Friday, September 09, 2005

Aftermath Stories

Here's a Daily Kos diarist who's a doctor aiding the medical relief efforts in the Houston Astrodome. It's a very good full read, but here's an interesting section about working with FEMA:

 
After a couple of hours in the medical clinic I was pulled aside to screen evacuees to relocate to a cruise ship. A cruise company had offered a ship docked in Galveston. We were supposed to decide who was healthy enough to board.
[...]
They kept us sitting around for about two hours, during which time we decided which conditions to screen for and made up a checklist. They weren't going to tell the evacuees where they were going until they got to Galveston. Aimee and I objected - you can't just bus people out to Galveston and then tell them they're going on a boat. They have a right to make their own decisions.

Everyone agreed, once the argument was made - but in the end it was a moot point. We went over to the staging area across the arena at 10:45 p.m. There were two employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was coordinating relocation to the cruise ship, and about twenty-five people who were identified as FEMA "contractors". Evidently their job was to process the paperwork. They stood out a bit as paid employees in a sea of volunteers.

Come 11:00, the FEMA employees decided to knock off. The processing would have to wait until tomorrow, they declared - as if it made little difference whether 400 hot, miserable evacuees got to leave the Astrodome now or later. This lassez-fair attitude struck me as inappropriate in representatives of the agency whose slow response left thousands of New Orleaneans to die in the flood. I told the FEMA supervisor this. She smiled and assured me that my concerns would receive full attention in the morning. Then she left for her hotel.
 


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