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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina (II)

FEMA director Mike Brown is visibly irate with reporters in interviews today. I would not want his job. And if I had it, I'd have begun snapping at people long before today. But I'm having a hard time reconciling his reports of federal agencies doing "everything they can" with the images I've seen on numerous television channels over the past 3 days.

Earlier today, during a press conference, he was asked to respond to the declaration of one La. parish president that FEMA's response to the disaster had been pitiful. He diplomatically replied that he understands why people in certain areas become upset when they are promised food at noon and it doesn't arrive until 4 o'clock. WTF?!? I have a feeling very few people, except perhaps those who are starving, are criticizing relief efforts that are running a few hours late. He seemed to me to be skirting the issue of the hundreds of people in the streets of downtown New Orleans and stranded on and under overpasses since Tuesday - people who have seen no water or food for 3 days.

At that same press conference and in a more recent interview on CNN, he displayed his talent for passing the buck. He keeps repeating that FEMA has responded to every request made by the states. When asked about the people trapped and suffering from dehydration at the convention center in New Orleans, he replied that FEMA just learned of them either late yesterday or early today, that the state has requested x number of MRE's and such-and-such amounts of water, and that FEMA has relayed that request and the provisions are "on their way." I understand if his hands are tied, and I have to assume this is the procedure the federal agencies are supposed to follow.

But for the love of God, I could have told any number of agencies on TUESDAY that Mississippi and Louisiana were going to need massive amounts of provisions shipped to the area as soon as possible!!! Why on Earth is the communication between the state and federal agencies so inadequate? I know, phone lines are down, electricity is off, etc...but the press manages to relay information to the entire public. Why can't officials in charge of responding to the disaster find similar ways to communicate?

And is it really necessary to wait for the one-by-one orders of MREs and bottled water? Ship as much of that stuff as you can get your hands on to the general area and then wait for word as to how much needs to be dispersed and where!

This is a disaster the likes of which our country has not seen. No one expects perfection from the officials in charge of responding to the devastation. But it is astounding - and scary - to watch so many of my fellow US citizens suffer, as they receive, from where they stand, absolutely no response at all.


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