Disaster Relief: Orange County Delivers

With such unbelievable suffering occurring in areas ravished by Hurricane Katrina, it is becoming a little harder each day for me to concentrate on local politics. Please use this thread to alert readers to local fund-raising events and relief efforts. In the meantime, an easy and important way to extend help is by donating online at www.redcross.org

issue: 

Total votes: 195

Comments

Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 10:08 PM
Subject: Important: Aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina offered by
Mapleview Ice Cream Store

Dear Friends,

My neighbor, Muffin Brosig, owner of the Mapleview Ice Cream stores called
me tonight and asked me to e-mail a few friends to get the word out that
both ice cream stores will be open on Monday, September 5, Labor Day and
that ALL the proceeds will be donated to the relief effort for the victims
of Hurricane Katrina. Both the original country store on Dairyland road
near Mapleview farms (open 12-9pm) and the new store on Weaver street (open
12-10pm) across from Carr Mill Mall will be participating. All the workers
will be volunteers and ALL the money taken in for ice cream, milk, etc. will

be given to the relief effort. Please notice it is ALL the proceeds rather
than all the profits. "Word of mouth" will be the only advertising method
so please let your friends and co-workers know about this delicious
opportunity to help. Thanks so much!!

Sincerely,

Deborah Pearson-Moyers

P.S You may remember that the Mapleview folks did this on New Year's Day
for the Tsunami Relief effort and sent a check for more that $3000. This
was before the Carrboro store opened!!

What can we do locally to help? There's got to be some food drives or blood drives or some major organized effort to donate money, right? Granted they really need more soldiers on the ground before they can distribute aid....

Here's some info from the Herald Sun about blood drives:
--
Blood drives will be taking place throughout the next few weeks, and people who would like to donate may call 800-448-3543 to sign up for an appointment.

Donations will go into local blood banks, McDonald said, and then may be sent to the disaster areas to hospitals or field hospitals there.
http://www.heraldsun.com/orange/10-641961.html

The papers are also reporting fights and rapes in the Superdome. Isn't the basic function of an organized society to keep people safe? We seem to be failing horribly.

I think that money and wearing black ribbons will accomplish little. This is not a foreign country. This is OUR country and OUR people. We need to DEMAND that the federal government DO SOMETHING. How is it that our federal government can occupy an entire nation on the other side of the planet, yet they can't help our own people, when there are some of the largest military bases in the world less than one day's drive by car? We shouldn't have to raise money. We have a large military force that is equipped to capture and rebuild foreign nations. It's our government's DUTY to protect and help our own people in one of our own cities. I personally feel that fund raisers, while positive in the spirit, and definitely a good thing, also completely mask the fact that we shouldn't need fundraisers to take care of our own people. It's shameful that we have people in New Orleans dying of thirst a full 4 days after the hurricane hit. All we've gotten from our fearless leader is a warning that looters will be prosecuted and a request for his dad and another former president to start a *private fund* for the victims. This is the most disgraceful time for our nation that I've ever lived through.

I'd like to add my voice to Frank's. Relief efforts and charity from all of us are certainly to be encouraged, but part of our responsibility is to register our profound disgust at all the avoidable mistakes that have compounded this tragedy.

First of those that need to hear from us are the Democrats - which is nearly all of them - who stood idly by (or worse actively supported the war and many of the budget cuts & wrongheaded environmental policies) while the Bush cabal pursued their crazy agenda.

Societies have always had their power-hungry psychopaths who try to gain power & then abuse it. That's a fact of life and history. It is up to those closest to the process to sound the alarm & do something to protect the society. In our case, it is the Democrats & the media that have failed miserably and should be held accountable. They have let thge inmates take over the asylum. They need to be publicly "flogged" and lobbied in no uncertain terms to finally do what is right. Without their support, the tragic war in Iraq would not be draining money and resources from real security at home.

More local efforts from the News and Observer and Herald Sun this morning:

• Gov. Mike Easley is encouraging North Carolinians to donate to the N.C. Helping Neighbors Fund in which 100 percent of the money will be distributed hurricane victims. Call the North Carolina disaster hot line at (888) 835-9966 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or mail checks payable to N.C. Helping Neighbors Fund, c/o Office of the Governor, 20312 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-0312. (N&O)
• North Carolinians whose New Orleans-based universities have closed due to Hurricane Katrina have been invited to enroll temporarily at UNC. (HS)
• Beginning at 7 a.m. Wednesday, a local radio station and several other local businesses are teaming up to give away gasoline. Thanks to donations from several businesses, 1360 WCHL and the Citgo Mini Mart on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Chapel Hill will give away 1,360 gallons of regular unleaded gas, 10 gallons per car, until the supply runs out. Listeners to WCHL, the broadcast partner of The Chapel Hill Herald, are encouraged to bring canned goods, paper goods, cleaning supplies and monetary donations to the Citgo that day. (HS)
• Triangle Transit Authority will offer fare-free bus service on the TTA Express lines between Chapel Hill and Raleigh, and between Durham and Raleigh, through Sept. 9. (HS)
• Ephesus Elementary School in Chapel Hill is collecting money to send to the American Red Cross. The drive begins Tuesday. (HS)
• Chapel Hill-based Auto Pro To Call, a full-service automotive service and repair facility, will contribute 5 percent of all sales from today through Sept. 9 to the American Red Cross. (N&O)
• As part of the State Medical Response Team, Physician Preston Rich at UNC is one of 70 medical personnel statewide making the drive to New Orleans. Rich is trauma medical director for UNC Health Care Systems. (N&O)
• Neighbors in Kent Woodlands and other neighborhoods in Chapel Hill filled a cargo van with supplies Thursday morning, and a UNC professor drove the donations to Mississippi. (N&O)

Marc, I think that cheap partisan shots are completely inappropriate and irrelevant considering the circumstances. Saying "Democrats didn't do X 8 years ago" is a lot like blaming fission for blowing up Hiroshima. The fact of the matter is that right now, TODAY, the very second that I write this, the current federal government is willingly and knowingly letting tens of thousands of their citizens suffer and die in some very gruesome ways in our own country. Those that are accountable right now are President Bush, (head of the military that should have been called in on Tuesday to save these people), FEMA, Congress (they're on vacation!), and other politicos in Washington DC. This is not a partisan issue. This is a human issue. There'll be time for armchair punditry for many years after these people are safe (or dead).

Can we wait a bit before we begin the recriminations? Finger pointing will not help the victims of New Orleans. It will only serve to make us feel less helpless. Let's keep a united front until we have a chance to help these folks.

There will be time later for the blame game.

Yeah, but Tuesday was a vacation day for Bush. Sorry. Bad timing. Please leave a message. He'll call you back.

The focus here belongs with the purse strings, the congress and the need for a balanced government. They need to pull the plug on Iraq because the Administration is not spending it as advertised -- just like they did in Vietnam. Monies that were earmarked for rebuilding the country are now being spent on defeating the insurgency -- a hopeless effort.

Just watch Bush and Chertoff tell us how great everything's going in New Orleans and ask yourself how this applies to Iraq. When Bush's approval rating hits 30%, the rats (who want to get re-elected next year) will jump off his ship.

We thought the seven minutes of staring into space on September 11 was bad, but it was clear when he appeared with Bush 41 and Clinton yesterday that he is (after several days) still a deer in headlights. This time, however, he can't grab his belt buckle, say "dead or alive" and ride off into the sunset, promising that "we'll git 'em." With no "evil-doers" to explain, we're left only with his capacity to lead.

The silence is deafening.

A couple of things...

- I heard about UNC announcing they'd take in Carolina natives at the law school. We would certainly be willing to offer up our home for room and board for any student from LA.

- Is there any way we can start a network of local families who would be willing to take in refugees? If the Astrodome is already full, it won't be long before people will be creeping North.

John Allore

As I recall there were very similar criticisms after the tsunami. While the White House and feds should definitely be held responsible for siphoning funds away from wetlands reconstruction and levee maintenance, I don't think we can pass off all the blame on slow response to "them." The state and local response to Andrew and Hugo as well as 9-11 was much quicker and well prepared. Rather than criticizing others, I would prefer to ask what any of us have done to make sure our own local response would be to a major catastrophe--such as a leak at Shearon Harris. Who knows the evacuation routes? What are the plans for handling our poor and/or elderly populations? Can our county, town and university emegency services personnel communicate with one another and state officials in the event of a widespread power outage? What have YOU done to prepare?

I agree with Mark.

Policy makers have failed us in too many ways to enumerate -- and the loyal opposition has all but caved. The media are only now beginning to find their voices after years of groveling at the corporate trough -- perhaps only because they're living the nightmare firsthand for a change.

We are reaping what we have allowed to be sown. Corporate interests have trumped the common good. Infrastructure needs have gone wanting in favor of empire building -- while a sane energy policy has been buried in record oil profits. FEMA has been gutted, its failed leadership too obvious for anyone to see. And the incompetence of the Bush Sadministration is palpable.

Like it or not, this is political. Bush's photo-op briefing this morning says it all. No one is home in the White House. It's all spin and legacy building.

For better or for worse, NOLA has shone a glaring spotlight on the cost of our complacency and the delusion that market forces cure all ills. Now is the time to push this awareness deep and hard into the public psyche. Not next month or next year. We know too well about the attention span of the American electorate.

So where are our local leaders? Why are they not calling bullshit on the bureaucracy that they -- god forbid -- might one day need to depend on for emergency support?

There will be millions of people decending on DC on September 24th to protest the war in Iraq . . . and I suspect the focus will expand to all aspects of the miserable failure that is George Bush.

Will there be a companion event here in the southern part of heaven? Will we take to the streets in outrage at the state of this country and our failed national leadership? I'm ready to help make that happen. Maybe OP could lead the charge.

For those who would like to help, rather than complain, the Army Corps of Engineers has put out a call for contractors with various specialties to come to Lousiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
For more information on the specific needs for help, please go to:

http://www.usace.army.mil

There is a list on phone #'s and e-mail links for those who wish to offer their services ot the relief efforts.

One thing you can do to really help out is to offer your home. This might mean offering your home to some refugees for an indefinite period, but believe me, according to my friends in the city, they'd sure appreciate it.

Here's an official site for volunteering your home:

http://www.katrinahousing.org

Another list is the New Orleans Craigslist, which may have the most listings at the moment:

http://neworleans.craigslist.org/hhh/

Two blogs I'm following closely (one's a multi-user, the other an aggregator):

http://neworleans.metblogs.com/

http://www.livejournal.com/users/katrinacane/friends

I've spent a lot of time in New Orleans for work these last two years, and I've found about 10% of the people I know. At one of the research facilities I used as a source of sources, the official word as of an hour ago is that 2/3 of the people who work there are missing, as far as they know. I'm praying it's just the breakdown of the communication system.

Thank you, Ms. Ryan for your post of a helpful way one can assist.

It is sorry to see those who are all mouth and no action.

I recall Fran, the ice and snow stroms. I didn't look to Washington or Raleigh but to Hillsborough and my nieghbors to assist. The County folks provided chain saws to local fire department before Fran hit in case they needed them and they were used. The volunteer fire department provided water and helped in the early hours to clear the roads with the help of some farm equipment. I left my family to assist in opening the roads around where I lived and that was after I checked with the lake warden at Cane Creek to see if he needed help at the lake. We knew all the resouces were going to be used in the cities before they got out to the countryside and its no different in snow or ice stroms either.

We had to work from within before those on the outside could get in to help with the clean up.

For those of you with children, here's a newly published resource to help schools and families talk about disaster and personal resilience. I'm sure there are many children here in Orange Co who have been witnessing the disaster via the TV and are feeling as scared and helpless as they did after 9-11.

RESOURCES FOR HURRICANE KATRINA
Earlier this week Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast states. It
was one of the most powerful hurricanes in recorded history. Many lost
their homes and businesses. Others experienced emotional or physical
injuries, and some lost their lives. Thousands need shelter, food, water,
and medical supplies. MindOH! wants to help young people explore the good
that can come from a bad situation, and to encourage them to be courageous
in the face of a disaster. They have created a number of resources that
include a classroom lesson plan, a family activity and broadcast messages
intended to encourage both the victims of the hurricane and the giving to
relief organizations. These can be read over a school's in-house public
announcement system or television system. Feel free to pass these
resources along to your colleagues or anyone else who could benefit.
http://www.mindohfoundation.org/hurricanekatrina.htm

Anyone know of other resources to help families talk about this disaster?

Interesting use of the word "refugee," Duncan. Typically, it's use is more about fleeing to another country for refuge from invasion, oppression, or persecution.

Given how badly the government's response was in these initical days following Katrina, the use ofthe word might be justified.

Last night on the NBC special, Brian Williams, I believe it was, admitted to saying something to someone in his crew to the effect that "when we return to the states, ..." I'm sure a lot of the folks down there really do believe that they have been treated that way.

Sad all around, but it appears that there is a more energized response today.

UNC Housing is now compiling a list of locals willing to offer up room and board.

As well, this sight (based in Baton Rouge I think) is taking names of people who will offer up housing:

www.shareyourhome.org

Please pass the word around the community....

Weds., September 7th

Franklin St. Pizza & Pasta (163 E. Franklin St.) and Village Pizza & Pasta (to the right of Lowe's Food in the Chatham Crossings shopping center...15-501 south) will be donating ALL proceeds from both restaurants to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Please find time to patronize these locations.

With much appreciation,

Amy and Craig Samuels (proprietors)

So ... if we criticize the government or merely voice our criticism instead of announcing that we're doing this or that, then we're "all talk no action."

I'll wager there's virtually no one who contributes to this blog who isn't substantively helping with the relief effort, so I'd suggest that if you don't like criticism of Bush or the feds response here, then defend them on the merits instead of making presumptive statements about those criticizing.

Criticizing the government when it fails its people is a patriotic act ... one necessary to preserve our quality of life and our system of self-government, dammit. That's a kind of patriotism that's been in short supply the last few years, but seems now to be coming back into fashion.The mayor of New Orleans was quite outspoken over the airwaves of local radio there last night, telling the feds to stop calling press conferences and spinning while people are dying there.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/02/katrina.nagin/index.html

The really inspiring quote though is from Michael Brown, head of FEMA. If you were too poor, too sick (or both) to get out of the city of New Orleans, it's pretty much your fault you're stuck.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WEATHER/09/01/katrina.fema.brown/index.html

Disgusting. I'm with Jim on the local protest. How about at Edwards' Poverty Center? The Two Americas have never been more clear.

This administration deserves every bit of criticism for their deeds both here and abroad. However, this isn't a time for protests, it's a time to roll up your sleeves and get busy helping. Protest next week . This isn't going to be forgotten anytime soon.

I've got a group of volunteers who are going to hall supplies to shelters in Texas. If anyone has sleeping bags that are in good condition, pillows, etc. They'd be very much appreciated.

Jean, Mark, and James,

I believe I was wrong. Rage need not supplant empathy and compassion.

In fact, after giving it some thought, maybe we CAN do both, help out the folks in New Orleans in any way we can AND scream and shout at those who

1) failed to foresee this tragedy, 2) were in a position to have prevented this tragedy, 3) failed to plan for this kind of tragedy, and once it occured 4) have failed to bring the full weight of all our national resources to ease the suffering brought on by this tragedy.

At first I was troubled by #1, then I was alarmed at #2, enraged by #3, and absolutely livid by #4. Taken in concert, I am apoplectic.

Washington has looted our trust and rage is indeed the relevant emotion.

On a local note. I received an email from the University last night that their gas usage was UP, even though they asked people to refrain from use. Their gas shipment didn't show up and they aren't expecting more until the 15th (doing this from late night memory so forgive any inaccuracies). All transport except mass transit and one or two other things are halted.

I understand some frustration with my criticism of the policies that led us to this miserable situation . . . though it's hard to miss the irony of folks critcizing me for criticizing Bush. Ah well.

Each of us responds in our own ways to public disaster. Some give time and energy. Some give money. Some open their homes. Some speak out for change. The range of support is broad and deep . . . and we should each take great care before we presume that others aren't doing their share.

I especially appreciate David's and Jean's comments. They both recognize that it is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time . . . unless you happen to be the director of FEMA, in which case that would be a real challenge.

Regarding organized resistance to the right-wing assault on the common good, I believe it is critical to act . . . and to act now. Outrage fuels activism, and I daresay the outrage will not last long. Our nation is notorious for its short attention span. A few months from now, NOLA will be off the radar of the main stream media, left to fester in the blogosphere, untouched by the harsh light of public scrutiny. Gas prices will slip back to something tolerable, new ports will pick up the slack, and so on. And in the course of that soporific drift, the accountability moment will have passed.

Maybe that's just fine with some of you, but it's not fine with me. If you don't want to press this issue to drive a new agenda in America, that's your choice. But don't pretend this isn't political. In his disgusting photo-op briefing on the "situation" in NOLA, Bush went out of his way to praise the efforts of "Brownie" and his leadership of FEMA. He should have fired the incompetent hack.

Sorry, I forgot to add something important:

This thread is about disaster relief with an Orange County focus. I can see that my comments should have been posted somewhere else. Unfortunately, I didn't see the thread called: "Local Political Leaders Urge Public Protest Against Ruinous Bush Policies."

Happy Labor Day.

I thought the focus here was supposed to be "how to help victims of Katrina"?

There will be plenty of time for blame later.

On that note, it appears "craigslist.com" is the best place to post free lodging notices. The last I checked there were close to 100,000 posts for free housing across the country (many from the Triangle).

So far, few have taken anyone up on it, but I believe that is only a matter of time. People need to be rescued first.

Carrboro citizens and board members have been having conversations all week about how to respond.The town staff is also looking for ways to respond.Although it's not on the "offical"agenda I am sure that how we as a community can respond will be dicussed tuesday night.I have been encouraging folks who have ideas to come to the board meeting tuesday night at 7:30 to speak at the start of the meeting-which is reseved for citizen comment and concerns.
Some of the ideas I have heard so far include
Supporting area families who are taking in friends and relatives
Taking in college students who will be attending UNC
Raising funds to send health care workers
HAving folks donate cars
Using our community centers and churches as shelters
these are all good
If you have others please share them tuesday night or you can call me and I'll be happy to pass them on.
Yes Jim I agree we should be voicing our anger and worry over the lack of true security our fed tax dollars are buying for real people in crisis.I' also would like to know where those billons of "homeland security" funds have really ended up since we are now less secure then ever. Which private contractors and "security firms"have they enriched?At a time when local governments are being asked to carry more and more (ie take more of the heat for taxes) of the national finanical burden so that those in Washington can claim to cut taxes it would be nice to know that we are actualy getting what we are paying for in terms of security. I have already sent emails to DC as an Alderman asking for answers-surprise no response!
Jacquie

As someone who lived on the Florida coast and worked as part of my local Red Cross emergency response team, I would like to once again caution that immediate emergency responses must be local. As an untrained volunteer, my job was to go to damaged areas and knock on doors to identify individuals with medical needs for evacuation and to let residents know how and where to find local assistance. Of the 2-3 hurricane responses I worked on, we were typically out in the field within a couple of hours after the storm hit. Our focus was on immediate assistance and the feds came in within a couple of days to provide for more long-term assistance.

Criticize the feds all you want, I have no love for this administration. But understand that they are not wholly to blame. Where were the city, county and state services? I know nothing about Louisiana or Mississippi politics or their economy. The important issue for me is ensuring that Orange County along with the towns and university are prepared in the event of a similar catastrophe here. Government is not they....it's us!

This discussion IS part of emergency preparedness which we all know is primarily a local issue. The feds and only the feds can deal with catastrophic devastation like that we've seen this past week, but when are outraged by the galactic ineptitude of FEMA's response, it is in this context:

- post 9/11 there was no argument that focus on homeland security was needed
- at the same time, the G.O.P., the party that loves to hear itself talk about accountability and fiscal restraint, threw our country's fortune into anything that said "homeland security" on it It became politically impossible to oppose these measures.
- Whether the Gulf coast was hit by hurricane or a "Nuc-u-lar" weapon, the resulting devastation AND OUR VULNERABILITY from a security standpoint are similar and were inadequately met. Can you imagine that they didn't even airdrop some food, water and walkie talkies to that convention center?! They didn't know they were there? Many of those people were dropped there by rescuers.

This bring us to the central point. With all that money spent and all those thousands of hours of delay and confiscated nailclippers at the airports, we are less safe. First response communications, for example, were supposed to be among the top priorities post 9/11, yet Michael Brown learned of the convention center crowd from ABC's Ted Koppel.

Should a catastophe of this magnitude (regardless of cause) ever befall central North Carolina, we should properly ask RIGHT NOW ... where would we go? How would we communicate with rescuers? What is the thinking of local officials as to OUR state of readiness? Are there any emergency civil defense provisions at the Smith Center, for example?

Yes, it is RIGHT NOW a political matter -- for us in our safe, secure homes in North Carolina. Jackie and her colleagues in LOCAL GOVERNMENT need to seize that intense political focus NOW and query about OUR first responders' needs. They have gotten lip service and budget cuts from the Bush administration.

Politics is a contact sport. Now is the time to get this stuff on the table and press to restore funding for first responder training and resources that never came post 9/11. That's very much a local response, a poklitical political issue and on point for this thread. And so is Jim's protest suggestion which is three weeks out. Everyone in NOLA will have food and water by then. Michael Brown's resume will have started circulating. He's the obvious fall guy for this, though if Tenet got the Medal of Freedom, perhaps Brown will, too.

By the way, did Dick Cheney fall off the planet?

Some of us who DO see this as a political issue will be meeting at the Mediterranean Deli, tomorrow, Sunday, at 1pm.

I read that Dick Cheney helped craft the $10.5 billion disaster aid package--which only covers FEMA and DoD, not rebuilding. No word yet on how much Halliburton is getting for their contract.

Ah, yes. The rebuilding of an oil company-related economy ... I'm too cynical.

As for immediate relief efforts, one of the few organizations I still have some trust in is the American Red Cross. I made my online donation through them for Tsunami relief. It's probably the most efficient and reliable way to help now ... even though Bush says so.

I know the county got Homeland Security funds for communications, but I don't recall how much. I contacted Emergency Management Services on Friday to ask whether under their current level of preparedness municipalities, university and county services would be able to communicate with one another and the state if something should happen here. Their website looks like they are pretty well prepared in theory. http://www.co.orange.nc.us/ems/

At one time the Chapel Hill Town Operations Center was being designed to serve as the local Emergency Ops Center for CHCCS, Carrboro and the county. There was some discussion of dropping that purpose when the facility was scaled back earlier this summer. But I don't know the final resolution.

I no longer think that's it's possible to be too cynical. The Red Cross was prevented from going into N.O. I didn't--couldn't-- believe it, but it's on their website:
http://www.redcross.org/faq/0,1096,0_682_4524,00.html#4524
Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

Terry,

I believe for FY05 State entities pooled their requests for DHS funds in order to purchase an upgrade to the emergency radio system.

My friend Charlie Morris writes:

Mark,
Thanks for inquiring about what we are doing in terms of supporting some families that were evacuated from NOLA. A group of people and myself have one specific goal: to clothe 3 families that we are in direct contact with. We have made a lot of progress in this area thus far, purchasing lots of clothes at thrift shops and picking up donated clothing. Our goal also is to have 3 outfits per person in these families. Below you will find a partial listing of the youth we are still trying to get clothing for. If you know of anyone who can assist with collecting these types of items please let us know. Have them email us directly at morrisfamily5@gmail.com OR call me at
357-3903 (Chapel Hill area cell phone). The way we are working it is to ask folks to take on one child and find the items for that one child. But so the effort is not unneccessarily duplicated, we do ask that they work it through us first.

5 yr. old boy
5 yr. old boy
6 yr. old boy
7 yr. old girl
4 yr. old girl

we are taking down all gathered clothing to Atlanta on Monday. So we are hoping to gather items by Sunday evening.

Thanks again for asking,
Charlie Morris
Carrboro, NC

Good time to remember "John Wesley's Rule":

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

A quick thanks to everyone who's e-mailed and called to participate. I've been a little overwhelmed by the number of people willing to help, so I'm a little behind responding. We still very much need toiletrie items: toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby wipes, combs, and deodorant. Another pressing need is disposable diapers, especially toddler sized.

Terri,

Here's a little reality check from a Regional coordinator for Virginia Emergency Services. I wrote him:

Hi ******,
I've been wondering what you think about what is going on in New Orleans. Everyone is criticizing the feds-- what do you think? Do you think the Louisiana state services responded well? Would things ever be this messy in Virginia?
Finally, are you involved at all? If so, stay safe!
Mary

Hi Mary,

Let me try again... I am not going to the Gulf at this time due to the undesirable conditions, plus there is no place suitable to stay at this point. A few of my coworkers have left in the past couple of days, but they felt more "obligated" than I do! Sleeping in a tent or the backseat of a vehicle is not my idea of being a hero or martyr...

As for the federal and state response in the Gulf, I believe it is not the best it could have been. New Orleans, Biloxi, Mississippi, or Louisiana did nothing in advance of the storm to facilitate a reasonable and effective response and recovery effort. In other words, it is all about bureaucracy! No one wants to take the initiative to help until they know they are going to be either reimbursed or guaranteed payment for services rendered, either emergency or long term. This holds true for all levels of government, all the way from the locals to the feds. That has always been a frustration for me in my position....no one really wants to help and render aid until there is an assurance that they will be paid or reimbursed...including the Red Cross!

As for Virginia, we are in the same boat. After Hurricane Isabel, nothing has really changed... It is all about money, politics, and legislation... Virginia would be just as messy (and I have encountered it many times). If a powerful hurricane hit Tidewater Virginia, it would be the same thing as New Orleans...

It is not about help, it is all about MONEY!

**********************************************Good thing I am not in New Orleans, the evacuees would have shot me by now...

Love, **********

I have to say I'm appalled by the sentiments expressed on this thread, and by the fact that so many of the comments are coming from the so-called "leaders" of the Orange County political community. The only person on this thread making any sense is Terri, and several of the other commenters here seem interested only in hooting her down.

Before I elaborate, let me lay down the basis of my knowledge of these matters: I've covered three major hurricanes (Hugo '89, Fran '96, Floyd '98), immobilizing blizzards and ice storms almost too numerous to count, a killer tornado ('92), the occasional flood (most recently the one at Eastgate), the Phi Gamma Delta fire and the local fallout of 9/11.

If there's one thing Cal Horton, Dan Jones, the late Nick Waters and many other emergency management officials have tried to drum into my head, it's this: Any community hit by a regional weather event/disaster has to figure that it will receive NO outside help, from any source, in the 72 hours that follow the event. It simply takes that long to assess needs, mobilize assistance and begin the transportation process.

That noted, I'd say there's nothing in my experience with three hurricanes of category 3 intensity or worse that leads me to believe that this relief effort, at the federal level, is proceeding more slowly than others of its type.

The weakness I see -- and that Terri sees -- is with the local-government response in N.O. The feds do not come in and take over after a disaster; they supplement the local effort. Command and control always remains with the locals. They're the foundation, and if the foundation is weak, the post-event response will also be weak.

Government and policing in N.O. -- and in Louisiana generally -- is famously corrupt and inefficient. The schools are among the country's worst, the cops are its most crooked, etc. No one should have expected this bunch to be on top of things, and it hasn't been.

There are many things the locals are culpable for. The most striking to me are:

1). The N.O. mayor's delay in ordering a mandatory evacuation, even in the face of an obvious threat.

2). The failure to organize bus transportation for those too poor or infirm to leave on their own hook (this photo of ~200 unused buses is getting a lot of play on other blogs).

3). The failure to properly set up and secure emergency shelters at the Superdome and the convention center (county governments here can have shelters up and running within a couple of hours after getting the order; the dome seemed to lack basic amenities like cots, and there certainly weren't enough cops on hand inside to quell thuggery).

4). The bug-out of the N.O. Police Dept. There are numerous wire reports that many officers either turned in their badges or simply disappeared, well before the 72-hour window mentioned above had elapsed. Things like this have happened before. The best book on the L.A. riots puts much of the blame for what transpired in '91 on the demoralized LAPD's decision to withdraw from the neighborhood the riot started in.

Compounding all this is the apparent difficulty the N.O. leadership had in maintaining its command-and-control network. The chain-reaction impact of this cannot be overestimated. If the chiefs couldn't talk to the troops, and the troops couldn't talk to each other, everything they tried to accomplish would have proceeded far more slowly than need be. It also would have contributed to the isolation and demoralization that may have fed the PD's bug-out, and would have hampered the ability to use outside assistance when that assistance finally arrived.

OK, that's New Orleans. Is Orange County prepared? Quite well, I'd say. But that's not a given.

After Fran, OWASA wasn't able to supply safe drinking water for a day or two because it didn't have generators to operate its raw-water pumps. The board was initially very defensive, but in the face of criticism (criticism spearheaded by yours truly, BTW), it elected to buy more generators. That investment -- which one board member considered an over-reaction to a "once in a lifetime" event -- has proven itself several times since, particularly in the most recent ice storm. Not that Chapel Hill has gotten the message -- last I looked, the council had again postponed the purchase of a generator for Town Hall to save a few 1/100s of a penny on the tax rate.

Mary's Virginia contact is right in saying that local governments are sometimes prone to holding back on precautions because they're afraid of being left holding the bag financially. This is not a problem Orange's governments suffer from. They've had lots of chances, unfortunately, to work with FEMA and know how to put in and document reimbursement claims.

Ray, originally, the TOC was supposed to be home to the a fairly decently designed EOC. The idea was to steer the expenditures to the site that could most use it - the new EOC. Instead, the EOC has been pulled from the short term TOC plans and the Town Hall is getting sufficient generators for the phone/computer system (but not enough to run A/C during a crisis).

I'm hoping the new EOC issue gets a revisit ASAP.

Maybe Terri could elaborate on the discussions the Tech Board had on the Town Hall generators.

Ray - I assume you are aware of all the FACTS in the case.

Like 40% of New Orleans kids live below the poverty line and 30% of its residents DO NOT OWN CARS.

That means even though the mayor ordered an evacuation before the hurricane hit. That means 150,000 mostly poor people had no physical means to get out.

Ask the mayor of Raleigh or Durham how they'd evacuate 150,000 people in 48 hours and where they'd get the money to do it. Ask Cal Horton how feasible it is for a poor municipality to do that on its own. It can't be done.

The governor made a request for troops on Sunday before the storm hit. Also, active duty military (non-guard) are not requestable by governors or mayors. (the PDF request by the governor is circulating on the internet)

Mike Brown - head of FEMA - was either fired or resigned from his last job as the head of a horse association and only ended up as head of FEMA because the last director left and he was his college roomate. Sure New Orleans has corruption but the more people learn about the FEMA director the more corruption will come into play at FEMA.

The famous quote from Bush
"We never anticipated a breach of the levy" is amazing.
An LSU professor yesterday said they had rehearsals calling the hurricane "Pam" and that he handed a CD to white house staff predicting the levy breaches, anarchy, and disease. At this rehearsal both the army corp of engineers and FEMA were also there.

the levy breach and flooding has been predicted for years and programs to deal with it underfunded for a long time.

many of us have the sneaking suspicion that will never be confirmed that all the guard troops in Iraq somehow contributed to the disaster.
e.g. 7.000 Lousiana National Guard were in Iraq and could not be called by the governor.

as far as the unused buses.

Bus drivers refused to drive into the city because of the lawlessness that could only be controlled by the NATIONAL GUARD (that were in Iraq at the time).

The lessons from the LA Riots are that minimal local police forces (and New Orleans' is actually smaller given the population compared to many cities) - are not sufficient in crises times.

FEMA will get the lions share of the responsibility Ray. the unqualified director why the government didn't use barges to evacuate the civic center which Lies on the Mississippi River is unbelievable.

FEMA will probably be reorganized again and hopefully removed from the "homeland Insecurity" department.

Ray,
Thanks for your perspective. You are probably right that here in Orange County we've got the money, organization, political clout, and educated citizenry to handle emergencies relatively well.

My contact would wholeheartedly agree that poor, disorganized, and politically challenged communities suffer more in disaster situations.

So where is the failure of leadership in New Orleans? It may be most glaring at the local level. At the local level, where was the vision? Where was the plan? New Orleans is a city that should have been overprepared to deal with a catastrophic natural disaster.

The New Orleans experience points to poor, poor leadership--- poor, poor planning--- poor, poor education. Who is most responsible? The locals? The state? The feds? Politicians? Educated citizens? I think all share in this failure, and much wisdom will be gleaned from all that has happened in New Orleans.

I, too, am not convinced that anything in New Orleans would have unfolded differently even if I had a president that I like, or even if we weren't involved in Iraq. Hurricane Katrina is a wake up call for leaders of all political persuasions.

By the way, nice article in CHN today about local relief efforts: http://www.chapelhillnews.com/news/story/2780871p-9219833c.html

Thank you Ray. The other thing we learned in Florida was about advance evacuations. The first couple of years after Andrew there were massive evacuations anytime a hurricane close to us. Even 10 years ago the landfall predictions were not as accurate as they are today and so evacuations were occurring in Florida when landfall eventually came in Georgia or NC. The expense to business owners and residents was high and within a couple of years, as we saw last year, the warnings started going unheeded--even by those with the means to leave. The same story is coming from MS and LA--"we lived through Camille and Ivan, didn't think this would be any worse." The laissez le bons temp roule attitude was clearly perpetuated by local officials. A city with 40% poverty levels must surely understand that evacuation would have to involve public transportation. And in terms of shelter, they should definitely have understood that the AstroDome needed more than a day or two of food and water supplies. I suspect all coastal areas will cycle back through the overpreparedness FL experienced after Andrew for a while--which is a good thing given the increasing frequency of major storms.

As for Orange preparedness, in addition to preparing to handle our own emergencies, we also need to consider how we would provide relief for residents of a major NC coastal event. I hope citizens will take this opportunity to look at state and regional preparedness including (especially) communications and ask hard questions. If our local or state officials answer that we don't have money, then we need to let them know that other priorities might need to be shifted NOW instead of waiting until we are in the midst of crisis.

None of this is to say the feds handled their end of the catastrophe well Helena. They didn't. But the first level of defense is always the home front.

My recollection of the Chapel Hill generator status is that new units for Town Hall and the Fire Dept. were authorized through CIP funds for this year. But that still leaves us without any centralized "command post" for the county if/when an emergency occurs. As far as I know that TOC Emergency Ops area was eliminated without asking Carrboro, Orange, and CHCCS to contribute to its outfitting. Although the space is still in the plans, the special wiring and equipment had been removed last time I saw the plans (June). This might be a good time to reconsider that decision.

John A--you're right about the Homeland Security funds being used to purchase radios. I just don't know if that's all we got (or asked for). The CH IT advisory board wasn't part of the radio purchase decision and at first we were skeptical of the decision to purchase 900MHz (?) equipment, but I see now that the low-tech decision was the right one. I still have no idea how my neighbors or I would ever know how to proceed after an emergency except through WCHL.

Ray makes a lot of good points here, most especially about the corruption at many levels for many years in New Orleans. It's something of a perfect storm (forgive the pun, if you want to call it that) of corruption meeting incompetence, however. Where FEMA should have been supporting New Orleans officials, they were turning help away and dropping evacuaees in Jefferson Parish, where the sheriff was on television saying he couldn't get anyone in FEMA to listen to him ... that he had no food, water, shelter or medical assistance to offer those being dropped on his doorstep.

Yes, FEMA's role is one of supporting the locals, but clearly on this level the power of massive coordination must be a federal function ... right?

I agree with you that "massive coordination" must be a federal function, Jean. There are so many stories of FEMA turning away Walmart, the Red Cross, etc. that I feel sickened. There are also reports that Governor Blanco asked FEMA to call in the National Guard early in the week. My point, which apparently offended you and others earlier, is that first line relief must come from local government. It's not the Feds fault that people without their own cars weren't evacuated--that was a local planning failure.

The nightmare at the AstroDome is simply inexcusable as is any refusal of services. I understand that those offers need to be coordinated to ensure equitable distribution of relief and to protect people from being hurt, but those services should surely have been accepted by FEMA rather than turned away, even if they weren't immediately ready to begin distribution.

There's so much failure to share here. No one, at any level of government, should be let off the hook once the most immediate care for the refugees has been effected.

I don't want to discourage anyone from donating to the Red Cross, but please consider other organizations that need assistance also. FEMA is apparently not allowing any aid organizations into New Orleans but the Red Cross is actively assisting people who have been evacuated already.

http://acorn.org/
http://www.americares.org/
http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/

It's not FEMA, Ethan. It's state and local authorities who are barring the Red Cross from going into N.O. I don't know why it's so hard for people to grasp that the feds don't ever take on-scene command of these situations.

Note the following from the Red Cross press release Vivian linked to earlier:

"Access to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders."

"The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city."

The National Guard in this situation is answering only to the governor of Louisiana. "Local authorities" obviously refers to the city government. And note the adjective on the reference to the Homeland Security Department -- "state," meaning Louisiana has set up a parallel organization to the federal agency of the same name that has a large say in the matter. Nothing in the Red Cross press release points a finger at the feds.

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