Monday, September 05, 2005

How Bush/FEMA/Homeland Security accepts offers of help from Americans...

By now, most of you have heard various anecdotes about the airboaters turned away, the immediate assistance to the OIL corporations, Bush's staged photo-op, how Canada was refused entry into the United States to help us, and the failed food delivery-- among many other examples of the worst response to the worst disaster in American history.

If you can stomach more, here are testimonials from others who tried to provide assistance to the Hurricane Katrina victims:

Firefighters offered help...

[snip] Bill is a member of a volunteer firefighter team in the Houston area. He and his team have a lot of experience helping after hurricanes. And they also have special expertise -- a lot of them work for a living on oil infrastructure and repairs. Bill is a professional logistics expert whose assignments have included getting a client's tsunami-flattened distribution facility back operating within a couple of weeks, and pre-invasion logistics
work in Kuwait.

On Monday night, his group assembled their rescue equipment and tools, and packed them into their boats along with all the emergency supplies they could carry. By Tuesday morning, they were almost to New Orleans.

"We were stopped at gunpoint by FEMA and told to turn back," he told me. When I asked, he clarified that they did not point the guns at them, but they were carrying and displaying their weapons.

Disaster relief expert offered help...

[snip] Over the years I have worked in and out of government to solve communications and technical problems, save lives and help where possible. I was managing director of a Russian-American telephone company providing rapid communications in the former Soviet Union and have helped with disaster communications projects around the world. This is the first time I have ever encountered this unbelievable kind of absolutely uncaring, Washington/political two-step. When the storm approached the Gulf coast I called offering simple suggestions to government types (since this was obviously from all reports going to be a terrible storm) of how to bring communications systems up as soon as the storm passed. I recommended bringing in Blimps with portable cell transceivers and VHF, UHF and other types of broadcast equipment and also equipment to aid in the search and rescue effort. No one was interested.

When the storm hit and everyone knew the worst had happened, I contacted the Red Cross, (someone there hung up on me) and then FEMA where someone told me it was all up to the DOD -- and I wondered why the Pentagon was in charge of FEMA? I was also told that FEMA was being privatized and a number of the experienced staff trained in hurricane relief had been told they had to resign from FEMA and then be rehired by the private company.

Unused equipment

Nine stockpiles of fire-and-rescue equipment strategically placed around the country to be used in the event of a catastrophe still have not been pressed into service in New Orleans, five days after Hurricane Katrina, CNN has learned.

Responding to a CNN inquiry, Department of Homeland security spokesman Marc Short said Friday the gear has not been moved because none of the governors in the hurricane-ravaged area has requested it.

National Guard delays

Maj. Gen. Thomas Cutler, who leads the Michigan National Guard, said he anticipated a call for police units and started preparing them, but couldn't go until states in the hurricane zone asked them to come.

"We could have had people on the road Tuesday," Cutler said. "We have to wait and respond to their need."

300 Ambulances refused

BREAUX: Somebody has to say look, we're sending food. We're sending troops. We're sending boats. We're sending helicopters because we can see that it's a big disaster. I had an example of an ambulance, American Ambulance Association said, look, we have 300 ambulances three days ago they wanted to send down there from a Florida area. They said, well, we were told we had to have GSA's permission. GSA said they had to have FEMA ask for it. As a result they weren't sent.

U.S. Forest Service offered water tanker aircraft

"I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims - far more efficiently than buses - FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency."

Relief convoy from VA turned away

A caravan of Loudoun County sheriff's deputies, loaded with
supplies and volunteers willing to assist police in Louisiana in maintaining order, never made it out of Virginia after the sheriff said bureaucratic delays forced them to turn around early Friday.

Chicago turned away

A visibly angry Mayor Daley said the city had offered emergency, medical and technical help to the federal government as early as Sunday to assist people in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina, but as of Friday, the only things the feds said they wanted was a single tank truck.

Even the U.N repeatedly is offering assistance ...
[snip] Dateline: September 2, 2005

Secretary-General Kofi Annan phoned United States President George
W. Bush today to reiterate his offer of United Nations aid for the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, while the world body’s entire emergency relief system went on standby for a possible request for help in the huge disaster.

As of now UN agencies are ready to provide water storage tanks, water purification tablets, high-energy biscuits, generators, planes, tents, and other emergency supplies, as well as experienced staff members."

There are more and more stories that sound just like these...
Democratic Underground has a list.
DailyKos is discussing it here and here.

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