Hurricane Sandy: Romney Campaign Continues Focus on Relief Effort

GOP presidential candidate, former MA Governor Mitt Romney takes bags of food as they are donated for victims of Hurricane Sandy at an event held today at James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, OH. Oct 30, 2012
(Photo – Charles Dharapak/ AP)

While weather effects of super storm Hurricane Sandy are not yet over and rescue efforts are underway, the Romney/Ryan storm relief effort continues. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Ann Romney have not stopped! Governor Romney was in Kettering, Ohio this morning and will be in Tampa, Florida this evening. Today, Paul Ryan will speak at a stop at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in Minnesota. He’ll then journey to his home state, Wisconsin for additional events. Ann Romney is in Wisconsin and will be in Iowa later today. All three will thank diligent volunteers who are collecting/delivering items for storm relief from Romney Victory Centers.

Governor Romney today in Ohio:

We have heavy hearts as you know with all the suffering going on in a major part of our country — a lot of people hurting this morning. We’re looking for all the help we can get for all the families that need.” – Mitt Romney

Congressman Paul Ryan today in Wisconsin will also be joined by former Wi Gov. Tommy Thompson in stops at La Crosse and Hudson. Thompson is in a tight U.S. Senate seat race against U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin. (When additional information about Ryan’s events in Minnesota and Wisconsin are available, it will be updated here.)


Republican VP candidate Congressman Paul Ryan thanks volunteers and supporters at at a campaign office in Hudson, WI, where volunteers were collecting storm relief supplies. Oct 30, 2012 (Photo – Mary Altaffer/AP)

Paul Ryan and Tommy Thompson visit Hudson

Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of men, women, children and students waited for over an hour so see Paul Ryan, vice presidential candidate. Tommy Thompson, the former governor and now Republican candidate for U.S. Senator arrived at the Hudson Victory Center shortly before Ryan.

An effort at Republican Victory Centers throughout Wisconsin to collect food, dog food and other essential supplies for victims of Hurricane Sandy took place in Hudson Tuesday.

Hundreds of people arrived bringing their donations and the hope to see vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

The donations will be going to an organization called Nourish America. They will shipped to Pennsylvannia for distribution to areas of the East Coast hardest hit. Ryan also called for donations to be made to the Red Cross. …

Ann Romney today in Wisconsin:

Whenever there’s a crisis in this country, what do we all do? We put aside party, we come together, we put our arms together and we solve the problems.” – Ann Romney


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife encouraged people to donate to the Red Cross at a Green Bay area campaign office.

Ann Romney told a packed room of volunteers and other supporters that this is a time for Americans to unite for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

She also urged people to pray for the storm victims.

Wisconsin first lady Tonette Walker introduced her after urging the crowd to give blood.

Follow Jayde Wyatt on Twitter @YayforSummer

Hurricane Sandy: Romney Campaign Bus in VA Will Deliver Supplies

Mitt Romney’s campaign bus in Arlington, VA will be used to deliver supplies to those affected in the area by Hurricane Sandy. Oct 28, 2012 (Photographer unknown)

Due to the impending threat from Hurricane Sandy, Governor Mitt Romney cancelled campaign events over the weekend scheduled to take place in Virginia and New Hampshire. He joined Congressman Paul Ryan on the campaign trail in swing-state Ohio. (For today’s events, click on our Mitt Calendar.) The Romney campaign is calling for emergency supply donations to be brought to his Victory offices in Virginia. Romney’s bus will used to deliver supplies to those affected by the hurricane in that area.

Tweets tell the story! (Included are messages from Emily Friedman, ABC producer/digital reporter covering Governor Romney’s campaign, Rachel Streitfeld, CNN political producer, also covering the campaign, and Mitt and Ann Romney):

Late last night, Romney also sent out the following email:

Tonight, Ann and I are keeping the people in Hurricane Sandy’s path in our thoughts and prayers.

I hope that if you can, you’ll reach out to your neighbors who may need help getting ready for the storm — especially your elderly neighbors. And if you can give of your resources or time, please consider supporting your local Red Cross organization — visit to get involved.

For safety’s sake, as you and your family prepare for the storm, please be sure to bring any yard signs inside. In high winds they can be dangerous, and cause damage to homes and property.

I’m never prouder of America than when I see how we pull together in a crisis. There’s nothing that we can’t handle when we stand together.

Stay safe and God Bless,

Mitt Romney

UPDATE: Governor Romney has cancelled all campaign events for the remainder of today and tomorrow.

Thanks, Team Romney, for your leadership and taking action to help!

MRC is keeping those in the storm’s path in our thoughts and prayers.

Follow Jayde Wyatt on Twitter @YayforSummer

Mitt Romney: Remembering National POW-MIA Recognition Day

Until they are home

The Pow-MIA flag features a white circle bearing a soldier’s silhouette, a watch tower with a guard on patrol, and a strand of barbed wire. White letters ‘POW’ and ‘MIA’, with a white five-pointed star in between, are placed above the circle. A black and white wreath displays the motto “You Are Not Forgotten”.

The POW-MIA flag is flown on the third Friday in September as well as Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.

Far too many forget today is the United States’ National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Observed across the nation on the third Friday of September each year, Americans take this time to remember our prisoners of war (POW) and recognize those who are still missing in action (MIA).

Mitt Romney today paid his respects to America’s prisoners of war and missing in action. Following is his statement on National POW/MIA Recognition Day:

“As we mark National POW/MIA Recognition Day, I am mindful that when America goes to war, we run the risk of losing our servicemen and women to enemy capture. I’m proud to call John McCain, who endured captivity in Vietnam, a friend. He exemplifies those Americans who deserve all honor and respect for enduring hardship and for making sacrifices that we cannot readily imagine. My heart goes out to the families of those who remain missing, often for decades. They deserve to be remembered. And the best way to show our remembrance is by never ceasing in our quest to find them.”

Read about Senator McCain’s horrific ordeal as a Vietnam POW here and here.

More than 83,000 Americans are still missing from past conflicts. National POW/MIA observances will be held across the country today on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, and veterans’ facilities.

Mitt Romney Central joins Governor Romney in remembering and honoring these heroes and their families.

In the days after the Republican National Convention, we’ve heard liberal politicians and Obama’s media doing their best to portray Mitt Romney as somehow unpatriotic or anti-military because he didn’t specifically mention the military in his convention speech. What they sneakily fail to mention is that Governor Romney took the time out of his convention preparations – the day before he was to deliver his acceptance speech for the GOP nomination – to fly to Indianapolis, Indiana to meet and speak to over 10,000 Legionnaires about the challenges facing veterans. He spoke at their 94th American Legion National Convention.

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Storm Damage: Pretty-words-Obama vs Make-it-happen-Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney listens to the concerns of a man affected by Hurricane Isaac in the damaged neighborhood of Lafitte, Louisiana on Friday, Augusts 31, 2012. (Photo – Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As the Democratic National Convention gets underway and Americans will be fed non-stop “OBAMA CARES” rhetoric, I just had to underscore one of the many differences between the two men running for the United States presidency. Here’s my point about sanctimonious Obama and get-it-done Mitt Romney:

Obama doesn’t care; finally tours storm damage
By Dan Spencer
September 3, 2012

President Obama finally arrived in Louisiana to inspect the damage done by Hurricane Isaac six days after the storm made landfall and three days after Mitt Romney inspected hurricane damage with Governor Bobby Jindal.

Romney got there three days earlier because he cared enough to skip a campaign rally in Virginia in order to inspect the damage done by Isaac. If Romney had not made the extra effort to visit Louisiana, does anyone seriously think Obama would have bothered to show up at all?

Obama couldn’t be bothered; making political hay was priority last week while the GOP National Convention was taking place. While storm Isaac raged, he glided into Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia to hold rallies:

Obama was too busy flying all over the country fundraising and campaigning to visit the storm damage. At least he was until Romney made his inspection trip. I know the White House claims Obama made the decision to visit Louisiana before Mitt Romney’s announcement that he would be going to the state Friday to see damage from Hurricane Isaac. Frankly I just don’t believe it. Do you? After all Obama announced that he would tour Hurricane Isaac damage in Louisiana only after Romney did.

Spencer points out this is Obama’s M.O.; he’s done this before:

Iowa city councilman: Obama has fundraised over touring flood damage before

President Barack Obama ignored a request to tour flood damage in Sioux City, Iowa, last summer, City Councilman Keith Radig said in a radio appearance. Obama chose not to visit the area the Missouri River flooded last summer, Radig added, and is only going to speak at the city’s Morningside College at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday because he’s in desperate need of votes against Mitt Romney ahead of November’s election.

You could kind of describe Obama as a fair weathered friend — he’s one that’s only there when he needs something from you,” Radig said. “But when we needed his leadership, he was nowhere to be found. In the Midwest we are hardworking and determined. We are tired of struggling due to the Obama policies.”

Radig added that when five congressmen wrote to Obama last summer asking him for help and to visit the damaged area, he declined, instead campaigning on other side of Iowa.

Out of deference to the potential struggles facing many in Isaac’s path and concern over safety, the Republican National Committee and Romney campaign scrapped the entire first day of their convention. On subsequent days, moments of silence and prayers were offered for those in harm’s way. While huge images of Red Cross contact information appeared on the many large onstage screens, speakers repeatedly urged Americans to aid Isaac victims by donating to the Red Cross.

Another event took place which seemed to be beneath the attention of the mainstream media:

Monday in Tampa: Utah delegates at GOP convention work on hygiene kits ahead of Tropical Storm Isaac
By Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News
Monday, Aug. 27 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — With the first day of the four-day Republican National Convention cut short by Tropical Storm Isaac, the Utah delegation quickly assembled 1,000 hygiene kits that will be distributed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, possibly to storm victims.

“Our goal here is to leave Tampa better than we found it,” Wright said.

Utah House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Ogden, said the state has a reputation for showing compassion. “It’s important to give back,” Dee said. “We have so many blessings that come into our lives.”

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, thanked the participants for their work.

It reflects well of our state and of our party,” Lee said. “It’s good to be a Republican. Most importantly, it’s good to be getting a new president of the United States.”

Hats off to the Utah delegation and others who helped.

Remember how Obama drug his golf shoe toes on visiting the Gulf when the BP oil spill occurred?

And, when Obama says “I am my brother’s keeper” he just doesn’t mean his real brother.

As coverage of the Democratic convention begins today, remember: Pretty-words-Obama can’t begin to measure up to make-it-happen Mitt Romney.

Follow Jayde Wyatt on Twitter @YayforSummer

Romney Encourages Red Cross Donations to Help Tornado Victims

Aerial photo of the aftermath of a destructive tornado that swept through Marysville, Indiana yesterday, March 2, 2012. (Click on image to enlarge.) Photo AP/Al Behrman

It’s quite a day…

While we’re thinking about the caucuses in Washington State today and the Huckabee Presidential Forum for GOP candidates tonight, our aching hearts are with our suffering fellow Americans. So many lives have been devastated by the mass of violent tornadoes and storms that slammed the Midwest and south these past few days.

The images on the news, videos, and first-hand accounts of survivors are chilling.

Excellent advice from Governor Romney:

My heart goes out to the tornado victims. Please give what you can to the @RedCross.

Did you hear the story of the baby girl found alone in the cornfield 10 miles away from her home?

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A baby girl found alone in a field in Indiana after Friday’s massive, tornado-spawning storms is being treated in a Kentucky hospital.

A spokeswoman for the hospital in Salem, Ind., where the girl was first taken said Saturday that authorities were still trying to figure out how she ended up in the field alone. St. Vincent Salem Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Richardson says the child’s family is from New Pekin, Ind., about 10 miles south of where the child was found.

Richardson says the girl is in critical condition at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky. She says she can’t release the name of the girl or her family. …

20 month-old Angel Babcock, Indiana tornado survivor, March 2, 2012

UPDATE March 4, 2012:

20 month-old Angel Babcock was found alive, lying in a field surrounded by the bodies of her family following a deadly tornado in Indiana on Friday. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed child was found by rescuers forty miles west of Chelsea, in New Pekin, Indiana, and was taken to hospital where she is in critical condition. Angel’s older brother, Jayden, two, was found dead under a pile of rubble while the body of her baby sister, Kendall was found still strapped to her car seat. The body of her mother Moriah Brough, 21, was found by rescuers lying under a tree while father Joseph Babcock, 20, was discovered lying a few streets away.

Such a tragic story; reports are that little Angel has extended family who are with her in the hospital. May she have a full recovery and lots of love going forward.

UPDATE 2 – Afternoon of March 4, 2012: I’m sorry to report that little Angel has died of massive head trauma. In the midst of sorrow, there is comfort in believing that her family greeted their little darling with open arms. May the Babcock family rest in peace. And, may God bless their loved ones who must carry on without them.

There are no words…

Dazed Bill Lloyd carries his nine month old baby Mason down U.S. highway 52 near Moscow, Ohio. His home was completely demolished by a tornado on Friday, March 2, 2012. (Photo AP/The Enquirer/Gary Landers)

Although there have been varying reports, the latest count on the death toll is at 38. It’s expected to rise.

We at MRC offer our thoughts and prayers for all affected by this great disaster.

Donations may be given to the Red Cross here.

► Jayde Wyatt

St. Patrick’s Day at Mitt Romney Central: Ireland’s PM Visits USA, ‘Get Your Green On’ Dedicated to Japan

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

On the political front, Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny is in D.C. today to participate in the annual ceremony of Irish-American solidarity with President Obama. Obama will host a reception for the Prime Minister this afternoon. He also chose today to announce that he will has added Ireland to his travel itinerary in May.

Newly-elected Prime Minister Kennedy (who is politically center-right) is grappling with an inherited financial situation like our own – overwhelming national debt. He’s here to reassure the powers-that-be on Capitol Hill that, although Ireland is teetering near bankruptcy – and under EU pressure to raise business taxes (which would affect American enterprises on the Emerald Isle) that Ireland is still a good place for American businesses. (I’m glad PM Kennedy is here, but I think he’s talking to the wrong guy about his position of not raising taxes.)

Time to get our green on!

The Chicago River is sporting an emerald hue today and the White House Fountain has gone green. In the process, a White House worker waded through the fountain adding dye and slipped. Oops! It ain’t easy bein’ green

In light of ongoing events in Japan For the stoic resiliency of the Japanese people, for the deceased, for the survivors, for all involved in humanitarian efforts – including the U.S. military, the rescuers, and especially to those heroes battling at the nuclear power plants, I’ve included this Celtic traditional hymn which symbolizes how many feel when great adversity strikes. It’s a message of exercising faith when faced with uncertainty (insert whatever belief you may have) and reflects the challenges faced by the Irish – a courageous island nation and applies to another resilient island nation – Japan. Here’s Celtic Thunder singing Heartland. It’s dedicated to Japan:

When the winds are howling, vigil keep.
Shelter us and save us from the deep!

Chorus (sung in Gaelic):
A thiarna dean tracaire (Translation: Lord have Mercy)
A chriost dean trocaire (Translation: Christ have Mercy)

Here’s another inspirational do-or-die Irish anthem that portrays the attitude we’re seeing coming from Japan – Ireland’s Call. The song also reflects our feelings about Governor Romney. (If, when you click on the video it says it’s disabled; click on ‘Watch on YouTube’.) As you listen, substitute the word Romney for Ireland because, when all is said and done, the world is better off when there is a strong America. Governor Romney will return strength to America – and he won’t apologize for it. And, that’s no blarney.

“Hearts of steel and heads unbowing, vowing never to be broken… We will fight until we can fight no more, ’til our final requiem is spoken.”

UPDATE: Here’s a documentary podcast revealing memories of a few of New York’s older Irish citizens upon first arriving in America (first aired yesterday): To Love Two Countries

Rebel Ross suggests watching this video illustrating the history of U.S. economic growth and debt – ‘St. Paddy’s Day style’.

A real St. Paddy's day fan!

Videos of St. Patrick’s Day parades can be found here.

► Jayde Wyatt

While Obama Pursues the Trivial, Mitt Romney’s Favorable Numbers Reflect his Work Ethic

Mitt Romney’s actions speak loudly.

Rather than spend the bulk of his time talk, talk, talking, he focuses on results. He is a worker and his record proves it. And, his hard work hasn’t gone without notice.

Those once skeptical about his conservative bonafides are far less skeptical:

Mitt Romney, conservative darling?

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has spent the better part of the last five years working to convince conservatives that he is one of them. And, if the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll is right, he’s done it.

Sixty percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents view the potential GOP presidential candidate favorably, while just 21 percent see him in an unfavorable light.

That’s an improvement from where he stood in early January 2008 – in the heart of the GOP primary fight – when 55 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents viewed him favorably and 36 percent felt unfavorably toward him. And back in November 2007, Romney’s favorable score stood at 42 percent while 28 percent felt unfavorably toward him in Post/ABC data.

Perhaps more important for Romney as he gears up for a second presidential bid in 2012 are his numbers among the most conservative segments in the GOP. Sixty-eight percent of self-identified conservatives view Romney favorably; his numbers are even higher among the portion of that group who identify themselves as “very” conservative – with 71 percent seeing the former governor in a favorable light.

During the 2008 campaign, Romney struggled to convince Republicans and, in particular, conservatives that he was a genuine conservative despite some moderate-to-liberal stances he had taken on some social issues during the 1990s.

These numbers suggest that Romney may not have that problem in 2012, perhaps having (finally) won those skeptical conservatives over.[…]

(my emphasis)

While Romney is being noticed for his work ethic, Obama is being noticed for his trivial pursuits while world crises continue and the U.S. government limps along with a cat-and-mouse budget – like golf, choosing NCAA picks, attending a Chicago Bulls basketball game, and partying at the chi-chi D.C. Gridiron Dinner:

The Middle East is afire with rebellion, Japan is imploding from an earthquake, and the battle of the budget is on in the United States, but none of this seems to be deterring President Obama from a heavy schedule of childish distractions.
This morning, as Japan’s nuclear crisis enters a potentially catastrophic phase, we are told that Obama is videotaping his NCAA tournament picks and that we’ll be able to tune into ESPN Wednesday to find out who he likes.

Saturday, he made his 61st outing to the golf course as president, and got back to the White House with just enough time for a quick shower before heading out to party with Washington’s elite journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner.

Read it all here.

Update – All White House events today are ‘closed‘ press. Uh… wait – except for one – an event where he’ll accept an award for being open to the press.

Obama’s plans for this weekend? He and the family are headed to RIO!

► Jayde Wyatt

Earthquake & Tsunami Devastate Japan, Mitt Romney Responds

Tragedy Strikes Japan!

Homes burn in Natori City after 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami slams Japan. March 11, 2011

An unspeakable disaster in Japan has led to enormous suffering. Ann and I have the people there in our thoughts and prayers. ~Mitt Romney

As you know by now, a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck Japan today. 8,000 times stronger than the quake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand last month, it is the 5th largest earthquake recorded in the world since 1900. Hardest hit was the northern coastal city of Sendai, Japan. Reports of devastation and deaths in the hundreds have been reported. 300 bodies have been found on the shore in Sendai and 500 are reported missing. A ferry boat with passengers and a train loaded with passengers are also missing. Obviously, the death toll is expected to rise as the situation remains very fluid.

A worker surveys damage on a section of the Joban Motorway near Mito, Japan. March 11, 2011

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has formally requested help from the United States. President Obama assured him of our assistance and stated that initial aid will most likely be in the form of clean-up.

8.9 earthquake wreaks havoc in Sendai, Japan. Fri, March 11, 2011

Tsunami hits northern Japan (Early reporting from the commentator states that the earthquake was an 8.4 on the Richter Scale.):

“The energy radiated by this quake is nearly equal to one month’s worth of energy consumption in the United States,” U.S. Geological Survey Scientist Brian Atwater

MRC extends sincere condolences to all adversely affected by the quake and especially to those in Japan who lost loved ones today.

UPDATE – The Kyodo News agency is reporting that more than 1000 people have probably died in the massive quake and tsunami disaster that devastated large parts of northern Japan’s Pacific coast today.

UPDATE 2 – 12:18 PM PST: Eyewitnesses are reporting that a dam has burst in northern Sendai; consequently, neighborhoods have been washed away. As far as U.S. aid, the United States already has one aircraft carrier stationed in Japan – USS George Washington, which is based at Yokosuka. (So far, none of our 38,000 troops stationed in Japan have been injured, thank goodness.) Seven other ships are now making their way to Japan – stopping at ports along the way to pick up needed supplies. Among them is super carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which was enroute to South Korea for exercises, and has now been redirected to Japan. The USS Ronald Reagan has air cargo lift capacity and full medical facilities on board.

UPDATE 3 12:01 AM PST (3/12/1): BREAKING NEWS regarding a nuclear facility in Japan that had lost its capacity to cool its reactor: Nuclear Plant Meltdown Fears

An explosion has reportedly been heard and plumes of white smoke seen at an earthquake-hit nuclear plant in Japan – amid fears of a possible meltdown. The report from a Japanese news agency comes after emergencies were declared at two nuclear power stations in Fukushima, 150 miles (240km) north of capital Tokyo, due to cooling problems. Several workers have reportedly been injured.

Radioactive steam has been released to reduce rising pressure in the plants and the Japanese prime minister has ordered thousands of people living within six miles to leave the area.

Reports are that the walls and roof of a facility at Fukushima Plant #1 have been destroyed. It is unclear at this time if this structure was a containment building for the reactor. Fears that a nuclear meltdown has occurred are growing. A second nuclear facility is being closely watched.

UPDATE 4 1:43 AM PST (3/12/11): The Japanese government has confirmed that a radiation leak has occurred at Fukushima Plant #1. Anyone within 12 miles of the site is being evacuated.

50,000 Japanese troops are participating in rescue operations.

Elderly man is carried to safety by Self-Defense Force soldier in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan. March 12, 2011

Three trains loaded with passengers are now reported missing. (Japanese railways are more often constructed on flat lands which happen to be on the coast – sea level – rather than through the mountains.) Offers to help with search and rescue efforts have been extended by 50 countries.

UPDATE 5 10:38 AM PST (3/12/11): RED ALERTS have been issued for three of the four reactors at Fukushima. Specialist teams working around the clock to avert nuclear meltdown; sea water is being poured on reactors to aid in cooling. Aftershocks in the area are disrupting work. Three workers at the plant stricken with radiation sickness; 190 local residents have also been affected. Officials distributing iodine tablets to residents to help with symptoms. Instructive animation being aired on TV to inform residents of what to do in the event they are exposed to radiation.

*Note -30% of Japan’s electricity is produced by 55 nuclear power units in 17 plants. The earthquake has caused 11 units to be shut down. Japan has asked oil-rich Russia to help as the need for fossil fuels increases. (With more oil going to Japan, predictions are that gasoline prices will increase.)

9500 people are reported missing in a small fishing and tourist town – Minamisanriku, in Miyagi Prefecture (northern Japan). (Prefecture means the same as ‘state’ in the United States but on a smaller scale.)

International response to the disaster is bolstering spirits; So. Korean dog teams now in the area. Social networking, i.e. Facebook, Google Person Finder, and Twitter playing a vital role in locating loved ones.

Food and fuel shortages are a growing concern; reports of hoarding.

Preliminary estimates for rebuilding – $15 billion.

Re U.S. aid – Super carrier USS Ronald Reagan should arrive today in Japan. U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa are preparing to arrive in mainland Japan and will bring supplies – food, cots, etc.
Stars and Stripes report (3/11/12):

The USS Tortuga embarked landing craft units and departed Sasebo Friday evening, he added. The ship is headed toward Pohang, South Korea, where it will pick up MH-53 heavy lift helicopters.

“We have directed most helicopter capable ships to be ready to sail within 24 hours,” Davis said.

The flagship USS Blue Ridge, which arrived in Singapore this morning, is loading a disaster relief kit and preparing to depart for Japan on Saturday morning.The Sasebo-based USS Essex, embarked with the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, was also preparing to return to Japan Saturday morning after arriving in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, Friday morning.[…] Additionally, the USS Harpers Ferry and USS Germantown are heading for Japan.

“A number of the exercises we conduct in this region are specifically designed as humanitarian-type relief missions,” Lapan said. “Unfortunately we’ve had to do this several times in different areas in the Pacific.”

Well-known Fairfax County and Fire Rescue from Virginia will arrive tomorrow at the Misawa Air Force Base (located at Aomori Prefecture in the Tōhoku region of Japan) to aid in search and rescue. They are an elite, uniquely trained, self-contained team with a medical component, canines and handlers, structural engineers, listening devices, jack-hammers, and inflatable boats, etc. They will pick up an additional rescue team in Los Angeles before heading to Japan tomorrow.

U.S. military forces in Japan aid in humanitarian efforts in earthquake-ravaged Japan.

UPDATE 6 2:20 AM PDT (3/13/11): The earthquake has been upgraded to 9.0. Scientists say the force of the quake has caused the nation of Japan to shift 8 feet.

1.4 million people have been without water since the quake hit. 2.5 million are without electricity.

Japan’s government is warning of the possibility of a second blast at Fukushima Plant #1. They are currently working to cool down 4 reactors. News is that a partial melt-down has occured with the first reactor, but it cannot be ascertained because they can’t get into the reactor housing. Tokyo Electric Power warns that the radiation level has risen above the safety level. 170,000 people have been evacuated from the area.

Warnings have been issued that another quake measuring as high as 7.0 could occur within the next 3 days. Estimates this morning are that the death toll could reach as high as 10,000.

American military rescue work has been dubbed ‘Operation Tomodachi’ meaning friendship. The name was chosen by the Japanese. Helicopters from the USS Ronald Reagan have already conducted 20 missions delivering food and supplies to 3 different towns. They will also transport Japanese forces to stricken areas.

VIDEO – March 12, 2011
 Read more about rescue operations here.

New video of the force of the tsunami when it struck the fishing port of Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Japan:

UPDATE 6 9:54 PM PDT (3/13/11): Japan Central Bank injects $184 billion as stocks plunge

Japan’s central bank is injecting a record 15 trillion yen ($183.8 billion) into money markets, while the Tokyo stock market nosedived Monday on the first business day since an earthquake and tsunami devastated the country’s northeast and raised dire worries about the economy.
The Bank of Japan moved quickly to try to keep financial markets stable. By flooding the banking system with cash, it hopes banks will continue lending money and meet the likely surge in demand for post-earthquake funds. Central bankers were gathered Monday for a one-day policy board meeting.
Preliminary estimates put repair costs from the earthquake and tsunami in the tens of billions of dollars—a huge blow for an economy that lost its place as the world’s No. 2 to China last year, and was already in a fragile state.
The nation’s big-three automakers, meanwhile, said they would halt all production in Japan due to widespread damage to both suppliers and transport networks in the region.
The impact on Japan’s economy will be devastating,” said Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank. “The long-term economic blow to a country already struggling to lower its budget deficit … will be significant.”

(my emphasis) Read more here.

UPDATE 7 4:45 AM PDT (3/14/11): Nuclear fuel rods fully exposed at Japan reactor – Jiji

Takajo, Japan - Rescuers retrieve a body among the many washed up on Japan's northeastern coastline. Workers have run out of body bags and crematoriums are overwhelmed. March 14, 2011

UPDATE 8 7: 37 PM PDT (3/14/11): The Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan has confirmed that an explosion has occurred in Fukushima Plant #2 and nuclear rods were partially exposed for two and a half hours. Residents are warned that radiation in the air has reached levels that can now impact human health. Residents are cautioned to remain indoors. A new fire has also occurred in Reactor #4 – which heightens concern for a nuclear nightmare.

Some 2,000 bodies have washed up on the shores of Ishinomaki and Minamisanrik; local authorities are struggling to deal with the number of corpses. 450,000 are homeless; food, water, and fuel are scarce. Nighttime temperatures are bitterly cold and snow is expected tomorrow.

Half a million Japanese residents are homeless; five million are without power. With nighttime temps in the 20's, survivors heat water to fill hot-water bottles at a shelter in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. 3/15/11

Meanwhile, rescue efforts continue. The USS Ronald Reagan moved to a new position to further itself from the effects of radioactivity. Rescue work is hampered by ongoing after-shocks and 10 to 15 feet of debris in many locations.

UPDATE 8 7:30 PM PDT (3/15/11): ALL WORKERS HAVE SUSPENDED OPERATIONS at an unidentified nuclear power plant in Fukushima. Due to lack of power and generator failure caused by the tsunami (generators were anchored at ground level), cooling the reactors has been done manually – with sea water. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano issued a statement saying work on dousing reactors with water stopped when radiation levels rose quickly. Government officials are tight-lipped with details…

Meanwhile, sales of potassium iodide pills (anti-radiation pills that protect the thyroid gland) have flown off suppliers’ shelves in western coastal states in the USA.

Japan’s woes have prompted Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez to halt nuclear plans.

UPDATE 9 11:00 AM PDT (3/16/11): The United States Pentagon has ordered all U.S. military helping with humanitarian rescues/operations in Japan to stay 50 miles away from the nuclear power plants in Fukushima – unless special authorization has been granted.

Thousands have jammed Japanese airports to leave the country; the demand for private jets to assist in the exodus is growing.

It’s currently snowing heavily in northeastern Japan. 450,000 residents are in shelters (which are quickly running out of food and water) and many are living outside in the elements.

In an extremely rare occurrence reserved for times of extreme crisis or war, Japan’s revered Emperor Akihito spoke somberly on national TV today to offer hope and encouragement:

Meanwhile, the heroes continuing to work at the Fukushima power plant are not afraid to die.

UPDATE 10 11:30 PDT (3/17/11): The U.S. State Dept is helping employees and other government workers and dependents leave three cities in northeastern Japan. One charter flight departed yesterday to Taipei (with only 100 on board) and two additional flights will be offered tomorrow.

The Dept of Defense is also offering commercial or chartered flights available tomorrow to aid in evacuations. The DOD has also sent additional shipments of potassium iodide pills to Japan.

The U.S. military has delivered 40 tons of humanitarian relief thus far. President Obama will speak on the continuing situation from the W.H. Rose Garden today at 3:30 PM EST.

UPDATE 11 10:30 AM PDT (3/18/11): “The boss of the company behind the devastated Japanese nuclear reactor today broke down in tears – as his country finally acknowledged the radiation spewing from the over-heating reactors and fuel rods was enough to kill some citizens.” Read more here.

► Jayde Wyatt