Thursday, September 08, 2005

Screw Ups Go On and On

More examples of the disastrous response by the feds to Hurricane Katrina continue to surface.

Did you know, for example, that a Canadian search-and-rescue team reached a flooded New Orleans suburb five days before the US military?

Reuters is reporting that Louisiana State Sen. Walter Boasso is expressing his thanks to the Canadians who beat both the Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans, where flood waters are still 8 feet deep in places. "Fabulous, fabulous guys," Boasso said. "They started rolling with us and got in boats to save people." He added, "We've got Canadian flags flying everywhere."

The stricken parish of 68,000 people was largely ignored by U.S. authorities.
The Canadians simply chartered a plane and flew down to help last Wednesday. Two FEMA officials reached the parish on Sunday and the U.S. Army arrived on Monday.

Meanwhile, the US government still can’t seem to get it together as far as just accepting help from other nations.

According to Canada’s Globe and Mail, “Many of the nations offering aid to the United States after hurricane Katrina – including India, South Korea, Japan, Sweden and Germany – said Wednesday that they are still waiting to hear back from Washington on whether their donations had been accepted.”

India has a planeload of supplies waiting but with nowhere to land. “The plane is parked at the airport here, and we are awaiting instructions on where to send the medicines and food items,” an External Affairs Ministry official said Wednesday, declining to be identified under government briefing rules.

India said it would give a $5-million (U.S.) cheque to the American Red Cross on Thursday in Washington. New Delhi also offered to send military medics and water purification equipment. “The offer to help is on the table. We are awaiting Washington's response,” the official said.

Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Michel Lu said Taiwan is still waiting to hear from the US on what to do with $2 million.

South Korea has pledged $30-million and initially said it would send about 40 rescue workers and 100 tonnes of goods such as blankets, diapers, crutches, bunk beds and wheelchairs, to the United States by this weekend. However, it, too, isn’t going anywhere at the present.

Japan said it is in the process of transferring $200,000 to the Red Cross and had offered up to $300,000 in supplies such as tents, blankets, generators and portable water tanks, which are stored in Florida. But Tokyo is still waiting for Washington to identify which supplies are needed, a Foreign Affairs official said.

German officials say they have offered a wide range of aid, including search dogs, medical teams and even a military hospital ship, and say much of it has been on standby for delivery since Monday.

Sweden has a loaded a Hercules C-130 plane with water purification equipment, emergency power generators and components for a temporary cellphone network which has been ready to go since noon Saturday, but on Thursday it still had not been given clearance by Washington. "We are still waiting for the green light," Victoria Forslund said at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm.

And, as for those Cubans, Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez said Wednesday that the U.S. government should accept Cuba's offer to send hundreds of doctors to treat victims of Hurricane Katrina, provided they are needed and ``reasonably well-trained.'' The Bush Administration contradicting health care workers across the gulf region and around the country where displaced persons have been evacuated indicates they aren’t needed.

Last week, President George W. Bush said the United States could take care of itself. "I do expect a lot of sympathy, and perhaps some will send cash dollars," he said. "But this country is going to rise up and take care of it."

However, according to the International Herald Tribune, last weekend, the State Department sent urgent requests for international aid through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United Nations and the European Union. At the top of the list was cash, but the United States also asked for food, water, medical supplies and diapers.

Like everything else the feds have been involved in here, the delivery of aid from the international community is being bungled. Sources: Reuters, CBC, Metro Toronto Newspaper, Globe and Mail (Canada), International Herald Tribune

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