Saturday, September 03, 2005

1st person account of FEMA stonewalling - My husband used to work in disaster preparedness/relief ...

(this is a very interesting post. the writer claims he was directed to the DoD/Pentagon in order to get relief going. -- brook)

"My husband used to work in disaster preparedness/relief ...
..he also worked in Russia for years, both before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and organized relief in the immediate aftermath of Chernobyl. He doesn't post here, but he wrote this - he's been on the phone day and night for the past five days trying to get someone to OK the offered assistance. Everyone knows this is a first-class fuck up, but here's another perspective.

*************Over the years I have worked in and out of government to solve communications and technical problems, save lives and help where possible. I was managing director of a Russian-American telephone company providing rapid communications in the former Soviet Union and have helped with disaster communications projects around the world.

This is the first time I have ever encountered this unbelievable kind of absolutely uncaring, Washington/political two-step. When the storm approached the Gulf coast I called offering simple suggestions to government types (since this was obviously from all reports going to be a terrible storm) of how to bring communications systems up as soon as the storm passed. I recommended bringing in Blimps with portable cell transceivers and VHF, UHF and other types of broadcast equipment and also equipment to aid in the search and rescue effort. No one was interested.

When the storm hit and everyone knew the worst had happened, I contacted the Red Cross, (someone there hung up on me) and then FEMA where someone told me it was all up to the DOD -- and I wondered why the Pentagon was in charge of FEMA? I was also told that FEMA was being privatized and a number of the experienced staff trained in hurricane relief had been told they had to resign from FEMA and then be rehired by the private company.

I called senators and governors, I even tried to get through to my contacts and no one would listen or respond (though a member of Senator Dole%u2019s staff did commiserate with me over the level of incompetence that was growing ever more apparent). Then Putin offered helicopters, search and rescue personnel, water purification equipment, and doctors and so much more. Had the State Department allowed the Russian humanitarian mission to proceed, Russian help would have been on the ground a good 24-48 hours before FEMA was in many of the poorer and worst-affected areas.

Everyone here now knows that all international help was tuned down (Ms. Rice was shopping and taking in a play while these offers were coming in, so she may not be totally lying when she said no offers of help were turned down b/c she wasn't there to turn them down. But she's been caught lying again with a statement that can be proven to be an untruth empirically by simply making one phone call to Putin's offices or the many other nation offering help, or by reading LBN here). The screw-ups continue even now. I can name many ways that the Bush administration not only did not help, but also caused people to die and are still causing so many to die needlessly. It is if the government was actively trying to hinder the relief operations.

I fear there will be the biggest cover-up in the history of America after this is all over (mass graves so reminiscent of Bush 41's Panama disaster). Don%u2019t let anyone tell you everything possible was done to prepare or respond when in fact FEMA may have done more harm than good. Write, yell, do something, but this has to be fixed before the next disaster. I feel that maybe the only hope for America is to impeach the entire Bush Administration."

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