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Ed Yeates Reporting The failure of Government to react in the wake of Katrina's devastation may now focus new attention, even renewed funding, on neighborhood response teams.
In drill after drill, the response all seems to work so well. But with Katrina it didn't!
Dr. George White, University of Utah Public Health: “Americans unable to receive water, unable to receive medications, dying, literally on television. It’s something you would expect somewhere else in the world.”
Dr. George White echoes what many in public health are saying. The failure to act quickly is an embarrassing eye opener for the U-S Government that perhaps focus should now be renewed on a project that has somewhat faded from the spotlight. CERT or CORE - call it what you will - the mission is the same.
It’s your next door neighbors, trained as volunteers to act not days down the road, but immediately. In this CORE group - assigned to watch over fifty families over a four block area - a garage is the staging area, complete with maps, action boards, two way radios, and more.
Mothers and grandmothers, fathers, uncles, neighbors go out surveying what needs to be done. Green, red or yellow ribbons tied on doorknobs or porches tell them whether they should pass by or offer help. Teams know their families. They even know who has special tools or equipment if needed.
While Katrina wiped out whole neighborhoods, most disasters - like an earthquake - here would not. In most states, in most catastrophes, CORE or CERT works well.
Dr. George White: "I just hope that we learn from this experience, learn something that will make us better, help us react quicker."
In drill after drill, the neighborhood teams are trained NOT to expect the Government to respond in those first critical days.
It used to be that the Government paid for the training of these teams, but not anymore. Neighborhoods wanting to organize now will have to pay out of their own pocket.