Sunday, September 11, 2005

Canadian Rescue Team Work Applauded

Here's a story I missed in Yahoo News.
Hat tip to Angry in the Great White North. Republican state senator Walter Boasso is unhappy with the response of the US Army, but very pleased with these rescue workers from Vancouver.
Thu Sep 8, 1:36 AM ET

A Canadian search-and-rescue team reached a flooded New Orleans suburb to help save trapped residents five days before the U.S. military, a Louisiana state senator said on Wednesday.

The Canadians beat both the Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. disaster response department, to St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans, where flood waters are still 8 feet deep in places, Sen. Walter Boasso said.

"Fabulous, fabulous guys," Boasso said. "They started rolling with us and got in boats to save people."

"We've got Canadian flags flying everywhere."

The stricken parish of 68,000 people was largely ignored by U.S. authorities who scrambled to get aid to New Orleans, a few miles (km) away. Boasso said residents of the outlying parishes had to mount their own rescue and relief efforts when Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on August 29.

The U.S. government response to the disaster has been widely criticized. Politicians and editorial writers have called for the resignation of top Bush administration officials.

Boasso said U.S. authorities began airdropping relief supplies to St. Bernard last Wednesday, the same day the Canadian rescue team of about 50 members arrived from Vancouver, nearly 2,200 miles away.

"They chartered a plane and flew down," he said.

Two FEMA officials reached the parish on Sunday and the U.S. Army arrived on Monday, he said.

"Why does it take them seven days to get the Army in?" Boasso asked.

He speculated that the smaller parishes suffered because the focus was on New Orleans, the famous home of jazz and Mardi Gras.

As for the Canadians, Boasso gave thanks for their quick work.

"They were so glad to be here," he said. "They're still here. They are actually going door-to-door looking in the attics" for people to rescue, he said.

This particular team was last used in the tsunami relief operation. According to CTV News (on August 31st):
The 45- person team -- which was dispatched to Southeast Asia after the Boxing Day tsunami -- is equipped to provide emergency room doctors, building engineers and swift water rescue personnel.

Earlier Wednesday, Canadian officials said they're prepared to send whatever type of aid the U.S. needs.
Senator Boasso should be aware (but doesn't seem to be) that the team was dispatched after its assistance was requested by officials from the State of Louisiana and was sent to its area of operations by local authorities. Given that information, it is likely that FEMA and/or the US military knew where they were headed and went elsewhere where no one had yet been dispatched. .

Given the scope of the disaster there's plenty of work for everyone.


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