Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Another story of government incompetence in the response to Katrina comes from WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida

A medical mercy mission to a Mississippi city ravaged by hurricane-ravaged almost didn't happen.

Doctors and nurses with HealthSouth St. Augustine Sugery Center said Federal Emergency Management Agency officials refused to let their group carrying staff and a trailer of medical supplies into the restricted area.

"'Go home, we don't need you,'" Kathleen Floyan of HealthSouth said they were told. "If it wasn't for our state of Florida Highway Patrolmen ... (who) told us. 'Follow us, we'll put you in this location.' They put us across from the Waveland, Miss., Police Department."

The city, right on the water southwest of Biloxi, was almost leveled by Hurricane Katrina. Residents there said they felt forgotten, abandoned and neglected.

"They were devastated before they were banging on the door of the R.V.," registered nurse Cindee Wade said.

Katrina's victims were wheeled to these doctors in shopping carts or carried by relatives.

People brought injured hurricane victims to the doctors and nurse from St. Augustine any way they could.

The doctors said one woman in a wheelchair would have died without kidney dialysis. The St Augustine crew arranged to have her taken by air ambulance to a hospital in Mobile.

"It was incredible. We had tears; we had hugs," HealthSouth physician Dr. Robert de la Torre told Channel 4's Bruce Hamilton. "We saw all kinds of people just grateful for us being there."

The doctors and nurses left wishing they could stay longer, so they're organizing another relief effort and plan a return trip.

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