Canadians and Others Respond to Katrina

In my last post I encouraged people to open their doors to the refugees of Hurricane Katrina.

David Billington posted these links in the comments section:

http://www.hurricanehousing.org/

Homes Available from Nola.net

Another commenter, JaneM provided this link from Iowa of people lending a helping hand.

The Iowa Channel

Jane says, “This is a link from a local newstation here in Des Moines. I’m kind of proud of our Gov (although I didn’t vote for him 😉 ) and other Iowans who want to help.”

And you should be!

Finally, here’s the Powerline Blog they have some excellent coverage.

James Robbins at NRO debunks the notion that New Orleans suffered because of the deployment of National Guard units in Iraq. Robbins notes that, according to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, 75 percent of the Army and Air National Guard are available nationwide and the federal government has agreed since the conflict in Iraq started not to mobilize more than 50 percent of Guard assets in any given state, in order to leave sufficient resources for governors to respond to emergencies.

Finally, the Canadian government has offered help, and the US has accepted.

They’re sending 3 warships to the Gulf Coast full of supplies, helicopters, and men ready to help.

Air Canada, along with other North American airlines, has also apparently sent one of it’s aircraft to help evacuate people from the Gulf Coast to military bases in the region.

And finally, perhaps the best source of information as it happens on the ground is the City of Vancouvers’ Urban Rescue Team. This team is unique to North America and has been sent to a parish outside New Orleans to help search for and rescue survivors.

Their reports so far haven’t been entirely encouraging, but they are percevering.

September 2: St. Bernard Parish, LA (1200h PDT)

“We want to assure everyone back home that we are safe, and in good spirits. It’s a dangerous situation, but that’s why we were deployed here, and that’s what we train for …

We are working under Troop B of the Louisiana State Police. It’s absolute pandemonium… thousands of people stranded or displaced … the death toll is rising dramatically.

“Our focus for the next couple of days will be looking for displaced people. We are launching four watercraft now. We’ll work 12-hour shifts starting at 0600h. There’s a curfew at night so we will cease all night-time operations at 1800h.

“I just want to say the City of Vancouver should be proud of the guys who are here. They are all volunteers, all true professionals. I am very proud of our team’s readiness and commitment.”

– Tim Armstrong, Team Leader Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue Team

8 thoughts on “Canadians and Others Respond to Katrina”

  1. Thank Canada from the bottom of our hearts, Chris. I cry when hearing how good people are extending themselves so much to help these poor souls in the Gulf states. It is so heartwarming to know that so many North Americans including our neighbors are so willing to endure hardships just to help our citizens.

    Web sites are springing up and listed in the paper are offers to take people into private homes. The Des Moines Register devoted an article to such generosity here in our state. Farm people, city people, rich and not so rich are opening their hearts and homes. I just weep when I see those little kids carried around by desperate mothers. No water, no food, no diapers, no anything. Thank God the end is in sight and most of them are now in better shelters somewhere but still the long term housing and care is still to be figured out.

    I don’t know if you will get any refugees as far north as Canada but you are truly generous to consider such a kind offer. Thank you, thank you from jane m 🙂

  2. One more thought regarding the use and purpose of the Army National Guard in our country. The NG has always existed for the primary purpose of contributing to our national defense. That is what they train and are equipped for. I myself was a member of the National Guard in my youth. My training was the regular army basic training in Ft Jackson SC. I spent 6 weeks running around learning to shoot an M16, throw hand grenades, marching a loooong ways to bivouwac (sp) in the woods and generally how to survive in a war situation. It was serious business too when I returned to serve in my home company in Nebraska. We continued to practice surviving in a combat environment – we called it “going to the field”. We were told that we were an integral part of the DOD’s plans for various war situations. We were told that we needed to keep our affairs in order, have temporary guardians in place for our dependent children, etc, etc in case we were called up.

    I expand on this only because it seems that a great portion of the people discussing the role of the NG in this emergency situation in the hurricane devastation we see think that it is an outrage that we have some of our NG in Iraq or maybe even in Afghanistan. Some people appear to think that the NG is maintained to clean up after major storms, wild fires, floods, etc. The use of the NG in these situations is a BONUS, not a primary purpose. It is a bonus that we have men trained and experienced in dealing with life and death emergencies on the the domestic front. But the US does not spend billions of dollars maintaining these NG forces for the sole purpose of dealing with catastrophic disasters here in the States. We do use them for that but they wouldn’t exist if we didn’t deem them vital to national defense.

    And besides as the NRO article states, there is no shortage of NG to send to La, Ms and Al. We have more than adequate men here in the States to mobilze them for this situation.

    Just wanted to give another point of view because I’m starting to read a lot of bilge about this.
    And one more thing, the responsibility for avoiding floods and the like is not the federal government in our country. It is the local and state govt’s duty to take the proper preventative measures to deal with flood and storms. The state of La has known for more than a 100 years that they could be hit by a storm of this size and have not, in that time, made it impossible for Lake Pontrechain (sp?) to flood the city proper. La is known for it’s inadequate and corrupt government. This is just chickens coming home to roost IMO. And furthermore, the levee that broke and allowed the water to flood the city was not scheduled for any improvements. The funds that were cut for levee work were intended to bolster other parts of they system which it so happens were not breeched by the lake waters.

  3. Jane,

    Thank you for your service in the Army Guard. You may know the law better than I do but my understanding is that the National Guard has to be federalized by order of the President in order to serve with the Army (the civil air fleet can be federalized in the same way in an emergency). The rest of the time the Guard is under state control and I believe its main function at that level is to preserve civil order. I don’t think the Guard was ever intended to be interchangeable with the Army Reserve, although it is certainly trained to be a reserve force if needed.

    The problem with the Guard is that the Administration has been using it as an alternative to a larger regular Army. More seriously, Guard casualties are concentrated in units that come from the same towns. My sister and brother-in-law drove back from Pittsburgh to Connecticut three weeks ago and mentioned the flags at half mast in the small towns they passed through in Pennsylvania. The war has hit home.

    Regarding responsibility for floods, rivers and waterways have been under the control of the Army since the early 1800s and improving the levees around New Orleans is the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers. The stories going around right now are that the Corps budget for levees was cut back after 2001; the facts about this will surely come out in the next week or two.

  4. One note, the funds cut for levees may have been earmarked for other parts of the system, but the question is whether more money could have gone to improvements elsewhere had it been available. I don’t think we will know this until more of the facts come out.

  5. David

    I served in both the NG and the Army Reserve and I might have some memories mixed up (it was 30 years ago). However, the NG members are provided training and equipment just the same as the Regular Army and in my day spent time in the field on military bases to maintain combat readiness depending on your unit and company’s mission. Currently there are many more Guard units here at home than in Iraq. The real problem as I see it with the hurrican relief is that the Gov of La spent far too much time delaying asking for federal help. Politics as usual.

    And yes, you are correct. the Army Core of Engineers decides what measures to take in these matter. However, after a 100 or more years of knowing how vunerable NO would be to catastrophic storm damage and flooding, it’s a bit much to say that this particular administration bears the responsibility for too little too late in the way of levee height and width, etc. If I’d ever been the Mayor of NO or the Gov of LA, I would have done everything in my power to influence the Corp to beef up the levees around NO.

    As always, you are a rational voice. I always look forward to your input and perspective.

  6. The last week has also called for passion and engagement and Chris has been a generous example of that. I hope our leaders will bring the same qualities to relief and reconstruction in the months ahead.

  7. Chris, you are nothing if not “rational” or maybe I should say good at “rationalization” but that’s true of myself. All impassioned debaters use what ever rationale they can muster, don’t they? And I agree with David above or I wouldn’t spend so much time here. You’re a good soul and have a caring heart as well as a keen intellect. But David’s just got this “style”. His is a very calming voice (as well as rational). Thanks to both of you, Chris and David for helping me in my search for meaning in all of this.

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