WTF ... IS WTF!?
We are a collective of people who believe in freedom of speech, the rights of individuals, and free pancakes! We share our lives, struggles, frustrations, successes, joys, and prescribe to our own special brand of humor and insanity. If you are looking for a great place to hang out, make new friends, find new nemeses, and just be yourself, WTF.com is your new home.

Why FEMA and everyone else sucks ass...

685
0
0
#1
In the wake of the Katrina disaster, there have been countless examples of how chaotic the response was and how inept the various federal and national response agencies were as they seemingly stumbled into action days after the hurricane struck. There have been difficult questions asked by the public and the media as to how a country with America's resources, money, manpower, technology, and characteristic sense of nationalism could possibly fail some of its own communities (cities, regions, STATES) so miserably when the need for help was so critical. Americans want to know why one of our own cities resembled the streets of Mogadishu in 1994 - however briefly.

I strongly wish to share with you my own personal experience from the other side of the disaster: I was trying to get INTO New Orleans from the moment the hurricane passed, and if I could go back I would do it differently.

I am a United States Marine who returned from Iraq in April and came home to my wife and kids in Houston. After the hurricane struck, I began coordinating people to head out to New Orleans to help with the Search & Rescue effort. Within a couple of days, the informal group had turned into about 15 Marines (all combat veterans trained in a multitude of applicable skillsets), 2 experienced Navy Corpsmen (medics), 1 EMT, and 1 skilled diver.
The following is a list of personnel and equipment that I gave to each and every person/group/agency that I tried to contact:

1. (1) SCUBA Diver
2. (3) Navy Corpsmen/EMT/Medic
3. (2) 16' flat-bottom boats + approx 1 week fuel
4. (15) People trained in Search/Rescue, Security, basic medical skills, or emergency response.
5. (10) Ballistic vests
6. Our own transportation
7. Our own rescue equipment
8. Our own medical supplies
9. Food/Water for approx 1 week
10. GPS Equipment


The point is that we had created a completely self-sufficient group capable of operating conntinuously without support for up to a week. We were organized, skilled, and willing. We knew that we would be able to help the situation, so it is not as though we were like many others making their way to New Orleans with nothing more than a desire to help. We had skills, we had equipment. All I needed was a point of contact and a way into the city. Instead of simply packing up and heading out, we tried to coordinate through one of the official agencies that were already active in the area in order to prevent confusion.

Unfortunately, nobody I contacted knew who I needed to talk to...who was coordinating the manpower or volunteer effort. I called the Red Cross, FEMA, MEMA, the New Orleans PD, the Louisiana State Police, the New Orleans Mayor's office, the Louisiana Governor's office, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, the Salvation Army, the Harris County Sherrif's department....and none of these organizations knew where to send me. The only people to call me back after our initial conversation was the Louisiana State Police. A polite Trooper called me back and told me that there was a protocol for people trying to volunteer manpower, and especially for the number of people I was trying to bring in. He gave me a number to call, told me that the people at that number would be able to help me, and off I went. Unfortunately, when I dialed that number (presumably to a government office) I got an automated message saying that the number had "been changed to an unlisted number." Return calls and repeated messages to the number from which the Lousiana State Trooper originally called me to try to resolve the mix-up yielded nothing.

This little story is probably barely worth noting, except for the fact that I feel like I witnessed first-hand the ineptitude that has marked the entire relief/response process. There was no cross-agency communication, no one group knew what the others were doing, and nobody knew who was working the search and rescue until I contacted the Coast Guard. Even then, the communication stopped and I could never get connected with someone responsible for anything other than answering phones.
I finally gave up trying on the afternoon of the 6th. A week of trying and I hadn't gained an inch...and things looked reasonably under control at that point...so I doubt I could have brought anything to the table. No, the window of opportunity had passed for those of us who simply wanted to help and went about it the right way.

There are going to be a lot of hard questions after this is all over.
 

void

Banned - What an Asshat!
4,126
1
0
#2
i read a story that outside the exclusion zone surrounding NO there are hundreds of RVs with volunteers in, many ex-military, all hoping to help.. they have put big handmade signs on the Rvs saying what skills they have and are all being routinely ignored and dismissed..