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FEMA uses firefighters as flyer distributors

From "Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA":

ATLANTA - Not long after some 1,000 firefighters sat down for eight hours of training, the whispering began: "What are we doing here?"
As New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin pleaded on national television for firefighters - his own are exhausted after working around the clock for a week - a battalion of highly trained men and women sat idle Sunday in a muggy Sheraton Hotel conference room in Atlanta.
Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers.
Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
On Monday, some firefighters stuck in the staging area at the Sheraton peeled off their FEMA-issued shirts and stuffed them in backpacks, saying they refuse to represent the federal agency.
Federal officials are unapologetic.
"I would go back and ask the firefighter to revisit his commitment to FEMA, to firefighting and to the citizens of this country," said FEMA spokeswoman Mary Hudak...

Almost 150 Houston schoolbuses rescued victims

From this:

About 300 Houston Independent School District bus drivers and other employees spent Sunday on almost 150 district school buses rescuing hurricane victims from the waterlogged streets of New Orleans.
HISD buses also transported military troops from an airfield to duty within flooded areas...
...The vehicles headed for New Orleans in convoy Saturday night at the request of the Louisiana governor's office. District police and mechanics also participated.

(Via this)

Robert Hilburn doesn't correct the "looting/finding" urban legend

Hilburn is the L.A. Times' pop music critic, and he discusses Kanye West's outburst in "The Show Didn't Benefit by Censors":

...NBC may have been nervous about West's comments, including the notion that America and its president are unresponsive to the needs of the poor. But you can be sure those remarks would have been cheered more than anything else in the program by the black parents and children still trapped in the New Orleans Convention Center and the Superdome if they had been able to hear them...
Because he is widely seen by critics and industry tastemakers as an influential spokesman for the American black experience, you could feel the strain of his attempt to fulfill that role - to step beyond the generic comments of other celebrities Friday to reflect on the horror being experienced by the flood victims...
[West:] "I hate the way they portray us in the media... If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."
...[West] seemed to be talking extemporaneously, so he might have chosen his words differently if he'd had time to write them down.
But maybe not...

"French Quarter Holdouts Create 'Tribes'"

In the absence of information and outside assistance, groups of rich and poor banded together in the French Quarter, forming "tribes" and dividing up the labor...
"Some people became animals," Vasilioas Tryphonas said Sunday morning as he sipped a hot beer in Johnny White's Sports Bar on Bourbon Street. "We became more civilized."
...Police came through commandeering drivable vehicles and siphoning gas. Officials took over a hotel and ejected the guests.
An officer pumped his shotgun at a group trying to return to their hotel on Chartres Street.
"This is our block," he said, pointing the gun down a side street. "Go that way."
...a dozen people in three houses got together and divided the labor. One group went to the Mississippi River to haul water, one cooked, one washed the dishes...
...The tribe, whose members included a doctor, a merchant and a store clerk, improvised survival tactics. Krack, for example, brushed her dentures with antibacterial dish soap.
It had been a tribe of 13, but a member died Wednesday of a drug overdose. After some negotiating, the police carried the body out on the trunk of a car...
...Four white tour buses rolled into the Quarter under Humvee escort. National Guardsmen told residents they had one hour to gather their belongings and get a ride out. Four of the tribe members decided to leave...

AP, Sep 4, 5:45 PM EDT (deletes end with bus,full)

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