by Humberto Fontova

A friend of mine in the swamp tour business offered government officials his employees and his fleet of airboats to help evacuate flooded New Orleanians. His ten boats were lined up and ready to launch, along with dozens of other volunteer craft.. These boats spent SIX exasperating hours lined as FEMA officials inspected them thoroughly.

In the meantime flood waters rose to rooftops all through New Orleans. The FEMA inspection was for all the same horrible hazards as the Coast Guard and Game & Fish inspect our boats when they interrupt our fishing and hunting trips: life preservers, fire extinguishers, etc.

Finally a FEMA official proclaimed: "NO!" Many of the boats were deemed unfit to be used. They could not help rescue desperate people. These boats may have been perfectly seaworthy and had able-bodied owners perfectly anxious to donate their efforts to the rescue--what they lacked were: THE REQUIRED NUMBER OF LIFE PRESERVERS (!! ) One per potential recuee presumably, as required by Coast Guard. Even ghastlier, the FEMA folks explained, some rescuees may have been forced to sit on the floors of some boats, which were also deficient in number of seats, one per rescuee, presumably again..

So instead let's allow people to drown, hunh, Mr FEMA person?

Then the few volunteer boats who passed the inspection were only allowed to rescue people until nightfall.. The Swamp tour owner defied the order and brought out 100 (very grateful) people that night on his own.

Another acquaintance owns a food wholesale business. He offered the $2.5 million worth of food in his warehouse to feed desperate hurricane victims.. Four Army helicopters started revving their rotors, prepared to fly in and start hauling out the food.

Then an FAA official stepped in and nixed the mission. The food warehouse, you see, was located within a mile of a NASA facility.. Some regulation would have been violated..... Heard about many, many more such bureaucratic idiocies which I'll report in due course. I'm still digging out myself.

My sister-in-law was in a New Orleans Hospital when savages broke in and started looting, raping. She was helicoptered out in the nick of time. She mighta been a U.S. embassy worker in Saigon circa May 1975, or even a Rolling Stone at the Altamont Speedway circa December 1969.. Some hideous stuff went on down here.

As for us, the extended Louisiana Fontova's (17 of us) evacuated to my brother's (very large, thank god) home in Houston for the storm. We're back now, but found our house demolished. My parents house closer to New Orleans flooded, but not to the roof, only a few inches, just enough to ruin carpets, some furniture,sheetrock, etc. We're all camping out at my sister's house three blocks away from mine that somehow escaped major damage.

So some Fontova's are refugees again?

Big deal! We did it before, with a major difference: you can buy insurance against Katrina. None was offered against Castro. So this is a breeze. No power down here yet. But we're eating well using propane burner and a makeshift Bar-B-Cue pit on much of the fish and game we pulled from the freezer which was still cold. Heck, outside cookery on fish and game was pretty much how we always ate.

Alas, those vicious, hateful rednecks came through again. A huge crew of them with chain saws, bobcats, tarps and brawn descended on my property and cleared a path for us to enter the house, then cleared out much of the downed timer and hauled off part of my detached roof. They brought food, water--most importantly hope and good cheer. They descended from Nashville and Tulsa and belong to a first Baptist Congregation which has a church in our neighborhood to which we DON'T belong.

No matter. They were helping EVERYBODY and ANYBODY in trouble. Unreal....much more to come, amigos, when I get better situated and some electricity.

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