It was the stuff of nightmares. Poisonous water moccasins were swimming in the filthy water of the flooded first floor, and snipers, rats and even a 12-foot alligator were roaming the treacherous area just outside the hospital's doors.And FEMA interfered with this hospital's efforts to survive the aftermath:
"To me, it was like being in hell," said Carl Warner, the chief engineer for Methodist Hospital in the hard-hit eastern part of New Orleans. "There were bodies floating in the water outside the building, and our staffers had to swim through that water to get fuel for the generator."
Everybody's suffering would have been eased if the emergency relief effort mounted by the hospital's owner, Universal Health Services in King of Prussia, Pa., had not been interfered with by FEMA. Company officials sent desperately needed water, food, diesel fuel to power the hospital's generators and helicopters to ferry in the supplies and evacuate the most vulnerable individuals.Final excerpt:
Bruce Gilbert, Universal's general counsel, told me yesterday, "Those supplies were in fact taken from us by FEMA, and we were unable to get them to the hospital. We then determined that it would be better to send our supplies, food and water to Lafayette [130 miles from New Orleans] and have our helicopters fly them from Lafayette to the hospital."
When you consider that the Methodist Hospital experience was just one small part of the New Orleans catastrophe, you get a sense of the size of the societal failure that we allowed to happen.
Welcome to the United States in 2005.