Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Doing everything possible to help Katrina victims ...

[Updated September 11 at 2am with two new articles; updated September 6 at 11pm with four new articles]

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard - on Meet the Press:
"... We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, 'Come get the fuel right away.' When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. 'FEMA says don't give you the fuel.'" (link, link)
The Orlando Sentinel reports:
"As a flooded New Orleans sinks further into despair, up to 500 Florida airboat pilots have volunteered to rescue Hurricane Katrina victims, transport relief workers and ferry supplies. ...

"On standby since Monday, the pilots -- many from Central Florida -- have spent thousands of their own dollars stocking their boats and swamp buggies with food, water, medical supplies and fuel.

"But the Federal Emergency Management Agency will not authorize the airboaters to enter New Orleans. Without that permission, they would be subject to arrest and would not receive security and support services."
The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
"A visibly angry Mayor Daley said the city had offered emergency, medical and technical help to the federal government as early as Sunday to assist people in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina, but as of Friday, the only things the feds said they wanted was a single tank truck." (link)
AP writer Sharon Theimer:
"Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck — a delay nearly certain to be investigated by Congress.

"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday."
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (Louisiana):
"I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims – far more efficiently than buses – FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency." (link, link, link)
From NOLA.com (echoing Landrieu's statement above):
"The Forest Service has offered fixed plane aircraft used to fight forest fires to help extinguish blazes in New Orleans, according to two congressional sources. But the sources said the planes, which can pour large amounts of water on fires, remained grounded in Missouri Friday because the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t authorized their use." (link)
From a letter written by Jason Robideaux:
"We were pulling a large (24ft) shallow draft aluminum boat that can safely carry 12 passengers and had ramp access which would allow the elderly and infirm to have easier access to the boat ...

"We then specifically asked the DWF agent that we (and other citizens in the flotillia) be allowed to go to the hospitals and help evacuate the sick and the doctors and nurses stranded there. We offered to bring these people back to Lafayette, in our own vehicles, in order to ensure that they received proper and prompt medical care.

"The DWF agent did not want to hear this and ordered us home. We complied with the DWF agent's orders, turned around and headed back to Lafayette along with half of the flotillia.
" (link, link, link)
From a story on MSNBC:
"A Russian official said the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency had rejected a Russian offer to dispatch rescue teams and other aid." (link)
A news report quoted by DailyKOS:
"Department of Homeland Security as well as other U.S. agencies were contacted by the Canadian government requesting permission to provide help. Despite this contact, Canada has not been allowed to fly supplies and personnel to the areas hit by Katrina." (link)
From CNN:
"Cuban President Fidel Castro told more than 1,500 doctors Sunday night that American officials had made "absolutely no response" to his offer to send them to the U.S. Gulf Coast to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Castro, a longtime adversary of the United States, initially offered to send 1,100 doctors and at least 26 tons of supplies and equipment ..."
From Stars & Stripes:
"Authorities are avoiding airdropping provisions into New Orleans — the traditional way of supplying disaster victims — out of fear of sparking riots, a state official said.

"While the military has used helicopters to drop provisions to some stranded in New Orleans, authorities have not launched the massive supply airdrops seen in Afghanistan at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Several C-130 Hercules aircraft are stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, but authorities have not ordered them to drop supplies to flood victims, Arkansas Air National Guard officials said."
From the Red Cross website:
"Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

"Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

"The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city."
From a BBC interview with Lieutenant Commander Sean Kelly (via a DU thread, with a copy of the interview here (mpg), and possibly coming on crooksandliars soon):
"NorthCom started planning before the storm even hit. We were ready for the storm when it hit Florida because, as you remember, it crossed the bottom part of Florida, and then we were plaining, you know, once it was pointed towards the Gulf Coast. So what we did was we activated what we call defense coordinating officers to work with the state to say okay, what do you think you'll need, and we set up staging bases that could be started. We had the USS Baton sailing almost behind the hurricane so that after the hurricane made landfall it's search and rescue helicopters would be available almost immediately. So we had things ready. The only caveat is, we have to wait until the President authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion, we have to wait for the President to give us permission."
From an AP story by Marilynn Marchione:
"Volunteer physicians are pouring in to care for the sick, but red tape is keeping hundreds of others from caring for Hurricane Katrina survivors while health problems escalate.

"Among the doctors stymied from helping out are 100 surgeons and paramedics in a state-of-the-art mobile hospital marooned in rural Mississippi. ...

"The North Carolina mobile hospital stranded in Mississippi was developed with millions of tax dollars through the Office of Homeland Security after 9-11. With capacity for 113 beds, it is designed to handle disasters and mass casualties. ...

"It travels in a convoy that includes two 53-foot trailers, which as of Sunday afternoon was parked on a gravel lot 70 miles north of New Orleans because Louisiana officials for several days would not let them deploy to the flooded city, Rich said.

"Yet plans to use the facility and its 100 health professionals were hatched days before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, doctors in the caravan said."
(link, link)
From an article in the Las Vegas Sun:
"Shortly before they were set to leave for Hurricane Katrina-battered states, a group of about 100 law enforcement officers from across Nevada was told to stay put by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"FEMA officials put the contingent on hold on Sunday afternoon for between one and three days until its mission can be determined, Nevada Highway Patrol spokesman Kevin Honea said."
From an article in the Chicago Tribune:
"While federal and state emergency planners scramble to get more military relief to Gulf Coast communities stricken by Hurricane Katrina, a massive naval goodwill station has been cruising offshore, underused and waiting for a larger role in the effort.

"The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore.

"The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents.

"But now the Bataan's hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty. A good share of its 1,200 sailors could also go ashore to help with the relief effort, but they haven't been asked. The Bataan has been in the stricken region the longest of any military unit, but federal authorities have yet to fully utilize the ship. ...

"A 135-foot landing craft stored within the Bataan, the LCU-1656, was dispatched to steam up the 90 miles of Mississippi River to New Orleans. It took a crew of 16, including a doctor, and its deck was stacked with food and water. The craft carries enough food and fuel to remain self-sufficient for 10 days. ...

"Then the Bataan was ordered to move to the waters off Biloxi, Miss., and LCU-1656 was ordered to return. The landing craft was 40 miles from New Orleans, but it wouldn't be able to deliver its cargo."
From an article in the Door County Compass:
"Early on Friday morning Christie Weber watched the Mayor of New Orleans screaming on CNN, "We need buses to get these people out of here. Get off your ass and get down here."

"She picked up the phone and started calling local charter bus companies. By 6 AM she discovered that there was an abundance of vehicles ready and waiting to be deployed - if and when they were called upon. But, until now no one had called. All of the charter bus companies that Weber rang up had already signed on with FEMA several days earlier, and they were just waiting for a call back regarding financial reimbursement, a destination and an approved route. ...

"Next she decided to call the Governor's office in Louisiana instead of FEMA. They responded immediately with, "Please, God Bless You, YES!" and provided her with a route and a letter to Wisconsin Emergency Management requesting their assistance in staffing the buses with law enforcement officers."
From a story on Dallas News:
"The 83 members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Urban Search and Rescue team from Orange County, Calif., have been told to stay downtown at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion.

"Since Friday, they have been sitting tight at the luxury hotel with members of five other teams of specialists from California, Nevada and Washington state – about 500 people all diverted to Dallas on the way to the Gulf Coast.

"There they have watched television reports, itching to help the stranded victims of Katrina but ordered by FEMA officials to stay idle.

"'It's been horribly frustrating,' said Battalion Chief Marc Hawkins, noting that he understood the reasons the team had been asked to stay put. 'Keeping firefighters pent up like this is a chore.'

"On Sunday, the Orange County team learned where it would finally do the job it was trained to do. By the time the team arrives in Metairie, La., a full week will have passed since it was ordered to leave California.

"'We've been trying like hell to get out of here,' said Battalion Chief Hawkins, one of the Orange County task force leaders.

"The reason for the extended holdover? Team members were told that conditions were too chaotic in New Orleans, which has been plagued by violence and reports of gunfire aimed at rescuers, and the National Guard needed more time to restore order. In addition, problems getting supplies to the rescue crews already there, as well as victims, had not been worked out."
From a report on NBC4:
"A caravan of Loudoun County sheriff's deputies, loaded with supplies and volunteers willing to assist police in Louisiana in maintaining order, never made it out of Virginia after the sheriff said bureaucratic delays forced it to turn around early Friday. ...

"Loudoun Sheriff Stephen Simpson said he organized a troop of 22 volunteer deputies and six emergency medical technicians in response to a call for help that came from the sheriff in Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans.

"The deputies were equipped with food, water, gasoline and other supplies not only for themselves but also to replenish Jefferson Parish, Simpson said. The deputies had tents and were prepared for a stay of at least seven days.

"The Loudoun convoy had planned to depart at noon Thursday, but was delayed for nine hours seeking final approval from Virginia or Louisiana emergency officials. Not wanting to wait any longer, they departed Thursday night, hoping to get the paperwork cleared en route.

"By the time the group got to Harrisonburg -- several hours south of Loudoun County -- Simpson said Lousiana State Police told him shortly after midnight Friday that they didn't want any help and would likely be turned away if they arrived."
Note: The following four articles were added 11pm September 6.

From a Reuters story:
"Transport and other logistics problems are holding up some of the mass of humanitarian aid European countries have offered to the victims of hurricane Katrina, an EU official said on Tuesday. ...

"She said a Swedish plane laden with aid was waiting to take off but had not got U.S. approval to enter the United States.

"High-speed pumps offered by Germany had arrived but Helfferich said unspecified 'coordination problems' in the United States had prevented them from being deployed so far. ...

"Twenty-three European countries have offered help to the United States ranging from financial assistance to ready-to-eat meals, blankets, tents and disinfectant supplies.

"Helfferich said the United States had not agreed to take it all and Britain, which currently holds the presidency of the EU, was negotiating with U.S. authorities on what to deliver.

"The EU and NATO said on Sunday they had received official requests from the United States to provide emergency assistance for the victims of Katrina, days after it ravaged U.S. cities.

"The Commission said at the time that the request to it came after several days of discussions and insisted that the EU, which calls itself the world's biggest aid donor, could have acted sooner if asked."
From TriValleyCentral:
"Tom Dudelston, a funeral director with J. Warren Funeral Services in Casa Grande, had hoped to use vacation to help those who could not escape the blighted area. "I'm trying to go," Dudelston said around 1 p.m. Thursday. "But I have hit some complications I had not expected. I was trying to offer my services with some of my skills. It is kind of pending. I was going to do it to help. I am still hoping I can get in there. I won't know until later today. I have talked with an organization here in Arizona that helps in situations like this. I was hoping I could circumvent that and take care of myself and get in there."

"By 3:45 p.m. he had the news he didn't want to hear.

"'I am not going anywhere, I spoke with D-MORT, a group of funeral directors and embalmers, and I cannot go,' he said, his voice filled with disappointment.

"The Associated Press displays daily images in newspapers and on Web sites featuring the dead lying on the ground or seated in chairs, with no one to tend to them. 'USA Today talks about the body count and the things that are going on since it has been declared a national disaster area,' he explained. 'They won't let anyone in there. You have to be FEMA-certified and I am not,' he said."
From an AP story by Ted Bridis:
"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 workers to support rescuers in 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. ...

"... He [Brown] proposed sending 1,000 Homeland Security Department employees within 48 hours and 2,000 within seven days.

"Knocke said the 48-hour period suggested for the Homeland employees was to ensure they had adequate training. 'They were training to help the life-savers,' Knocke said. ...

"Meanwhile, the airline industry said the government's request for help evacuating storm victims didn't come until late Thursday afternoon. The president of the Air Transport Association, James May, said the Homeland Security Department called then to ask if the group could participate in an airlift for refugees."
From the Sun-Herald:
"Charlotte County Deputy Fire Chief Verne Riggall doesn't know exactly when he'll be called up, where he'll be stationed, or how long he'll be away.

"But he knows what he'll be doing: Working to restore order to the logistical nightmare of coordinating the massive recovery effort under way in a devastated six-county area of southern Mississippi.

"Riggall, the county's special-operations supervisor, is the commander of a 40-member Florida Division of Forestry team that will coordinate the transfer of ice, water, food, fuel and other disaster-response material at a logistical staging area to be set up at Stennis, Miss. ...

"'I see a lot more victims than any system can initially respond to,' Riggall said. 'It is much more gigantic than anticipated, I think, even though it was what the models said would happen.'

"Riggall said emergency managers typically order such materials as ice and water to be moved from warehouses to strategic locations some 72 hours before a major hurricane makes landfall.

"For example, Riggall said such material was moved from warehouses to Lake City, where he was sent to manage a logistical staging area, two days before Hurricane Dennis struck the Panhandle in July.

"Riggall said the transfer of aid material from warehouses to strategic locations for Katrina only started after the hurricane struck.

"'Why were the resources not already in Crestview, (Fla.), Atlanta or Austin?' he asked, referring to strategic locations for staging areas under a New Orleans hurricane response plan."
Note: The following two articles were added 2am September 11.

From the Washington Post:
"Offers of foreign aid worth tens of millions of dollars -- including a Swedish water purification system, a German cellular telephone network and two Canadian rescue ships -- have been delayed for days awaiting review by backlogged federal agencies, according to European diplomats and information collected by the State Department. ...

"In Germany, a massive telecommunication system and two technicians await the green light to fly to Louisiana, after its donors spent four days searching for someone willing to accept the gift.

"'FEMA? That was a lost case,' said Mirit Hemy, an executive with the Netherlands-based New Skies Satellite who made the phone calls. 'We got zero help, and we lost one week trying to get hold of them.'

"In Sweden, a transport plane loaded with a water purification system and a cellular network has been ready to take off for four days, while Swedish officials wait for flight clearance. Nearly a week after they were offered, four Canadian rescue vessels and two helicopters have been accepted but probably won't arrive from Halifax, Nova Scotia, until Saturday. The Canadians' offer of search-and-rescue divers has so far gone begging."
From a very long and thorough LA Times article:
"At the same time, bureaucracy rendered some active duty military units inside Louisiana powerless to help in the storm's immediate aftermath. At Ft. Polk in Leesville, a helicopter detachment waited on the tarmac from Monday until Wednesday for approval to fly rescue missions.

"'We were packed and ready to go,' said Chief Warrant Officer Clint Gessner, a helicopter pilot with the Ft. Polk unit. 'We never got the call. It's just a sad story, man.'

"As Gessner and his fellow pilots watched National Guard helicopters conduct search-and-rescue missions, he said the active duty pilots were unable to fly because commanders wouldn't sign off on their missions.

"'We could have been the first responders,' he said. 'It's easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.'

"The Pentagon also decided not to dispatch another unit based at Ft. Polk, a brigade of the Army's 10th Mountain Division, which has the mission of training units about to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan."
Assembled from many sources, including a few DU threads, as well as my own prior posts. Other blogs with similar lists / themes are DailyDissent, BellaCiao, and FemaFailures.

No comments: