Call up Guard, Abercrombie says
The congressman says the governor should declare a state emergency
Fearing the state is headed for an economic disaster because of the Aloha Airlines cargo shutdown, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie called on Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday to declare a statewide emergency to call up the National Guard.
Abercrombie said in a news release from Washington, D.C., that if Lingle declared an emergency, the Hawaii National Guard, which has transport helicopters, could haul cargo interisland.
The Aloha Airlines cargo operation handled up to 85 percent of intrastate air cargo.
"We absolutely cannot stand by and wait for medical equipment, pharmaceuticals or our food supply to dwindle or run out," Abercrombie said.
Lingle rejected Abercrombie's call, labeling it an "overreaction," and in her own news release said the state has suffered no disruption in health or safety supplies.
"At this time, there is no indication that any critical supplies are not being shipped and delivered in a timely manner," Lingle said. "I have no plans to request an emergency declaration."
Abercrombie, chairman of the House defense subcommittee on air and land forces, said he also alerted top Pentagon officials, as well as U.S. Army Pacific and the Pacific Command of the "dire situation," which Lingle also dismissed.
The governor said she thought the air cargo situation would stabilize and that both carriers and shippers would make adjustments to "ensure cargo capacity meets the demand for service."
Meanwhile, Lingle said the state was preparing to hold meetings today on Oahu and the neighbor islands to brief Aloha workers and others about unemployment benefits.