UPDATED 2012 SEP 09 WITH VIDEOS OF THE FLOODING! SEE BELOW.
2012 August 30 Thursday
Lakefront Airport, New Orleans, LA
It was fun to watch Hurricane Isaac arrive. After all, we had been assured that all drains were open, the maximum expected surge was 5 ft -- and hey, Katrina had been 25 ft, and this hangar and building were as stout as anything ever built here. Well, this was all true. Problem is, it was irrelevant. The drains backed up. I have no idea what the final surge was. The hangar and building did not fall down. But they sure filled up.
I'm very glad we hunkered down and stayed here at Flightline First. I wasn't about to leave our trusty On Wings Of Care plane ("Bessie") alone in a storm any more than I'd leave my pets or family. But I should have made sure they all left, and then if I wanted to stay here, I should have stayed by myself. Nobody living is in any danger here; we have modest power thanks to a generator, we have a supply of fresh bottled water, and some great pecans left from picking trees at a friend's place in Mississippi a while back. Even the dogs finally agreed to urinate in a tub in the bathroom (they are great dogs!). But Bessie, our trusty airplane. Ohhhhh Bessie dear, I am so sorry.
Yesterday morning, Wednesday August 29, water began spraying into the hangar through the huge east-facing door. Well okay, that happens in any hard rain storm. The floor gets a little slick, and a few puddles form here and there. But by this time, all my hunches were screaming "Why didn't you listen to me yesterday?!!!" So at 5am yesterday, the two of us began moving airplanes about the hangar, to get them out of the low spots and herd as many as we could to higher ground toward the back. It's hard enough on dry ground in open space for just two people to move an airplane around, but on slippery wet painted concrete in very crowded space, with one of us weighing less than 5% of what even the smallest airplane there weighs, it was arduous. Where we could, we used the electric tug. (Today, that tug is four feet under water.) But when it got really close, with wings and elevators and propellers squeezing by within inches of each other, it was up to us to push. And pull. And lean.
The three primary aircraft that we were able to move to higher ground, we moved. And we re-wrapped their landing gear (wheels in the case of Bessie, which has fixed gear, not retractable gear) with heavy-duty Hefty trash bags and duct tape. No sense in having to repack all those bearings if we didn't need to! Our mantra became "Praying to Hefty that the trash bags hold and the water don't rise!" We felt like we had it beat.
Just to be safe, since it looked like rain might be coming again, we took to the inside of the building, where the public and office areas were. Still dry but in clear danger if the hangar water level rose much higher, we moved furniture wherever we could, unplugged and lifted up all electrical equipment, and so on. Ah, so glad we were there to protect this lovely business and building. Still thanking Hefty, and our dogs still thought it was an adventure to go outside in the wind and rain to pee.
Sure enough, by 2pm, water in the hangar had reached about 6 inches and was headed into the public area. Okay, this is not fun anymore. I'm looking at Bessie and thinking, "That nose needs to go up. That exhaust pipe only has six inches below it to water. We can repack the wheel bearings if the Heftys don't hold, but let's not let any water touch the engine!" So we hoisted the nose up on some water bottle cases, removed the gust lock on the control yoke so the elevator would stick up not down, and put the tail of the airplane a mere four inches above water, so that the nose would be a nice safe foot or more above water. Whew, avoided disaster again.
Most of the other planes, except one poor low-riding old Mooney, were in pretty good shape. The twins and a few high-performance single-engine planes were either in high spots or had their engines sitting nice and high. If this was as bad as it was going to get, we had it made.
6pm Wednesday -- I'm not feeling so good about any of this. I had just moved the last of the vehicles up to the highway bridge south of the airport, and on my walk back, I walked through water that came up to my crotch. Whew, had I really forgotten the terrain between the airport and the bridge? Nope, it was flat, as I had thought. Apparently the drains had completely ceased functioning, and I was watching water levels around the entire airport rise before my eyes. I came into the FBO to find Brayton moving the last of everything he could up to counters and heavy table tops. The couches were starting to float, a round coffee table topped with magazines and fresh roses from a customer yesterday was floating in the front foyer! Okay, this is really not so much fun anymore. In fact, let's take the last of the cookies out of the kitchen and plan to remain in the upstairs office area! Dogs -- quit drinking water unless you really need it, cuz the walks have ended!
It was a long long night. Now we feared the water could rise as high as Bessie's baggage door. Hefty was moot -- the bags may have held but their tops were covered in water. Now we would have to rely on 3M's duct tape. We taped Bessie's doors closed as tightly as possible. Twice we raised Bessie's nose, til she was as nose-high as she could go. Her tail was submerged; we figured it was still better to have to re-lubricate all of those control cables than to let the engine feel salt water. And it sounded like the rain was stopping!
By this time, we had been so wet so many times, that we had begun raiding the old uniform closet on the second floor. Thanks to a former employee, we were both sporting Flightline First shirts that said "Phil" on them. And gray uniform shorts that size XL. I could have fit in one of their legs, but I had a belt, so they worked. After each wading session, we were grateful that we still had fresh water to wash off with, up in the second and third floor offices. Because that water in the hangar was gnarly, yukky stuff. Full of oil and grease from the hangar floor I guess, and generally brown and muddy and stinky. I guess we've got all of the dust and dirt and debris and small critters from the airport floating in here now, too. I rescued a spider who was floating on a styrofoam cup. He's living in our office now.
This morning around 6 am was the final disappointment -- wait, let's just say the most recent disappointment. 3M did not succeed. There is one foot of water inside Bessie, covering even the nose-high rudder pedals. Her rear baggage compartment is filled. The headsets and stuff we had put safely on the seats we have now retrieved and carried to safety. Well, we had talked about re-doing her interior when we got her a new paint job.
I am still hoping that the engine might survive. It (the engine) actually is still above the water line, by about an inch. Dare to hope? Heck yes! The sun is coming out and the winds and rain have stopped, and I'm dry and sitting here typing away on a cell phone connection. Hope springs eternal. It's my turn to go wading now, we're going to see if we can break into any of the other planes (at owners' requests) and save some headsets and GPS units. Stay tuned!
UPDATED 2012 SEP 09 -- HERE ARE VIDEOS OF THE FLOODING!
Sorry it took us so long to get them up... we've been frantically trying to save Bessie! Tomorrow we're going to buy her back from the salvage company, and then we're going to work day and night to rebuild her if we can. Stay tuned!
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Here are other photos of Bessie and a few planes and the airport. We have detailed photos for the other plane owners, some of whom seem not too unhappy in view of their insurance. Photos start with yesterday morning, when things still looked tractable. Then a few from windows looking out at the airport; these may not look so bad to those unfamiliar with the local terrain, but the runways are under at least 3 feet of water. The last photos are from today, where you'll see Bessie floating in the Flightline First hangar. *SIGH*
"The Story of Pellie Lou - a Pelican who survived the Gulf of Mexico oil spill"
by Bonny L. Schumaker, Ph.D.
With 46 photos from the Gulf of Mexico.
ALL proceeds go to benefit Gulf wildlife!
Order your autographed hard copies or an electronic copy here!
Read about our rescues under Rescue Tails!
Here are some samples:
A Dog Named Pepper Doesn't Give up Easily on Life!
20130428 - This 15-yr-old deaf, blind, arthritic senior held out in a hot, dry, desert parking lot until love finally found him!
CHAZ - No Ordinary Extraordinary Cur!
20130422 - Left to die but instead, this super-intelligent deep-hearted dog discovered love, family, and even fun -- from the most unlikely mentors!
Turbulent Trails for Tails from TX-20130413
Six rescue dogs from east Texas find forever homes in Nevada and California!
Who was rescued, and who was the rescuer? Anyone who has known this kind of bond has felt something so deep, so real, so ancient, that it cannot be described with words. These bonds ground us and free us from pettiness in our lives. Thank you Sheba. Rest in peace.
A Letter From Your Admirers! 20121231
This was a last-minute challenge that seemed beyond even our own grandest heroic imaginings. But it turned out not to be beyond the devoted hearts and energies of about 30 rescuers, shelter staff, volunteers, and families working together. Forty-three (yes, 43!) dogs in one day, from dead-ends in a Porterville shelter to homes and real lives with real humans who love and want them. Rescuers ROCK!
Orphaned very young, left alone and hungry til her fur fell out and her skin was covered with mange. Thanks to some big-hearted Texas rescuers, not only did she recover, she found the family who wanted to love her forever. How glad we were to be able to give this little pup with the big paws the ride to the rest of her life!
20121205-Blackie Goes Home at Last, and Taylor Turns Texan!
Four long months since Blackie's lifelong human companion and partner Tammy suffered a serious injury from a passing truck and disappeared from his life. Suddenly Blackie was in a shelter kennel, and Tammy fought for her life as she dreamed of her beloved dog. Thanks to many people, both of these souls survived to find each other again! This was a rescue and a reunion we'll never forget.
The same rains that made us work "On WHEELS Of Care" this week kept us grounded for this trip, which serendipitously combined the transport of Skip northward and the joyful and miraculous reunion of Miss T'Chen, who had been rescued and taken to Illinois after Hurricane Isaac, with her family in Baton Rouge!
This flight went almost as planned, and our plane was filled to over-flowing on every leg. And we met some wonderful new cat and dog rescues in Idaho and Oregon!
20 Lucky rescued dogs flown to homes in Canada!
2012 Sep 22
It turned out to a journey full of unexpected challenges, but these 20 lucky lovable canines who had been through the worst of times in California were just the best through it all, and now they are warming the hearts and laps and lives of some very lucky Canadian families!
Spindletop Scandal and the Search for Scarlett
2012 July 17 - present
With pitbull-like tenacity, we wouldn't take "NO" for an answer. Out of 21 dogs we sought, we have closure on all but two. Alas, one of those two is our Scarlett.
Tale of seven cities, six cats, and five goats!
2012 July 16
Who knows if the pleas for help brought the plane, or vice-versa.
But when serendipity puts this much together, there's no saying no!
Homeless Mom and Pups no More!
2012 July 08
Sometimes rescuers find the IDEAL person to adopt that animal in need ...
themselves! And in the process, a hole gets filled for the entire family.
This lucky mom now lives with Bear, Sheba, and Dave!
From Empty Nest to Love Fest!
2012 May 11
That last urgent plea came for the five orphaned pups ...
but what about the two large senior boys who would probably never get adopted?
Some people are just angels, meant to be who they are and where they are.
Check out these two and their new happy pack!
JEREMIAH has come home to us!
UPDATE 2012 July 7!
2012 January 13
His adopter called to say she had become ill, and could we care for Jeremiah? You bet we could. We rented a plane and flew to Arizona and retrieved him immediately. Jeremiah was indeed a true friend, and we aim to be his true friends, too. He has been eating like crazy and slept his stress away for the first few days, and now he's acting like a young dog again. Read more here!
CHAMP found at the airport!
2012 January 01
A sad, scared but dignified young Champ quickly won the hearts of everyone who met him at the New Orleans airport, and within two days we had permission from his original breeders to give him to a young couple with a younger female boxer mix, all of whom fell totally in love with him at first sight! Champ and Miss Princess are leading the good life now, and Champ's new dad finally has the fishing buddy he wanted! They tell us we made their dreams come true. We think they made Champ's come true, too.
Abby & Dinozo -- Two of a Kind!
2011 September--2012 January
Orphaned brother and sister, rescued and adored until calamity struck and they lost their family. Orphaned again, these gentle gems and perfect canine citizens found love and adventure with us until we found them their true forever home! Abby & Dinozo came with us to Washington January 7, and they were welcomed warmly and immediately into a home. Read more here!
Yo! Get a Load of Yolo!
2011 November--2012 January
Left in the cold, high in the mountains of southern California, life was over before it had barely begun for this orphan teenager.
Little did he know, his adventures had only begun! As of January 7, it's back to snow but this time with a family who adores him, and lots of fun and play in the Pacific Northwest!
Saving Scarlett -- Love Forever at Last!
Found on the streets, teats full but puppies absent, a battle-torn very hungry pitbull.
Hardly that sought-after doggie in the window.
But after we brought Miss Scarlett home to love and food, warmth and stuffed animals,
we discovered a warm heart and sweet spirit that changed us forever.
2011 July--September 29, A Joyful Reunion At Last!
Here they are during their flight with four other dogs Sep 29 (New Orleans to Oakland, CA, fuel stop in Roswell, NM).
And here's a photo from the happiest reunion ever!
More photos and updated videos here!
Sheba-Cosette - this lovely lady waited a lifetime!
Jeremiah - a true friend finds a new lease on life!
Two Giant Dogs & three cats reunited with their family on Whidbey Island, WA
Chihuahuas "Betty" & "JellyBean" fly to their rescue in Bremerton, WA!
New Year's Rescue: 33 dogs & cats are flown to rescue in the Pacific Northwest!
Hounds fending for themselves for years in Alabama fly to rescue in Arizona!
Romo & Stanley are flown to safe havens in Arizona!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2013
2013 Apr 12 - Mayflower, AR Pipeline Spill
2013 Apr 02 - Bayou Corne #6
2013 Mar 23 - IMMS Marine Mammals
2013 Mar 19 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#5
2013 Feb 15 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#4
2013 Jan 26 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#3
2012 Dec 24 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#2
2012 Nov 08 - Tar Sands and Texas
2012 Aug 30 - Hurricane Isaac Conquered
2012 Aug 28 - Hurricane Isaac Arrives!
2012 Aug 13 - Sinkhole in Bayou Corne, LA
2012 Jun 13-Dispersant Spraying Exercise off LA
2012 April - Chronicles of the Endeavor
2012 Dec 10 - How Dilute is Dilute Enough?
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2012
Sat Nov 17 - Platform Explosion
Wed Nov 14 - Barrier Islands 1
Sat Nov 10 - OIL
Fri Nov 09 - OIL
Sat Oct 06 - Whale Sharks
Fri Oct 05 - OIL
Fri Sep 14 - OIL
Sun Sep 09 - Hurricane Isaac
Sun Aug 12 - Whale Sharks
Wed Jul 11 - Whales & More
Fri Jun 29 - Whale Sharks & More
Dominica - The Nature Island!
On Wings Of Care flies to the Eastern Caribbean for whales and sea turtles!
Read more here!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2011
Sperm Whales & Whale Sharks:
Cape Cod, MA
Our Gift for YOU for 2011!
Click Here to Smile
from your heart, out!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf, 2010
Galapagos Veterinary Support
Galapagos vets do much with little,
thanks to true friends who shipped a TON of supplies and meds from the U.S. in June, 2011.
“Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”