Sunday, September 04, 2005

FEMA and Katrina's death toll

Well, it's coming out now as I type this.

FNC Alert: HHS Sec. Leavitt - "Death toll from Katrina in the Thousands"


What I don't understand is what I heard yesterday from a FEMA guy.

He basically said their method for the death toll is this, they find a body, try to identify the person, and THEN, if identified, put the name on a list which then increases the death toll.

So I took that to mean if they've got 100 dead bodies and they've identified 3, the death toll only rises by 3 because they have the names of those 3 even though they've got 97 other bodies there.

That just doesn't make sense.

Benicia paramedic pitched in


"We wanted to assist. It was Ground Zero in a place called Hancock, Mississippi. Half the town was wiped out. They had a 50-foot wave destroy the hospital. Cars were piled on top of each other. There were bodies in the trees. There were bodies littering the beach.

"This is catastrophic," he added. "We were just as much in shock as anyone. We set up like a M.A.S.H. station. People came in carrying dead people. They came in with broken bones, and we didn't have the equipment to help them. We could only give them something for the pain.

"People were fighting for food. It was just a mess. There are still 1,000 people missing from there."

Keathley told of a young boy, about 13, arriving at the makeshift hospital asking for a tetanus shot.

"We told him he needed parental consent, but he told us he didn't have parents. They floated off, he said. I worked in Oakland after the Loma Prieta quake, and that was terrible, but it was nothing like this. This is such a huge scale. It's just hard to explain," Keathley said.


Mississippi Gulf Coast Reeling from Hurricane Katrina
From Ground Zero

By Keith Burton – Gulf Coast News Publisher

This is not going to be your regular news story. There are a lot of reasons for this. The first is that I am as much a part of the staggering story of Hurricane Katrina as the hundreds of thousands of people all along the northern Gulf Coast whose lives have been changed forever by this storm. After all, I live here too.

You cannot believe how difficult conditions are here and how frightening our immediate future is. This story will also be different because of how GCN is getting this to you. You have to know that communications, telephones, Internet and cells phones are not working, or working only marginally at the time of this report.


But people just don’t appreciate the scale of what has happened, and how hard it is just to begin to help.

First, just getting around is extremely difficult. Trees are down everywhere, especially in neighborhoods where people actually live. The news media generally talk about cities as if their downtowns was where everyone lived. But it is in the subdivisions and neighborhoods that Hurricane Katrina ruined lives and dreams.

Concerns over how badly Katrina tore into families and how shook people are is that officials have not released death figures. It will be shocking. One person who I know that is working on the recovery of bodies said that the teams are not being informed of the totals.