FEMA Director Michael Brown just took questions from the press, and somebody asked him why hundreds of firefighters from around the country are sitting around a hotel in Atlanta, waiting for FEMA's permission to move in and help with Katrina relief.
Brown said that the firefighters won't be allowed to begin working in New Orleans until the military finishes mapping out the city so that the firefighters can be sent to the right locations when they're finally allowed in. "It's the same with anyone who wants to volunteer," Brown said. "It has to be coordinated in such a way that it's used most effectively and where it's needed." That's not an unreasonable assertion as a general matter, but we've got a couple of follow-up questions for the FEMA director: Was dispatching about 50 firefighters to serve as photo-opportunity props for the president really the "most effective" way to use the help that you've got on hand? And is an Atlanta hotel really where help has been "most needed" for the last three or four days?
Brown wasn't asked those questions, but he was asked this: Why is Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing one of the three charitable organizations FEMA is recommending for those who want to make donations to help Katrina victims? "We're not turning away help from anybody," he said.
You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie. But you ought to try telling that to the firefighters. They'd like to get started doing theirs.