Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More on FEMA's negligent homicides

This speaks for itself:

9:28 P.M. - WASHINGTON (AP): The government's disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region – and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents.

Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.

Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.

Brown's memo to Chertoff described Katrina as "this near catastrophic event" but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, "Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities."

And this:

7:02 P.M. - ATLANTA (AP): Hundreds of firefighters have been sitting in Atlanta, playing cards and taking FEMA history classes, instead of doing what they came to do: help hurricane victims.

The volunteers traveled south and west from around the country, leaving their homes in places like Washington state, Pennsylvania and Michigan. They came after FEMA put out a call for two-thousand firefighters to help with community service.

Firefighters arrived, as told, with lifesaving equipment and sleeping bags.

But one of the waiting volunteers says it might have been better if they'd brought paper and cell phones. That's because some of the emergency responders are being told they will go to South Carolina, to do paperwork.

Others don't know where they'll be put in action.

And this from St. Bernard Parish:

5:30 P.M. - CHALMETTE (AP): In St. Bernard Parish, fatigued and frustrated authorities say they'll match their Hurricane Katrina devastation with anyone else's.

"If you dropped a bomb on this place, it couldn't be any worse than this," said Ron Silva, a district fire chief.

They said while federal help came slowly to New Orleans, it's even been slower to their outlying area of some 66,000 people on Louisiana's southeastern edge.

"It's Day 8, guys. Everything was diverted first to New Orleans, we understand that. But do you realize we got 18 to 20 feet of water from the storm, and we've still got
7 to 8 feet of water?" Silva said.

In addition to help from other Louisiana and Alabama departments, a Canadian task force of firefighters and police arrived four days after the storm to help, St. Bernard Fire Chief Thomas Stone said.

"If you can get a Canadian team here in four days, U.S. teams should be here faster than that," Stone said.

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