Monday, October 10, 2005
Mom Finds Her Glasses, FEMA Loses Mom
They washed up just fine.
My mom and little brother are still in Las Vegas, so far from home. And home is still a mess. My mom feels like she's drifting and rootless. She was stunned by the wealth on display in Vegas, the contrast from where she just was. She's still getting the runaround from FEMA, but by this point we don't expect much more. It seems the application taker we dealt with in that sun baked parking lot in Mississippi, the one who could barely operate the computer, who had been up for 24 hours, the earnest blue shirt, well, he messed up her application, and now she's in a bureaucratic no man's land. But at least in Vegas they have AC and seats to wait in for six hours, and when they tell you you need to call the 800 number, well, look, they've got a special little room off to the side with a couple of phones in it just for that. We'll take any improvement we can get.
I had a drink with one of those earnest blue shirts, in the French Quarter recently. She was a Peace Corps volunteer who had come down to help in any way she could. She was assigned to be one of the FEMA application takers, and when she told us about her experience she was almost in tears with rage and frustration. She told us about how she got less than an hour's training. She told us about how the official FEMA reps, the mandarins above her, hiding from the public, how they were little better than glazed-eyed morons, just shuffling papers and waiting to leave. She told us about the trick questions on the FEMA application, designed to automatically disqualify people if answered wrong. She told us how the poor survivors were yelling at her in frustration, then consoling her when she would almost cry from it, then asking her if she had any food they could take on the way out.
She grit her teeth, held back tears, took a big drink, and said "I only wanted to help, but I can't."
She said she and some of the other volunteers had taken their official FEMA blue shirts, and used them to clean the floor.
Posted by clayton cubitt at 11:30 PM