- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Coping with Katrina

Shame. That is the only word that comes to mind as I watch what is transpiring in Louisiana. What was the U.S. government thinking? What was the Federal EmergencyManagement Agency thinking? Why were they not ready to respond to the desperate need?

I am a Canadian. I have been a volunteer firefighter, I have been a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross, I have been a volunteer with the Emergency Measures Organization, (the Canadian version of FEMA) and I have had the opportunity to be a member of a disaster response team. I cannot fathom the level of incompetence and lack of preparation that this nightmare is exposing.

With the technologies that are available and in use in this day and age, it was apparent long before the hurricane hit that it would be disastrous. It had been classified as a Category 5 hurricane before it hit land, and it was aimed directly at New Orleans. This knowledge was available to the general public. It was most certainly available to FEMA and government agencies in time for them to prepare to respond. It was predicted that New Orleans would take a direct hit with a Category 5 hurricane. Massive destruction was expected.

Warnings were issued, but what about the people who couldn’t evacuate? What of the infirm, the poor, the destitute who didn’t have a place to evacuate to and didn’t have the economic resources to evacuate or didn’t even know how bad this was going to be? Not everyone sits in front of a TV every evening watching the evening news or listens to the radio daily.

So, my wonderment is in the complacency of the government and FEMA. Why were there no supplies, troops, equipment, medical personnel, engineers, etc. in place in Tennessee, Alabama and Texas, staged and prepared to move in as soon as it was safe? Why is it now, days later, and people in an American city in the year 2005 are starving and dying of dehydration because the people responsible for their safety, security and well being failed to do their mandated jobs?

My heart breaks for those who are alive and suffering unnecessarily at this time.I am truly heartbroken over the tragedy that has befallen my great neighbor to the south.

JOHN A. BELL

Charlottetown,

Prince Edward Island

Canada

I cannot help being outraged at the partisan reaction to Hurricane Katrina. The initial reaction to the disaster was horror and sadness. Then, as with everything else, the Democratic National Committee and leaders of the Democratic Party find ways to blame the president for a disaster beyond anyone’s control.

The DNC said in an official press release, “Perhaps rather than posing for photo ops and making statements about the obvious truth the people of New Orleans already know regarding his failure to respond, we need leadership from the President.”

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said, “To the president of the United States, I simply say: God cannot be pleased with our response. If the president doesn’t have people competent to do the job, he needs to get rid of them and put somebody else in who can do the job.”

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Michigan Democrat, said, “I’m ashamed of America. I’m ashamed of our government; I’m outraged by the lack of response by our federal government.”

The Democratic leadership wants to turn the hurricane into a black vs. white issue. They want to turn it into a rich vs. poor issue. They want to turn it into a Republican vs. Democrat issue. Why, Democrats, can it not just be a human issue? The disaster struck people of all races, religions and classes. The hurricane didn’t only hit Democrats. It didn’t only hit minorities. It didn’t only hit the poor. The hurricane wiped out cities — entire cities.

Please get off of your high horses for a change and start helping the victims rather than looking for another reason to blame the president. Please.

JAMES C. BAILES

Alexandria

I am sickened by the drive from so many quarters to blame the president for the tragic events in New Orleans and related efforts to find “racism” as a factor in the less than impressive relief effort in the days immediately after Katrina hit land.

There is a failure of government in all this, to be sure, but the failure is chiefly that of the mayor of New Orleans to make adequate emergency plans in the face of a known and certain threat.

How dare the mayor criticize the federal government, when his own lack of planning had some responsibility for leaving so many thousands exposed to mortal danger? Every season hurricanes threaten the Big Easy and year after year they have warned city officials that a killer storm would one day surely come. The lack of preparation by the mayor and state officials to a known and predictable threat strikes me as almost criminal malfeasance.

DAVID BURNS

Springfield

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