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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My letter to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler

Last evening’s story on the tragic ice storm in Kentucky and surrounding states contrasted strangely with the reporting surrounding hurricane Katrina. The story was largely upbeat with local responders coping with the horrific after-effects of the storm. Note that dozens of people died as a result of the storm so it was not merely inconvenient. Hundreds of thousands are still without power or heat and may be for as long as a month in freezing temperatures during the coldest winter in a decade.

The primary contrast was the fact the report made absolutely no mention of FEMA or – for that matter – any federal response to this tragedy. The contrast between the party atmosphere in Washington and the cranked up heat in the Oval Office with people freezing to death in Kentucky could not have been more stark.

Of course, this lack of reportage on the lack of a federal response is not limited to PBS. The rest of the national media is equally incurious.


This is the message that comes back when you send a comment:

Thank you for your thoughts. Michael Getler values viewers' submissions, and he and his assistant try to read all letters. The ombudsman's column will address significant issues related to how PBS upholds its own standards of editorial integrity.

The link to the Ombudsman is here


National death toll hits 55 in ice storm, 24 in KY

UPDATE 2: The APObama says that FEMA "Gets decent marks."

And who awards those marks? Why Kentucky's Democrat governor who called the Democrat president asking for a state of emergency. So what's the opinion of the people on the ground? Here's how the article begins...
EDDYVILLE, Ky. – In the first real test of the Obama administration's ability to respond to a disaster, Kentucky officials are giving the federal government good marks for its response to a deadly ice storm.

Yet more than 300,000 residents remained without power Monday and some areas had yet to see aid workers nearly a week after the storm, a fact not lost on some local authorities.

"We haven't seen FEMA. They haven't been here," said Jaime Green, a spokeswoman for the emergency operations center in Lyon County, about 95 miles northwest of Nashville, Tenn.

Is this the kind of natural disaster that traditionally overwhelms FEMA? No!
Gov. Steve Beshear raised Kentucky's death toll to 24 on Monday, meaning the storm has been blamed in at least 55 deaths nationwide. And while it also knocked out power to more than a million customers from the Southern Plains to the East Coast, it's still considered a medium-sized disaster, the kind FEMA has traditionally been successful handling.

So what, exactly has FEMA done? It seems that supplies got to a depot in Kentucky four days after the storm hit.
Beshear asked Obama for a disaster declaration to free up federal assistance Thursday, two days after the storm hit, and Obama issued it hours later. Trucks loaded with supplies began arriving at a staging area at Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday morning, said Mary Hudak, a spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Heck of a job Barry.

So who's handing out the "atta boy" comments? You had to ask?

Beshear has consistently praised Obama, a fellow Democrat, for the attention he's devoted to what Beshear calls the biggest natural disaster to hit his state.

"We have had tremendous and quick response from President Obama and his administration," Beshear said Monday. "I don't think any of our folks that have dealt with disasters before ever recall as quick a response as we got last Wednesday."

Another cheerleader for FEMA is part of the FEMA network.
Trina Sheets, executive director of the National Emergency Management Association, based in Lexington, Ky., said that from what she's heard, FEMA's response has been very good so far. Her group represents emergency management directors from all 50 states.

What can she point to as the Federal success?
"The governor's declaration request for an emergency was turned around very, very quickly by FEMA and the White House," said Sheets, who just had her power restored Monday after four days without it. "And President Obama has spoken with the governor of Kentucky on several occasions throughout the event."

That's it. Declaring a state of emergency (with typically takes a few hours) and a few phone calls. Heck of a job, Barry.

Sheets said she hadn't heard any complaints so far about the federal response.
Perhaps that's because the MSM have barely mentioned the pitiful federal response in their news reports.

Oh wait, there have been complaints:
By Monday, FEMA officials were checking in on supply distribution points in some rural areas. FEMA official Don Daniel stopped by to ask emergency management officials in Grayson County, who had criticized FEMA's absence late last week, what they needed.
Apparently they were not passed along to Sheets.

Oh, and here's another complaint:
Brocton Oglesby, director of emergency management in Hopkins County, said he has seen virtually no contribution from FEMA in the county, where more than half of the 27,000 homes remained without electricity.

"They need to be here — at least a presence, a liaison to work with us, to start feeding information and gearing up for the next stage," Oglesby said. "That's where they're going to be needed the most."

Oglesby's seen FEMA show up after other disasters to assess the damages and write checks. Beshear asked for FEMA to have a role on the front end this time, though, and Oglesby said that hasn't happened

Heck of a job Barry.

And what can FEMA do? Here's a suggestion:
Oglesby said he would like FEMA to bring in outside electricians to help go door to door to make sure the electricity is operational in each house once it comes back on.

"Right now, mom and pop are going to have to fend for themselves and find an electrician," Oglesby said. "This is where we're needing FEMA's presence."

If you got no farther than the headline you would conclude that FEMA is doing a great job. Heck of a job, Barry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a given that the MSM will carry BHO's water.

I see it as a local problem. Nagin and Leblanc were bumbling incompetents. It appears the Kentucky government is is than adept.