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Flashback

The BBC has article on the efforts of ordinary citizens to help the cyclone victims: Burmese dodge junta to supply aid

Driving through a watery wasteland handing out food to desolate storm survivors is something Win will never forget.

Local Burmese people were the first on the scene after Cyclone Nargis brought destruction to the fertile landscape of the Irrawaddy Delta.

Win was one of those who filled up a car with food and blankets and made the journey down south.

“People in that area need everything. They have no shelter. They stand by the road like beggars asking for food,” Win told the BBC News website. “I’ll go down there again,” he said. “But there are many difficulties.”

It was not just the lashing rain but a fear of the ruling junta that impeded his progress.

This reminded me of the group of people from northern Louisiana who headed for New Orleans with their jon boats to help with search and rescue. The flat-bottomed aluminum jon boat would have been perfect for the situation, and the people who owned them were comfortable moving through the swamps and bayous.

Then there was the caravan of airboats from the Florida peninsula, who had the same goal in mind. Again, flat-bottomed aluminum boats that were ideally suited to the problem. Airboats can move over wet reeds in the Everglades.

Both groups were turned away by order of FEMA. The Feds wanted to control everything, even though they lacked the experienced people and equipment to do the job effectively.

It both cases, it’s not about saving lives. It is really about control and taking credit for the effort.