Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mt. Saint Helens & The Mariel Boatlift

A good friend, Mr. Tom Antush reminds me that the 30th anniversary of these two events are fast approaching. Mt. Saint Helens touched off on May 4, 1980 and the boatlift consumed the summer. These two events provided an interesting calibration point for the then "new" FEMA.
There were two highlights of Mt.Saint Helens for me as they gave me insights into then Director John Macy of FEMA and President James Earl Carter.
As to the first event, Senator Warren Magnuson {Maggie} called John Macey personally to say that 900,000 shovels were needed for the response effort. Macey promised them to be shipped later that day. Two days later, Maggie called John to ask about the shovels. Macy told him they had not been shipped and would not be shipped since FEMA had NO authority in the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288) to buy and ship shovels. I note for the record that the fact that after 3 weeks the mighty Soviet Union was unable to find shovels for ARMENIAN rescue efforts from a massive earthquake was a precipitating even in causing the Soviet leadership to know they were in trouble. And it was the Soviet Armed Forces that had requested them. Well on to the Mariel Boatlift.

In addition to the 250,000 Cubans boatlifted there were also 25,000 Haitians. What is interesting is that Cuba is 85% a black country by US definition meaning we call President a black President even though he is 50% white. At any rate since the Castro takeover of Cuba in 1959, almost 85% of Cuban refugees to the US have been white. Draw your own conclusions.

But the event that really gave me insight into the incapacity of the Carter White House ability to deal with crisis was that WH request to FEMA to charter 10 ships to go to Mariel Harbor to pick up refugees. The following day a call came from the White House saying cancel the charter for nine (9) of the ships and don't let the 10th one sail.

Hey like POGO says we have seen the enemy and they is US!