Due to a death in my immediate family the writing and posting schedule has been affected for a while. Please bear with me.
Book 3 Chapter 24
I left the news conference and went to my office followed by my aides. I was disappointed with the news conference, there was so much said and so much unsaid, but only time would correct that.
How many of the one and a half million residents of Hawaii were dead and how many were still going to die was anybody’s guess. I knew we had done a lot in a short time, but there was a lot more that needed to be done.
I started on the pile of notes that was waiting on my desk. Kitty, Connie and Troy were putting them in order for me to look at and making calls. I called Eric back and told him I wanted every cruise ship on the west coast commandeered and sent to Hawaii.
Then I called Secretary of Defense Scott and told him to make it a priority to get supply ships loaded with food and supplies and headed towards Hawaii.
FEMA was still hunting for more cots and supplies across the entire United States. There should have been ten times more tents and cots in warehouses than there was available in the reports. They had surplus money in the last four years budgets; where was it and what was it used for, if not to build up the inventory of emergency supplies? That would be a good question to ask Eric – FEMA was under his agency.
The pile of notes on my desk was growing instead of getting smaller for the two hours that I had already put in on them. Various aides were getting information ready for the next news conference at 1300.
I went over to the house with my mates for lunch. We were scheduled to go to the Cay next week for a vacation that was to last for ten days. The debate was – given the circumstances, should we cancel?
‘’No,’’ we decided. Short of going to the Hawaiian Islands and shoveling ash, there was nothing I couldn’t do from the Cay that was different from being at Summers Lane or 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The vacation was on.
This was to be the last vacation before Marcy and Vicky were to deliver the additions to our family in two months. Marcy was having a girl and Vicky a boy, rounding out our children at four boys and two girls. Jeanna was elated that she was going to get a granddaughter to pamper and spoil.
After lunch my staff began putting the 1300 news conference together. All the agencies were to do video reports as before. The only difference was the media personalities. The six media personalities were different because of the lottery selection they liked so well. Troy forced them to choose another group.
At 1300 we did as before – we had everyone on the video monitors for an update. The update was not good news. There had not been any decrease in the eruption – if anything, it had intensified.
Yesterday I had ordered all emergency warehouses be opened and staffed 24/7 in all 48 states. This included all state and federal emergency warehouses. The order also contained instructions to crate up fifty percent of their emergency supplies and ship it to the Naval base at San Diego. From there it would be loaded on supply ships and sent to Hawaii.
The ash plume was over a thousand miles wide and spreading. In places it was sixty thousand feet high and was now being picked up by instruments on the coast of Europe.
Seismic equipment was picking up intensifying earthquakes on Hawaii and Oahu. What had been minor tremors were now registering in the 4s and 5s on the scale – and there were a lot of them. According to the experts, the earthquake activity should have been diminishing instead of increasing.
There was some good news. Some communications had been restored in addition to the Naval Pacific command that we used for the first news conference. Underground communications had been restored to Fort Shafter. Fort Shafter was the 25th Infantry command center.
Army General Mitchell had ordered that the chemical warfare suits be distributed to all soldiers that were in bunkers. They would be breathing air filtered free of contaminants, ash and gases. This would give them some level of protection when they were ordered to rescue civilians.
He also ordered all Army equipment be set up for desert/chemical war operation as soon the ash started falling. That order meant extra filters were installed on the engines and the passenger compartments sealed – recycling the air instead of bringing contaminated air in.
The downfall in all of this was the heavy ash would act like sand blasting on the cooling systems of the equipment. The huge fans sucking in the ash would destroy the soft copper radiators and plastic turbocharger after-coolers in a matter of hours. I knew that unless other precautions were taken that all this equipment would be out of service in just a few days.
I called for a meeting with General Ingram – ASAP – he needed to get people involved quickly.
The Army had huge inter-connected self-sufficient underground bunkers for soldiers in case Hawaii was ever attacked with nuclear weapons at several sites. The Marine base was equipped with the same type bunkers.
General Mitchell and Marine General Emory – commander of Marine Corp Base Hawaii (MCB Hawaii) and Naval Pacific command – were able to communicate through a buried communications cable to be used during nuclear war. After a conference call to the Pentagon they agreed they could begin joint civilian rescue operations.
Two hundred Humvee and MRAPS from the Army and two hundred from MCB were working the streets, rescuing people and carrying them to the bunkers.
There were millions of N95 mask in the warehouses stored for the next pandemic. Cases were loaded on the rescue vehicles to be given and worn by civilians as soon as they were seen. It was an effort to reduce respiratory damage.
Admiral Petty, Sectary of the Navy Bramble, General Mitchell, General Emory, Troy, Eric and I were on a secured ink. For an hour we debated and discussed hundreds of possible scenarios. With the increasing earthquakes the bunkers could become unusable.
Several aircraft hangars had already collapsed from ash and possibly the earthquakes – two at joint base Hickam and two at Wheeler Army Airfield. Ten F35G models were in the Wheeler Hangar – most likely total losses.
At joint base Hickam a C17 that was in the hangar was a loss that would hit the materials command hard. It was unlikely any large cargo planes would ever be built.
After the cameras were off, the bad news kept coming in. Ash had started falling on the west coast. There was enough that it was causing havoc in several areas. Flights were being
cancelled canceled and the utilities were experiencing outages.
The west coast had gone off the deep end with solar and wind energy. The ash was coating the solar panels; output from the panels had dropped to nothing. Hundreds of thousands of panels were going to have to be washed to get the ash off.
The wind towers were another thing all together; ash was an abrasive – think pumice like in many heavy duty hand soaps industry used. The ash was grinding the gel coat off the blades as they were rotating. The gel coat was harder and protected the Kevlar and fiberglass spars that were the main strength ingredients of the enormous blades.
Those wind power towers that had been turning showed visible damage and they had only been subjected to the ash for less than twelve hours. The owners and utilities wanted them shut down immediately to save them. Their argument was that it would be better to be down a few days than to be down the months it would take to repair or to replace all of them.
The west coast had closed many of its fossil fueled plants. Rolling blackouts was now the reality. Not only had the environmentalists forced closure of the power plants, they wouldn’t allot the transmission lines to be replaced, built or up-graded. They had laws passed that only clean energy could be sold in their state.
States, communities and utilities caved to the new normal and that was local solar farms, local wind generation and battery farms to store a day’s worth of energy for your local area. The sun shined and wind blew every day. Blackouts and rolling blackouts were starting today.
At the 1800 update Admiral Petty and General Mitchell reported the winds had picked up from the west, increasing the visibility around Oahu. Short wave emergency radio broadcast was now being picked up. Civilian pickup points were being broadcast and other emergency instructions were being broadcast from the ships. At noon Oahu time, eighty landing craft from assault carriers started coming in.
The three assault carriers had eighty landing craft and they started picking up people who had made their way to the pickup points on the beaches.
Six thousand people had been rescued by the time darkness fell, when the operation had to be shut down. By sunrise two fleet carriers would be in the area to receive transfers for the smaller assault carriers. The MRAPS and Humvees would start moving people to the beach for transfer to ships.
Progress was being made.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.