Relief workers stuck in Seattle
Seattle Times staff reporter
Though local doctors and relief workers scrambled yesterday getting themselves ready to head to New York, few had actually left — and those who had tried were having trouble due to the lack of departures out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue team awaited orders at McChord Air Force Base from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The base had readied two cargo planes — a C-17 Globemaster III capable of carrying 170,000 pounds and a C-141 Starlifter capable of carrying 69,000 pounds, Wilson said. McChord was waiting for orders from the military or a request from FEMA to send the rescuers.
Airwoman Martha Casillas said one C-17 took off from McChord around 3:30 p.m. yesterday headed for Monterey, Calif., where it would pick up supplies and head to Washington, D.C.
Casillas did not say what supplies were being picked up in California.
And Wilson said it wasn't clear what would be aboard the readied planes if they were called to the East Coast.
"We could get a request for anything. We could get a request to fly relief supplies; we could get a request to fly troops," Wilson said. "We're prepared for anything."
Private relief organizations such as the Red Cross and Portland-based Northwest Medical Teams have been trying to send a few doctors and personnel to New York aboard commercial jets.
One volunteer was told her flight had been delayed until early this morning, and a Seattle doctor expecting to do assessment work for Northwest Medical Teams — determining what additional help is needed — was hoping to leave at 12:55 a.m. this morning, but her flight was likely to be delayed.
Sadly, local relief officials said, the problem in New York has not been an excess of wounded and a shortage of doctors. Rather, the need is for morticians.
Still, relief agencies said they planned to help by sending supplies.
"One of the things we're talking about is sending in masks and rubber gloves to replace the ones used by the rescue workers," said Cheryl Watkins, spokeswoman for World Vision, a Federal Way-based Christian relief organization. "But it's a matter of seeing what's needed."
Eli Sanders can be reached at 206-748-5815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.