Saturday, September 17, 2005

Getting Political

I know the topic of this blog is Amateur Radio and QRP in particular; but I have to get this off my chest. I have been watching the Main Stream Media for over two weeks now since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans with utter disgust! The way they are politicizing this natural disaster just steams me off!

I have been involved in Emergency Management for just about twenty years now. Admittedly, I'm a low level player without any real authority or expertise. I do however, "know the drill". I've been given enough training and have taken enough courses, through local government and on my own, to know how the system works.

When an emergency or natural disaster or terrorist incident of any kind occurs, the response is totally in the hands of local officials. It is up to the first responders (police, fire, EMS, public works) to handle the emergency the best they can. Once they use up their resources and realize that they are in over their heads, it becomes a county problem. The reponsibility of the county is to help the town in anyway they can - provide assistance, supplies or mutual aid if necessary. Once the resources of the county become overwhelmed, it is the responsibility of the state to take charge and do all it can. In the same vein, once the state is overwhelmed, the respective governor calls the President of the United States (POTUS) and asks him to declare an emergency which starts the wheels turning for Federal aid.

Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were hit by a hurricane of Biblical proportions - there is no doubt about that. But the repsonsibility of "first response" laid upon the shoulders of the mayors of the affected municipalities and the governors of these states. It was up to them to follow their emergency plans or SOPS (Standard Operating ProcedureS). It is quite evident from the events that occured that the SOPS were not followed or were woefully inadequate.

I have seen the SOP for my county; and was involved with helping to carry it out for years. The SOP is so thorough that it even details how to open the Office of Emergency Management, whom to call and what procedures to initiate if your the first officer to reach the building once a call gets issued! To this observer, it seems the response by New Orleans officials was willy-nilly at best - chaotic at worst. Their evacuation plans were not carried out; and it seems like their evacuations plans were poorly thought out from the get go. The response by local officials was not fluid and it appeared like they were not ready, untrained and were ill equipped to respond. It seems in Louisiana that everyone went off half cocked in their own little direction and that no one talked with each other. The governor appears to have been overwhelmed by the situation and was paralyzed with indecision.

So what does everyone do? Do they look at themsleves and figure out what went wrong and where? NOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!! Blame the POTUS and whine and cry that Federal aid was inadequate and was slow in coming, to boot! Why look at yourself when it is so much easier to just pass the buck?

If the mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana had their acts together, that city would have been totally evacuated before Katrina struck. Heck, they had five days warning! The head of the Hurricane Center personally called the Governor and begged he to evacuate! They had plenty of buses to get the job done, too. Too bad they ended up sitting in 5 feet of water!

I don't care what the Democrats say, what the Media says, what anybody says ..... given the scope of this disaster; and the amount that was dumped in their laps, FEMA, the military and the Fedreal government acted swiftly, decisively and competently.

73 de Larry W2LJ