Friday, September 09, 2005

Canadians beat U.S. Army to New Orleans suburb - Yahoo! News

"BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Reuters) - A Canadian search-and-rescue team reached a flooded New Orleans suburb to help save trapped residents five days before the U.S. military, a Louisiana state senator said on Wednesday.


The Canadians beat both the Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. disaster response department, to St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans, where flood waters are still 8 feet deep in places, Sen. Walter Boasso said.
'Fabulous, fabulous guys,' Boasso said. 'They started rolling with us and got in boats to save people.'
'We've got Canadian flags flying everywhere.'
The stricken parish of 68,000 people was largely ignored by U.S. authorities who scrambled to get aid to New Orleans, a few miles (km) away. Boasso said residents of the outlying parishes had to mount their own rescue and relief efforts when Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on August 29.
The U.S. government response to the disaster has been widely criticized. Politicians and editorial writers have called for the resignation of top Bush administration officials.
Boasso said U.S. authorities began airdropping relief supplies to St. Bernard last Wednesday, the same day the Canadian rescue team of about 50 members arrived from Vancouver, nearly 2,200 miles away.
'They chartered a plane and flew down,' he said.
Two FEMA officials reached the parish on Sunday and the U.S. Army arrived on Monday, he said.
'Why does it take them seven days to get the Army in?' Boasso asked.
He speculated that the smaller parishes suffered because the focus was on New Orleans, the famous home of jazz and Mardi Gras.
As for the Canadians, Boasso gave thanks for their quick work.
'They were so glad to be here,' he said. "They're still here. They are actually going door-to-door looking in the attics" for people to rescue, he said. "

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