In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, several witnesses have alleged that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) turned away volunteers who were ready to help New Orleans residents people trapped in their flooded homes. Other witnesses have said that FEMA turned away offers of aid, prevented water and fuel from reaching people on the ground, and cut emergency communications lines. ...Pentagon: USS Bataan Waited Days For Orders to Help Out
According to the Loudon [Virginia] Times-Mirror, "Sheriff Steve Simpson and his staff spent 12 hours trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Center to act. They didn't, and the 20 deputies and six emergency medical technicians–all volunteers–turned around and came back to Loudon."
According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, "up to 500 airboat pilots" volunteered to help rescue flood victims [and] "are physically sick, watching the New Orleans coverage and knowing that the resources to help these poor people is sitting right in our driveways." ...
Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard said that "we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, 'Come get the fuel right away.' When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. 'FEMA says don't give you the fuel.'"
Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, a Pentagon spokesman for Northern Command, revealed on the BBC that NorthCom was prepared to send in search and rescue helicopters from the USS Bataan almost immediately after the hurricane hit. He said, "We had things ready. The only caveat is: we have to wait until the president authorizes us to do so." That authorization didn't happen for days even though the ship was docked just outside New Orleans. On board the ship had doctors, hospital beds, food and the ability to make up to 100,000 gallons of water a day. ...Media groups say FEMA censors search for bodies
The Cuban government has also announced that the U.S. State Department rebuffed its offer of aid. Last Tuesday Cuba offered to send 1100 doctors to assist in the crisis. Cuba said the doctors could have been on the ground by last Wednesday.
When US officials asked the media not to take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, they were censoring a key part of the disaster story, free speech watchdogs said on Wednesday. ... "It's impossible for me to imagine how you report a story whose subject is death without allowing the public to see images of the subject of the story," said Larry Siems of the PEN American Center, an authors' group that defends free expression.Has the Bush Administration banned all media from New Orleans? It sounds like no new media are being allowed in, and any media that leaves cannot return. ... What do they want to hide?
Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press found this stance inexplicable. "The notion that, when there's very little information from FEMA, that they would even spend the time to be concerned about whether the reporting effort is up to its standards of taste is simply mind-boggling," Daugherty said. "You cannot report on the disaster and give the public a realistic idea of how horrible it is if you don't see that there are bodies as well."
The incompetence by the Administration is so widespread, many people feel that it cannot be a coincidence (much like so many levels of US defense all failed at exactly the same time (and so completely) on September 11, 2001).
It is something I'd like to read a lot more about -- as well as the FEMA relocation camps -- but having been away from this story and its many threads for a week, I feel like I'll never catch up.