You saw the Oscar hoopla. But did you ever see this event covered or filmed, or even reported on a news show?
[ Posted September 9, 2005]
Award-winning vice-Prez Al Gore chartered a plane in Sept. 2005 and flew with it for 2 roundtrips to New Orleans to rescue and medEvac 100s of patients from Charity Hospital and bring them to Tennessee. The VP declined interviews while he was shuttling the evacuees that Saturday September 3 and for a 2nd return flight he made the next day, but the doctors who flew with him talked about the experience.
Gore had to work around a sequential blockade by FEMA, which naturally denied his team permissions, repeatedly.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)- Al Gore helped airlift some 270 Katrina evacuees on two private charters from New Orleans, acting at the urging of a doctor who saved the life of the former vice president’s son.
… [Gore] refused to be interviewed about the mercy missions he financed and flew last Saturday and Sunday. . . .
More below, and a bonus pix
AP reported the rescue flights on a Friday evening after that day’s primetime news cycle. No broadcaster ever reported a news segment on the rescue.
Gore responded immediately . . .
On [Thurs] Sept. 1, three days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, [Greg] Simon learned that Dr. David Kline … was stranded with patients at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.
The situation was dire and becoming worse by the minute – food and water running out, no power, 4 feet of water surrounding the hospital and … corpses outside,” Simon wrote.
Gore responded immediately, telephoning Kline and agreeing to underwrite the $50,000 each for the two flights, although Larry Flax, founder of California Pizza Kitchens, later pledged to pay for one of them.
The skinny on Al Gore’s coordination of the 2-day airlift:
At TPM Cafe, Greg Simon, the pres of FasterCures, recounted the determined (and agonizing) logistical coordination that resulted, finally, in the 2 airlifts of flood victims and patients from Louisiana to Tennessee. (If you have time, you should click over and read the fuller story yourself.) Here’s my take on it.
Gore flew from Tenn. to Dallas (to pick up the chartered plane), to La. to Tenn. – and then did the whole thing again the next day. The idea was hatched Thursday night, and the advocates for the mission, including Simon, Gore and staff butted heads with the bureacrats for the next 2 days through mid-day Saturday.
At every turn, FEMA and military officials tried to stop these 2 flights.
The 1st flight out on Saturday was mostly patients in need of supervised care, including dialysis and insulin, and the second one on Sunday had more evacuees and fewer patients.
After landing slots were denied numerous times during the planning, the one person in Washington who would grant the 2 landing slots ended up being the single Democratic member of Bush’s cabinet, Norm Mineta. That took a personal call from Gore to Mineta to override the instructions from below to withhold landing slots.
An amazing read at TPM Cafe (link above).
The first flight to Knoxville brought about 100 patients and 40 non-patients. The second flight on Sunday transported 130 evacuees to Chatanooga.
More info is also found in local coverage from Tennessee or at alternate link with the photo, originally from the News-Sentinel of Knoxville, Tenn (orig link expired).
Haven from fury Mercy Flight Brings Evacuees to ET (=East Tennessee)
Gore accompanies about 140 arrivals from New Orleans but declines to take credit
“Gore chose not to speak to the assembled media, but he was seen in a black T-shirt and jeans moving rapidly from one side of the plane to the other assisting with the off-loading operation.
“Participating in the operation were the Knoxville Fire Department, the Blount County Rescue Squad and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. Cruisers from the Tennessee Highway Patrol escorted the buses to hospitals.
“Additional medical personnel within the regional emergency system also were on standby.
“Units at the airports included at least 10 ambulances, a phalanx of buses, fire trucks and other equipment.”
More about the arrival of the first plane bringing evacuees on Saturday – from WATE Channel 6 News of Knoxville –
-read down to the 5th paragraph-
Doctors say most diabetes patients haven’t had insulin or a shower in days.”Their condition is, they are speaking and able to move,” said Dr. Anderson Spicker, who was asked to fly on the plane by former Vice President Al Gore.
Dr. Spicker says the refugees were relieved to make it to Tennessee. “When we touched down, and I was in the middle of all the folks on the plane in the aisle, the guy next to me said, ‘You know, I haven’t felt safe in 10 days. I feel safe.”
The media never quite picked up on this.