Saturday, September 03, 2005

Heroes: Southern Baptists Know About Big Food

A hero story. If there is one thing Southern Baptists know it is how to feed lots of people, and their disaster efforts with the Red Cross are really well planned.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch via Raw Story:

"America is obviously going to have to rethink disaster relief," said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention...But there are always delays, Burton said, because nothing is deployed until experts survey the damage and decide where to most effectively put relief services.
(And that is what makes a late presidential arrival and federal government actions somewhat unfortunate.)
"...His agency has planned for missing bridges. The Southern Baptists' worst-case planning is for reaching Memphis after an earthquake on the New Madrid fault, which in 1812 whiplashed at a stone-crushing 8.1 on the Richter scale. Burton envisions the Mississippi without bridges.

So when state and local Southern Baptists raise money to build a mobile kitchen, he tells them to design it to be hoisted in by helicopter."

That is what disaster preparedness looks like. Sadly, and if the Red Cross is to be believed this aspect of the debacle is not FEMA's fault, the organization is not allowed into New Orleans where the trapped people are.

As the National Guard delivered food to the New Orleans convention center yesterday, American Red Cross officials said that federal emergency management authorities would not allow them to do the same.

Other relief agencies say the area is so damaged and dangerous that they doubted they could conduct mass feeding there now.

"The Homeland Security Department has requested and continues to request that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans," said Renita Hosler, spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

"Right now access is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities. We have been at the table every single day [asking for access]. We cannot get into New Orleans against their orders."

Calls to the Department of Homeland Security and its subagency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were not returned yesterday.

Though frustrated, Hosler understood the reasons. The goal is to move people out of an uninhabitable city, and relief operations might keep them there. Security is so bad that she fears feeding stations might get ransacked.

I do wonder though, how are some of these folks going to get out to where the SBC has food for them if they don't have the energy and health to do it?


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Does race play role in hurricane relief?
The hurricane victims plucked from rooftops and slogging through waist-deep water on TV newscasts have been mostly the poor, usually black.
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Assistance is streaming into hurricane-affected areas as volunteers...
We've been watching the coverage of Katrina's aftermath in the affected Gulf states, and we're not ... All across the Web, blogs and Web sites are assisting with the relief and aid mobilization.
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6:04 PM  
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7:29 PM  

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