Wednesday, August 31, 2005

FEMA on relief status

I addition to the weak response from President Bush it is coming out that FEMA, the agency in charge of handling major emergencies such as national disasters, has been slowly whittled down in a slow effort to eliminate it.
SEATTLE -- In the days to come, as the nation and the people along the Gulf Coast work to cope with the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will be reminded anew, how important it is to have a federal agency capable of dealing with natural catastrophes of this sort. This is an immense human tragedy, one that will work hardship on millions of people. It is beyond the capabilities of state and local government to deal with. It requires a national response.

Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why, at this moment, the country's premier agency for dealing with such events -- FEMA -- is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security.
These large-scale disasters are beyond the scope of state-level resources. Simply the food and water necessary to help the thousands displaced from a hurricane like Katrina is beyond the transportation capabilities. I heard on the radio this morning that over a thousand trucks were being sent to Louisiana and Mississippi to help.

Events on this scale need massive organization and coordination. Only a single federal organization can handle the logistics and settle the jurisdictional issues that arise. Now we see that the administration has willfully ignored the one agency capable of dealing with such a situation, a situation that was inevitable. Merely a question of when and where, not if.

Bush was kind enough to fly over the Big Easy at low altitude.

- Murphy

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