The Clay County Democrats will meet at noon, Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Winery. The speaker will be the mayor of Vermillion, Dan Christopherson. Everyone welcome.
Rotary learns of FEMA's response
The Vermillion Rotary Club met for its weekly meeting at the Freedom Forum on the USD campus Dec. 6 at noon.
Guests included three high school seniors from Vermillion High School, and the two co-managers of the new Wal-Mart Super Center being finished on Highway 50.
Members were reminded to continue to pray for Jack Devany, who is hospitalized after recently being overcome by carbon monoxide, and President Rev. Mercy Hobbs, who is recovering in Rochester, MN, after donating a kidney to a friend. In her absence our meeting was chaired by Roger Kozak, past president of Vermillion Rotary, and past mayor of Vermillion.
Our program this week was presented by Barry Banks, a FEMA disaster assistance employee, who was formerly in the Coast Guard, and is presently a maintenance technician at the Sioux River Ethanol plant in Hudson.
As one listened to Banks, who was activated to provide disaster assistance for the Katrina and Rita hurricanes, it became obvious, although never mentioned by Banks, that some news media had once again engaged in a smear campaign against a governmental agency, evidently to make bad news look worse and discredit the presidential administration.
It has to be remembered that FEMA is designed to help people recover from disasters, and was never designed to forecast or prevent such things from happening. It became clear from Banks' presentation, which included many pictures, that FEMA was well organized to do its work and that it moved into action as rapidly as anyone could expect.
Banks mentioned that approximately 70 percent of the folks that FEMA helped were ready, willing and able to get back on their feet with a minimum of help from the government and other agencies, while the other 30 percent came with their hand out, saying, "What can the government do for me?"
This, plus the massive looting, rape and other crimes that went on in many shelters and devastated areas clearly indicates to this writer that the character of some American citizens leaves much to be desired. This writer believes that this is also a national disaster.
The size and scope of the damage done by Katrina and Rita is hard to imagine. Ninety thousand square miles, including land far inland from the Gulf of Mexico was devastated. This is slightly less than the entire territory of all Great Britain, and when we consider that large populations of the areas hit, the human toll was immense.
So far, FEMA has given aid to some 2.5 million people, amounting to about $5 billion. Two thousand dollars of immediate aid was given to families, and almost $4,500 for emergency housing was allowed. Further assistance from paying off mortgages to helping with reconstruction of housing is ongoing.
Banks mentioned prominently in his remarks the immense work of emergency help done by the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other voluntary organizations, and offered his thanks to those who have supported them.
Our meeting was closed with thanks to our guests by the chairman, and usual singing of My Country 'Tis of Thee.