Navy hospital ship Mercy is on the way from San Diego:
A second Navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, was preparing to respond to the Gulf Coast Friday, as the Pentagon continued to send resources to the battered region.
The Mercy, which is based ini San Diego, will be ready to depart Wednesday. It will take about two weeks to complete the trip.
The Pentagon announcement that it was dispatching the hospital vessel came amid growing criticism that the Bush administration has responded too slowly to the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. President Bush himself conceded Friday that the federal effort so far has been unacceptable.
Meanwhile, service members from across the military were flowing into Louisiana and Mississippi to help meet the growing humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousand of residents left homeless and hungry by Katrina.
Three trucks carrying waters and 150,000 Meals-Ready-to-Eat were being distributed to refugees in the New Orleans Superdome, and military transport planes were scheduled to begin flying people from New Orleans to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas Friday. Altogether the military is sending 9.3 million MREs for refugees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
_ 600 25,000-pound sand bags were delivered Thursday and another 200 bags were expected Friday, to help shore up the broken levees around the city.
_ Eight Marine transport helicopters with 70 Marines left North Carolina for the Gulf Coast, and 150 more will leave this weekend.
_ Three trucks carrying drinking water were expected to arrive at the Superdome Friday
UPDATE: More people need rescuing
As they flew over the rooftops of New Orleans, plucking people from buildings and cars, the U.S. Navy helicopter crews from this base began to notice the other people, the ones who hadn't managed to punch holes through the roofs of their homes or wade into the streets.
"The problem is there are a lot of people still stuck in their house who don't have the ability to get out of their house," said Lt. Bryce Kammeyer, a pilot of a Navy Sea King helicopter who since Tuesday has been ferrying relief supplies and extracting survivors.
The Navy helicopter missions, increasing by the day, are just one piece of an aerial and land assault on the shorelines, towns, ports and cities that have been devastated and cut off by Hurricane Katrina.
The Pentagon shifted resources and equipment to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in earnest Thursday, three days after the storm, and as it became clear that state and federal disaster plans had underestimated what it would take to rescue residents, deliver humanitarian relief and restore order.
UPDATE 2: Navy Seabees enroute, too:
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 40 began deploying a detachment of 125 personnel to Gulfport, Miss., Sept. 1 to provide humanitarian assistance and conduct debris removal in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.More Seabees is good.
The detachment will lend support to the 22nd Seabee Readiness Group in disaster recovery operations.
UPDATE 3: John of Argghhh who used to work in this sort of planning looks at the sitution with a practiced eye here and finds things generally on track, albeit he doesn't approve of the initial Public Information effort...
1. The response *is* massive, and it's moving about as fast as it can, in aggregate, lots of details can be quibbled. But in the main, the machinery is in motion - and it's moving about as fast as it can. And this is about as good as we can expect in many respects, I think. It's simply not possible to have everybody in the response tail stood up ready for instant deployment every time a tropical storm manifests itself.
2. The politicians have fumbled badly thus far. In the end, they will in a sense get redeemed by the people who will clean up the mess. The Professionals who are doing their job at the moment. But, to this voter, The President and the Governor have done an abysmal job in their very public duties.