Just returned from a conference. Got to fly on September 11th and back on the 14th. So will post some comments in relation to the first day plus Katrina.
As I boarded the jet that was to take me to Dallas-Forth Worth I had time to really look up front where the pilots are. While still plugged into the ground cart supplying cooling air the cockpit door was open so got to see the MFDs operating and the pilots going through some of their pre-flight checklist. As soon as they were ready to back away from the gate, the cockpit door closed and then the door we all entered through was closed. Has anyone paid attention to what one of the new doors looks like? Before that day in 2001, that door was just an ordinary appearing door with a turn-knob. And if a child wanted to see the cockpit, well if the flight crew did not mind it was not a problem. Now, that door looks like it belongs at the front of a speak-easy or a crack-house. There is metal reinforcement to prevent an easy break-in, a dead-bolt lock, and an armored peep-hole. For all the up-armoring that has gone into that door, there would have been a good chance before 9/11/2001 such a door would have been opened by the flight crew because the training at the time was, ‘these are hijackers and they got demands, so don’t give them a hassle because they won’t kill us if they get their way.’ That is what 9/11/2001 truly changed for many Americans, their mindset. They have been lead from the unreal idea of ‘it could never happen in the United States’ to the very real concern of it could happen on their flight. Therein lays the true defense against more such attacks.
While on this flight, I got a chance to talk to a FEMA team member going home. He had spent almost two weeks on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with his crew eating MREs while trying to help out people after Katrina. They started in Biloxi and worked their way westward. If someone needed medicine, they handed out a five day supply to that person; there was some confusion on this point since some unnamed National Guardsmen had been telling the local populace that FEMA would give them refills. One of their first rescues was a four month old dog with a broke leg, they fixed the dog up, named him Chance, and kept him with their team. He even showed me some of his digital pictures; one series was of a house that looked intact. Until he zoomed in, what I mistook for a large bay window was instead a missing wall courtesy of Katrina’s storm surge. When the water washed back, it dragged the house’s air conditioner across the street along with everything else in the house.
My conference was held in Wichita, Kansas. It was somewhat eye-opening to realize how far Katrina’s reach was, but even Wichita was getting ready to house evacuees of Katrina’s destructive wrath. They had supplies laid in and orderly rows of cots set up. In the end, no one got sent to Wichita to sleep on those cots or use those supplies. So Wichita’s Red Cross and Salvation Army sent all those cots and supplies to the ravaged areas along with almost $2.5million in donations to help people. While there were no mass evacuees, Wichita churches were sponsoring homeless families, pairing them up with their church families and helping them get settled. Some of the evacuees are now preparing to move permanently to Wichita and are taking their first step by seeking employment. To the people of Wichita, KS, thank you for caring and helping.
For more people who have been helping out with almost no news coverage, the countries of Holland and Mexico have sent troops to assist on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Royal Dutch Marines and Mexican Marines have pitched in cleaning up and helping rebuild a school in Gulfport. To them a big thank you I think is in order. To borrow navy fighter puke talk, Bravo Zulu.
And I must take up arms or at least umbrage at the people rallying to Governor Blanco’s defense in regards to her request to President Bush for assistance. “Send everything you got” does not qualify as a formal request for soldiers. Spin all you want but it just aint so. A state governor must specifically request military assistance. For President Bush to do a Vulcan mind-meld on Governor Blanco to realize she meant troops is just plain ludicrous. Can you imagine a police officer telling jurors that he busted into a house because he thought there might be stolen goods in that house? The case would be thrown out and not just in the balliwick of the Ninth Circuit in a heartbeat. But that is exactly what many are saying Bush should have done, he had a hunch and he should have sent in the troops. Never mind by doing so he would be usurping state sovereignty and violating the US Constitution. Now who is trying to act like a cowboy in this instance, not the President but his accusers sure are. I wish they would stop with this faux excuse, but they figure they can get enough gullible people who have been raised on the government teat to believe them and hence deflect blame from themselves. As President Bush has said, there is enough blame to go around for the screw-ups.