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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