Our local paper, The Eugene Register Guard had a multi-page spread on the conditions during the response to Katrina. In an article full of events that are hard to believe this one stood out.
Hundreds of firefighters who responded to calls for help were routed to Atlanta for “training” before they were sent on to the affected areas. The training was in community relations and sexual harassment. Maybe, just maybe I can understand the community relations. But, sexual harassment? When or where in the name of all that’s holy and several things that aren’t were any of these people going to find time to do anything between rescues besides grab twenty winks and a bite to eat-if it’s available?
On the other hand, when the president of the National Sheriff’s Association sent out a call for help from his fellow sheriff’s, Warren Evans from Wayne County Michigan didn’t wait to fill out FEMA’s paperwork. He led in a convoy of six tractor-trailers, three rental trucks and 33 deputies. They dropped off their supplies found a corner to work and started conducting search and rescue missions. The people at the local levels know what to do. Too bad they were forced to rely on group of political appointees who seem to have gotten their jobs based on loyalty to Bush or working on his campaigns.
The people on the front lines know what to do. They’ve been trained. Often very well trained. They have to rely on the administrators further up the chain of command to make sure the tools and supplies they need are not only available but also accessible. For example, by the time they were able to get school busses organized for evacuations stories about the violence and shootings had become widespread. The majority of the drivers, many of them women, refused to make the trips. I can’t fault them. Many of the drivers I see in my neck of the woods are middle-aged women. Driving into what sounds like a war zone wasn’t in the job description when they signed on. With many of the Louisiana National Guard on duty in Iraq alternatives were difficult if not impossible to find in a hurry.
Many of these problems did not start with this Bush administration. It’s said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So do problems like we have in New Orleans. The rot’s been spreading for over forty years. It’s finally gotten so bad we can’t afford to ignore it anymore.
3 days ago