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Private Relief Efforts ARE NOT WANTED by officials

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Desertdog, Sep 8, 2005.

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  1. Desertdog

    Desertdog Member

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    Sending More Than Just a Check
    Impromptu Efforts Try to Make Relief Tangible and Personal
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/07/AR2005090702070_pf.html

    By Elizabeth Williamson and Annie Gowen
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, September 8, 2005; A20



    Distrustful of snarled federal relief efforts and moved to make a personal gesture, an army of maverick volunteers is funneling aid through back channels to the bayou region, complicating overtaxed relief efforts.

    A week after Hurricane Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast, Americans have contributed more than a half-billion dollars to disaster aid, nearly double what they gave in the same period after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Accompanying the cash has come a flood of clothing, toys and food, offers of housing, transport and entertainment, taken into the region by Good Samaritans with little or no experience in disaster relief.

    But from donated evacuation buses that come home empty, to the mountain of used clothing that disrupted food distribution in a Baton Rouge, La., shelter, charities say home-grown aid is touching but often not helpful.

    "When nobody directs the effort [at the federal level], you end up with a ton of well-intentioned folks who want to help but have no idea how," said Trent Stamp of Charity Navigator, a charity rating service. "That's a recipe for disaster. We've been telling people since day one that the real way to help with this disaster is to write a check, because they're just not prepared at the other end to receive goods."

    Alan Courtemanche, a tae kwon do instructor from Leesburg, discovered that when he arrived in Gulfport, Miss., on Sunday night. He had his brother Michael in tow, as well as a trailer full of water, food and diapers donated by his students at Gold's Gym in Sterling.

    "There is no order," Courtemanche said, speaking on his cell phone from Gulfport. "Nobody knows who is in charge or what to do to help out."

    The brothers finally found a center that accepted their delivery.

    "The Red Cross is saying, 'We don't want freelance people bringing supplies down here,' " Courtemanche said. "The Red Cross and FEMA are absolutely in denial. They're saying, 'Send money.' How many times have you chewed on a dollar bill when you're hungry?"

    Charities say their warnings are as much for the safety of the volunteers as for the convenience of the relief organizations.

    "You don't know what you're going to find when you arrive. There are inaccessible areas," said Lesly Simmons, spokeswoman for American Red Cross headquarters in Washington. "Conditions are difficult. It is incredibly hot. They may be encountering areas where there is no gas available."

    Also, trained volunteers could be diverted from counseling victims or other important tasks by having to stop and unload unexpected donations, she said. "If you just arrive with truckloads they're not expecting, it takes people away from doing other work."

    At Catholic Charities headquarters in Alexandria, for instance, a small mountain of donated goods has appeared in the lobby, far from where such goods are needed. "Money can buy this stuff, and money is flexible," said spokeswoman Shelley Boysiewicz.

    Still, the instinct to do something tangible runs deep for many of those in the impromptu relief efforts.

    "Sending in a check to the Red Cross -- what have I done?" asked Pam Weinberg, who helped organize a drive in Frederick. "I think there's a mechanism inside all of us, when we see this much suffering, we need to go into action. I think people want to work."

    Weinberg and four friends launched a kitchen-table effort to fill industrial-size paint buckets with personal care items, flashlights and duct tape -- and drive three truckloads of them today from Maryland to Picayune, Miss. "We never even asked for money," Weinberg said. "We asked for these products."

    After a Web-based call for donations, the group filled a warehouse near Frederick with 1,500 five-gallon "Buckets Full of Hope."

    Kelly Tidwell, a Lorton resident and electrician, recalled the uncertainty he experienced after Sept. 11, 2001, after taking a truckload of respirators, batteries and gloves intended for rescue workers to an anonymous donation center in a Northern Virginia business park.

    "In the back of my mind, I couldn't be sure it had actually been received by the people who needed it," Tidwell said. "When this happened, I wanted to make sure it got where it needed to go. More of a grass-roots effort."

    So yesterday, Tidwell was driving south with a friend and a flatbed trailer with five tons of supplies. The supplies -- donated by members of the Neighbors Great Falls community listserv -- included a generator, 100 cases of water and more than 50 cases of food and baby formula.

    On Capitol Hill, as lawmakers demand an inquiry into the federal government's handling of the disaster, lobbyist Campbell Kaufman has been directing back-channel aid efforts. A Baton Rouge native, Kaufman was ready to climb into a friend's Explorer and drive supplies from Alexandria to the bayou on the day of the hurricane. But reason took hold, and Kaufman decided to stay put long enough to send out a mass e-mail to Capitol Hill contacts requesting donations and help.

    Those pleas grew into a do-it-yourself relief effort scheduled to head to Louisiana on Saturday. By last night, Kaufman had two 24-foot rented trucks parked near his offices on Independence Avenue, ready to be packed full of water and food.

    "This was the quickest and most effective way to positively help," Kaufman said. "There are a lot of fundraisers going on around here. But our focus is to get supplies to people now. You avoid red tape that way."

    Staff writers Jacqueline L. Salmon in Baton Rouge and Fredrick Kunkle in Frederick contributed to this report.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2005
  2. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    I see in the Post today that D.C. sent 10 chartered buses full of goods and 30 workers/volunteers. The buses cost them $81,000 and they expected to bring back hundreds of displaced persons.

    They came back with one (1). No misprint.

    Meanwhile, somebody flew 400 people into D.C. for free.

    John
     
  3. TarpleyG

    TarpleyG Member

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    Okay, sure, and just how much of my 'check' is going to find its way into the hands of someone who really needs it versus funding a fat hog of an infrastructure like the ARC? No thanks...neighbors taking care of neighbors works just fine for me.

    Greg
     
  4. bogie

    bogie Member

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    "We're the only people who are qualified to deal with disaster rel - BANG!"
     
  5. NHBB

    NHBB Member

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    write a check? right. I have been donating through stores and such by rounding up the change since I hate coins anyways to assist their relief problems. you want my money? I am not covering your overhead, clothes, food, water... I will gladly send. otherwise, find another avenue to overpay your employees and validate your existence by offering a small percentage of the money donated that actually reach the people in need.
     
  6. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    You know, had my motorhome been finished, I would have considered trying to set up a convoy of same as an evac solution. Get 50+ rigs of 30ft or more together and...you wouldn't have the seating capacity of buses but you'd have onboard toilets, beds, fridge full of cold drinks...have a doctor and nurse in at least one or more rigs that have a lot of bed space, designate those as medwagons.

    Have every 10th rig or so pull a boat.

    When finished in about a week or so, my rig will be able to sleep and seat six, both at once in a pinch. Range on a full tank of 100gal: at least 1,100 - 1,200 miles.

    A big enough convoy with every driver/owner armed could resist a highjacking attempt quite well, as long as they stuck together and had a planned evac destination 100 - 200 miles away that EVERYbody goes to - any rig breaking convoy is assumed to be hijacked. Have two smaller units, 4x4 pickups with camper shells with two extra gunners each (and no evacuees) end of the convoy as highjack deterrants.
     
  7. BigG

    BigG Member

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    This is the kind of total [crap] that has helped create the nanny state. I remember when the neighbor helping neighbor spirit was strong, the salvation army or other church-based charities took care of far more problems more effectively than the fed.gov or red cross :barf: ever has. Guess what? They nationalized charity as they said they wanted to keep church and state separate. What morons! :barf: :banghead:
     
  8. Headless Thompson Gunner

    Headless Thompson Gunner Member

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    The local and state governments have been wantonly incompetant in their relief efforts. The Federal efforts have been about as effective as any nationwide bureaucracy can be (i.e. fair to poor). All told, the governments' ability to render aid has been deplorable.

    And yet they feel like they have the right to tell private citizens how to render aid? :fire:

    I hope the private, individual efforts continue unabated. I hope the whole world watches and learns who it is that gets results.
     
  9. CAnnoneer

    CAnnoneer Member

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    The officials do not want private aid because it can outshine their own incompetent efforts. Then they will be blamed for being incompetent even more likely than otherwise. Selfish bureaucratic careerists at their most destructive...
     
  10. BigG

    BigG Member

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    ding - ding - ding - ding! We have a winnah! :cool:
     
  11. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    That, and it's probably harder to steal from the Red Cross and volunteers.
     
  12. Alex45ACP

    Alex45ACP Member

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    Private citizens doing a better, faster, more efficient job than the government? Who'da thunk it?
     
  13. Otherguy Overby

    Otherguy Overby member

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    Jim, I've a motorhome, too. The generator and everything runs off diesel. There is no way, in a disaster I would run it below half full/empty. If I broke down, just had to sit somewhere, or whatever, I'm saving fuel for the generator. The motorhome carries 230+ gallons of diesel so you can see how conservative I am about this.

    Until the police find a reason...

    BTW, I pull a 26 foot trailer (on the floor) and would like to help with something like this, but I see more police/government problems than the risk is worth. I also would not allow anyone I didn't personally know inside my motorhome.
     
  14. Can'thavenuthingood

    Can'thavenuthingood Member

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    Ya know, seems to me that when a truck pulls up outside one of those facilties with people needing water, food and clothes. Tthere would be quite few volunteers from the crowd willing to unload the truck in an orderly fashion.

    Particularly in the smaller towns where most everyone knows everyone else. They would know what to do with the supplies.

    On the other hand, I suspect the red cross and fema don't really get to the small towns since its low profile newswise.

    Damn arrogant of red cross and fema personnel to think only they can do this.

    Vick
     
  15. Can'thavenuthingood

    Can'thavenuthingood Member

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    Forgot to add that I give the money to the Southern Baptist Church and the Salvation Army.

    Those two were the first ones on the scene from what I've seen on tv, read and heard on the radio. Even if they weren't, they have a better sense for helping.

    Or so it seems,

    Vick
     
  16. SteveS

    SteveS Member

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    The church that I belong to operates a mission in La. I know some of the people there and decided to donate money, as I trust them to make the best use of it. Before I did this, I made sure I knew what they had planned to do with the money they received and that they had some type of structure in place. I figure they knew what they needed, as I didn't.

    This is coming from the charities, not just the government. I can understand the government trying to cover up their ineptness, but charties can't afford to be rude to their doners for no reason. I guess that before I organized some donations of tangible goods here in MI, I would try to contact the groups that are helping and ask them what they need.
     
  17. No4Mk1

    No4Mk1 Member

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    Hmm... that's funny, the 28-foot truck of supplies that Thumper and I took into Louisiana was welcomed by the local authorities with open arms and sincere grattitude......

    This is simply more posturing by the American Red Cross et. al. that they are the only ones who can and should help.....

    "Just send us your money and trust that we know what is best...." :uhoh:

    Does their idea of what is best include detention camps???

    http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/fema.html
     
  18. TheEgg

    TheEgg Member

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    Yup. I got burned big time by the Red Cross during the 9/11 aftermath. I spent huge amounts of my time and money raising money for the Red Cross relief effort. Then I found out that much of the money went into the coffers of the Red Cross and was not going to be used for 9/11 relief. In the classic words of a Red Cross VP who told me "You can't tell us how we are going to use that money. You donated it, so we can use it any way we like. And we don't have to tell you how we use it either." This statement was delivered to me in avery haughty tone AFTER I delivered a check in the thousands and thousands of dollars.

    After that experience, no way will I ever give a crumb to the American Red Cross again.

    I do all my contributions and work through the Salvation Army and the Baptist Church now.
     
  19. Desertdog

    Desertdog Member

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    I would like to put in a plug for donations to the Salvation Army. They have announced that 100% of funds donated for the Katrina Disaster will be used for disaster relief.
    You can donate at the Salvation Army located nearest you, or go online to
    http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn.nsf .
     
  20. emc

    emc Member

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    For those making cash contributions, there's no question that local churches and the Salvation Army are the only way to go. Egg is correct to recall the scandal about the Red Cross and how they used post-9/11 contributions. A recent commentary on radio disclosed that a hot meal could be provided by the Salvation Army for roughly half of what the Red Cross could. To echo DesertDog, the Salvation Army has a Mississippi address on their website which provides the location to send funds for disaster relief. That's what I did. These folks do good work, and I'm happy to support them.

    FWIW,

    emc
     
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