Wednesday, September 07, 2005
FEMA: The F is for Fiasco
As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta. Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
Yes, that's right -- FEMA issued a call for help to firefighters, and firefighters from around the country responded. They're now being assigned to a task that any college student could do. Meanwhile, New Orleans is in desparate need of firefighters. Is community relations really the best use for these highly trained people?
"It's a misallocation of resources. Completely," said the Texas firefighter. "It's just an under-utilization of very talented people," said South Salt Lake Fire Chief Steve Foote.
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