Book 3 Chapter 26
At 1700 I sent everyone home; it had been a mind-boggling day. I issued more executive orders today than any previous day of my presidency, but they were desperately needed to keep things moving in the direction I thought was necessary.
As a result of all those orders, there were plenty of agencies, states, departments and unions unhappy with me. One of those orders that caused people to be unhappy was an expansion of national emergency directives.
The first one was a change in the Department of Transportation rules for over the road truck drivers, allowing them to drive more hours before a mandatory rest period.
Today’s trucks were like sitting in your easy chair and driving with controlled temperature, automatic transmissions and quiet in the cab. Most even had a sleeping birth and a bathroom. We needed emergency materials to the west coast, not sitting in the rest areas.
Another part of that was the companies that had or controlled the electronic logging for the drivers and trucks. The electronic logging device simply shut off the truck when the driver’s time was up.
Even if it was in the middle of an intersection or traffic jam! It allowed one twenty- minute restart and run to allow the driver to get the truck off the road and then the engine had to be off for eight hours minimum. Those companies had to change the settings on tens of thousands of trucks. Those people were upset with me.
The next was a waiver on Department of Transportation weight limits. Doing that allowed the trucks to carry more freight if there was room. It also required more changes to the electronic logging devices on the trucks.
Many of today’s trucks monitored the truck weight automatically by reading the air pressure in the air suspension systems. More weight on the truck required more air pressure in the system to keep the load and the truck somewhat level and a smooth ride for the freight. When the pressure hit the limit, buzzers and bells went ringing and the truck computer limited truck operation. More to be changed by the dealer’s shop tech people. They were unhappy.
The next part of the Department of Transportation waiver was the weigh station and portable over the road inspections. We have all seen them – a truck pulled over and several officers looking over the truck and the driver and another officer with a handful of papers.
The officer was checking the driver hours and comparing them to the logs, toll tickets, bills of lading – who sent the freight – where it was from – where it was going – what the freight was and to see if the placards displayed on the side of the truck matched the freight. Also, where the driver bought fuel last as fuel tax was an important revenue in some states.
There was even a system to divide up all the various taxes on trucks among member states.
Sometimes they even cut the security locks off the trailers to inspect the freight. Depending on conditions, each stop could take forty-five minutes. Cross three state lines and there was the possibility the truck could get stopped three times.
Two lights out on the same corner were a twenty-five dollar fine; a brake light was fifty. A tire that was at the wear bars was fifty dollars, two tires was a hundred and it was out of service – call a tire company at a thousand dollars for a road call in some places.
If a drop of oil fell on the officer while he was under the truck inspecting, it was out of service – fix it or call the tow truck. All those were upset with me, the officers were now doing other things, investigating accidents, playing cards whatever.
The states were upset – no more fine money for the politicians to spend. It was easy to write big fines for out of state truckers, they knew very few would be able to come back to court to contest the ticket. They would just pay the fines.
The west coast longshoreman union was upset with me. They were at the end of their contract, threatening a work slowdown and strike – the negotiations had been going on for months. The executive order I signed also extended further talks out one hundred and eighty days. They were upset because they saw the emergency as leverage in the talks.
Their attorneys were going to appeal the executive order and the unions were going to strike in two days – emergency or not. They were depending on their political clout influencing the judicial system there. ‘We shall see,’ I thought.
I was ready to close my office and walk through the tunnel when Troy called me back to a phone call from Japan. At first, I thought it was going to be Jake. He, Mindy and their kids were over there for two weeks.
The call was from Japan’s Prime Minister Shichirou Masao. I had made the call two days ago to ask if Japan would send any cruise ships to help move the former citizens of Hawaii to the mainland.
Japanese cruise ship companies plied several popular routes for their business. The most popular one was to the Philippines and to Australia. Both of those countries had restricted travel. It took months in advance to schedule vacations and cruises there.
Four cruise ships had returned to Japan in the last two days and they were headed to the Hawaiian Islands. They were available for two weeks before they needed to be back for the cruise schedule. They would be in area in two days by traveling at maximum speed.
The Kobayashi Maru had a six thousand passenger capacity. The Akagi Maru had a capacity of three thousand. The Nippon Maru had a capacity of three thousand five hundred. And the last was the Diamond Princess, a British flagged ship owned by the Princess Cruise lines. The Diamond Princess sails Asia and Australia and has a two thousand six hundred passenger capacity.
Those ships had a maximum speed of twenty-two knots and would take four days to make the trip to California after being loaded with passengers. They would only be able to make one trip, but it was a help. Every bit was going to help.
I sent a note to Eric and Admiral Petty that the four Japanese ships were coming and that they were only going to be available to us for two weeks. I wanted them moved to the front of the line so they could make at least one run to San Diego to keep an important ally happy.
The Mercy was at full capacity with the sick and so were the sick bays on the carriers. There was a dire shortage of respirators and qualified people to do the treatments. The only way to cure this was Gems supply flights to the carriers.
I issued orders for respirators from the national warehouse to be flown to the San Diego Navy base. Then a call for volunteer doctors and respiratory technicians in the area was sent out.
The closest warehouse was in Nevada, so it was a short trip. By the time the respirators made the trip, doctors were waiting. Six hours after the calls went, Gems flights were on the way. It was going to take a lot of them.
The Seabees had made it ashore on Hawaii at noon with their equipment. The ash was deeper than reported in places and not as deep in others. They were using GPS to stay on the roads, matching it to the maps. They were working into the areas where the most buildings were still standing. They began finding groups of survivors still alive. It was a sign of hope.
Marine General Emory ordered the Marine detachment on Oahu to transfer two thousand Marines to Hawaii to assist the Seabees in getting people to the ships. More were going as soon as there was room for them as roads and space was cleared.
One of the Seabees large landing ships was to make the transfer. It was tasked to transfer more heavy equipment from Oahu to Hawaii to deal with the deep ash.
On Oahu, General Mitchell ordered the Army troops there to knock on every door while looking for survivors and to use bull horns and
airhorns air horns announcing they were in the area. Time was running out for survivors.
The ‘Golden Nugget’ and the ‘Silver Spoon’ was to dock in California tonight. Preparations were being made to deal with the sick. There was plenty of space available in the tents for the healthy. Buses and ambulances were ready and hospitals had stopped elective surgeries, making beds available.
The ‘Oasis of the Seas’ and ‘Pacific Wave’ were to dock mid-morning with another twelve thousand on board. There would be plenty of action in California tomorrow.
I had Troy set up a flight for the executive team for tomorrow. I needed to make an appearance and then fly to the Hawaiian Islands for a look out the window at the damage for the media to report on. The following day we were leaving for the Cay.
I walked into the living room to join in a discussion with my mates about what to take to the Cay. Excitement was in the room; everyone wanted to get away for a few days. The temperatures here were in the mid-thirties; at the Cay it was eighty-five. The weather forecast was sunny with a mild ocean breeze for all fourteen days. It was perfect weather for swimming and working on all over natural tans and building sand castles with the kids.
It was a wonderful evening with my mates and the kids. Together, they drove away the stress I had been under all day.
Morning arrived too quickly – by the time breakfast was finished, Air Force One was already at Morton with all the important people from Washington, waiting for all the important people here to get aboard.
I bid my family farewell, saying I would see them later tonight. I settled into my seat at the flying Oval Office to a desk full of updates to review. It was going to be a long morning some of it on video conference.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.