Saturday, October 22, 2005

Opinion: It's STILL a disaster. (FEMA, of course.)

First, FEMA continues to be next to useless. It is not providing relief workers with the access they need to areas crying out for their help. It is not keeping up with bills for the emergency work it has authorized so far. A shockingly large number of doctors and nurses are being told that their services are not needed. Those with the guts and the initiative to go ahead regardless are finding that the exact opposite is true –- thousands upon thousands of storm evacuees who have run out of their prescription medications, or require new prescriptions, or need help with a panoply of storm-induced problems, from simple cuts and bruises to infections and depression and suicidal feelings.

Secondly, FEMA and the Red Cross are not talking to each other to sort it all out. At the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana –- home to more than 5,000 evacuees –- there was, as of a few days ago, no formal on-site medical care. That meant people had the unenviable choice of going to the emergency room of a Lafayette hospital, waiting in line for hours and hoping for the best, or somehow fending for themselves.

Thirdly, the failures of the first six weeks or so since Katrina struck are likely only to compound the problems down the road. Sanitation in the shelters is a nightmare. Some professionals don’t exclude outbreaks of tuberculosis or other diseases one might have associated, pre-Katrina, with an earlier, more backward era.
It's taking FEMA a while to get their act together. Maybe they miss Brown?
All the emplyoers around New Orleans are crying out for workers. But FEMA isn't providing temporary houseing for workers. It's subcontracting with companies like Halliburton, who bring in illegal aliens and house then in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. FEMA wants to build trailer cities as far away as Lafayette. That's not going to do the workers who want to return and help rebuild New Orleans much good. A two and a half hour commute to a constructions job isn't very practical.

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