In Feb. 2009 and Feb. 2010 I embarked from McMurdo Station, Antarctica to Christchurch, New Zealand where the USAP transporation portal is, for example, that's where our C-17s fly out of to McMurdo Station and that's where we get our Extreme Cold Weather clothing. When I heard about the February 22 earthquake I felt deep concern for my Ice friends and co-workers because that time of year many USAP folks are in transition to-and-from Antarctica via the Christchurch USAP portal. The summer season is comming to an end and the winter season is just beginning... those who are in migration in the Christchuch area I wish you best of luck in your travels. The following comes from the www.usap.gov website:
Posted February 24, 2011 3:26 PM MST
"Nearly 95 percent of U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) personnel believed to be in New Zealand during the time of the Christchurch earthquake have been accounted for as of 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on February 24. USAP officials in Christchurch and the United States continue to work to track down the remaining personnel.
USAP participants who have taken shelter at the USAP facilities near the Christchurch International Airport are in the process of being transferred to Auckland with the help of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). We anticipate all remaining personnel at the USAP facility will be evacuated from Christchurch by Friday night (local time).
A U.S. Air Force C-17 is scheduled to make two flights over the weekend to transport about 200 summer personnel away from McMurdo Station, weather permitting. A storm in Antarctica had delayed flights, and McMurdo personnel are busy clearing snow from the roads and airfield. Passengers from McMurdo will first be flown to Christchurch, and then transferred to a RNZAF flight to Auckland."
Here is a synopsis of the earthquake situation and it's impact on USAP operations:
"At approximately 1 p.m. New Zealand time on Tuesday, February 22, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the city of Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island. Christchurch serves as the deployment hub for personnel of the U.S. Antarctic Program, which is managed by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
NSF expresses its deepest sympathy to the people of Christchurch who have been affected by this latest tragedy, especially coming as it does just months after the severe earthquake last fall.
Personnel travelling between New Zealand and Antarctica come through the Christchurch airport aboard U.S. military and New York Air National Guard aircraft. NSF also maintains offices and other facilities — including a warehouse and distribution center for field gear and passenger terminal for Antarctic flights — in the International Antarctic Centre adjacent to, but separate from, the airport.
NSF is deeply concerned about the welfare of those people affiliated with Antarctic Program who, as yet, have not been accounted for and remains hopeful that they will be discovered to be safe and sound.
Finally, NSF also recognizes that this is a rapidly changing situation and that information may continue to be updated over the next several days. More information will be posted at this site as the situation develops."
If you are part of the USAP program or a relative of a member and in need of assistance call: 720.568.2346