Thursday, September 7, 2017

Florida Needs to Learn From Harvey's Mistakes Preparing for Irma

Harvey victims can't always get life-saving aid easily, volunteers lament

FOX News
Hollie McKay
September 6, 2017

After Hurricane Harvey slammed ashore almost two weeks ago, scores of Americans made their way to Texas – but offering a helping hand in crisis is far from straightforward, which has left many volunteers frustrated and disheartened.
Water bottles waiting to be delivered to those in need after Hurricane Harvey.

Major players from the Texas National Guard and Texas State Troopers to the Red Cross, FEMA, Salvation Army quickly dispatched into the disaster zone, along with police, church groups, local and state aid groups and other well-intentioned people, quickly creating a chaos akin to too many cooks in the kitchen. It left assets and supplies languishing.

“We were trying to help a small community of people without food, water or electricity and had little contact with rescuers to receive supplies. They were very upset,” Chris Fiore, a 20-year-old volunteer Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Texas native, told Fox News this week from Deweyville, Texas – a small town about 110 miles northeast of Houston washed out by floods. 

“But we were told by police that they couldn’t let anyone in and didn’t seem to have a good reason behind it. We had cases of water, MREs, dog food and basic sanitary items – we just wanted to bring people supplies. It was impossible for me just to sit in my house while people are in need.”

Fiore was joined by five well-trained U.S. military veterans that had aligned with Southeast Texas (SETX) Disaster Relief. One of those veterans told Fox News that for the first couple of days they routinely saw and heard law enforcement personnel actively turning away volunteer search-and-rescue organizations with supplies or information about people who needed help.
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