Victoria, B.C. Canada

Canada Quickly Responds to U.S. Disaster
Far more organized and rapid response than U.S. Resources
Disaster Occurring Why I'm in Victoria

Since I was in Victoria B.C. during the Katrina disaster, I saw the massive coverage in the Canadian media and their views.

One of the most amazing stories is a group of 30 volunteers from the Vancouver Search and Rescue team is saving people in New Orleans when no other rescue efforts are anywhere to be had from the U.S.

Tim Armstrong, Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue team leader confirmed what many refugees have been saying for days -- those unable to leave New Orleans and the surrounding area are in dire need of help, and rescue efforts are haphazard at best. "There was no rescue effort. He was struck by that," said Vancouver deputy fire chief John McKearney, who spoke with Armstrong Friday. "We are the first and only Urban Search And Rescue team so far deployed in this area and are in operations mode now," Armstrong reported.

There is lots of police protection for us, but what they don't have is the expertise as far as rescue. They're more than thankful that we're here." McKearney said Armstrong told him the team planned to establish a functioning command post to organize further rescue efforts and to continue combing the area, zone by zone, for survivors.

The team of 45 left for Lafayette, La., last week and was transferred from there to Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans. Rescue operations were initially postponed Thursday because armed gangs of looters made leaving the staging area in Kenner too dangerous.

An unknown number were unable to flee. At least 30 are confirmed dead in a nursing home. One hundred are rumoured to have died waiting for rescue elsewhere in the parish.

"I just want to say the City of Vancouver should be proud of the guys who are here. They are all volunteers, all true professionals. I am very proud of our team's readiness and commitment." Full story at 

Most Canadians (as well as many Americans) despise the Bush Administration, not only for its lies for going to Iraq and creating increased hatred of West resulting in more terrorists, but closer to home what they consider totally unfair softwood import duties/restrictions which is a very serious issue for Canadians. Despite this they show overwhelming not only desire but action to help in the Katrina disaster.

The Canadian Red Cross is sending many workers on Canadian Air Force Transports. Donations from Canadians are pouring in. Air Canada is sent among other assets an A321 Airbus from Toronto capable of carrying 166 passengers plus 5600 kg of relief supplies. After unloading relief supplies in New Orleans, it is shuttling back and forth airlifting evacuees to Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio Texas.

Many other civilian and military assets are ready to go to the Gulf, but as Zuwenda Rodibas of Emergency Preparedness Canada says, "But we need them to ask for it first." One Canadian official said, "the U.S. has been unable to co-ordinate its own resources, let alone accept an influx of foreign assistance...They can't even get their own people in there,." noting it took at least five days before food, water and other relief supplies started to get to those that needed it. It seems the U.S. military had such supplies to the Asian Tsamani victims in 12 hours but took 5 days for a homeland disaster.

Skylink Aviation is also ready and willing to send in air lift assistance but as its President said, "It seems that the U.S. government is not yet in the position to even ask for help because I think they don't know what they are doing," he said. Skylink was responsible for bringing about 2000 refugees from Kosovo to Canada to stay temporarily in a Canadian Forces base.

Skylink has also been contacted by the Italian government to help getting aid in from Italy, but has been told by U.S. Admin while they appreciate the offer but are not in a position to receive it. "I don't think they know where to begin", said the Skylink President.

B'nai Birth Canada is organizing a clothing drive in all major Canadian cities saying after the emergency needs are met, "the need for clothing will become acute for families that have lost everything," said Gerry Weinstein, the national president of the Jewish group.

Canada's National Emergency Stockpile System is ready to provide beds, blankets, medical supples, batteries, bath towels and clothing for refugees.

Vancouver's urban rescue team was on the ground in New Orleans, prior to substantive National guard forces. Granted, they are not able to do much because they cannot travel anywhere without military or police protection. They were at first held up because it is like a war like zone of snipper gun fire and anarchy in New Orleans.

But there is no one to provide protection since police were long ago overwhelmed and unable to even protect themselves, and regular U.S. military can not actively act to assist local police due to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. The Coast Guard is not under the Posse Comitatus restrictions and most of the initial rescue work was a U.S. Coast Guard operation.

Knowing the U.S. has so many resources in Iraq, the CANADIAN armed forces tracked Hurricane Katrina and started preparing plans to deal with a potential devastation. "We're not going to sit around and have a request come in and say, "Oh, we'll need four or five more days to get ready", said General Hillier, Chief of Canadian Defence.

With what many Canadians say is a dismally small military - Three Canadian warships and a coast guard vessel with relief supplies are ready to go to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The Coast Guard vessel will support the Canadian Navy in the amphibious rescue operations with equipment such as pumps, generators and medical supplies. In addition, the vessel carries 2 fast response craft, a helicopter and other vessels.

The Canadian mission, dubbed Operation Union, is expected to provide humanitarian aid, along with divers, and engineering expertise for reconstruction.

All this is preparing to leave Canada to the Gulf BEFORE the U.S. agrees to accept the help, so if they are allowed to help they will be there! Yes this is a tiny addition to the huge amount of assets the U.S. SHOULD have (if its not all in Iraq).

Finially on Sunday Sept 4th almost a week into the diaseter the U.S. is accepting aid from the Canadian military and civilian relief agencies.

For Canada it might be a good training exercise and they would love to show up the U.S. on how something should be done. As discussed on a Canadian board, Vancouver could be subject to the same type of natural disaster from an earthquake. The city of Richmond is below sea level and could be wiped out by an earthquake created flood. Canada would need massive U.S. assistance to deal with such a large natural disaster. It makes sense to have a good relationship of mutual aid between neighbors if Bush isn't to proudful and arrogant to accept the help offered.

As a Canadian said "National Guard were the wrong troops to deploy to patrol the flooded streets of NO. The Marines with their Canadian built LAV-25's (yah that's a shameless plug) and AAV7A1's would have been my choice. And quite frankly martial law should have been declared."

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