What Constitutes An Infrastructure Failure?
By Redhorse_Ronin aka C.Watson
Day 12 (Continued):
The medical staff at BWI airport begins noting that several other members of the same church mission group are complaining of mild flu-like and cold symptoms. The daughter of the mother and daughter that were stricken previously seems to be making some improvement as her temperature recedes slightly and she manages to drink some bouillon and water. A couple of the medical staff, begin to get some headaches and fatigue but chalk it up to stress and the fatigue from the long hours at work because of the storm.
The Governor announces that he has had repeated teleconferences with the President and the governors of the region and assures the residents of Maryland that all will be alright and that the state will get through this together. Immediately afterwards, he receives word that BWI can begin limited flight operations and can serve as a base for military aid flights, if Joint Base Andrews cannot handle the traffic. Frederick Airport and Easton Airport report limited flight operability due to intermittent power and short staffed crews. Martin State Airport reports that it is closed for all fixed wing flights but that the National Guard base reports an operable ramp for rotary wing operations. Edgewood Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Grounds Airfields report being able to recover light craft and helicopters for military and emergencies alone for the foreseeable future, due to significant wind and flooding damage to the fields. They begin shifting helicopter assets to be staged out of regional airports and the Air National Guard Base at Martin State Airport.
National Guard soldiers begin to report in and are tasked to local emergency operations centers on an as needed basis to conduct evacuation, flood attenuation, and debris removal operations. The local police and firefighters are attempting to utilize them as much as is practical; however, most of the guardsmen are infantry and not used to the duties they are being assigned. The few National Guard engineers left after force drawdowns are basically a company strength unit of electricians and carpenters and the Air National Guard engineer squadron draws heavily, close to 20% on Pennsylvania for its members and many of its members live in southern MD and the Eastern Shore and are simply unable to report. At best the hope to field 55% of the squadron by the next day. Meanwhile what engineers that are local are being tasked with getting Martin State Airport operational, with a detachment being formed of some experienced engineers to be given to the MD Emergency Management Agency for tasking with untrained National Guard troops, in hopes of leavening the units with some experience. Logistics and medical troops are tasked to report to regional airports to receive military aircraft with aid for distribution and to set up field hospitals. However, many troops, like the Air National Guard engineers and the medics are sent without equipment. The former because of an overlooked legal distinction that puts most of the Air National Guard’s equipment under federal control because they are tied to the aircraft they support. The medics simply are suffering from logistics exhaustion from war efforts lasting over a dozen years. What little equipment they have is old and worn out.
The state National Guard command notifies the governor of this and makes a formal request to the National Guard Bureau, located down at Joint Base Andrews, which is operating on a skeleton crew, to have the 203d RED HORSE (Rapid Engineers-Deployable, Heavy Operations Repair Squadron) from Virginia Beach and the 202nd RED HORSE out of Camp Blanding, Florida to shift their hurricane recovery kits north. They are informed that North Carolina and Virginia have them deployed already. Assets will be flown out of New Mexico as soon as the Secretary of the Air Force approves them. Dover Air Force Base begins to receive flights and to stage aid for New York City, hit by Mercedes at tropical storm strength.
Baltimore City reports that more rowhomes have caught fire as a result of the suspected meth lab explosion. They are evacuating everybody for the 5 surrounding blocks and sending them to already overcrowded schools that are serving as shelters. Police and National Guard Military Police are assisting. Midnight closes over the region eerily dark from the lack of power yet with an arrange glow from the city fires in the distance visible for miles around the surrounding counties.
The day begins with midnight as rescuers and utility workers struggle without flagging to contain the situation. Power begins to be restored sporadically. The AM radio stations broadcast what updates that they are able to receive from their colleagues in other news media. As the sun rises, it is reported that a local high school in Baltimore city was the site of a police gun battle with an unknown number of casualties. Rumors of dead gangsters and police surface and soon after rumors of Red Cross volunteers being held hostage emerge, as well. As the news outlets converge upon the schools as they are able, a young assistant producer for one of the local television newscasts that lived in one of the evacuated areas with his roommates comes forward with cellphone footage that he was unable to send due to cell tower outages. The footage, taken without context, is damning and the national media outlets seize upon it like starving dogs upon a single steak. The footage, if watched in its entirety, starts midway through a fight with what appears to be young black youths that has the police in the school intervene. As the three officers attempt to contain the fight of what appears to be two or more distinct groups of gangsters, totaling in numbers of over a dozen gangbangers, a few of the youths turn to the policemen and demand food and that the others be removed from the school. One of the officers tries to reason with them until two of the youths push him into a trophy case in the lobby. This causes the other officers to disengage with the others to back their fellow officer up. One tried to arrest one of the assailants and then the footage is obscured with lots of shouting in the background. As the crowd moves, two of the police are cuffing and repeatedly striking one of the youths while the third is bleeding from the head and covers the crowd with his sidearm. After the boy is cuffed, the second steps away with his weapon drawn and orders the crowd to disperse. Behind him, his injured fellow officer approaches the cuffed assailant and pistol whips him about the head three times. The officer holding the prisoner yells for him to stop. Somewhere in the crowd, three shots are fired rapidly, the source not visible on camera, and the prisoner and the officer holding him fall down with gunshot wounds. In the following chaos the group breaks up and runs away as the third officer shoots down the hall at one or more of them and the injured officer checks on his gunshot fellow policeman. Screams and yells of anger and terror can be heard in the background, amidst the shooting of the third officer and the unseen return fire. Realizing that his partner was struck twice, one in the torso and protected by his body armor and once in the neck, he attempts to stops the arterial bleeding but his partner bleeds out and dies quickly. Screaming “NO!” the footage shows him slump down in defeat for a few seconds as his other partner continues to return fire down the hall. A few seconds later, he sees that the prisoner was only hit in the arm. Rising, he crawls to the prisoner, says something unintelligible and puts his sidearm to boy’s forehead and squeezes the trigger.
The other officer, during a lull, hears the shot and sees his partner on his knees with a smoking weapon and blood all over him. He runs back to him and drags him away, toward a nearby classroom. The footage ends with somebody screaming in the background to let them go and that they do not have a first aid kit.
The calls of the third officer over his radio bring a lone ambulance 20 minutes later, accompanied by a Hum-Vee with National Guardsmen as security. As the five Guardsmen enter the building to secure the entrance for the medics, the third and uninjured policeman summons them and briefs them as the medics attend the head injury of the surviving wounded officer and retrieve the body of the dead officer. News rooms across the region, operating on generator power heard the police call on their scanners and the first two crews arrive simultaneously. One enters near the main entrance and is intercepted by the two Guardsmen posted there. The other slips into a side entrance and finds their way into the gymnasium where they find chaos and panic. They then learn that several Red Cross volunteers were taken hostage in the auditorium by some of the gangbangers while others attempted to hide in the crowd or flee the building. The second crew is accosted by a city official and taken to the officers who learn of the hostages for the first time. The assistant producer hastily records his name and some background and follows the crew out of the gym to await somebody from his organization. He does not have to wait long as the second police call that informs about the hostages is intercepted on scanners. This gives impetus to the news crews as they trickle to the school by any means necessary. He sees a van from his station pull up and he makes his way them with a triumphant look and gives them his phone, realizing that this is his ticket to a promotion.
The crew’s producer immediately uploads the footage as the cameraman films the assistant producer being interviewed by the harried reporter. The national broadcasting parent company picks up the breaking news feed and immediately airs it to the world and the world is left with a Katrina-like impression of violence in Baltimore. As the news spreads, the people of Baltimore and the surrounding region, either by limited news broadcasts or word of mouth, the people, already with nerves frayed to breaking, begin to grumble and complain about the response and the already grimly tense situation takes on racial overtones. In a city, long at odds with violent drug crime, gangs, and police distrust along racial lines, this proves to be the spark that ignites the powder in many locations in the regions, to include DC.
Emergency operations centers throughout the region, from DC to Philadelphia begin receiving sporadic reports of violence against police, citizens, and even businesses as some cases of looting are reported. By noon, the Baltimore City emergency services and surrounding county services are beyond their capacity as rioting breaks out in shelters and neighborhoods with heavy black and Latino populations. The Governor calls up an unprecedented 100% of the remaining national guard and Maryland Defense forces to assist and declares that all traffic into and out of Baltimore City to be cleared through checkpoints and institutes a twilight curfew upon the city. The National Guard and police commanders incredulously ask how they can possibly enforce the governor’s directives in the face of their reduced manning. By 4pm, 4 more police are shot throughout the region, with two dead or dying and 4 National Guardsmen supply troops dead from an ambush as they attempted to get two pick-up trucks of food to a shelter in the city.
National Guard helicopters are enlisted for patrolling the region and delivering supplies. 4 Blackhawk crews are dispatched to BWI airport where exhausted skeleton crews of ramp and baggage handlers attempt to marshal departing civil and commercial flights and to unload military aid flights from bases across the nation. These crews wait in pilot lounges until their aircraft are loaded and they are dispatched on aid deliveries. They are served quick meals by food service workers who have dealt with the stranded passengers and airport employees for the duration of the crisis. Their fatigue is marked by the dark circles under their eyes, their tired motions, and in a small but growing number of cases, a feverish pall as they begin to cough with greater frequency. The flightcrews accept their meals with gratitude and really don’t take much notice of the fatigued and increasingly sick people around them as they try to rest between flights.
Meanwhile, FEMA reps begin arriving to the state emergency operations center and begin conferring with the Governor and his staff and emergency managers late in the afternoon, apologizing for the wait and explaining that they are spread thin between Seattle, and the entire eastern seaboard. They are appalled and dismayed by their briefs on the rapidly deteriorating situation. The governor seems increasingly more emotionally motivated in his decision making and he demands to know what the Federal government is going to do to save the state. The FEMA officials and state government confer for hours, until late into the evening.
During this time, as some of the BWI employees are beginning to get home, they are alarming their families as they get more ill. The daughter of the mother-daughter missionary team collapses on a short walk and begins to vomit before being rushed back to bed where she and mother’s fevers are rising again. The medical staff at the airport responds with alarm and begins to renew their efforts to transport them to a hospital. Finally they get permission for one of the idle Guard crews to fly them to a hospital in Baltimore County.
When the crew delivers them, the attending doctors, exhausted from hours of emergency room treatments move them into an open bay of the ER and begins to evaluate the two of them as they both cough and vomit with high fevers and aching joints. After several hours of no improvement or response, to treatment, the daughter begins to have febrile seizures from the fever and they are rushed into quarantine under the suspicion of possible meningitis. However, a few of the staff begin to worry because of the patients being in the open bay for several hours with dozens of other patients and hospital staff, not to mention emergency responders that have left to return to duty responding to the multiple crises.
After a quick conference concerning the worsening flu-like symptoms of the mother and daughter, and given the background and present regional situation, simultaneous calls go out to state health agencies, the centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, and the state emergency operations center. Upon receiving the news of the sick women, the governor rejects it as trivial in the face of the civil disorder and infrastructural failure he is contending with. Later that evening, the mother will start to seize from her fever too and the staff of the hospital will be helpless to treat them both
The second morning after the storm dawns with more of the outlying county residents getting power back and they awake to survey the wreckage in their freezers and to catch up on internet and news. The morning news reports are grim with reports of more drowning deaths in northeast MD and Southern PA from the Susquehanna flooding. 3 Air National Guardsmen from the RED Horse squadron in Fort Indiantown Gap, PA die when a hasty flood berm gives way and a dozer rolls off the top and ejects the operator and kills two other airmen by pinning them under the machine and tons of dirt.
More rioting in Baltimore claimed the lives of at least 3 residents of Northwest when they were trapped in burning buildings. Several firefighters and police were injured, 2 critically, during the riots and fires. A National Guardsman exchanged fire with some looters in DC but nobody was believed to be injured. More and more footage of fires and gunfights are surfacing on the internet and news, making the situation in Baltimore to look worse than it is. The waters are almost completely receded from most of the mid and lower Chesapeake Bay but the nation is riveted on the Sarajevo-like news stories of Baltimore. Unconfirmed reports of gangsters taking over grocery stores and sniping indiscriminately have the blogosphere ablaze with stories, postulations, and opining.
The governor has a press conference and announces that he has agreed to FEMA suggestions that he request that Posse Commitatus be lifted so that federal military forces can be brought in to “pacify” the criminal elements in Baltimore City and to provide more assistance with the infrastructure repairs. A few minutes later, a press release from the office of the President announces that all armed forces within the states of MD, Delaware, and Virginia, as well as DC are to lend assistance to the states as able and that several divisions are being mobilized to deploy to the worst areas, as well as Seattle to assist the local officials.
Local hospitals, now aware of the mother daughter patients with what is being dubbed the China Flu, begin to notice a small uptick in patients reporting mild flu-like symptoms around the Baltimore region. The CDC receives, after sending out a request for information nationwide, a report from the Kansas health department about a group of patients from the same China missions trip that is experiencing flu-like symptoms with varying degrees.
To compound the worries of all are reports that the previously stalled Hurricane Nathan has reached Cat 3 and has begun to move into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil companies are scrambling to secure their drilling platforms and rigs against storm damage as the Gulf Coast habitually braces for the storm’s impact, expected west of New Orleans. Mexico begins to have coastal flooding and the Coast Guard is busy with rescues of pleasure and commercial boats. An inbound naval tender injured by a mine in the Strait of Hormuz is being towed back to Pascagoula Shipyards for repairs and the crew prepares the damaged ship for bad weather. The cold font being pushed by Nathan into the Midwest, destabilizes the warm humid summer air and thunderstorms and potential tornados are being formed throughout Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
Wall Street, open after being closed for two days due to Hurricane Mercedes, is in turmoil as oil prices rise to over $185 per barrel over fears of Nathan damaging platforms and refineries and Venezuela cranking up its rhetoric and saber rattling. Banks, still weak after decades of mismanagement and the economy, are beginning to worry about local runs in the East, Gulf Coast and Seattle regions and they are contacting the Reserve for cash reserves and contacting their lobbyists for some government assurances. The Reserve responds with quiet influxes of cash reserves to keep the banks liquid and let the Treasury Department know that contingencies for shutting the banks down in case of runs should be on the table. The SEC considers plans to suspend US trading for a few days as the price of commodities rises 100% before noon, on news of further rioting in Baltimore and Nathan’s path.
The price of gasoline in Topeka, Omaha, and Denver reaches over $4.70 a gallon and gasoline in LA reaches $7 in some places. In the storm ravaged areas of the eastern seaboard, gas prices average $5.30 a gallon and the limited number of stations able to operate because of flooding and/or power loss are declining as they run out of fuel to sell. Reports of the Baltimore rioting include the burning tank farm and several gas stations which add to the panic of the region and nation at large.
At 5:27pm, the government announces that the US exchanges will be closed for two days to cool down the economy and that the Federal Reserve has issued zero-interest bridge loans to all the major banking concerns to shore up consumer confidence. The public is urged to remain calm.
The advanced elements of Army divisions arrive in Maryland to interface with the Governor and to implement plans to assist. They tell the government that the main bodies will take almost a week to arrive in force and with equipment with the limited rail system and crumbling road system of the region. They estimate partial aid operations to be underway in 72 hours with understrength units able to patrol the city and assist with traffic control. The governor insists that they pacify the riots ASAP and that he wants to declare the Cities of Baltimore and Annapolis as under military control with several towns, as well. He wants to control the traffic in and out of these identified zones and to make the people remain in their homes until the emergency is resolved. The state government waits with baited breath to see if the military will accept this role. The command cell demurs and runs the questions up his chain of command.