New ships and oil trucks will soon be joining the planes, trains, buses and trucks involved in the massive operation to bring supplies into areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, according to Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. The announcement comes as the historic airlift operation at the New Orleans Airport continues to evacuate thousands of residents from the region.
Secretary Mineta became the first head of the Department of Transportation in history to request the Department of Defense to release vessels in the US Ready Reserve Fleet for service moving supplies and personnel into the region and people out. The Empire State, Sirius, State of Maine, Wright and Diamond State are ready to set sail. The Cape Kennedy and Cape Knox are already in New Orleans. These ships have the capacity to move hundreds of personnel and thousands of tons of supplies into the region.
“We need to act now to mobilize resources like these ships that can support what is going to be a long term commitment to rebuilding the region,” said Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. “These vessels are designed to operate in any kind of environment, unloading supplies to help rebuild communities and house essential personnel.”
The Department, working with the US Department of Energy, has helped secure trucks and a direct source of fuel to re-supply emergency and relief personnel along the coast. The trucks, which were located with the assistance of the American Trucking Associations, will be able to tap directly into a Kinder Morgan pipeline to speed up loading and delivery.
In addition, the Department continues to support the largest ever air lift on US soil. Since yesterday almost 40 civilian and military aircraft have been involved in the operation to bring supplies into the city and flying passengers out. This operation will, by the end of today have flown over 10,000 residents safely and comfortably out of the area.
The Department is also providing over 1,100 buses to support the evacuation of flooded areas and arranged for a special twelve car Amtrak train to evacuate residents from New Orleans. Department personnel have also secured over 1,300 trucks to support the delivery of over 3,300 truckloads including 25 million MREs, 30 million liters of water, 26,000 tarps and over 17 million pounds of ice.