October 27, 2005


Keep the faith, and they will come (Joyce Howard Price, October 27, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

When municipal, state and federal governments faltered in their early response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of churches and synagogues stepped up to help.

Nearly two months after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, religious groups have pledged that feeding, clothing and sheltering survivors of the storm will continue for as long as necessary. Cleaning up and rebuilding has just begun.

"We've provided more than $11 million worth of in-kind labor since the hurricanes," says Joe Conway, spokesman for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, an agency of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention. "In terms of rebuilding, we'll probably be here for several years."

About 7,000 Baptists from congregations in 41 states have provided relief. The Southern Baptists -- the nation's largest non-Catholic denomination -- have not stopped cooking since Katrina hit. By Tuesday, they had cooked and served more than 9.3 million hot meals, beating their record of 2.5 million meals served after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida in 1992, Mr. Conway says.

"We did the majority of the cooking for the Salvation Army, and probably the Red Cross as well, and for ourselves," he says.

Says Jeffrey Jellets, territorial disaster services coordinator for the Salvation Army: "The Southern Baptists cook the meals. We load them into containers and put them on mobile feeding units and go into New Orleans and other hard-hit areas and distribute them." [...]

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour hailed the relief efforts by churches in his state. "Churches really filled a huge service by providing the essentials to evacuees, such as food, water, shelters, and showers," Mr. Barbour said. "The state of Mississippi, as well as its citizens, appreciate the kindness and generosity of the churches that helped out during the Katrina disaster."

Pressed by Republicans in Congress and by the Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Sept. 26 it will reimburse churches and other religious groups that have provided food, shelter and supplies to hurricane victims.

FEMA officials say this would be the first time the government has made large payments to religious organizations for assisting in the aftermath of a domestic natural disaster. Groups would be eligible for compensation only if they ran emergency shelters, food distribution centers or medical facilities at the request of state or local governments in states that have declared emergencies.

Several civil-liberty advocacy groups, including the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union, say this violates the boundary between church and state.

It was strange after the storm to hear the Left argue that the failures of the federal government demonstrated that we should rely on it more.

Gov. Bush Criticizes State's Storm Effort: He Says Florida, Not FEMA, Is to Blame (Associated Press, October 27, 2005)

Gov. Jeb Bush (R) took the blame Wednesday for frustrating delays at centers distributing supplies to victims of Hurricane Wilma, saying criticism of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was misdirected.

"Don't blame FEMA. This is our responsibility," Bush said at a news conference in Tallahassee with federal Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who oversees the agency. [...]

Myriad problems affected supply deliveries, local and state officials said. Cell phone service was down or spotty, complicating communications between government officials and truck drivers. Some drivers got lost on their way to distribution points and had to be brought there by police escort.

Local governments prematurely announced distribution sites and times, causing crowds to gather hours before any supplies arrived. In many cases, there simply was not enough ice, water and meals ready-to-eat to go around, or it took far too long to get the supplies to the proper places, officials said.

"We did not perform to where we want to be," Bush said.

Bush added, however, that people seeking relief should have done more to prepare for the storm.

"People had ample time to prepare. It isn't that hard to get 72 hours' worth of food and water," said Bush, repeating the advice that officials had given days before Wilma hit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 27, 2005 7:55 AM

oj. Why strange? It's a piece of cake for lefties who can hold opposite and opposing opinions at the same time.

Posted by: tefta at October 27, 2005 8:07 AM

The Democrats simply believe that the feds failed under Bush and Brown because they really don't care about the people at best, or actually wanted them to drown in the Katrina flooding (probably so they could seize some of that prime New Orleans real estate in the Ninth Ward for their Halliburton buddies). Were John Kerry running the White House, levees would have been fixed within minutes, flood victims would all be living on Boardwalk by now, and rainbow colored ice cream would be flowing through Lake Ponchatrain into the 17th Street Canal.

As for Jeb's comments, it's a good pre-emptive strike that the press will merely blown off now as GWB's brother taking one for the team, never mind the fact that it actually is the state's responsibility to coordinate these types of efforts to begin with. But it would be nice to see someone ask Gov. Blanco over in Baton Rouge if she agree's with Jeb's belief that it's the state's responsibility to handle the bulk of these initial efforts, not FEMA's.

Posted by: John at October 27, 2005 8:44 AM

Insisting that FEMA actually do its job competently is not the same thing as wanting people to rely on the federal government more.

The Clinton administration ran FEMA a lot more competently than Bush has simply because he appointed people who had the appropriate knowledge, not some fundraiser from a stud farm. There is a substantial decline in performance from the Clinton era.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 27, 2005 11:29 AM

Yes. For the Left, the success of the state and its failure are both signs that its power must be increased. Because, in the end, they are only interested in implementing their fantasy ideology (with them as supreme beings), not about the results that are achieved.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 27, 2005 11:46 AM

"The Clinton administration ran FEMA a lot more competently than Bush has simply because he appointed people who had the appropriate knowledge, not some fundraiser from a stud farm. There is a substantial decline in performance from the Clinton era."

What color is the sky in your world? FEMA ran better during the clinton administration because no CAT 3+ storms hit the country. Brown is just this years media whipping boy. Last year he ran 4 storms and nobody bitched.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 27, 2005 2:06 PM