cross-posted at dKos

Sorry, I don’t usually do rant diaries, but I’m just boiling over and can’t take much more.

First there’s Military Tracy’s diary about how the head of the National Guard is turning down military assistance because he wants to prove the Guard can go it alone.

Then there’s the story of how the poor people waiting food and water at the convention center are being ignored and allowed to drop like flies.

Now there’s just been a report on the swift water rescue teams from my home state of California.  They have the expertise and equipment to save lives.  Today according to a report I just saw on Anderson Cooper they saved hundreds from flooded homes in neighborhoods that the Coast Guard hasn’t or can’t reach.  The only drawback is that there aren’t enough rescuers to go around.
They need more.  Why more aren’t on the way, I have no idea, because LA’s mayor Antonio Villairagosa has pledged to send as many teams as are needed and they certainly are needed in larger numbers than are currently there.

But that’s not the worst of it.

The worst is that apparently saving lives of victims who have already been waiting four days for rescue isn’t what FEMA is about.

At the end of the report the reporter announced that FEMA won’t be permitting the swift water teams to do any more rescues until they “are sure they are safe.”

The reporter considered that a questionable call since “they certainly are needed.”  Which begs the question of exactly what FEMA is worried about.  These are not neighborhoods bothered by looters.  Everything’s just too flooded.  The people are all too stranded.  The reporter went out with the teams and didn’t seem to think the rescuers were in any danger except the obvious ones of hidden debris under the water and the dangers of the filthy flood water itself.  Again, these are trained guys who are trying to help.  Why the hell is FEMA becoming an obstacle to people surviving?

Time is already running out.  There already are whole neighborhoods where no one has even been through to see if people are still alive, and FEMA is grounding teams that actually might save hundreds of lives?

Anderson Cooper’s reaction was that that was “just unbelievable.”   Mine is that I am beginning to wonder if old Michael Brown thinks his mandate is to reduce the number of living refugees that have to be dealt with later by leaving as many of them as possible to die where they sit.

God, I’m angry.

Update [2005-9-1 23:36:21 by katerina]:

The transcript from Anderson Cooper 360 is now up. Here is the FEMA quote:

SANCHEZ: Those swift water recovery units we were talking about in our report are not going to be going in the water any time soon. FEMA is concerned for their safety. They want to make sure they have security for them before they go back out. It’s a tough call, because there’s a lot of people who could really use their help. Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Unbelievable. It is simple unbelievable.

Update [2005-9-1 23:36:21 by katerina]:

On the network news (sorry, I think it was ABC, but I can’t remember for sure), they showed a group of New Orleans rescuees who were huddled on an interstate. “These are the lucky ones,” the reporter said, describing how all these people had been rescued in the last 24 hours and that they were actually going to be getting the buses promised everywhere but seemingly delivered nowhere and evacuated to Houston. Based on where the rescuees had been delivered to, I think a large number of them were the people rescued by the swift water team today. They stretched on and on and on. Thanks to FEMA there won’t be a similar crowd tomorrow. Is that why they’re stopping the rescues? Because they don’t know how to get them out once they’re rescued? Because lines of Katrina victims dying in the sun looks worse for them then hidden victims dying in the darkness of their attics? A dark and bitter thought, but the unbelievably incompetent and deadly actions of FEMA really make one wonder…

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