From the article in the Kansas City Star noted above:
The 1.7-mile-wide Category F-5 enhanced tornado, with wind estimated at 205 mph, destroyed about 95 percent of this farming town Friday.
The twister was 1.7 miles wide. A storm of this magnitude is the first in 8 years in the US – the last was May 3rd of 1999 in central Oklahoma. The Greensburg tornado was on the ground for 22 miles non-stop and 30 minutes. Maximum winds were estimated at 205 mph. This is the first fatal storm in southwest Kansas since 1967.
Approximately 75 to 90 percent of the buildings in Greensburg are damaged or destroyed. Power outages have been reported throughout Kiowa and surrounding counties. Cell phones and land line communications were also severely impacted.
I know that they are doing all they can for Greensburg, Kansas, but all they can do is not enough. The National Guard across the US is down approx 50-60% from where they should be to be able to meet these types of problems within our own country. Why? Because many valuable members of the National Guard and respective equipment that would have been available to our own people in times of disaster are currently in Iraq.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius says the war in Iraq has exposed holes in domestic disaster response like the one currently under way in tornado-ravaged Kansas.
The governor said about half the state’s National Guard trucks are in Iraq, equipment that would be helpful in removing debris. Sebelius, who asked the Pentagon in December to replenish lost resources, said the state also is missing a number of well-trained personnel.
Sure, FEMA has been there and helping and I sure hope that goes better in Greensburg than it did in New Orleans.
But Charity begins at home! How can the States within our Country meet the needs of their own State’s constituency if the local help system is in large part in Iraq?
Why must the states depend upon FEMA? The Local government and the State’s should be able to do a large part of the work with resources on hand locally. The members of the local and statewide governments will have much more knowledge of resources and know their own people better than the Federal Government would have under those conditions.
FEMA coming in should be a last resort, should it not? But there’s a catch 22… How can the States be autonomous as they should be to a large extent if a large percentage of the local resources are in Iraq?
Certainly, even with full National Guard and other local resources and people, FEMA would likely play a role in Greensburg since the devastation was so great, but not the role they will be required to play under the current conditions due to the shortage of local resources.
The Kansas City Star article first noted in this posting also reports,
The government’s response to the disaster was undermined by ongoing National Guard deployments to the Middle East, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said.
“I don’t think there is any question if you are missing trucks, Humvees and helicopters that the response is going to be slower,” Sebelius said. “The real victims here will be the residents of Greensburg, because the recovery will be at a slower pace.”
I have no argument with the Iraqis who are in a terrible place themselves right now being pushed and pulled from so many directions, but we really need to think about our own too. And that should have come first – not as an afterthought when a disaster strikes.
Just my two cents.