Captains log 201701.15

It's been a while since I last logged an entry. For the most part we've just been settling in, cleaning up and fixing things. The head was starting to smell foul so I investigated that and found that the prefilter for the water intake did it's job but could no longer cope. I cracked it open and almost hurled. Yep, found the source of the smell. A good flush and a soak in bleach cleaned it up well. It's a washable fine pore filter so washing it is not harmful and it means less spares we carry on board. The head no longer smells so everyone is happy about that.

New Years was a non affair. We all hoped to stay up and watch the fire works but we all crashed about 9pm. How awesome are we? I heard the fireworks go off but was too tired to go out to look. It's quite amazing how exhaustion and the need to sleep reduces your care factor to near zero.

Once we got settled in it was time to get the car, which involved booking a marina so the girls wouldn't be on the hook while I was gone (nor would I need to swim to the boat when I got back), get a cab to the airport, fly to Virginia, meet up with Steve who would drive me to Colonial Beach where the car was. After that a trip to storage as we had stuff in the car that needed to be put away and the long drive back. That was the plan. The plan failed when we picked a nice weekend for me to fly up based on the weather in Virginia. Needless to say, the "fore"cast was a failure. Initially it was meant to be fine weather. We booked the flight and as the day approached the "fore"cast changed to snow storms and very cold conditions. That turned out to be the least of our problems.

I was in the Fort Lauderdale Airport on Friday Jan 6th in terminal 3 from about 12:30 pm onwards. In case that doesn't sound familiar, that was the day and the time that some looney called Esteban Santiago came in on another flight and took his hand gun and ammunition out of his checked luggage and started shooting people. I can't comment for other people but I can describe things from my perspective.

I was in Terminal 3 E5 sitting down near the hallway accessing a power outlet and getting online with my laptop to let the wife know I was at the airport. A woman walked up to me and asked if I had the Internet and about the shooting in the baggage claim area. I looked it up and saw that the incident was over. The guy was apprehended. I let her know that. About 20-30 minutes after that an announcement came across the intercom that an incident in terminal 2 has happened and all services were suspended. No one really knew what that meant. About 5 minutes after that all hell broke loose. People running down the hallway screaming. It looked like a zombie apocalypse. Someone yelled out active shooter but no one really knew what the hell was going on other than the general air of hide as danger was imminent. I ducked behind the service counter and after a few seconds looked up at the guy who was running telling people to hide and asked what the hell was going on. He said he didn't know. At that point I got up and walked to the hallway to see if I could figure anything else out.

Still people running and screaming and then it appeared they let out passengers from an aircraft and they too were now running. Shortly afterwards I saw two members of the TSA running towards us arms waving and yelling at people to run and hide. They then ushered everyone outside onto the tarmac where we stayed for hours. We didn't see any armed police on the tarmac for hours then they came out with hands on their weapons armed with handguns and military style assault weapons. Fingers on the near the trigger on the ready. Not sure why as we'd been out there for a couple of hours without incident. If someone wanted to do a massacre they would have done it in the hours prior any police coming out onto the tarmac where all the unarmed passengers were herded.

They finally got us into the airport but communication from the top down was sorely lacking. We were directed to go left by some, right by others and when people went the way they said the other person would scream wrong way. One person telling us to go out, the people at the outside telling us to go in and the poor woman who looked like a highly trained FBI agent stuck in the middle had no clue what the hell to do anymore. Eventually she just said do what ever you want and things calmed down.

We waited outside for hours before they announced that anyone with cars can now leave. That made little impact in the number of people left. Then later they announced that they will be bringing buses for the rest of us. No idea where these buses were going to take us however. Eventually the buses came but they started loading people at the entrance instead of the exit. Imagine a train stopping at the start loading one cabin at a time and slowly moving forward. That's what it was like. Much like the train example, they should have got the first bus all the way to the exit of the loop so the rest of the buses could fit behind it and not cause a traffic nightmare of empty buses and full buses trying to cris cross past each other. When I finally boarded it took over an hour to go two miles to Port Everglades and we couldn't make it all the way there due to traffic. They were forced to let us out onto the street. Thankfully the traffic was stationary. I tried to get directions but the one police member there was highly busy directing traffic to be interested in all these people wanting to know where they were and which way to go. I'm to this day still not sure how he thought he could direct bumper to bumper stationary traffic and why it was so urgent but that's how it panned out. Finally we worked out where we were. For me that meant a 4 mile walk back to the Marina in sandals. We'd try again in the morning to get another flight. We got that but that becomes another story for the next log.

Summing up, it appears the USA 15 years after 911 has got their priorities mixed up based on this one incident. The response to an attack seems to be all about the firefight. There were hundreds of armed troops there. I'm pretty sure they called in everyone on or off duty. There were many departments there. All armed. All ready for a serious gun fight dressed in many cases like military even though many were just police or from the Sheriffs office. Now I can't fault the men and women on the front line. They got their asses in and were ready for anything gun fight wise and that is what they are trained for. My concern is that those up top seemed to have missed the human logistics of such an incident. Thousands of civilians with no advance preparation on dealing with them. That part was a major failure. Crowd control is a very real and serious aspect to these kind of situations. There appears to have been little if any effort done to prepare the ground troops for that aspect and that rests completely on those in charge. If crowd control is not planned for, it is a disaster waiting to happen and no one wants that. It's not just about the gun fight.