Exclusive : Pilot Provides Eyewitness Account of Samar Relief Operations Today

Former US Foreign Service Officer Curt Perry, who is now retired and living in the Philippines where he pilots a vintage 1958 AC 500, flew down from Subic, Zambales to Guiuan, Eastern Samar today on a multi-purpose mission, a by-product of which is that he got good first-hand impressions of the situation on the Guiuan Peninsula, where Typhoon Haiyan first made landfall and where the destruction is extreme.    Perry writes of what he saw:

I couldn’t bring myself to pull out a camera and take pictures. There are reporters and lots of cameras so it’s all being recorded. Between the airport a Guiuan and the small barrio of Layag there are still bodies on the road. The US military is there in force. The carrier is just outside the gulf, the escorts steaming inside. The US helicopters come in, drop off people, load supplies and fly out to remote towns and barrios to drop supplies and bring in more people.  Tacloban’s airport radio is a mess; can hardly be heard from 20 miles away, but the small group of US airforce operating out of a tent at Guiuan are clear 60 miles out. A couple of flights came in with political VIPs    I almost didn’t get in the second trip, 4 V-22s where on the runway and one had some issues so I had to circle for 30 min while the situation cleared and then land over the top of one using the remaining runway. The US  response is truly becoming robust — it’s the most effective and organised response going — by miles!

I hauled three people out to Cebu, where I went to pick up a NY Times reporter and a camera guy who’d come in for the story.  Then I brought three members of a Japanese expat’s family back up to Subic Bay. We dropped off a Gen set and fuel, food water and medical supplies. I was glad to help out my friend and his family, but honestly almost felt I was in the way. What I could do in the time it took them to land me and the space I took up one of the US Navy’s V-22s or heavy  helicopters could do time 20. But there are supplies on the ground in Guiuan, and  helicopters are starting to move them out to the hinterlands.  I can’t say precisely where they are going – but they aren’t sitting on the ground at the airport and piling up.

Some more photos:

Curt Perry

Guiuan From the Air

Curt and Walter Perry

Thanks to Curt for the update.

Note: To other readers — I am always looking for spot reports on conditions in specific towns, highways, etc.   If you have something, please send it in via email to michaeldsellers@gmail.com or just use the comment function at the bottom of any post — it all goes to the same place and I’ll get it.

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