here in NC.)

FYI--when we were in Haiti yesterday it was completely dark and we took off maybe a half hour after the sun rose.  That's why I didn't have any decent photos of Haiti to share with you.  Hopefully this trip I'll be able to share and show you more.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Off Topic - Haiti

I wasn't able to get to my computer to blog about this as it happened, so I've been taking blog notes.  Let me try to catch everybody up.  (Please remember this is my personal blog.  I'm not speaking on behalf of the US Air Force Reserve or any other gov't agency - I'm just passing along my experiences and what I see and do.)  I'm in the Air Force Reserve out of March Air Reserve Base, California and I work with the media... here goes:

Monday: I found out that I may be going to Haiti as a media escort.  (Neat!)  However, if one or two more media want to go - I'll get bumped off the flight.

I'm out here in California on my two weeks of Annual Tour and the gear and supplies I need are at home in Las Vegas.  If I drive home tonight and back tomorrow morning I could get them.  But that's a 5 hour drive and Murphy's Law always rules.  If I go home, I'll get bumped off the flight.  If I don't go home, then I'll go to Haiti.  I'm going to stay here and see how the cards fall.

Tuesday: The flight has been postponed until Wednesday morning.  We have 8 media going and I'm a solid member of the team.  See--I didn't go home so now I'm going to Haiti.

A girl in my office loned me her backpacking pack (she's awesome) so I just have to get a few things tonight and I'm set.  (BDU jacket liner, food and water for 5 days, sleeping bag, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and a BDU belt)  I'm getting pretty excited about this - what a neat opportunity.

Wednesday: The day started off well.  I packed up and checked out of my hotel room, ran by the office and had some espresso and did last minute errands.  At 8:30 I picked up the media at the gate - we had one guy cancel - so 7 members of the media.
8:30-picked up media
9-briefing with aircraft commander
9:30-passenger terminal to drop off bags & get on manifest
10:30-quickly move cars to long-term parking & go out to plane
11-take off!
3 p.m. West Coast or 6 p.m. East Coast time - land in Louisville, KY to get 70,000 pounds of cargo (mostly Army vehicles & supplies) and passengers bound for Haiti
9 p.m.-take off for Haiti
The Army vehicles on the plane were jiggling around on take-off (that is normal).  Thank-goodness we have good loadmasters, at the end of the flight the vehicles & pallets hadn't moved an inch.

Thursday: We landed just after midnight California time, so about 3 a.m. East Coast time in Haiti.  We anticipated picking up approximately 200 Haitian evacuees but it turns out we didn't.  We picked up 7 folks, some of which were aid workers who had been helping and working for the past week.  The airport used to operate 24/7 so that they could get supplies & equipment in, but as things have progressed they've made the airport a day-time operation.  Meaning that they send out evacuees during the day, when the State Department is open to help with Visa or Passport problems or questions.

One of the aid workers said that it's terrible.  Most of Port-au-Prince should/needs to be bulldozed to the ground because it's so unsafe.  He said that people are and will be dying of simple things like broken legs.  They just don't have the medical equipment, medicine, antibiotics or the things they need to save lives.  It's so sad, almost like we've stepped back several hundred years.

It looks like we may make another run to Haiti with supplies... more to come.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Continuous Challenge

Vante is doing well on her new prescription diet.  However, I'm sad to report that she, apparently intentionally, urinated on the bed today after getting into an under-the-door disagreement with her two sisters. Luckily for us we had put puppy piddle pads on the bed and she happened to land squarely on that.  So thank-goodness for that easy clean-up.

To give Vante the benefit of the doubt we bought a bigger litterbox for her today.  So we can rule out a dirty or small litterbox bothering her.  I doubt that is the issue, but it's worth a try.

I'm sorry for the lack of posts but with the holidays I was quite busy.  As I continue to integrate Vante, Amelia & Callie Mae I'll keep you updated with the exciting events.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vante's goes to the Vet

This morning Vante went to her first Vet appointment with me here in Las Vegas. Here are the details:

-Her bloodwork looked great.

-She needs to have her teeth cleaned and we'll schedule that in a few weeks.

-They gave her a vaccine she needed, so she's up to date on everything.

-She has crystals in her urine but no stones or infection.  This means that the pH in her urine is off, so they've put her on a special diet that should fix the problem.  It will take a few weeks to work and she'll have to eat this special food for the rest of her life. 

This explains why she would urinate where she slept - she had to go quite frequently apparently. 

While crystals in her urine isn't good news, it isn't bad either.  This means that she wasn't urinating on the bed to mark her territory, she was just having trouble holding it.  It's a medical issue, not a behavioral issue.  Now that is good news.  Soon we'll be a happily integrated household with three cats - I can't wait.