FOL Manta delivers flood relief supplies
By Capt. Ashley Norris, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron
/ Published March 12, 2008
FORWARD OPERATING LOCATION MANTA, Ecuador -- Friday afternoon the Napoleon Billa hospital in Chone, Ecuador, was given $4,000 worth of flood relief supplies to help them recover and resupply from flood waters that had risen up to four feet high. The supplies that were donated were 2,571 gallons of water, 510 intravenous bags, 1,000 rolls of toilet paper and roughly 300 mosquito nets.
All of the supplies were bought at a supermarket and loaded by hand onto 12 aircraft pallets at the FOL. Members from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Military Group (USMILGP) and Forward Operating Location (FOL) Manta drove the supplies 74 miles northeast to Chone and it took the larger trucks four hours to get there. They drove "over roads that had been rain soaked for approximately the last two months; they were full of gigantic pot-holes and in some places the road had even washed out. We pressed ahead at 20-25 miles per hour," said Edward Sanders, Operations and Maintenance Supervisor for ITT Federal Services International Corporation, who was leading the large-truck convoy.
Due to bad road conditions several of the pallets' loads shifted and had to be moved onto another truck halfway through the drive. All except four of the pallets had to be manually unloaded because they were falling off the pallet despite plastic wrap and netting holding the water bottles in place. It took a group of roughly 25 volunteers over two hours to unload the IV bags, toilet paper and 2,571 one-gallon bottles of water into a storage room at the hospital.
January through May is the rainy season and this year Ecuador has been hit by "some of the worst flooding in two decades," said a United Nations press release. On Feb. 20, the government of Ecuador declared a nationwide state of emergency; 14 of their 23 provinces have been hit by the floods. "So far, 19 people are confirmed dead, including five children, and some $82 million worth of crops have been lost."
The Manta Municipality forwarded an officio to the Manta FOL for supplies to help those most affected by the heavy flooding. That list was forwarded up to the USMILGP in Quito, Ecuador who put it into a DeMinimus Project that received funding from the Government Service Organization. "DeMinimus Projects are small projects such as these that are designed to meet emergent needs directed at alleviating human suffering," said Commander Derek Lannuier, Humanitarian Assistance Program Coordinator for the USMILGP in Quito. "This is one of several small projects that the 478th EOS and USMILGP have completed to help serve the people in Manabí Province."
The 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Robert Leonard said, "This is the perfect example of how the FOL is continuously looking for ways to help others in need, and I'm glad that we were able to help the victims of the recent flooding."
FOL Manta is strategically located in Manta, Ecuador in support of Joint Interagency Task Force South's efforts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean to stop transnational narcotics movement. As a result of missions launched from the Manta FOL, already in 2008, 51 metric tons of drugs, valued at over $1.028 billion have been seized and 75 people have been arrested.