There are tons of people criticizing Florida because everyone hasn’t been rescued and fed by now. I was a professional rescuer for more than 2 decades. I responded and served in dozens of disasters, including at least ten major hurricanes. The unit I was part of used to call themselves the “Masters of Disasters.”

I will use Katrina as an example. The hurricane hit at Waveland, MS on August 29. We were given alert orders to report to a staging area in Tallahassee on August 28. We arrived there at around 2200 and spent the night sleeping in a livestock pavilion. We got up at 0600 on the 29th and headed west. The convoy was over 3 miles long. We stopped to refuel just outside of Pensacola. There was a logjam at the I-10 tunnel in Mobile, AL and we had to use police to get through traffic outside of the tunnel. We finally arrived at the Stennis Space Center on the MS/LA border just before sunset.

We spent the most of the day of August 30 setting up a logistics point and command post at the Stennis Space Center. We had to clear the runways, build a tent city, and other logistical tasks. Late that afternoon, we headed out and wound up in Biloxi. We had dinner in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart just outside of town. My dad had died at the hospital there just three months earlier. I had spent two weeks in that town while he was in intensive care. The hotel that I had stayed in and the restaurants that I had eaten in were all gone. We moved on and wound up in Pascagoula on the night of the 30th.

On August 31, we began operations in the Pascagoula area. We took over all EMS services in the area. We had to. Most of the EMS and fire equipment in the area was damaged, and the people who worked there had their own problems to deal with. We began assisting the USAR in searching homes for victims. Our efforts were hampered by the bridges mostly being destroyed. We distributed food and medicine. We were giving inoculations for diphtheria.

Note that we were three days in before we even STARTED. That is the reason why they tell you to have 3 days’ food and water at a minimum. in the ensuing weeks, we searched cars submerged in mud filled swimming pools to see if they contained bodies. We had to largely stop operations at night because it was too dangerous in the pitch dark, and there isn’t enough fuel to operate generators all night.

All of that debris has to be searched for survivors and bodies. It’s tiring, dangerous, and technically demanding work. There is miles and miles of that debris, and before you can start, you have to clear a path through other debris in order to get there, clearing roads, and make sure that you aren’t running over any bodies in the debris.

The ground is saturated and muddy, and there is no infrastructure: no cell phones, roads are damaged or even missing, bridges are down, and all repeaters are down, cell towers are down, and satellite phones are congested and jammed. The units all have to bring fuel in from outside of the disaster area, and all units have to carry their own food and water in with them. It’s a difficult, logistically complicated operation as difficult as invading a foreign country. All of that takes time. It will be weeks before every single pile of rubble is even completely searched for bodies.

Note that they just cleared the main roads on Sanibel Island, and are now starting to clear side roads. Everything has to be brought in on barges because the island’s only bridge is out.

My job twice a day for a week of Katrina was hauling a fuel buffalo 30 miles to a refinery to get 500 gallons of diesel at a time so we could refuel my unit’s trucks. So every morning, I would get up at 0430, be on the road by 0500, and back before 0700 so I could refuel the vehicles in the morning. Then I would do the same every evening at 1700. Now imagine doing that every day, but with a barge trip at each end.

To make a long story short, it is difficult and time consuming. There is destruction and flooding from this storm from Fort Meyers all the way to St Augustine. One in ten houses in the state are without power. My old fire station is under water, and that station is 120 miles from Fort Meyers. This is a huge disaster area.

The responders of this state are doing an impressive job. Anyone who thinks things are going slowly have no idea what they are talking about.

Categories: Uncategorized


Paul · October 2, 2022 at 9:54 pm

To quote Uncle Eddie: BINGO!

why · October 3, 2022 at 7:22 am

Then there’s the psych/physical toll on responders. I was never “sent” to disaster-areas as we had our own. IIRC, Day 4 did SUCK. Adrenaline was running out, the enormity (your own neighborhood/town) of the destruction, and having to re-adjust one’s internal rhythm (from rescue to recovery) took its toll. Somber meal times, our usual black-humor was gone, and we just kept inching forward. Kinda like explaining bodily trauma to someone who’s never experienced it – I can explain it all day long; till it’s happened to you, you won’t TRULY understand it.

why · October 3, 2022 at 7:28 am

That’s also where PIO (Public Information Officers) come in. Initially, I didn’t much like them, but having witnessed their craft, it was MUCH safer (for everyone). In the early 80’s, I witnessed the assault of a news-reporter who went “too far” and received the wrath of those on the ground. No one, including myself, went to said reporter’s aid; they went over the line and received due reward. That event, and many like it afterwards, shaped my disdain for reporters.

tfourier · October 3, 2022 at 8:42 am

> Anyone who thinks things are going slowly have no idea what they are talking about.

That says it all..

I remember after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 the fastest way of shutting up some idiot complaining about this or that in the disaster response was to ask them – So what were your earthquake preps? What supplies do you have? Every time they had done nothing. No prep. Not even the most basic stuff. Like reading the disaster prep guide in the front of the phonebook which was unmissable.

Always the same type of people. Expect others to do everything for them Just parasites in a disaster situation. Will not do anything to help themselves. Or anyone else. Bottom of my triage / help list.

As for journalists. I have found there is a inverse rule. The closer the story is to their family, neighbors, community the more responsible the reporting. So the locals guys are usually very good during a natural disaster. The rest of the state, maybe. Out of state, national, international – totally worthless and should be told immediately to go away. Same goes for freelancers / stringers.

So always ask the journo who they work for. If it is n’t the local newspapers / TV stations never ever talk to them. Ever. And never be afraid to be belligerent towards them to make them go away. Journo’s dont do subtle.

AC47Spooky · October 3, 2022 at 5:17 pm

It’s clown world. Got a disaster? Yeah that’s someone’s fault. Need to be rescued? Yeah the person at fault is slacking on the job. Can’t get to work because you can’t get out of your neighborhood? Yeah that’s someone’s fault too. It’s disgusting — these morons bitching about worthless nonsense when people have lost their homes.

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