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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Otherwise Engaged 

Our esteemed colleague Pissed-Off Patricia from BlondeSense has been dodging hurricanes of late, but still found time to link to this acidulous weather report from Wayne Madsen of CounterPunch:
Because the state of Florida waited so long to evacuate people along Dunedin Beach on the Gulf coast north of Tampa, my [80-year-old] mother had to be carried into a bus by two firemen because the 70 mph winds from Hurricane Jeanne would have knocked her over otherwise. There were no provisions for anyone to sleep in the evacuation shelter, so my mother and several other of her elderly neighbors were forced to sit up all night on metal folding chairs. The Red Cross personnel provided no blankets or electrical outlets for evacuees to charge their cell phones. People at the shelter were prevented from using land lines to inform their families of their whereabouts. After not hearing from my mother for several hours, I had to call the Disaster Coordinator for her town of Dunedin and use my Washington, DC jorno credentials to force them to tell me where she was taken. The roads were impassible until this morning when my sister was able to rescue my mother from the rather dodgy church facility.

There are clearly not enough professional and trained disaster recovery people in Florida to deal with the current spate of hurricanes. Most of the most critical Guard and Reserve units, particularly medical and civil affairs personnel, have been called up to Iraq. The only thing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has managed to do was cordon off my mother's neighborhood and refuse to allow anyone to retrieve belongings from damaged buildings until FEMA deems them structurally sound. Knowing Jebbie Bush and his billionaire friends, the Gulf front buildings are likely to be condemned to make way for expensive beachfront condos . . . .

Dubya originally claimed credit for sending the Red Cross to Florida during Hurricane Charley. He obviously doesn't realize that the Red Cross is private and not a Federal agency. The Bushes cannot substitute faith-based and other charities for the National Guard which has the necessary vehicles (Humvees and deuce-and-a-halfs) to properly evacuate people, especially those with special needs. Most of the Florida Guard transportation units based at Camp Blanding have been moved to Iraq where they are sitting targets for Iraqi insurents while they are busy ferrying around supplies for Halliburton and Bechtel. These motorized units should be in Florida helping Floridians and not in Iraq helping to keep oil flowing to Chevron Texaco and Exxon Mobil.

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