Thursday, February 16, 2006


" of the most difficult and traumatic experiences of my life"

---Michael Chertoff, US Head of Homeland Security, in his testimony to Congress about Hurricane Katrina.

Really? Mr. Chertoff? Hurricane Katrina was one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences of your life? I'd like to know more about that, because most of the people I know would say the same thing about Hurricane Katrina. Maybe you could compare notes with them. I have a feeling that the reasons that they would give are different than yours.

They would say it because their parents died in the aftermath of the storm.

They would say it because their house was flooded with 6 feet of water and they now live entirely in the 2nd floor of their house, while the bottom is being renovated.

They would say it because the hurricane destroyed all of the pictures of their children from when they were first born, up until their senior photos, and those are all irreplacable. Nevermind that their furniture, clothing, and car are gone.

They would say it because it caused their families to live in separate cities around the country for the first time ever, and they don't know if they will ever all be in the same place more than a few days a year.

They would say it because they lost their jobs, when the company they were working for didn't get any federal assistance in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and were then turned down for their SBA loan.

They would say it because they have been paying the mortgage for an uninhabitable building for just about 6 months now, while paying rent on another dwelling and waiting for a FEMA trailer.

They would say it because a loved one has committed suicide in the aftermath of the storm, which is happening at a rather alarming rate. Even those who haven't lost loved ones in this manner have lost countless loved ones to moving out of the area.

They would say it because all of the plans they had laid out for their lives, and the little square of real estate that they had finally paid off and planned to live on the rest of their lives may now never be redeveloped as a neighborhood.

I can tell you that the above has happened to multiple people that I know well, and several fall under more than one of those examples.

So, Mr. Chertoff, I wonder if you might want to reconsider your words. Or, better yet, come and spend a week with the people of New Orleans. Listen to their struggles. Let them tell you how difficult it is to get assistance from FEMA and the SBA. Let them tell you how long they have waited on hold. Walk in their shoes for just a week Mr. Chertoff, and I have a feeling that Hurricane Katrina blowing in and shaking up your politically appointed job and making you look like an incompetent executive will become the 2nd most difficult and traumatic experience of your life. Live the aftermath for a while, and see explaining the government's response to these individuals isn't your new number 1.

Thank you for the simple truth!
I never thought, when I survived this monster, that I would live- only to listen- to an increasing level of callousness after 5 months. I really thought we were all changed forever. I now am outside Baton Rouge, LA, and I do not beleive we evacuees are terribly welcome here. Every 6 PM newscast portrays us as either unwelcome or criminal. I lived out of my car for about 110 days, give or take about 10, until late December. There was zero assistance from anywhwere, except from the American Red Cross, and for that I am grateful. Someone else filed a false claim on my residence, and FEMA does not want to hear it, does not want to acknowledge their mistake. I am making the 200 mile round trip in person tomorrow, and am have already done it six times... BUT, they continue to pay out the ying yang to this scammer, and will continue to do so... so I keep on yelling! I can't imagine I am the only one. I understand that many, many more residents have been ignored, and frankly abused by this crazy system, and I will make it my life's mission to start resolving this with those elected. And guess what, I have heard zero personal response from the President to the parish leader.
To compound matters, I am disabled, I have worked hard and had a good life for many years....and yet I find myself on the edge...and it is scarey. Where is the basic level of compassion regarding our governments response?. I have been treated with nothing but contempt from FEMA. For my lifetime of personal property - I received $174 from FEMA. Maybe I do not deserve anything, but it should be consistent across the board. Don't pay my neighbor $33,000.00 and insult me with $174.00. If I seem angry... I am. I helped evacuate another resident as well as another friends dog as well as my own. Last year, I averaged less than 100 miles per month on the car, and since August 28, 2005 I am approaching 11,000 miles. It is tough on the run...and oh so expensive... The terrible truth - I just feel so uncared for - just so disrespected. How much more can one take?

I spent the majority of my life intimately concerned with nuclear safety, from Three Mile Island to Chernobyl. I am thouroughly convinced this nation will never
survive a serious physical attack on our mainland, and am even more convinced that FEMA is neither qualified nor capable to manage or produce a successful outcome. I am also not convinced that the leadership of this state and nation - are ready to get real. As another survivor of this storm reported - we never knew we "could survive with so little". Thank you...
Chertoff wouldn't last a week in New Orleans. One way or the other.
On Daily Show the other night, Jon Steward pulled the quote from Mike Brown saying he "felt abandoned" by the President and Homeland Security. They then showed a clip of people stranded on their roof. These jokers in Washington have no friggin clue.
Amen, brother.
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