Thursday, September 01, 2005

Toledo's Heart

As shocking, saddening images and stories continue to pour in from our Gulf Coast, Mayor Ford and other leaders are drawing up an appropriate response. So many citizen heroes in our community have already taken the initiative in reaching out, from the International Services of Hope to our local Red Cross chapter. It is a time for everyone in our community to join together and offer aid to the suffering.

I participated in a conference call late this afternoon organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors at Mayor Ford's invitation.

On the line were top FEMA and White House officials, along with mayors from coast to coast, to go over plans to mitigate the disaster.

Dan Craig, of FEMA, listed the priorities: First, life safety - rescuing the stranded, evacuating the Superdome, etc. Second, law enforcement - activating the Guard, restoring law & order. Third, life sustainment - the logistics of food, water, and essential medicine. Fourth, housing - there are 500,000 evacuees from the City of New Orleans, and tens of thousands more from across the region.

He indicated that it would take 6 months to "unwater New Orleans" after which it would be a few more months to clear debris, then begin the process of restoration - that in itself is a debated point.

Craig also reiterated that cash donations were most preferred, that any personnel offered should be run through each state's emergency management agency, which is working hand-in-hand with FEMA. A toll free "800" number will be released Friday to serve as a national clearinghouse of help and information for survivors.

One of the most pressing issues relayed to The White House from several Mayors were reports that as many as 52 Gulf Coast region small town Mayors were not receiving any help whatsoever from FEMA or their state's EMA. It was reported that some of these small town Mayor's were crying, and in one case, that all the senior citizens in a particular small town had perished from a lack of food, water and medicine.

Another major topic was offers of housing, schools and residency. FEMA will give a refugee as much as $25,000 to start over someplace else. "Permanent relocation." They are also spending $1.4 billion on travel trailers - "buying them as fast as they are built." Cities are also being faxed "housing questionnaires" to give FEMA planners data on where there are available hospital & nursing home beds, as well as temporary and potentially permanent shelter. Many Mayors were offering state parks, closed military bases and college dormitories.

Mayor Don Plusquillic of Akron will be coordinating with Ohio's big city Mayors on fire fighters and other emergency personnel. Mayor Ford is taking the lead locally, along with Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, and has called an interdenominational meeting Friday at 2:00pm with clergy and religious leaders across all faiths in our area to marshal resources, and presumably, to appeal to God for mercy for the survivors and rescuers in our American South.


Blogger historymike said...

I hope that Toledoans will continue to set the pace for the rest of the state in generosity.

This tragedy is of a magnitude so far beyond "normal" disasters as to be almost incomprehensible.

I hope that someone of the caliber of Rudy Giuliani steps up in the next few days to lead the recovery efforts.

It sure doesn't seem to be coming from the White House. GWB said all the right words, but his focus on "zero tolerance" and for New Orleans residents to take "personal responsibility" for the looting makes it seem like he is blaming the starving and desperate people still stranded in the Big Easy for the situation in which they find themselves.

I hope that the actions of a few thugs and idiots do not harden the hearts of Americans toward the residents of New Orleans.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

From reading news reports late tonight (got in late from giving a speech in BG) it seems clear that the Federal government is just as overwhelmed as state and local governments in responding to this thing.

I'm not going to assign blame, but will say we collectively need to learn how to respond to mass evacuations, casualties and refugees of American cities, suburbs and rural areas.

The next disaster may or may not be natural.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

Thanks for your words Mike - you got it right. I'm not a philosopher, but this experience should fill a textbook. For every 10 acts of courage and heroism there seems be one act of looting and violence. Grant that some folks are doing what it takes to survive, and some folks have indeed lost any sense of responsibility.

The President should send in the Marines to restore order and save lives, and our U.S. military should immediately provide food, drink and necessary medications - and transport the elderly and sick - without delay and around the damn clock. I know people are working to do the right thing, again, I'm not assigning blame here.

12:31 AM  
Blogger historymike said...

I am not much of a fan of GWB, but I thought he did an excellent job in the weeks after 9/11, providing leadership and a sense of stability.

I am not seeing the same leadership this time around from our President. I agree that local, state, and federal agencies are overwhelmed, but it is frustrating to see thousands of people without food or water.

What is even more bizarre is that the networks seem to have no difficulty walking right up and putting a camera in the face of these desperate folks, but government relief agencies can't seem to find them and toss them a few cases of water and some MREs.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Sepp said...

Just like any other big city, N.O has it's share of thugs. Scumbags that shoot at relief helicopters and threaten doctors at gunpoint in hospitals and looting homes deserve no mercy when justice is served. If GWB isn't doing enough in your oppinion...what would you do different? Declare a disaster area? Done. Send in troops to help? Done. Aid package? Done. Here's something to ponder...A lot of national guardsman being deployed to N.O are Iraqi war vetrans. (I know of 2 that are). These folks made it through 18 months of Iraq only to be shot at by thugs in America they are trying to help? America needs to take a good look at it's values and do something about it.

1:19 PM  
Blogger historymike said...

Look, Bush himself today admitted that the "results are unacceptable."

Today (Friday) the Guard and other military forces arrived to secure the city. Why has it taken so long?

The mayor of New orleans, in frustration, told the feds to "get off your a**es."

I find it hard to accept that the media can find all those masses of desperate people, but the government could not get to them.

Finally, my post was focused on leadership. One flyover on the trip to DC is hardly "leadership." After 9/11, Bush did an amazing job in uniting the nation.

His performance, with the exception of todays' events, has been disappointing since Monday.

2:22 PM  
Blogger historymike said...

Good summary on CNN on the disconnect between FEMA and reality.

6:03 PM  
Blogger billy said...

need some clarification. Is the entire state under water, or is the northern part OK?

what Im getting at is the national guard is state based (ie the OHIO National Guard). the fed's are catching a bunch of sh*t, and possibly rightly so, but couldnt the governor of LA assembled her own national guard?

9:22 PM  
Blogger historymike said...

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, governor of Louisiana, certainly shares in the blame, although the state itself has been crippled with communications problems.

I have not seen stellar leadership out of her, either.

Two people have impressed me so far:

Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans: it takes a lot of guts to go on national TV and cuss out the federal government, but he did what he had to do to get help.

And it worked.

Bill White, mayor of Houston:
While the feds and Louisiana officials were seemingly paralyzed, White quietly went about the business of setting up refugee facilities. Houston is already capable of housing, feeding, and processing over 30,000 refugees.

White has stepped up and set the example for the rest of the region.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Steve Fought said...

The federal government response to the hurricane and its aftermath has been abysmal.

The Department of Homeland Security was created to streamline just this time of operation.

It has failed.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Steve Fought said...

This is from the Department of Homeland Security website:


Other Department Realignments

Improve National Response and Recovery Efforts by Focusing FEMA on Its Core Functions. FEMA will report directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. In order to strengthen and enhance our Nation’s ability to respond to and recover from manmade or natural disasters, FEMA will now focus on its historic and vital mission of response and recovery.


12:09 AM  
Anonymous Sepp said...

A "flyover" wasn't enough? What did you expect him to do? Get into rowboat 1 and row around through the area? How about security issues? Kinda dangerous there with thugs ruling the streets looting raping and killing. Did I say thugs? I meant to say those poor victims that are stealing stereos, tv's, video games and beer to eat. The pics I saw (available anywhere) showed the president visiting areas that were accessable. The main difference between 9-11 and this disaster is, that in NYC people were not trying to shoot down helicopters and were not using the incident to kill and rape. Ther must be a different caliber of people in NYC than in N.O.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

There must be a different caliber of people in NYC than in N.O.

That's pretty low, Sepp - we're all Americans and human beings. Neither one of us can scarely imagine their hell right now.

11:44 AM  
Blogger historymike said...

No, I do not expect Bush to get out and swim through flooded New Orleans streets. My point, again, is that Bush's leadership in the days and weeks after 9/11 was stellar, while it has been something much less than that after Katrina.

9/11 was also confined to a few blocks of lower Manhattan, while Katrina and its aftermath has destroyed an entire city. Few people were made homeless or cut off from access to food, water, and medicine after 9/11.

Yes, Bush got serious Friday, 4 days after the disaster. I hope this is the start of a successful coordinated effort to help New Orleans recover.

But why did it take so long for a FEMA and Homeland Security presence?

Finally, I hope that Sepp can get past his anger toward the thugs, rapists, and murderers committing acts of violence and recognize that tens of thousands of innocent citizens should not be typecast by the behavior of a few sociopathic criminals.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous -Sepp said...

"Finally, I hope that Sepp can get past his anger toward the thugs, rapists, and murderers committing acts of violence" -

Like I said before- Tell that to the victims.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Toledoenne said...

I am not trying to trivialize at here -
New Orleans had how many days warning to evacuate?
The Mayor and local authorities did not do a mandatory evac of the hospitals and nursing homes.
City jail inmates were released because they didn't know what else to do with them.
Why? & What were you thinking?
A 7 yr. old girl was raped and murdered in the Superdome and no one stopped him.
There were thousands of people in there and no one could lift a finger to stop a madman?

Frank, I'm glad you participated in the brainstorming conf. call with FEMA and the US Conference of Mayors. (I guess Jack was too busy to handle that call). I hope something positive and productive comes out of it. Perhaps future Mayors will do a better job than New Orleans' did.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Sepp said...

This site gives some idea of how much forwarning and how little was done.

2:22 AM  
Blogger WhiteAfricanAmerican said...

"Finally, I hope that Sepp can get past his anger toward the thugs, rapists, and murderers committing acts of violence"


What the hell do you suggest we do with Thugs, Rapisits and Murderers who committ acts of violence, other than arrest them and either lock them away of execute them?????

Hold hands with them and sing Khum Buh Ya????????

You're kidding, right history mike???

Tell me your kidding?

5:18 AM  
Anonymous Sepp said...

You read it yourself. Who could kid about that? No condemnation for the murdering, raping, thieving thugs who used the devestation to victimize the populace. Maybe I'm just blind NOT to see the criminal's point of view in all this? I'll blame my parents and my up bringing for my lack of understanding and compassion for criminals since I was always taught that crime was ...bad!

2:25 PM  

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