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Do you think FEMA could handle an emergency if it happened here?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 13, 2005

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Photo of Ryan Lorenson

“Probably not, but it seems like there aren’t many emergencies that are likely to happen in Kansas.”

Photo of Kathy Peak

“I’m sure they could handle it. I think they were overwhelmed with what happened in Louisiana, but I don’t think anyone in crisis thinks that the response is fast enough.”

Photo of Alexandra Miner

“Probably not, since they couldn’t handle the emergency that happened in the South. I’m happy to hear the director has stepped down.”

Photo of Robert McMillen

“I guess it would depend on the scale of the emergency. I think they relied too heavily on local authorities to handle the initial response in this case.”

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Jeff Goodrick 12 years, 8 months ago

yes, FEMA could and has handled poblems here, like the flood of 93 and tornados, but where the problem lies is with your political management, will they do the job, mayor and commission, to make sure they follow the emergency plan. That was the problem in N.O.

EM, according to NOAA.GOV 3 hurricanes hit kansas 1900, 1932, 1961. We may be do.

KsjKC 12 years, 8 months ago

even_money: Of course--How do you think our current president got HIS present job? It's like being a legacy at some fraternity...

KsjKC 12 years, 8 months ago

Well, it depends...are the FEMA Workers smokers? If so, they may just let us twist in the wind....

While infinitely smaller, I've lived through the 1981 tornado and the 1993 floods and we acquitted ourselves fairly well in those crises...

However, on reflection---Did anyone see "The Day After"? We were caught nappin' on that one...

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

TOB- Bob needs to decide which side he's on goodness or badness. hmmm....hmmm.... - Judge Smails.

Actually, Bob 6mil poly plastic sheeting would help you avoid radioctive iodine charged dust particles from entering your home and into your lungs. That would be the biggest threat if you were down wind from, or on the edge of a "dirty Bomb" attack or reactor leak. Long term, it would definitely create a bad air situation inside, but FEMA and the National Guard would definitely show up the next day. (sarcasm)

Sorry, but I have to throw that sarcasm in there just so I don't get multiple angry postings from people who didn't "get it". On the other hand they probably haven't read this far anyway and have already sent posts. I don't know why I bother.

christie 12 years, 8 months ago

Only if it involved a horse-show running out of popcorn. That FEMA could handle.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

OMB-I'll bring the nudie mags and pizza. And we can sit around and play halo (poosibly by generator)until we get the all clear. By this reasoning every Friday night would technically be a Fed. disaster at my house. Maybe I can get FEMA money to dig a new pool, er, I mean "levy" around my backyard.

Also, TOB, I agree. I would have agreed with you a few weeks ago, but I started a job that involves Training at Wolf Creek. So I have been getting the inside track.

mr_daniels 12 years, 8 months ago

No matter the emergency, large and small, the Governor and local officials remain as the first responder and must be geared up to handle them on their own. FEMA has the money and delegated authority to muster necessary assests and human resources once the call comes from the State that assistance is needed. FEMA 101!

rhd99 12 years, 8 months ago

W/O Mike Brown at the helm, oh yes FEMA could. The problem with initial preparations rests with our local government leaders. If they don't have a plan, they get the blame FIRST. So, if BOOG & others on that city commission don't draft an emergency plan for us here in Lawrence, then if an emergency occurred, we first blame our local politicians, then we worry about how state & feds jump in to assist or retreat with their heads between their legs.

trinity 12 years, 8 months ago

see this is why we need more wallymarts; PRE-PARED-NESS, people. i'd loot a wallymart for provisions before i'd ever touch a mom&pop store! now-let's make sure wm still carries ciggies as i'd HATE to have to suffer through a disaster without 'em.

on a serious note-is ANYone ever ready for a disaster?¿? duct tape makes the world go'round-or at the very least keeps it from tilting further on its axis.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

Mr-Daniels is right on the edge of the next topic I have been wanting to address.

It is starting to appear that in this case S**t rolls uphill. Why are the mayor of NO and the Louisianna Governor not receiving ANY blame. THey should be the first to get in there and help out their own people. Instead, they just turned around and blamed FEMA and Bush. If Brownie is the only head to roll than I have issues with that. Bush isn't great, but let's put the real blame where it's due. And that is that the city, county, and state governments failed to evac. and help their own people. Then, they expected the Gov. to ride in on their white horse and do it for them and complained about the slow response (that was already two days too late). Matter of fact, if this HAD been left up to Louisianna to handle alone you'd have thousands of dead people in front of the Superdome, instead of a lot of disppersed rescued ones.

To me it rings, on a larger scale, of that Russian sub disaster a few yrs ago when all those submariners(?) died because the Russian gov. was ill-equipped and to pridefull to ask for help until it was too late. At least, they didn't blame other nations for their mistakes unlike Louisianna officials.

PS- Big ups, though, for one masterful "buck" passing on Louisianna governments behalf. They know we have an unpopular gov./pres. right now and did an awesome job of finger-pointing. Kudos.

beatrice 12 years, 8 months ago

trinity: "i'd loot a wallymart for provisions before i'd ever touch a mom&pop store!" I don't know if you are with us liberals in our hate of wallymart or if you are being wonderfully sarcastic, but either way that is funny!

Topside: "6mil poly plastic sheeting would help you avoid radioctive iodine charged dust particles from entering your home and into your lungs." I have a question -- once I have my house completely sealed from the air outside, where exactly is the air I need to breath suppose to come from? Certainly all the pot plants I have growing in the basement don't put off that much oxygen, do they?

Let us not forget that being encouraged by the feds to stock up on plastic wrap and duct tape was part of the WMD scare tactic presented by the Bush administration in order to get public support as they waged a war in the name of Haliburton, um, I mean, Freedom.

Today's question: Maybe.

Redneckgal 12 years, 8 months ago

I don't think I'd trust them. One lesson in all this I think people learned is this: If you can possibly take care yourself and think for yourself you better do it and sure not count on the goverment.

ladysilk 12 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Daniels and Topside are correct. It is the responsiblity of the local government to prepare for at least a 72 hour response on their own before FEMA steps in. Usually they are there before the 72 hours but if this were a nationwide disaster and all states were affected locals would need to be prepared to handle it on their own for a while. The chain of response is local (county), state, federal. I agree that the lack of response to this disaster should be on the heads of the locals not the feds. On a side note, we are lucky to have Paula Phillips, she is one of the best emergency managers in this state.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

Beatrice-I did state that it would creat a "bad air situation" or what is known as "dirty house syndrome". After a couple of days of no fresh air changes taking place inside the home it would start creating toxic levels of carbon monoxide, radon, farts, etc. TOB has the best solution...get the F outta dodge!

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

Two comments:

I heard this morning on the radio that the guy Bush has tapped to be the interim to replace Brownie boy was the very same dude who suggested that we all be prepared for a terrorist attack, spurring everyone to buy local stores out of duct tape.

Secondly, my CNN news update just informed me that President Bush says he takes responsibility for the federal government's failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

italianprincess 12 years, 8 months ago

All I guess I can say to this question is.......

I hope they can handle anything and everything that happens here. Who knows what damage a tornado can do.

Since moving here in 97 we have had warnings and sirens going off, but the damage was small from a tornado. I just hope and pray that if we do have a major tornado that involves major distruction to our city that FEMA is there for us.

Plans for the benefit concert are going smoothly now and bands are starting to contact us. We are hoping for a large turnout that day, so we hope to see some of you there.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

Is there and echo in here? Nice post avhjmlk but we have already touched on all that.

meggers 12 years, 8 months ago

From what I have seen of them, FEMA does an adequate job with longer-term follow-up, but Katrina made it clear that they are ill-prepared to respond quickly and appropriately to either a natural catastrophe or a terrorist attack.

Of course, local officials are the first responders in any crisis, however their ability to adequately respond would obviously depend upon the magnitude of the disaster. Some require a much more immediate and comprehensive response than could be provided by any local government, especially if the infrastructure of that locality has been compromised.

In other words, if we ever experience a monumental disaster requiring immediate assistance from FEMA, we'd better hope it's a different FEMA than we saw a couple of weeks ago.

beatrice 12 years, 8 months ago

Topside: Are you suggesting that now I can blame my "dirty house syndrome" on the feds? Awesome. I like that line of thinking! When FEMA gets here, I'm going to have them start on those dirty dishes in the sink. : )

And I agree, everyone who is able should follow the ghost's advice in Amityville Horror -- "Get OUT!!"

Finally, I do think that FEMA didn't do the job properly this time, hence the resignation of Brown. That is fairly obvious, and his relocation followed by his resignation is the closest thing to admitting failure I've seen by this administration. However, I also think the local government showed itself as ill-prepared and they need to take a huge portion of the blame for lost lives.

Now, about those statements by Mamma Bush ...

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

IP- check out some old photos of the 1966 Topeka tornado. That will scare you. From ariel photos it looks like a gigantic celestial lawnmower ripped one huge swath through the middle of town. That crap that hit the Aberdeen apts a couple of yrs ago was, but a micro burst. If those weren't the worst constructed apts. in town they would have stood up to the winds better.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

Well, I'm sorry...I noticed all the discussion making fun of FEMA for the plastic wrap and duct tape, but missed the one line where someone mentioned who at FEMA had made that recommendation. I guess that's what I get for coming into the discussion late this morning.

Additionally, I'm not sure anyone had yet pointed out that Bush announced this morning that he was taking full responsibility. I received the news flash at 11:16am...

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

Poor, poor Mamma Bush. Open mouth, insert entire leg.

hottruckinmama 12 years, 8 months ago

geez does that mean he'll resign? lol! but of course that would mean we would be stuck with chaney. 6 of one and half dozen of another far as i'm concerned.

b_asinbeer 12 years, 8 months ago

It's a miracle! Are my eyes deceiving me? Stop the presses.....Bush actually, for the first time I believe, takes the blame for something....Now if he only took the blame for the other millions of things he did wrong the first 5 years in office....

italianprincess 12 years, 8 months ago


Can I google that?

I'm from Cali and we have some rocking earthquakes there that I have been through, but never have had to experience a tornado yet.

I want to see one though then go to the basement real fast. It may sound weird, but if you have only seen them in movies and on tv a real one is the next step.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

You should also google the Hoisington tornado in 2001(?-can't remember the year). I drove through a few days later and was just appalled...

Linda Aikins 12 years, 8 months ago

IP - I've lived in Kansas all of my very long life and never seen one. Except with Helen Hunt and some cows. And the Aberdeen dollhouse tornado.

Did you hear about the doctor in NOLA who told Chaney to go "f" himself?

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

IP-avhjmlk is right the hoisington one was pretty Devestating/awesome too. They are still cleaning up from that one, I was just talking to some demo contractors last week about wrecking some still unsafe buildings. I don't know if you can google the 66 Tornado but I bet you could. Can't almost everything be googled? ALso, I live in Tornado alley, and still have never seen one. I would like too but then hit the basement quick. We haven't had a really bad one for a long time here in NE, KS so we are definitely due. The longer we go without an even small to medium Tornado the more worried I get. I have in my imagination that the longer we go without a Tornado the more and more it will build up, like a balloon. Then...pop we have a Class 5 or several at once and we all get screwed.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

Sorry. That "Seriously?!?! That's fantastic!" comment was about Cheney being told how to entertain himself...Definitely not about the tornados.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

Yeah I saw that on the Daily Show a couple of days ago. Man (Chaney) crawls out of his hole he's been in since 911 and gets an F-bomb right between the eyes... Classic!

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

IP-here is a link I found through google images: top/tor66.html

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

I'm starting a new "On the Street" poll for today:

How many of us on this comment board have fathers, husbands, brothers, mothers, wives, sisters, or any other relatives who are of the type who insist on standing outside, staring straight up into the sky during horrible weather, and will not take cover until the tornado nearly sucks them off the earth?

I, for one, have both a husband and a father who do that.

oldfashiongirl 12 years, 8 months ago

Well, FEMA might be able to help a 90 year old lady cross the street, unless there is an open manhole for her to disappear into. My daughter lives in Richmond, VA and is worried about Hurricane Ophelia, but will just get mostly rain. But if she hears that FEMA is coming, then, darling, head for the hills!

Redneckgal 12 years, 8 months ago

LOL! avhjmlk I do exactly that. I head out to the front porch and my husband and son run to the truck and storm chase. Whats even worse most of my neighbors do to. One of these days an F-5 is gonna pick us all up and drop somewhere in Missouri. And the question the next day in "On the Street" will be why were all those dumb people standing out on there porchs instead of in there basements!

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

avhjmlk- You said it. THe next big thing to come through will kill more "amateur storm chasers" than anything. Some people just don't know how to take a hint to save their own skins.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

Well, it'll be your own bad damned luck if a tornado lands you in Missouri...You might as well land directly in a pile of s**t.

heretoday 12 years, 8 months ago

I have a question...... who here thinks that it would be a good idea to restore all of NO? New Orleans was a unique and wonderful creation, but, you can't flood most of the buildings in the city, immerse it in a toxic stew, empty out its residents for months, and expect it to blossom anew like flower in the spring. No one today would ever think of building a city on a plot of ground below sea level, surrounded by water, endlessly vulnerable to floods and hurricanes. So would anyone think of rebuilding a city in exactly the same place? Sorry to derail but it is kinda kinda..on the topic.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

I heard this morning that the French Quarter was largely untouched, and they think they'll be able to house visitors in FQ hotels before all the rebuilding is done...

The FQ is something that could never be replaced, even if it was built exaxtly the same way. Can't tell you how much my husband and I enjoyed "earning" the array of Pat O'Briens glasses...

heretoday 12 years, 8 months ago

ya, but the FQ is not the whole city and it is a miracle that it is still standing. much of the city which has widespread poverty, high unemployment, a backward economy and rampant crime, will not be changed by any amount of money and the fact that it is no place for a large urban population. Plus, the city will be back in the line of fire because another hurricane will hit and this time maybe it will be a cat 5. The city will throw in billons of dollars reconstructing and replanning when most of the city has already moved on and found life elsewhere (plus the nation could use the money in other areas..). We can yes spend all this money to rebuild but no it will never be the same and can we not find other ways to spend this money? I am just trying to play devils advocate.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

I know that 90% of NO is devastated. I also think, though, that most of the outside world (non-NO folks) will be fine with the idea of raising (or maybe even razing) most of NO as long as the French Quarter has been largely preserved...It's shallow and callous, but probably true.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

And, realistically, NO has to have the FQ to maintain any hope of an economic recovery, especially considering how many people are going to relocate...

heretoday 12 years, 8 months ago

the areas that did not flood this time are likely to the next hurricane that hits. I also heard that over the next century that area is going to sink another it continutes to plummet into the sea. but, who knows.....thats some time from now and who knows in what state the earth will be a decade from now

Richard Heckler 12 years, 8 months ago

Unfortunately Bush and his administration have a set a pattern of bad judgement...that is their fault. 9/11,Iraq, Kritina,spending and the environment. Any president with this pattern would be subject to extreme criticism which is what responsible citizens do.

This group, Bush and all, would have been fired had they been working for/or managing a company.

It is rather astounding that many appointed/high paying federal positions with sweet retirement benefits require no particular background....aka zero knowledge or experience. This political appointment nonsense stinks no matter what your political leanings may be.

Farmers_Daughter 12 years, 8 months ago

I grew up in Western KS and saw my first tornado when I was 5 (Dad said "Hey everyone, come look at this" as my Mom freaked!) and the second-to-last one just over a year ago from my perch driving a combine. It was a little one and only tore up a bunch of (thankfully) wheat stubble. And, yes, I AM one of those people who would be out staring at the sky-- that's how I spotted and called in another twister while still at the farm later on last summer.

And to answer the day's question, I think the state and area would respond differently to a local disaster, thus changing the possible reaction by FEMA.

Linda Aikins 12 years, 8 months ago

Farmers_Daughter - where in western Kansas? We have Ashland and Greensburg proudly represented here already.

Confrontation 12 years, 8 months ago

For those interested, I found a site with some Kansas tornado damage pics, including some from Topeka.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

My husband grew up in Great Bend and saw many twisters from his folks' house.

His dad had just left work at the hospital (thankfully) when the tornado travelled down Broadway in GB a few weeks ago. It blew windows out of every car in the parking lot at the hospital, in addition to all the other local damage.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

My dad grew up near Kirwin. He, and many other farmers, are just as good or better at calling out storms as any meteorlogist is. When you can see that much sky you have an advantage. I was more refering to storm-watchers or "rubberneckers" as amateurs who know nothing they just want the thrill. I once watched a special on discovery about tornado researchers and there were more idiots who didn't know anything, getting in the way than there were real researchers...researching. The best was this camero that had these three peroxide-blonde skanks in it that were just roaming around...They must have been from the Barfly Institute.

Topside 12 years, 8 months ago

BTW- Has anyone else seen the video of the two TV guys out by, like, Rossville that were taping a Tornado and then it comes toward them and then they hide under the overpass? That is awesome! If you listen close you can actually hear the guy holding the camera fill his pants.

avhjmlk 12 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, hasn't that video become famous for being exactly what you should NOT do in a tornado?

KsjKC 12 years, 8 months ago

Topside-- I remember the night that storm hit and those two were trapped under the overpass--Great footage and a bad idea....downdrafts can suck someone out from under there and they were lucky or pre-ordained to survive it so we could all see what they saw...

I was 16 when that F/2 hit the southern part of Lawrence. Our house was right about where the Subway is near Target on Nieder Rd.

My older brother rode bikes with Stan Pittman, the one person killed -- as he foolishly chose to ride out the storm looking out K-Mart's front window.

I didn't get scared until that night. The emergency crews worked all night long and it was their radio and loudspeaker chatter from the K-Mart parking lot that kept me up...But they were there---and they stayed until they were sure no one else was in that K-Mart or in the convenience store or movie theatre or anyplace else...

KsjKC 12 years, 8 months ago

Beause of my work I have gotten to do some storm chasing...and while I'd leave the bungee jumping in a kilt off my list just because of the impropriety and updrafts---I have to say that if you know what you are doing and know the risks--Storm chasing is a huge high...

Farmers_Daughter 12 years, 8 months ago

Gootsie-- Syracuse, population about 1700 now, about 2000 then.

KsjKC 12 years, 8 months ago

The Lawrence storm was 6/19/81---The LJ search archives may have some photos of it...

sunflower_sue 12 years, 8 months ago

FEMA, Um, probably not if something large was afoot.

Tornado watching: Yes! I've lived in tornado alley all my life and never seen one. I've seen dust devils (but they don't count!) I've seen a giant funnel cloud go by from a hotel room in Chicago. That was interesting.

My hubby was born on the day of the big killer Topeka tornado. As a child, his dad, brother, and he went to the roof of the Lawrence library to watch a tornado.

Have to admit, I jump outside to look around (if I'm not getting pelted by hail).

Linda Aikins 12 years, 8 months ago

Farmers_Daughter, you qualify as a true western Kansas person! Syracuse has actually grown in population? That's great.

Do you get the "Western Kansas = Salina" thing?

Are we prepared? I doubt we will know until it happens.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 8 months ago

Bush is not accepting responsibility??? Frankly I think it's more of a political ploy in order to put a lid on the very vocal criticism. His actions in the near future will tell the real story. He is a man of words but not wisdom and not necessarily a man of truth. Time will be the judge for me. Until then it's all talk.

Also it seems all government positions should have job descriptions accompanied with a list of required credentials.

Staci Dark Simpson 12 years, 8 months ago

I think we would be more ready here for a weather disaster. I just think people here are generally more prepared for storms. A lot of people in the South did take hurricanes with a grain of salt, including some of our relatives. After seeing Katrinas destruction I think that they might actually evacuate now. New Orleans was known for a lot of crime pre-hurricane so I don't think we can be surprised at looters and criminals running rampant. We don't have near the poverty level here that is seen in New Orleans, and Lawrence would fare a lot better because of that.

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