In this amazing article on defense.gov, we get a glimpse into the difficulties surrounding the relief effort in Puerto Rico. While we vaguely understand that it is “hard to get supplies into Puerto Rico” most of us really don’t have a clue. The article outlines one of the many reasons:
The loss of power and communications lines required that all aircraft traffic be controlled by visual and physical spacing. Only one aircraft could arrive or leave the island every 10 minutes, or six per hour, to ensure that the aircraft were safely separated. Under normal operating conditions, an airport the size of San Juan International can handle about 45 flights per hour. The limited aircraft movement choked the supply chain of critical material and personnel, officials said.
The Puerto Rico Air National Guard (PRANG) jumped into the restoration of the air traffic control system and the result was astounding:
With basic communications re-established, the number of flights taking place per hour began to climb — from six per hour to 18 per hour two days after the storm — to more than 30 per hour, and finally into the upper 30s and low 40s, which is normal operations.
While this might look reasonably simple on paper, this was not a simple operation. This effort was the result of thousands of hours of effort by PRANG personnel like Air Force 2nd Lt. Jose Arroyo-Cruz, a 156th cyberspace operations officer and one of hundreds of Puerto Rico Air National Guard members who’ve been on the job since before the storm hit. He put it quite succinctly when he said that, “It was a giant hole in the highway in the sky. We had to fix that hole before we could bring in aid to the people of Puerto Rico.”
2nd Lt. Arroyo-Cruz told us privately that, “We are working 16-18 hr days, and when I get home I have no power.”
With communication and power still down in Puerto Rico, service men and women are working tirelessly to restore service and safety. Turning on their lights is the least we can do.
Thank you for your continued support. The island is only at 8% power and thousands of people are still suffering. If you haven’t already, please join our on-going relief effort in Puerto Rico. Your funds are going directly to the relief effort in very visible ways. Thank you!