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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/19/2005 6:37:08 AM EDT
Wife is active duty navy, her CO forwarded this email, good read about whats going on down there:


I made a day trip to the Gulf Coast this weekend to visit with and thank
our Sailors for the extraordinary work they are doing in the recovery
and relief effort. I spent time in at the Seabee base in Gulfport, NSA
New Orleans and NAS/JRB New Orleans, as well as aboard HARRY S TRUMAN,

It was at once both a grim and an incredibly uplifting experience. Some
of my impressions.

First, the pictures on TV don't even begin to do justice to the scope of
the devastation. I saw whole neighborhoods completely obliterated; the
only evidence they ever existed at all being the faint outline of cement
blocks that once formed the foundations of ! houses.

I saw massive casi no barges in Biloxi thrown hundreds of yards inland,
wooded areas so shredded they looked from the air like a spilled box of
toothpicks, and much of New Orleans still a tepid, festering lake.
There were very few people on the streets that weren't military or
emergency workers.

Comparing it to a war zone is not at all a stretch.

Things are starting to turn around. The JTF has really taken shape,
becoming more efficient and more organized every day. Communications
across the region have improved dramatically. Dewatering efforts are
proceeding ahead of the projected pace. And currently rescue teams are
finding fewer and fewer people in need of immediate help.

The Navy's contribution to this success has been critical. I don't need
to tell you that. We've been there since practically before the storm
made landfall -- BATAAN chased it in weathering 12-14 foot seas and
began flying SAR missions within hours of the ! storm's departure -- and
we ar e still there making a difference.

Joe Kilkenny is doing a bang-up job as the JFMCC. He's got a plan, and
he is executing it with great effectiveness.

The Seabees are repairing infrastructure and clearing debris at such a
pace they have actually inspired local citizens to feel more optimistic
about the future.

Sailors from TORTUGA are going door-to-door looking for and rescuing the

Helicopter aircrews from TRUMAN and BATAAN are still delivering food and
water and other basic necessities.

SHREVEPORT Sailors are cleaning up the St. Bernard Parish Courthouse.

In fact, just about all our ships pierside are housing and feeding and
caring for people in need.

Then there's IWO JIMA, who put up POTUS overnight on Sun. Pierside at
the Riverwalk, IWO has become a command center, hospital, airport, hotel
and restaurant all rolled into one.

I ran into VADM Thad Allen in the p-way.! Thad, as you may know, is the
senior federal officer on scene, running the whole show. He said,
"Mike, you should consider renaming this ship The City of New Orleans."
That says it all.

I couldn't help but sneak a smile, having just given a speech up in
Newport about the power of naval forces to win hearts and minds by
serving as "cities at sea." I used our contributions to the
international effort in the wake of last December's tsunami as my prime
example in that speech. How little did I realize we'd be doing that
sort of work on our own soil so soon.

It just goes to show you how very unpredictable this world really is.
But, as I made sure to tell the Sailors I talked to, it also goes to
show you how very flexible and adaptable naval forces really are.

If you want a picture of the future of sea basing, consider the image of
BATAAN, a Mexican amphibious ship and a Dutch frigate anchored offshore
sending boatloads of supplies to the beac! h ... or HST anchored not far
off and the only things flying off her flight deck are helicopters ...
or Mexican and U.S. Sailors, side by side, combing the beach and
clearing debris ... or a JTF -- with significant civil and
non-governmental agencies represented -- headquartered aboard a U.S.
Navy ship, led by a two-star Army general reporting to a three-star
admiral in the Coast Guard, who is also headquartered aboard that same

Perhaps the most moving thing I did Saturday was visit with a group of
ombudsmen in Gulfport.

Many of them had lost everything. They were hurting, barely getting by
on their own, and yet here they were at the FFSC looking for ways to
help other Navy families. You could see the desperation and the hope on
their faces, hear it in their cracking voices. Tough on the heart, to
be sure, and yet somehow good for it at the same time.

I was humbled just to be in the room with them. You want to talk about
courag! e? These ladies had it to spare. < BR>
There are, we estimate, about 10,000 Sailors affected by the hurricane
in some form or fashion. There may be more. I pledged to those
ombudsmen our Navy's full support in getting them and the families they
represent back up on their feet. We have a lot of work to do to return
their lives to some sense of normalcy, but we need to make it the
highest of priorities.

It is most certainly mine I can assure you. And I know I can rely on
your support.

Again, truly an unforgettable day. In the face of unspeakable disaster
and suffering, our Sailors have stood tall and helped provide relief to
thousands. They are not alone, of course. It's a total team effort,
involving city, state and other federal agencies, not to mention our
sister services, allies and relief organizations. But they have
accorded themselves well as part of that team and reflected nothing but
the very best back on each and every one of the rest ! of us.

At NAS New Orleans I came across a bunch of Seabees working feverishly
on the wooden platform for what was going to be a temporary dining
facility. It was a contract job, but the contractor was having problems
rounding up the necessary manpower and resources. The Seabees didn't ask
permission, didn't wait for orders. They simply rolled up their sleeves
and went to work.

"Hey, they needed help," one said. "And we know how to do this stuff."

We do, indeed, know how to do this stuff, and we are doing it
exceptionally well. Standing amongst them, I was never more proud to
call myself an American Sailor.



Link Posted: 9/19/2005 7:43:14 PM EDT
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