Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The Fixin's Bar received this is his inbox:
Let Me Tell you a few things about the Utah evacuees:
The first plane arrived with 152 passengers. Of the 152; 10 were children. 3 of these children had been abandoned by their parents. As these passengers attempted to board the plane, the National Guard removed from their person; 43 handguns (it is Illegal to own a Handgun in New Orleans), 20 knives, one man had 100,000 dollars in cash, 20 pounds of Marijuana, 10 pounds of Crack, 15 pounds of Methanphetamines, 10 pounds of various other controlled substances including Heroin.
Upon their arrival here in Salt Lake City, two people immediately deplaned and lit up a joint. During the course of medical evaluations, it was discovered that parents were using their kids to carry loads of looted jewelry (price tag still on), and other items. One third of the people who got off the plane were angry that they didn't get to go to Houston or San Antonio. Over the course of the next 36 hours we received an additional 430 evacuees. Most of these, like their predecessors had to be relieved of illegal items. Additionally, most of them, were the owners of exceptionally prolific criminal records, just like those in the first flight.
By the second night in the shelter, there was one attempted rape of a relief worker, sales of drugs on going and a gang had begun to rebuild. When the people arrived at the shelter, they were given the opportunity to dig through piles of donated clothes from local church groups. Many complained that they were second hand clothes. The state set up a reception center with relocation assistance, medicaid and workforce services among many assistance groups. This past Saturday, workforce services held a job fair. 85 of the 582 evacuees attended. 44 were hired on the spot. 24 were asked back for a second interview. Guess the others had no desire to work.
Yesterday we began relocating evacuees to be with family or friends who had agreed to take them in as well as three to the county jail. Now in the health arena; 4 with Aids, 15% of those 582 had some form of STD, one case of TB, 2 Heroin withdrawals, 15 mental health admissions, one brain tumor and 15 nursing home patients.
Like everyone in this nation, I watched as the news media blasted FEMA and President Bush for the "poor response". While everyone on TV saw nothing but people being let down by government, I saw people letting down people. Who would have ever thought that we would reach a point in time that US citizens would lie around in piles of trash complaining that no one had come to pick them up out of it. What ever happened to people pulling together to make their circumstance better? Why couldn't they get up and move on their own or at least just clean up the area where they had to wait for evacuation? Why did they feel the need to take a crap in the aisle of the superdome?
FEMA did not fail them. FEMA is not a response agency. State and local government is responsible for the first 72 hours. But more important, we all have a responsibility to help ourselves and neighbors. Poverty is not an excuse to behave like animals. Difficult situations are not an excuse to loot your neighbor 24 hours before the storm even hits.
I have always said New Orleans was a toilet; now everyone has proof that not only was it a toilet, but a toilet long overdue for a flush.
-- Matthew Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 12th, 2005.