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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

September 3, 2005

Forget FEMA – let Wal*Mart do it!

[with comments]     Filed under Katrina

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has come under fire for the delayed response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. My suggestion: let Wal*Mart do it!

The first day the nearby Wal*Mart at Tillman’s Corner (about 4 miles from our house) was able to open after Hurricane Katrina, people needing some of those supplies in greatest demand after a natural disaster found them at Wal*Mart: bottled water, batteries, etc. And they didn’t have to walk far to find them. Wal*Mart had placed shopping carts full of bottled drinking water and batteries right near the front of the store. Sure, you had to pay for them, but with today’s local newspaper reporting that as of yesterday a large chunk of FEMA’s stockpiled relief goods had not even made it to Mobile yet, it makes you wonder why the federal government has to recreate a distribution system used only sporadically anyway when commercial systems like Wal*Mart’s distribution set-up are supplying stores all over the country all the time. Wal*Mart probably knows a lot more about moving consumer goods and has more experience doing it than the federal government will ever have.

Before the next natural disaster, let FEMA work out some arrangment with America’s store, Wal*Mart. Have a FEMA agent with a checkbook or government credit card at each Wal*Mart used to distribute water, batteries, food, etc., and let the folks come and get it. At the end of the day the FEMA man can just charge it all to Uncle Sam. Since FEMA will only need one agent per store, the number of FEMA personnel for this kind of distribution will likely be lessened, freeing up agents to get into areas where the situation is worse and the need is greater than distributing water and food supplies to people without electricity. Let Wal*Mart do it!

Comment from Glen Leslie:

"Anyone know if there’s an effort to provide any ‘hands-on’ assistance – physically going to the Gulf Coast area and assisting? Several us in Knoxville, TN (one of us is a general contractor) are willing to come down and help out for a period of time if there’s some organized effort going on (and assuming we wouldn’t be burdening existing infrastructure)."

Answer from Paul Kieffer:

Thank you for your offer to help. What do you have in mind? I know that some of the small inland communities in Mississippi have received little or no assistance even though they were hit quite hard. I would suggest that you contact Victor Kubik at Lifenets to see if you can help.

Comment from Sandra Ross:

"We’ve got non-perishable food, water, and clothing to give. We’ve got a bunch of stuff that we were planning to give to the Red Cross, but if there is some sort of effort in the works to try to get some of these items to members in LA, MS, and AL, we’d like to give some of it to that relief as well. I realize that a lot of these independent excursions to bring relief right now actually cause more headaches for those trying to clean up and restore utilities, since there is no power, no food, no water in these areas. Perhaps for those of us driving to Southeast US Feast sites, we could have a designated donation area where we could give these basic necessities so they could be distributed out the affected church areas."

Answer from Paul Kieffer:

Good idea! I have forwarded your comments to Victor Kubik and Clyde Kilough.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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