Saturday, September 17, 2005

Disaster Kitty Update

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Since the day Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, I have had two days off. Today was one of them. I've spent the last two weeks working a few hours a day on my "real" job, and then the rest of the day with Red Cross. Somewhere in there, I managed to fit in time with my husband and boys. Not as much as I would have liked, but, in times like these, we all make sacrifices, right? At least I was home to tuck them into bed every night.

I thought you'd like to know what's been going on up here in the North. As of Friday, we have over 400 families registered for assistance with Red Cross, representing over 1400 people. One guy WALKED here from New Orleans- simply because his Mom is buried here and he wanted to be near her. He hitched a few rides, but damn... could you imagine losing everything you own and the only person you want to be near is in heaven? Unfortunately, there are thousands of people with similar stories. Even professional sports players in town were affected- we have three Bengals players who have family in the Gulf who have finally made it up here to relocate. It's heartbreaking to see and hear the stories of the survivors. It's even more heartbreaking to think about those who DIDN'T survive and how they died.

We opened two shelters in the Cincinnati area to house the evacuees. Of the 1400 that relocated here, only about 20 or so stayed in the shelters. This is a good thing- that means we have 400 families in Cincinnati who have reconnected with distant relatives and friends. It gives them someone they know to lean on and talk to. We, as Red Cross volunteers, can listen and talk and offer assistance, but the personal connection to this area that their own friends and relatives provide is priceless.

I've seen this disaster from the inside and from the outside, and it's ugly. Politicians playing good cop-bad cop make me sick. "It's not my fault- it's your fault" seems to be the recurring theme. I can tell you this- Nagin is an ignorant, corrupt asshat who should have "called in the cavalry" a WEEK before he eventually did. Idiot.

If he wanted National Guard, Army Reserve and FEMA assistance in place during the hurricane to provide immediate assistance, he should have called them in on Friday BEFORE the hurricane hit- at the latest. He should have enacted the written disaster plan for the city- BEFORE the levies broke. He should have listened to professional disaster planners and NOT used the Superdome or the Convention Center as shelters. They were so inadequate that Red Cross told the city of New Orleans that they would not put their volunteers in danger by placing them in either building during a major hurricane. However, both Red Cross and the Salvation Army had truckloads of supplies ready to stock both centers, however, the state of Louisiana turned them away. Yep... TURNED THEM AWAY. Think about all of those people who were starving and dehydrating- some of which died; and all of which could have been helped with those supplies.

I hate the blame game. I really do. Especially when the ones who are truly at fault don't step up to the plate and admit it. I'm sick and tired of Mayor Nagin's "Where was the calvary" cry. You want the calvary, buddy? Follow your own disaster plan and get them there as a precautionary measure. And once they're there (remember- we have pictures of the 82nd Airborne sloshing through the flooded streets on Day Two and countless pictures of our military rescuing those who either didn't leave or couldn't leave before the hurricane hit) ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. Nagin infuriates me- can you tell?

Anyway, it would appear that the influx of survivors into the Cincinnati area has subsided. Our caseworkers and other agency workers are trying to get their lives back to normal as soon as possible. Disaster Kitty can get back to being Mommy Kitty, Wife Kitty, and Worker Kitty... and let the Recovery Dawgs take over.


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