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Many in America and elsewhere are now drawing the obvious parallels between Iraq and New Orleans. It seems to be something of a wake up call for many who have been asleep...

Katrina; relocation or ethnic cleansing?

by Mike Whitney September 10, 2005 - Extract

"............ Most of us have already heard the damning accusations of Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parrish, LA, who said on Meet the Press that FEMA had cut off supplies of water, food and fuel to hurricane victims, as well as, cutting "all of our emergency communications lines."

Since, Broussard's nationally broadcast testimonial, there's been a torrent of charges leveled at FEMA. The National Guard was prevented from attending to the sick and wounded, desperately needed busses were unexplainably returned to Baton Rouge, assistance was rejected from Chicago and other cities, helicopter rescue teams were reprimanded for rescuing people trapped on there roofs, and checkpoints were set up to prevent poor, black people from leaving the city.

Information clearinghouse has put together an impressive list of articles that detail the FEMA obstructions.;_ylt=AlUa.DfzXDr9JtVVpx.EgC4bLisB;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl
BERLIN - A German military plane carrying 15 tons of military rations for survivors of Hurricane Katrina was sent back by U.S. authorities, officials said Saturday.

The plane was turned away Thursday because it did not have the required authorization, a German government spokesman said.

The spokesman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, declined to comment on a report in the German news magazine Der Spiegel that U.S. authorities refused the delivery on the grounds that the NATO military rations could carry mad cow disease.

The spokesman said U.S. authorities had since given approval for future aid flights, but it was unclear whether the German military would try again to deliver the rations.

Since Hurricane Katrina struck the United States, many international donors have complained of frustration that bureaucratic entanglements have hindered shipments to the United States.

A U.S. Embassy official, who agreed to discuss the matter only if not quoted by name, blamed the German flight's rejection on temporary technical and logistical problems that have accompanied recovery operations in the devastated region.

German military planes have flown several loads of rations to the Gulf Coast. Berlin is also sending teams equipped with high-capacity pumps to help clear floodwaters.;_ylt=AlUa.DfzXDr9JtVVpx.EgC4bLisB;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl


Straight from FEMA's own website

Press Releases - News, Media Advisories and Disaster Updates

First Responders Urged Not To Respond To Hurricane Impact Areas Unless Dispatched By State, Local Authorities

Release Date: August 29, 2005
Release Number: HQ-05-174

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WASHINGTON D.C. -- Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), today urged all fire and emergency services departments not to respond to counties and states affected by Hurricane Katrina without being requested and lawfully dispatched by state and local authorities under mutual aid agreements and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

“The response to Hurricane Katrina must be well coordinated between federal, state and local officials to most effectively protect life and property,” Brown said. “We appreciate the willingness and generosity of our Nation’s first responders to deploy during disasters. But such efforts must be coordinated so that fire-rescue efforts are the most effective possible.”

The U.S. Fire Administration, part of FEMA, asks that fire and emergency services organizations remain in contact with their local and state emergency management agency officials for updates on requirements in the affected areas.

“It is critical that fire and emergency departments across the country remain in their jurisdictions until such time as the affected states request assistance,” said U.S. Fire Administrator R. David Paulison. “State and local mutual aid agreements are in place as is the Emergency Management Assistance Compact and those mechanisms will be used to request and task resources needed in the affected areas.”

Paulison said the National Incident Management System is being used during the response to Hurricane Katrina and that self-dispatching volunteer assistance could significantly complicate the response and recovery effort.

FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

Last Updated: Friday, 02-Sep-2005 12:46:35

Why FEMA turned away help

Mon Sep 5th, 2005 at 07:55:38 PDT

For days after the disaster, help and volunteers of all sorts headed for New Orleans with relief supplies and expertise, only to be stopped and turned away by FEMA.

Last night, one of my friends joined our regular Sunday chat. He had just come home from New Orleans with his group of volunteer firefighters from Houston, after they had waited outside New Orleans for since Tuesday for FEMA to let them help in New Orleans, or use them somewhere else in the stricken region.

FEMA's "reason" -- they wouldn't let anyone in "until the National Guard has secured the city." The details of his experience are below the fold.

Bill is a member of a volunteer firefighter team in the Houston area. He and his team have a lot of experience helping after hurricanes. And they also have special expertise -- a lot of them work for a living on oil infrastructure and repairs. Bill is a professional logistics expert whose assignments have included getting a client's tsunami-flattened distribution facility back operating within a couple of weeks, and pre-invasion logistics work in Kuwait.

On Monday night, his group assembled their rescue equipment and tools, and packed them into their boats along with all the emergency supplies they could carry. By Tuesday morning, they were almost to New Orleans. "We were stopped at gunpoint by FEMA and told to turn back," he told me. When I asked, he clarified that they did not point the guns at them, but they were carrying and displaying their weapons.

FEMA told him that no one was allowed to enter the city to help "until it was secured by the National Guard." The Houston team asked if they could wait. The FEMA staff told them yes, but that they shouldn't expect anything to change.

So they set up camp in the parking area where they had been stopped, and they waited. By Thursday night, when they were still waiting in the same place, some of the team returned to Houston. The rest decided to wait longer. And still nothing changed, so the remaining team members returned to Houston on Saturday night.

Needless to say, Bill is livid about this. I asked him why they had not been sent to some of the other communities in the hurricane-stricken area where security was not as much of an issue.

"We asked," he told me, "but they said that our expertise was more needed in the New Orleans area." The fucking catch-22 -- they were needed in New Orleans, so they weren't allowed to go elsewhere, but they weren't allowed to go into New Orleans, so the upshot was that they did nothing except sit and wait, and then go home in frustration.

What had him frosted more than anything else is that they also have very specific expertise, as individual professionals as well as a firefighter team, in dealing with damage to oil infrastructure in the aftermath of a natural disaster. "We've been doing this more than 10 years," he told me. "We are not amateurs, and we have an enormous amount of experience with areas which have been hit by hurricanes."

"A lot of the damaged oil facilities aren't even in the city of New Orleans itself," he told me, "so they weren't in an area that you would think would have looters or security problems that were different from any hurricane we've worked in. We're used to arriving and immediately going to work."

They didn't just sit and wait -- they kept going back to the FEMA people who were holding them up and making suggestions about how and where they could be useful. But FEMA had no interest in listening, and the line never changed. "You can wait if you wish, but don't expect any change anytime soon. Or you can go home."

You know all that "help is on the way" BS that was spouted? A lot of it wasn't just "on the way" -- it was already there, but blocked from doing anything because of FEMA.

We've heard so much of this over this past week, of help and supplies arriving and not being allowed in, of the USS Bataan cruising off the city with helicopters, medical facilities, and supplies, but doing nothing because they hadn't been asked to help.

I thought my outrage meter was already off the dial, but I discovered it had new levels when I heard the first-hand account from a friend who had left work for a week to bring specific expertise to the disaster, and who was among the thousands of such people blocked by FEMA and their incompetent bureaucracy from doing anything at all.

Another Kos Diary with a story of Carolina doctors turned away


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