A friend's sister has a husband who is an Arizona firefighter. He's gone to help with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort for FEMA.
Evidently things are going a little differently than the firefighter's expected. FEMA has them doing things somewhat outside of a firefighter's skillsets: FEMA has them acting as PR people, not utilizing their skills as paramedics, swift-water rescu, HazMat, etc.
At her husband's request, she's starting an anonymous blog about his experiences. Here's what she wrote on Tuesday
To steal a great line from my brother, FEMA is acting "shamefully stupid and criminally bureacratic" to the deficet of THOUSANDS of people.Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA - Entry for September 06, 2005
My husband is one of thousands - yes, thousands - of highly trained, dedicated and eager firefighters nationwide that responded to FEMA's call for 2-team crews to assist in the aftermath of Katrina. My husband and his team mate have been in Atlanta since Sunday - "getting processed". What does this mean?
They have had to endure standard operating procedures for chain of command - the same SOP's that they - the fire department - long ago gave FEMA as their model. They have had to sit through mind-numbing sexual harassment training - let us not forget these men and women work for municipalities, and other governmental agencies that REQUIRE this same training.
They have endured sitting around, waiting to be called up. However...in their "training" they were notified they were to be "community relation specialists" - hand out fliers with FEMA's number on it to evacuees. OK - at this moment...I need to sidebar. When talking to my husband tonight, I asked him to clarify for me the thought process - the conversation went like this:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Me: "so, you are being sent to Texas to hand out fliers to evacuees"
Me: "evacuees that have already been processed through FEMA via the shelter they are currently housed, that you are being sent to?"
Me: "am I missing something?"
Him: "Nope. You get it, I get it - all 2000 firefighters here in Atlanta get it - FEMA doesn't get it. We were told - after 9/11 - everyone loves firefighters, so we are the "new face" of FEMA. Hence, the 50 or so brothers that were sent to stand behind Bush in Louisiana on Monday for a photo op. They don't get that the Mayor of New Orleans is BEGGING for relief for firefighters. They don't get that handing out fliers is a job any volunteer through the Red Cross would be happy to do. We have been instructed that none of our skills - paramedic, swift water rescue, HazMat, fire fighting, incident command - none of it - will be used. Only handing out fliers with 1-800--621-FEMA.
Me: "Oh my God"
Him: "Yeah, its a total depressing, frustrating cluster****."
My hope is that before this is over that Brown and Chertoff swing for their utter lack of leadership, commitment and integrity. Over the past week while watching the news, I couldn't help but think Michael Brown was either (a) cold and distant from the situation or (b) just didn't get it - and was completely out of his league. The more I watch, the more I am committed to knowing he is out of his league - along with his bosses who are allowing this nightmare to continue.
OK - getting back to the thousand-or-so brothers and sisters in Atlanta - waiting and waiting...
I read a great article online tonight from the Salt Lake Tribune - which pretty much continues to relate FEMA's glibness in their postitioning
It's really a great article - http://www.sltrib.com/search/ci_3004197 I can hardly wait until this story breaks on the evening news......Federal officials are unapologetic. "I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak.
The firefighters - or at least the fire chiefs who assigned them to come to Atlanta - knew what the assignment would be, Hudak said.
"The initial call to action very specifically says we're looking for two-person fire teams to do community relations," she said. "So if there is a breakdown [in communication], it was likely in their own departments..."
My husband - as well as all firefighters - were told to be prepared to live out of what they could carry on their backs, expect to live in dire conditions - NOT ONE WORD was mentioned about leafletting. What is our government thinking?</font>[/QUOTE]