September 2, 2005

Thoughts on the aftermath

As expected by nearly everyone but the Federal goverment apparently, the scope and depth of this dissaster continues to expand, with by-product dissasters beginning or looming on the horizon.

Appalingly, the Bush's head of FEMA, Mike Brown, is trying to excuse their lack of response to the gruesome situation at the Convention Center by saying in essense, "We didn't know about it."

The Salvation Army reported that they have 200 people trapped in one of their facilities, including several staff. They have people needing kidney dialysis, and others in dire need of life-saving attention. They were able to get through for a couple minutes on cell phone and reported they only had enough food for one more meal, and that people were dying. The Salvation army tried to get someone to rescue them and were unable to. They then sent their own people to rescue these desperate people, and were turned back and not allowed into the area.

The government is now putting out an official "good" line, where they suggest that no one should dare be critical of their response. The reasoning for this is a bit hard to fathom, other than I suppose that it's not helpful in actually helping people. But I'd suggest that if people DON'T scream bloody murder about it, then they'd do nothing more. I think an uproar and outrage would do a lot of good. It's simply the rest of us telling the government to get their shit together and HELP these people.

Stop running in circles, stop grinding everything to a stop every time some goof fires a shot, and get resources there fast. You can drop food to victims on the other side of the world, but you can't provide food and water to New Orleans???!!

During the Shiavo uproar, the right attempted to interject the government in an issue where they had absolutely no business messing with. Bush, in response to nut-job Republicans called an emergency session of congress by immediately running back to DC on a holiday no-less, all on a moments notice, and all for the absolutely phony and just plain wrong attempt to comfort their wacky fundimentalist backers and meddle in a family matter.

A disaster akin to a nuclear attack occurs and Bush also calls an emergency session.... a week later.

Dissenter's post on a thread below was so good I felt it should be posted. (I deleted his words of praise as it's not about that. I add my own thoughts after it.
I have watched with both anguish and fury the horrors now suffered by our fellow countrymen in the South. The color-coded terror warning system has done nothing to help the dead and the dying masses whom our leaders were sworn to protect. Katrina's aftermath demonstrates, to the utter dismay of even those who distrust our current administration, that our Government, in its current form, cannot protect us. Our leaders have told us that since 9/11, we must be and we are on a heightened state of awareness. We hold mass disaster drills. The latest terror warnings scroll across the bottom of our television news, in order to ensure that we are always ready and persistently diligent in our preparation for the worst.

And the worst came.

How can this possibly be? How could our nation be so ill-prepared? How could our government just let them suffer and die?

Shame on our government. Shame on the Republicans and, dare I say it, shame on the Democrats. Shame on all the leaders, charged with the solemn responsibility of protecting our country's own, who have thus far failed us so miserably. Do not boast of preparedness, and do not tell us that our homeland is secure. Do not tell those poor people to be patient, and do not promise them that help is on the way.

Get there now. Use all of our might, and all of our wealth, and end this suffering. You can save your apologies for Election Day.

If history will judge us by how we protected our own, then surely the legacy of this week's catastrophe will not be kind.

The world is watching us tonight. And it too must be horrified.

The Dope writes...
Amen Dissenter. The same thought occured to me. How many untold BILLIONS have been spent (squandered) on phony "Homeland Security"?? How many companies have sold millions of dollars of ineffective gadgets? How many people have profited emmensely from all the money spent on this? It's a giant grab bag for the wealthy, corporations, colleges, so-called "consultants" and thousands of others.

And now we have a perfect reason for it all to swing into action with it's awesome capacity and precision. And what happened?

A gigantic fizzle. Nothing. Disorganization, near-total lack of preparedness, confusion and inaction. They didn't fathom the extent of the crisis until the crisis was several days old, and one hand not only didn't know what the other was doing, it didn't even know it existed. Bravo. Well done. Money well spent.

What have they been doing these four long years?!

As any rational person realized long ago, the idea of goverment providing "security" in these sorts of disasters is a total myth.

Yet in our mass reaction to fear post 9-11, our wise leaders immediately started hurling billions of tax dollars at the matter, as if we could somehow build some fantasy system where no one would ever be in danger, even when the danger being responded to was largely a myth as well.

I have felt a powerful urge to go to the area affected by the hurricane to try to help out, but thought better of it due to the realization that A. It would be near impossible to even reach the area, B. That I'd be yet another person who would be using up food and shelter that others need far more, and C. That the last thing the area needs is an influx of well-meaning people who are unorganized and only add to the number of people who must be taken care of, treated if they're injured, etc.

But that said, I have no idea why there isn't a concerted and organized effort to untilize volunteers from across the country and around the world.

Why is nothing be done to harness this most powerful of resources?

I KNOW for a fact that people would gladly drop what they're doing and go help if they could be organized. If there was a place for them to marshall and gather, and a systematic way of deploying them where they'd do the most good, the roads would be packed with people willing to help.

Who could help? ANYONE. People have boats, people have mobile units which can prepare food, people have medical skills, people have communications skills in setting up and running communication centers, people have organizational skills, banking or finanacial skills, computer skills, heavy equipment skills, plumbing skills, construction skills, driving trucks and buses, security skills (cops only), cooks.

And most of all, people have hearts. And they sure could need some people down there to at least show people they're cared for, to comfort them if possible.

The situation will require the efforts of millions. Will that happen?

Think of the needs.

There's a total lack of communication. People are separated from their family members. In addition to the horrors and discomfort they've endured, they've had to endure it not knowing if a wife, husband, mother, father, sister, brother even survived. There needs to be a massive network set up to somehow attempt to account for everyone and allow them to communicate with their families. The fatalities need to be dealth with and families notified.

And the grim business of finding, identifying, and simply storing and burying the dead is beyond the capacity of anyone at the moment. Bodies continue to be left floating or simply pushed into a corner to be gnawed on by rats.

The water is full of disease and polutants. Medicines and methodical efforts to stem a post-disater epidemic of disease needs to be mounted.

Housing. While officials are unable to even evacuate a small fraction of those who desperately need to get out of the area, the fact remains that literally millions of families and individuals can't go back home, because they have no home to go back to. Where are these masses of people going to live?

This will require spending of billions of dollars as government rents apartments, hotel rooms, and commandeers literally any building available, and will likely require the contruction of entire cities from scratch. This obviously will take a lot of manpower, and unimaginable amounts of money.

And someone will need to attempt to deal with and to handle the thousands of people who will suffer terribly from mental problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and massive and traumatic grief over their losses. The mental anguish and stress is a real and destructive effect of all this.

We're faced with hundreds of thousands of people who are in a state of shock. The repercussions of people's inability to cope mentally with this could only add to the tragedy and will likely lead to further violence, suicide, and more tragedy. Efforts will need to be made to help people cope with their grief.

And these are only a small part of needs that must be met. They will no doubt mulitply as time goes on.

Despite what the vicious right says, it does indeed "take a village", not only to raise a child, but to help our fellow humans survive after they're beset with tragedy and loss and are left with nothing.

Anyone thinking that this will not involve them personally is living in a dream-world.

I only hope against hope that the government gets it's act together, though that's not likely. But perhaps some agency, govermental or otherwise, will figure out how to tap into the millions of people around the country watching the tragedy unfold with a feeling of horrible impotence, wanting and willing to lend their talents to the effort, but with NO ONE calling on them to do so, and no effort being made to harness this most powerful of all forces, the good-will of people across the world.


At 9/02/2005 8:42 AM, Blogger Polt said...

My mother works for FEMA, as a secretary. After hurricane Andrew went through Florida and Louisiana in 1992, she was dispatched, along with most of her co-workers, to Louisana to help process forms and paperwork. Nothing like going out and actually resucing people, but necessary nonetheless. She was dispatched down there 3 days after Andrew hit, and was there for 2 weeks. I understand Katrina was much much worse than Andrew. Nonetheless, she and her coworkers have been told to prepare a travel bag, they WILL be going down there. They were told this on Tuesday. They have thier bags packed and are ready and waiting...and waiting...and waiting...

It is truly truly sad. Not surprising with this administration, but sad nonetheless.

I was not a fan of Bushie's father either, but at least that man, or the subordinates he chose, knew how to handle a national disaster.

At 9/02/2005 10:42 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

That is simply inexcusable. And yes, this is why there are so many people needed, to do precisely the important and vital work your mother does. There are inumerable jobs that need to be done, and certainly paperwork and record keeping is vital to the organization effort.

The fact that there is ANY experienced FEMA employees or volunteers sitting idle is a travesty.

I even read of the account (posted above) of Air Force personel playing basketball and performing calishtenics within site of the death and destruction.


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