Monday, May 07, 2007

Lessons from Kansas - Emergencies

I'm in Kansas to celebrate Ma's latest marriage (congratulations, Ma!), and have gotten my ass reminded about severe weather patterns. Greensburg was a town in Kansas last week, but a "wedge" tornado leveled it a couple days ago.

Greensburg is a couple hundred miles from my hometown of Topeka. In Topeka, the day my sister and I arrived, it was cloudy but mild, and we had a hell of a session in the batting cages at Sports Center. I'm still sore today.

Apparently, the week before we arrived was nothing but rain, and the ground was pretty much saturated. Beginning the day after we went to the batting cages, Topeka got itself 11 inches of rain in less than 48 hours. This has caused massive flash flooding throughout the city, and about 500 people have been evacuated. The worst flooding since the 50's apparently.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius has declared Kansas to be in a state of emergency. And unfortunately, her prediction to the Pentagon has come true.

Back in December, Governor Sebelius wrote a letter to our friend Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. She was concerned that the National Guardsmen in Kansas were all being sent to Iraq. If Kansas experienced some kind of emergency, there would be a lack of personnel available to assist in recovery.

To make matters worse, the Pentagon seemed to be pilfering Kansas National Guard equipment for use in the Iraq War. Her list of equipment she requested to have returned included trucks, Hummers, machine gun mounts, tents, and even a complete latrine.

So now a town in Kansas has been leveled. And upon seeing the devastation, Governor Sebelius is all, "So now do you see my point, Pentagon?"

Or, rather, an actual quote:
We're missing about half of our trucks from the National Guard units. Clearly trucks to haul this debris away would be enormously helpful. We are missing flatbeds. We are missing humvees, which are used to get people to safety and security and to haul equipment around. We are missing a number of our well-trained National Guard personnel. The equipment that we continue to harp on that has been sent overseas when our troops are deployed and not restored at the same level could be enormously helpful.
Thanks, Governor. A lack of guardsmen was one of many problems after Katrina. But FEMA has gotten involved in Greensburg, although I haven't heard yet if anyone's doing a heckuva job.

But seriously, how many goddamn emergencies do we need before the National Guard (and their equipment!) will be returned to, say, guard the nation?

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