“Why Didn’t The American’s Help With The Quake?”

Today’s blog follows on from our previous  blog entry about American USR teams being mocked and insulted as they left Christchurch airport, it may go some way to explaining why the teams were (unjustly) criticised and harangued.

This is a discussion Cantabrians held in which some people criticised the American military stationed in Christchurch for not coming to the city’s aid sooner, whilst others were grateful for the help they gave.  This thread started on 25 February just three days after the devastating earthquake, the comments were made on the New Zealand community forum on TradeMe

Why Didn’t The American’s Help With The Quake?

A lot of people don’t realise that the US had 7 military aircraft at CHCH Airport on the afternon of the quake – 4 Hercules, 2 globemasters and 1 Galaxy. Thats more than twice the carrying capacity of the RNZAF. They have a base at CHCH with maybe 200 personnel,big cargo loading machines, the works. Its all to do with Operation Deep Freeze and US millitary cargo transiting from Hawaii to Australia. So Why didn’t these planes get used in the 1st day after the quake? By 4 pm the airport was operating for emergency flights (I saw planes landing) and all those US planes have pilots and crews in CHCH. An 8th US plane – a globemaster jet arrived at about 9:15 PM, it flew over my house in NE CHCH.

Why didn’t the US offer (or NZ ask) for those planes to fly up to Akl, load ambulances, medics, NZ Army, etc get back to CHCH within the hour? The US have everything they need in CHCH to be fully operational within 30 mins of the quake. They were in a better situation that the broken-down planes of the RNZAF and certainly much closer than the nAussies who raced across the ditch. I really hope the yanks didn’t just sit at the bar drinking beer and saying it wasn’t their problem. CHCH has hosted them for 30 years and they always say what a close relationship the US military has with the city. What was the go?

responses made on the forum

  • Let me see 3 hours from Aussie with their people. With 90 minute flight time to Auckland and the same return time it is still 3 hours so not much help really is it?
  • There’s no logic in your posting. The ability of US transport planes to fly up to Akl and other NI cities, pick up 300 NZ army trucks, ambulances, plus entire rescue crews, would have made a major impact on the 1st 24 hrs of response. Even now, a few of those planes made available – even if its just to transport tourists to Akl (those planes have seats, they ferry people to Antarctica) itg would be immensely useful. The yanks have let us down – they’ve given CHCH the New Orleans method of disaster relief . In a reverse scenario (NZ military parked up in a US disaster zone) I reckon the kiwis would lend a hand. I still don’t get it – why didin’t they help?
  • I’m sure they would have used them if they were needed. There is very little point flying planes around if they have nothing to transport. What were these planes you saw landing at the airport? were they just little planes, because the big american cargo planes are a lot heavier and would require a much more substantial check of the runway.
  • no they would not have been little planes….. They probably could not interact as they had no authority from their boss..Obama. All the same I am with you Andy
  • “The yanks have let us down.” Terrible. They’ve flown hundreds of their own over to help with the rescue and recovery work. And you want to focus on what they DIDN’T do? I for one am grateful they came from so far away – and so quickly – to lend a hand in my hometown, a place they may never had heard of until Tuesday. The logistics of your fantasy operation would’ve been unfathomable in those first hours after the quake hitting! Don’t be so ungrateful.
  • I saw a 2 engined prop land, slightly smaller than an ATR. A Hercules can take off in a shorter length of runway than those things. Yep, maybe the US help wasn’t needed, but given that a city of 350,000 people had just been trashed and help was needed, I would have thought that purpose-built transports would be better than the RNZAF’s 757s. I heard that the Bay of Plenty Rescue Team drove down from Tauranga. Well, wouldn’t it have been helpful if a globemaster (those 4 engined jets) been a slightly more efficient way of getting to CHCH?
  • they can’t just decide to jump in and help… our government decided it was not necessary at the time but thanks for offering.. it was not a decision made lightly… many countries offered their help but we need to work out what resources we need and ask for it.. even if those resources were on the ground we probably didnt need them more than other services they can offer.
  • if it were the c17…they can hold heaps
    • “why didn’t the Americans help with the quake?” What was the go?
  • I read that a group of pretty senior US politicians flew out of ChCh on NZ Airforce planes. You’d think the Deep Freeze planes would have taken them if they’d been ready and able.
  • There were Americans in the area at the time and therefore they were required to help. If not they would have been asked some straight questions back home about dead Americans not getting help.It’s 100% political.
  • Same applies to the Japan and Australian help … it’s 100% political. Politicians using a normal “cover my arse” game as a political grand stand on how bloody wonderful they are. It was do it or look like a dead politician looking for a black hole to drop into.
  • the difference is that you’re not asking a neighbour to help jump start your car… asking and accepting help and assistance from other countries is a big ask.. so if you’re going to ask.. know its what you really need not what you want.
  • if those planes can take off from bomb-pot-holed airstrips in war zones, those planes could have taken off from a virtually undamaged CHCH Airport. They were already sitting on the tarmac, with all the loading facilities, and infrastructure set up. I’m sure the pilots and staff would have jumped at the chance to help. Maybe in the confusion, no one thought to ask? But I lived thru the earthquake, I drove right round the back of the airport on my way to check my family and irregardless of some awesome SAR teams coming down from the states, the fact remains that 7 planes, including a Galaxy, one of the World’s largest transport aircraft (bigger than a 747), sat on that tarmac and weren’t used. There’s still several US planes at the airport today, can anyone advise if they’re being used now?
  • Your asking the wrong question. What did Key mean when he said “this is not just a New Zealand government problem, this is ‘our companies’ problem as well and ‘our companies’ are going to have to help”. Is he admitting that the New World order is actually running New Zealand? When NGO’s buy up government departments and write legislation for those departments, it’s The New World Order and that is exactly what he was talking about. The NWO is not coming soon … it’s here right now.US military have been involved in the rescue effort. C17s have landed here with equipment and operation deep freeze base has been utilised. Furthermore help was accepted from other countries and accepted. We have Japanese on the ground now searching with many more people from all over the world here or very close to being here.
  • Just to explain this to you. The US planes could have been used to fly to other parts of NZ and rapidly transport emergency services, vehicles, personnel and kit to CHCH. Yep, it would have taken maybe 3 hrs. They could have flown up at 4:30 PM on Tuesday and returned to CHCH between late night Tuesday and during Wed, as and when the rescue teams in other NZ centres could be mobilised and equipped.
  • The Oz contribution is completely different. That didn’t involve the ferrying of NZ rescue teams from other parts of NZ. That involved the RAAF transporting rescue teams from various parts of Australia. If you don’t understand this, well thats ok, I see you are from CHCH and I guess you’re up at 2am being an idiot on the internet as some way of coping with the stress. So, peace and love man. If you have time tomorrow you should go for a drive out to the airport, check out the line up of US planes, the caterpillar-tracked loaders, the heavy lifting equipment, the cargo-moving flat bed trucks, and maintain your denial that a wee bit of hurried action on Tuesday/Wed wouldn’t have helped.

For the rest of the discussion click here