The following is from a friend who has a relative who is a firefighter helping in the hurricane zone. Re-posted with permission.
FEMA is the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. I find it rather frightening that they should be showing such obvious ineptitude dealing with the disaster.
I just got off the phone with ****. He describes a snafu like you wouldn’t believe. First thing that happened when they arrived was that they were told, “This is NOT a fire. You are NOT in charge. FEMA must make ALL decisions.” And damned if that isn’t so. Every request for a truck coming from an outside agency must be routed to FEMA. It is then sent to Washington where some asshole feels he must keep his finger on everything. The order to move the truck comes back from Washington. **** says they’ve already had a few cases where a truck was sent back. The truck would arrive, only to be told (angrily) that they had asked for it 2 or 3 days earlier, and, receiving no response, solved the problem in some other way, and they could take their damned truck and go home.
The fire department is full of get-the-job-done people. The Army is a get-the-job-done group. But they aren’t allowed to wipe their asses without some jerk in Washington telling them which hand to use.
The other day, a Sheriff and a group of deputies came on the post and commandeered a truck full of supplies that were desparately needed. Some Army guard tried to stop them half-heartily (a single guard). The sheriff tackled him, cuffed him, threw him in the truck, and took him along.
**** was calling to ask me to expedite a Treo cable to him. Apparently they have NO internet service there, although that is critical to the distribution effort. It is supposed to arrive Real Soon Now. TMobile service is spotty, but when it is up ****’s Treo can serve as a modem to his laptop, providing the needed link. Gah. This is his personal equipment, and the only way they can work.