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December 8, 2007

Lessons haven't been learned since Katrina

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 4:38 PM

WESTPORT -- The volunteers at the school that I just wrote about impressed several messages on me, one of which is: not a lot has improved since Hurricane Katrina.

They said communication fails so easily and they feel like they've been forgotten.

For instance, at a neighboring senior center, there has been a 35-bed shelter. Only a handful of people showed up the last couple of nights because the radio reported wrongly that it was full.

They also had their two cents that say about FEMA, the federal emergency service that was blamed for a lot of the delays in responding to the victims in New Orleans.

They said that FEMA arrived bringing blankets -- with the caveat that they had to be returned, or else the school would have to pay for them.

That required each person who took a blanket to sign for one. They said that a lot of people, especially those who are undocumented, felt uneasy doing that, so they went home without one.

"We didn't get rescued by FEMA, or the Red Cross, we got rescued by the Boy Scouts," said Ocosta Elementary School Principal Dana Stedman.

However, the crew of volunteers hadn't heard the latest news -- President Bush declared the storm a major disaster in several counties, including Grays County.

Upon hearing the news, the group clapped and breathed a collected sigh of relief.

"The blankets are now freebies," one said.

The designation means they will not have to be returned.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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