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September 14, 2005

The outpouring of public support for the victims of Hurricane Katrina is unprecedented. One report said that cash donations from individuals to the American Red Cross is running three times what it was following the nine-eleven attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. From the kids on the corner with the lemonade stand to high-tech credit card giving on the Web, it's literally impossible not to find a channel for a donation.

New Castle County government is not unique, of course, in making a contribution. Nevertheless, there was a sense of pride witnessing the dispatch of 32 patrol cars

to the New Orleans P.D. Other jurisdictions around the nation are responding to the request from that department for help to quickly replace some of its lost equipment. And, no doubt, others are sending cars -- more or fewer than we are doesn't matter.

What was notable was in the little things that count. Somebody was thoughtful enough to go to the Internet and call up a picture to

Signed and ready to roll -- County police patrol cars awaiting shipment to New Orleans.

find out what the logo on Big Easy cop cars looks like -- and then arranged to have decals made here so that the vehicles would arrive with the proper insignia. Also, it was decided early on that the cars would be sent with a full tank of gasoline.

County officers and other county employees were not to be left out. They hit the stores and bought various items of police gear and stuffed it into the cars for the benefit of officers who soon will be driving them and their partners. With that and personal messages sent along with the stuff made it all one-on-one. And a county source advises that much of the effort was spontaneous.

"I'm impressed by how hard our people worked to make this happen," County Executive Coons remarked as he and Councilman George Smiley were lading packages of bottled potable water into some of the cars. So are we, Chris. CLICK HERE to read the Delaforum article.

An item in the Baltimore Sun points to a concern likely to rise to the top of the pile as the lessons of the Gulf catastrophe are studied: The failure to evacuate New Orleans' most vulnerable residents before Hurricane Katrina struck is causing city leaders nationwide to rethink plans for the mass movement of people unable to escape on their own in a catastrophe.  MORE

It's nothing short of mind-boggling to ponder how to get 8 million people out of New York City. CLICK HERE to read from the New York Times what happened when such was considered a possibly, albeit remote, at the time of the Y-2-K scare.

In Massachusetts, according to the Boston Globe: State and local officials, alarmed by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and failed relief efforts, say they are revamping plans for evacuation, training, and temporary shelters in Boston and Massachusetts if a similar disaster struck close to home.   MORE

The Chicago Tribune reports: Given its geography, Chicago will never be hit by a hurricane like the super-violent Katrina, but officials acknowledge that the dreaded day may come when a cataclysmic event forces the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people.  MORE

Which all brings us closer to home. New Castle County and Wilmington both have emergency response plans, but as far as Delaforum can find out, neither is specific on where people would go in the event of cataclysmic disaster.

Marcia Nickle, planner with the county Office of Emergency Preparedness, said there are so many possible scenarios that the question does not have a simple answer. "It would vary by incident, so we don't have anything [specifically] down on paper," she said. Basically, such decisions rest with the fire official in charge at the site of a local emergency, she said. Both the county executive and the chief of police have authority to order an evacuation in case of something happening on a larger scale.

Wilmington's plan calls for a phased evacuation with residents of areas of the city told to move out at specified times to avoid traffic gridlock. An estimated 80% would 'self-evacuate', determining for themselves where to go, according to Jim Mosley, director of public safety. The remaining 20% would be moved to places of refuge which depend on the nature of the disaster. He said the city has been offered use of campsites as far away as the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in the event they would be needed.

Several months before Katrina hit, as Delaforum reported at the time, County Executive Coons initiated a process to update and implement the county emergency plan. That is underway, Nickle said.

Speaking of evacuation on a really grand scale, County Council sent the entire city of Biloxi more than 1,000 miles inland to Michigan. The preamble to a geographically-challenged resolution enacted unanimously referenced "Biloxi MI" -- that's postalese for the Wolverine State -- as opposed to MS.

New Castle County early this year spent $45,400, or an average of $3,026, to provide up to 60 days of emergency room and board for 15 households from Glendale and Newkirk Estates displaced by flooding in September, 2004.

Senator Joseph Biden called upon the Bush administration to step back from "the brink of a national security debacle" by changing course in Iraq, the Middle East and on the international level. CLICK HERE to read his opinion piece published in the Washington Post.

 

2005. All rights reserved.

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