Tuesday, September 13, 2005

FEMA's mistakes

In the previous post I said that there had not been any federal blunders documented, to date, relative to the response and rescue efforts in New Orleans. Here are some:

One medical assessment team - veterans of 31 disasters - can treat hundreds of patients a day, but for 11 days, it's been repeatedly redirected by FEMA from Alabama to Biloxi to Dallas to Galveston. So far, they've treated one small cut.

Thursday, FEMA told them to pack up again and move to Houston.

For nine days a mobile communications unit has been sitting in Germany with a chartered plane standing by, ready to provide desperately needed equipment for first responders. Company officials complain they've placed hundreds of calls and can still get no answer from FEMA. "This is the most frustrating exercise in futility I've had in my entire professional life," says satellite services provider Uri Bar-Zemer.

Last Friday, Mississippi asked FEMA for 20,000 trailers for temporary housing. On Monday, when nothing had happened, Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi asked President Bush to intervene personally. The next day he was told that 400 trailers were on the way.

Thursday, NBC News found hundreds of trailers still sitting in a facility in Georgia.

. . . includes flying evacuees to Charleston, West Virginia rather than Charleston, South Carolina.
And more on the inept and deadly decisions made by local officials:
As the floodwaters rose last Tuesday, the civilian director of the New Orleans Port police made a stunning decision. She ordered all harbor officers to abandon their posts and flee to higher ground. Angry eyewitnesses tell NBC News that only the police chief and two officers stayed on duty. So, they say, there were no Harbor Police rescue boats in the water for rescues for four days.

"I sent them to high ground because I did not want them to become victims of rising flood water," says Cynthia Swain, Port of New Orleans Security Director.

"Those boats certainly could have made a difference in rescuing people," says Jane Bullock, a former FEMA chief of staff for the Clinton administration.
Someone needs to inform Cynthia Swain, Port of New Orleans Security Director, that boats float (unless piloted by inept Hollywood actors). And it was not 300 buses as I stated in my previous post, it was 146 municipal mass-transit buses plus 255 school buses or 401 buses that could have easily transported 20,000 people per trip away from the city. Mayor Nagin's excuse that he couldn't find drivers is laughable. An abandoned school bus was commandeered by a 20 year-old who filled it with people and drove it to Houston. Don't you think Mayor Nagin could have found 401 volunteers out of 100,000 stranded people to drive the buses? Shoot, the 2/3rds of his police force that deserted would have been glad to drive the buses unless, of course, that interfered with their looting of Wal-Mart.

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