No Ice After a Hurricane?
Ice Not a "Comfort Item"
Keith Burton 6/6/07 GCN
one to give FEMA officials a bit of slack regarding their efforts to help
the Coast after hurricane Katrina. GCN routinely disseminates FEMA's
recovery updates and notes the progress the often-criticized agency is
making on the Coast. But their latest giant mistake is too big to gloss
Somewhere in the agency's vast bureaucracy, a decision has been reached
not to provide ice after a hurricane except for medical and emergency
service needs. This is a decision that borders on lunacy.
recent Sun Herald story, the newspaper was told that FEMA won't be
providing ice after a hurricane to the public. This information came from
Mary Hudak, a regional spokeswoman for FEMA.
want to make sure we're providing ice as a life-saving item and not a
comfort item," she said. "We're not insensitive to comfort. That's why
we're pushing people to get prepared and be able to help themselves," said
comfort item! This is such an ignorant comment regarding what happens
after a hurricane that it staggers belief.
people on the Coast are well-conditioned to prepare for hurricanes. They
either evacuate, or the stay, but prepare with ice and food for at least
three days. As hurricanes are not that predictable as to strength at
impact, the fact is that after any hurricane, electric, water, sewer and
most utilities are not going to be available for a minimum of a week.
After a storm like Katrina, electricity wasn't restored for three weeks,
and longer in many areas. That is well beyond anyone's ability to store
not a "comfort item," victims of hurricanes are not out lounging in their
back yards drinking mint julips, as the FEMA spokeswoman implies. Ice is a
necessity for life itself.
said they plan to urge people to freeze jugs of water when a hurricane
becomes imminent. That way they'll have ice for a day or two afterward,"
reported the Sun Herald.
provides water, preserves what food survivors have on hand and keeps such
things as important medicines, baby food and more preserved when
electricity is not available.
Electric service is a an unknown right after a hurricane. I know. I was
here. I saw first hand how after three weeks desperation and anarchy was
on the edge of breaking out all along the Coast. I know of gangs running
through the area seeking water and food. I know of a neighbor who was
beaten badly because he had water and more. Such incidents were commonly
seen by residents, most never reported to authorities as there were no
phones to do so.
distribution of ice saves lives. For FEMA's minions to suggest that it
will no longer be a part of the agency's mission, is to say they are okay
with more deaths. To say that ice is a "comfort item" demonstrates why
this is an agency that deserves much of the criticism it gets.
know that there are FEMA officials that have a better understanding of
what needs to occur after a hurricane. Many FEMA employees have worked
hard to make a difference and help the Coast recover. But this latest
issue over ice suggests a disconnect with reality and a danger to the
Coast and everywhere else where hurricanes can occur.