Friday August 13, 2004 hurricane Charley destroys Punta Gorda, Florida.
Scott McLellan on August 13th issued this statement:
Secretary Ridge, during the briefings, also updated the President on Hurricane Charley,
and talked about how we have deployed federal resources and put them in place to be in position to respond to Hurricane Charley when it hits Florida.
We've got disaster supply kits in place. We've got response teams in place. So the President received an update about all that we're doing at the
federal level to respond to Hurricane Charley.
By Saturday the 14th, FEMA was already in there going from house to house with food, medical supplies and looking for survivors via helicopter
Two days after the hurricane hit, Sunday the 15th, Bush was on the ground surveying the damage.
This is a race issue indirectly. It is obvious that when the largest majority of a state happens to be black and is ranked as one of the poorest, it
is as a result of a differentiation in class; discrimination and what is not available to that majority class as opposed to the other. Otherwise it
would have to be said that the black population in the United States are willingly choosing to live in poverty.
On Wednesday, CNN televised a live telephone conversation with a woman who along with 300 other hotel guests stayoing at the Ritz Carlton, found
themselves trapped and complaining that no one had attempted to rescue them. By Thursday midday, CNN was very pleased to interview this woman once
more by phone. One day later, this woman, this obviously well to do woman who could afford the Ritz, was now safely ensconced in her Baltimore,
Her tale of woe described how shortly after her conversation with CNN, hotel management gathered these 300 together and told them they would be
rescued but because the flood waters did not allow for rescue vehicles to approach from the street, they would have to walk 4 blocks to the Marriott.
They were given special clothing to wear while wading through the “diseased and filthy water”
and doctors in the hotel went across to the
WalGreen’s nearby and “got”
(note not looted) all the antibiotics they could find, came back and inoculated all 300 Ritz Carlton guests.
They made their way to the Marriott where they were greeted by staff and given ”sandwiches and drinks”
and told that 8
be by that night to rescue them, and that it would be by night because it was “unsafe during the day.”
She then recounts: ”that night 8 busses did not come, but 18 busses escorted by armed police vehicles and helicopters with national
guardsmen with special scopes on their guns.”
From there they were taken out of state where ”they boarded planes for home.”
far as she knew all 300 got flights out.
It is very clear here that FEMA’s and Bush’s reaction to Florida was vastly different from the get go to that of Louisianna, Alabama and
Mississippi, and it is particularly clear that when rich white Ritz Carlton patrons screamed for help it was delivered toute de suite. That is
undeniably class distinction and preferential treatment.
What was particularly disturbing to me as I heard this woman tell her tale was how, not only were they bundled up in protective clothing to keep
themselves from contact with the same filthy water tens of thousands of less fortunate folk were wading through in trying to seek shelter, but doctors
took the liberty to loot Walgreens and ensure these 300 were given antibiotics before they even stepped foot into it.
It is appalling to me that the rescue was made not just under heavy police guard, but by highly trained, most likely by now, battle hardened fighting
men from their positions in helicopters during the night, and presented as though they are somehow afraid of dealing with gunfire. The truth is more
likely that it was done under cover of darkness so that the less fortunate black folk could not see the extent of the rescue efforts extended to these
‘poor’ Ritz Carlton patrons who for three days had to suffer being holed up in a swanky hotel.