Greens Send Aid to Stricken Areas, Urge FEMA Chief's Dismissal
Monday, September 5, 2005
Greens organize a campground shelter and send buses for victims; 2004 Green V.P. candidate LaMarche heads to Louisiana with the Red Cross; Greens warn that more destructive hurricanes are likely to strike the U.S.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green Party members intensified their efforts to help in the relief effort for victims of hurricane Katrina, and also called for the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be fired.
Greens urged an independent investigation into the federal government's mismanagement of relief and rescue and failure to heed numerous warnings of an impending hurricane disaster in the Gulf region.
Greens across the U.S. have helped organize numerous efforts to get aid to people in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Andrea Garland and other Louisiana Greens have set up web pages to help provide shelter and other assistance and are heading to New Orleans with a trailer full of food, water, and supplies.
Green Party of Florida co-chair Sarah "Echo" Steiner established a comfortable and safe haven for evacuees on a campground in Florida. The camp is also collecting water, food and supplies for immediate delivery to the New Orleans area. The Green-led Minnesota Coalition to Aid Hurricane Katrina Survivors' first bus left Minneapolis to transport evacuees from and provide vital supplies for survivors on Saturday evening.
Pat LaMarche, the Green Party's vice presidential nominee in 2004 and co-chair of the Green Party of the United States, will travel to New Orleans as a journalist and a first aid worker with the Red Cross.
These and other Green-led efforts are listed and linked at the bottom of this release.
Lethal negligence, ineptitude, and racism
In 2003, FEMA was downgraded from a Cabinet level position and folded into the Department of Homeland Security. In 2004, FEMA denied funding requests from the state of Louisiana for dealing with the growing likelihood of a hurricane disaster. In June, 2005, funding for the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was cut by $71.2 million.
"President Bush appointed two FEMA chiefs with no experience in disaster management: first Joe Allbaugh, and then Michael Brown, who has mismanaged the current emergency," said Leenie Halbert, acting co-chair of the Green Party of Louisiana. "Mr. Brown, who proved his ignorance of conditions in New Orleans during a Nightline interview on September 1, must be dismissed and replaced immediately by someone with expertise. There was no way to prevent Katrina, but the loss of life and devastation were surely aggravated by the administration's willful negligence and ineptitude." (More on Michael Brown: <http://business.bostonherald.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=100857&format=text>)
Greens were especially outraged that, after the Bush Administration took five days to get the National Guard and concerted relief efforts into New Orleans, the National Guard treated the mission as "combat operation" -- as "Little Somalia," according to Brigadier General Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force (Army Times, September 2 <http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1077495.php>).
"There are supplies sitting in Baton Rouge for the folks in New Orleans, but the National Guard has the city surrounded and is not letting anyone in or out," said Andrea Garland of the New Orleans Green Party. "They are turning away people with supplies, claiming it is too dangerous. If we have planes that can drop bombs on people in Iraq, certainly we can air drop supplies into the city.... [T]he people of the United States... need to know that New Orleans is deliberately being denied food and water. Perhaps if the people there had food and water, they might not be shooting off guns."
Greens praised rapper Kanye West for departing from his scripted remarks during a broadcast of the Concert for Hurricane Relief on NBC Friday evening, when he condemned the treatment of African Americans caught in the disaster, the racism of the Bush Administration for its delayed response, and the bias of the media for portraying blacks as looters while excusing whites "looking for food."
"The federal government's response to the disaster showed utter indifference to the fate of black people, poor people, the elderly, and the sick who were caught in the hurricane's path," said Malik Rahim, organizer of public housing tenants and recent Green candidate for New Orleans City Council, who lives in the Algiers neighborhood. "Property rights have been given greater priority than the threat of starvation, disease, and death."
Positive steps and preparation for the next calamity
The Green Party, which has condemned the invasion of Iraq and called for an immediate end to the occupation and safe return of U.S. troops, supports the redeployment of the National Guard in noncombat relief and rescue operations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and urges the National Guard and Armed Forces to prepare for future hurricane disasters similar to Katrina and to open military bases to people in need of shelter and medical attention.
"We have an opportunity right now to offer unemployed young people jobs in relief and rebuilding damaged areas, at livable wages," said Mark Dunlea, former chair of the Green Party of New York State, who has helped coordinate emergency food relief in New York for the last twenty years. "This would provide an investment in America's future that would pay off over and over, lifting people out of poverty and the hopelessness brought by Katrina."
Greens also called for a reorientation of energy policy: promotion of renewable sources and energy conservation, rather than reckless consumption of fossil fuels that has made the U.S. dependent on Middle Eastern oil, vulnerable to disruptions like Katrina, with the resulting rise in gas prices.
"The Bush White House and Democrats and Republicans in Congress should be held responsible for ignoring countless published warnings of a likely hurricane disaster threatening New Orleans and other population centers in Gulf states," said Romi Elnagar, Acting Secretary of the Green Party of Louisiana. "The Bush Administration has ignored and harassed scientists and tampered with scientific findings, especially on climate change. It's significant that Katrina and other hurricanes that have struck Florida and other southeastern states recently were intensified by a rise in ocean temperatures triggered by global warming."
"The same evidence points to more destructive hurricanes in coming years, perhaps even striking New Orleans again," said Ms. Elnagar. "Will we be prepared the next time? How long will Bush Administration officals and apologists continue to accuse Americans who ask these urgent questions of 'politicizing' the disaster, instead of examining the reckless policies that have cost so many lost lives?"
Green Party of the United States