Monday, September 15, 2008

Dejà vú

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 4:47 AM

The New York Times, "After Surviving Storm, Fleeing a Filthy, Crippled Galveston":

The air was becoming foul-smelling and was swarming with mosquitoes. Sewage was beginning to back up onto waterlogged streets. The lack of running water was becoming a health hazard; without the water, people could not flush toilets or properly wash their hands.

Small packs of stray dogs roamed the streets. Helicopters buzzed overhead on search and rescue missions. Debris from ruined buildings lined the broad boulevard along the Gulf of Mexico. A line of about 60 cars snaked around piles of wood, slabs of concrete and fallen awnings, their drivers waiting for the Coast Guard to give out food, water and tarps....

“I will go anywhere but here,” Shannika Jones said as she stood at the shelter with her sons, both under age 2, in a line to board a bus. “My babies are getting sick.” Behind her were two rows of chairs filled with elderly people, some with open wounds.

“Next time they should warn people about this, not the storm itself,” Ms. Jones said.

Houston Chronicle, "Politicians, FEMA Blame Each Other For Relief Missteps":

The Federal Emergency Management Agency came under fire Sunday as emergency workers were left undernourished and dozens of trucks or water and food had yet to be set up at distribution centers around Houston and surrounding communities.

And no sooner had the agency — widely condemned for its glacial response to suffering after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — drawn sharp criticism as its leaders and spokesmen began to say it was someone else's fault.

Earlier in the day, a FEMA spokesman said delays in setting up staging points to hand out needed provisions had been caused by blocked roads. By the evening, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it was the fault of state officials who handed his department the "unexpected challenge" of having to prepare distribution points in addition to delivering supplies, something the state had committed to doing, he said.

Two local members of Congress from both political parties had a different take.

U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Houston, said he was told before the storm by FEMA officials that there was food and water already staged at the Ellington Air National Guard base.

"Now it's on the way? That doesn't make any sense to me," he said. "I don't know what happened ...The storm's been over for 30 hours.

"I hope some heads will roll in this," he added later.

U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, said he was "outraged" at the agency because first responders at two staging areas are without food and water.

Along with the humanitarian relief, I think we need to send post-hurricane counselors to Galveston, people who can tell them This is what's going to happen, and it's going to be this way for a long time.

And we're sorry.

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