Three more planes from Haiti flew into the Charleston International Airport this morning. “Total of 147 passengers. Some of those were military, very few of those were military. But, bringing Americans citizens back into Charleston, and many of those took connecting flights,” says Derec Becker with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
Becker says none of the passengers on all three flights needed hospitalization. Out of the total 147 passengers from the three flights, he say most are earthquake survivors who were living in Haiti.
“There are a lot of people who had lived in Haiti their entire lives, but they were American citizens. A lot of people were going to see family in South Florida, a lot of them were going to New York, but this was a stopping point because they took a military flight,” says Becker.
As for future flights arriving in Charleston, Becker says some things are still up in the air- so to speak.
“It’s important to keep in mind that we are dealing with, or taking advantage of flights of opportunity. We’ve got Air Force missions, relief missions going down to Haiti from Charleston Air Force Base, and once those planes are on the ground in Haiti, it’s determined if that plane is going to be used for another relief mission, it’s going to be flown somewhere else, or if they are actually going to bring passengers back to South Carolina,” says Becker.
Becker explains why the flights are coming into Charleston: “Charleston is the point of repatrioation in South Carolina, but this particular disaster, just a massive earthquake, we have seen a good number of relief missions being flown out of the Charleston Air Force Base. So, once that C-17 lands in Port-Au-Prince, passengers, American citizens are being able to take advantage of a free military flight because it’s already coming to the Charleston Air Force Base,” says Becker.
More flights are expected to fly into Charleston, but Becker says he’s unsure how many to expect.
(Interview with Becker, mp3, 2:12)