Squabbles Hindered Hurricane Relief

No one can forget the complete meltdown in command last year, when Katrina and Rita hit. FEMA continued to be an example of how not to do things. Right from the start, FEMA was a hindering group of buffoons. The delays and tactics of those misfits, still bring up debate till this day. People like Sheriff Harry Lee, of Jefferson Parish, had to take things into his own hands.

After talking about the situation concerning the Wal-Mart on Thursday, Lee said he briefly talked to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans on Friday. He asked her to check on the situation and find out if there was a legitimate reason to keep the store closed.

But because of communication difficulties, he did not hear back and took the situation in his own hands.

Lee said he gave handwritten notes to Wal-Mart stores in Harvey and Kenner saying they were ordered to open as soon as possible. Lee said Parish President Aaron Broussard agreed with the decision.

Lee said anyone from FEMA who tries to close either store will be arrested by deputies.

“We’re encouraging the businesses to get up and going.”

Signs point to problems still existing between FEMA and the Red Cross. The squabble between the two, mostly left poeple wondering if they were forgotten. Now into a new Hurricane season, we face some of the same old unresolved problems.

The government and Red Cross squabbled over chain of command issues during last year’s hurricanes, hampering relief efforts, a congressional investigation concludes.

As of two weeks ago, there still was confusion about how the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross would work together in the hurricane season that began June 1, according to the report Thursday.

During hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA and the Red Cross “spent time negotiating operating procedures, rather than focusing solely on coordinating mass care services in the early days” of the response, the report said.

“This partnership cannot function efficiently in the aftermath of a disaster without improved working relationships,” the Government Accountability Office concluded.

FEMA and the Red Cross were among the front-line responders to Katrina, which hit Aug. 29, and Rita, which followed on Sept. 24. But the FEMA and the Red Cross were at odds over which FEMA official should coordinate housing, food, medical aid and other assistance, the report said.

So we once again, see how safe we are, with some of the same old games.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who requested the report, said the investigation “leaves the impression that when the next hurricane hits, leaving people hungry and homeless, FEMA and the Red Cross will be haggling over who’s supposed to provide food and shelter.”

So what was the results of those continued ball drops by FEMA?

Among the other problems highlighted were:

_Red Cross staffers were rotated from their duties every two weeks to three weeks. That made it difficult for them to gain expertise, mobilize aid and collect victims data correctly. That has not yet been fixed, the report noted.

_FEMA was unable to track Red Cross requests for assistance for water, food, cots and other relief for states and local governments. That resulted in more follow-up work for the Red Cross and, ultimately, slowed and sometimes scaled back delivery of aid.

I don’t know about everyone else, but that report does little to make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

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