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The quiet after the storm.

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  • Keith J
    The quiet after the storm. Last week District residents experienced a torrid variety of natural disasters. With a 5.8 earth quake trembling many of our homes
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2011
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      The quiet after the storm.

      Last week District residents experienced a torrid variety of natural disasters. With a 5.8 earth quake trembling many of our homes and offices. Shaking things up both emotionally and with physical might. Only to then give us three days of waiting on the hurricane of the season. The preparation and considerations that caused many of us including me to not stop and be thankful for the esteem leadership that one particular District agency displayed must now be addressed. Without failure, our first responders: Members of the Metropolitan Police Department, and the District of Columbia Fire and EMS were truly as always the hero's of our city. We are blessed and fortunate to have Chief Cathy Lanier and members of her Senior Command Staff like Asst. Diane Groomes, and others in place when mother nature comes at us with various degrees of needs. During the very unexpected earth quake it was Chief Lanier and her officers, both Command Staff, and rank and file that lead this city with advise, planning and responsiveness. After the earth quake it was again Chief Lanier that kept us posted on things we needed to do, and how to best deal with the vitally important aspect of public safety. During the immediate time after the quake it was both the MPD and the terrific men and women of our Fire and EMS that did an outstanding job in responding our our many calls for assistance. When we all ran out of our buildings, they showed up and ran in. Never looking over their shoulders to see who was following them, or that anyone was. But quickly and quietly they came to the rescue of numerous people trapped in elevators, on scaffolding, and in various places all in need.

      These Fire and EMS men and women and our Police Officers are truly hero's that we often over look in the scheme of our daily lives. As most of us don't stop and contemplate the degree of how they most often leave their families and homes to come here to stand firm on their commitment to defend and protect us and our property. We simply don't stop and think and assuredly we don't stop and say thank you. It has been a hectic and crazed few days here in the nation's capital. Now with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and the clean up. loss of electricity and so much more we have to contend with. Although Irene gave us a lot of warning and plenty of time to prepare it was still in the very aftermath of the earth quake that many of our officers and firemen had little or not time to get their very lives in order. We need to first realize the vital importance of true leadership and good training. We just experienced it first hand!

      Chief Cathy Lanier lead this entire city beginning just moments after the earth quake hit us. It was Chief Lanier and her Senior Command staff that bravely and effortlessly addressed the needs, offered communication, and responded to every question. Missing in action was the very agency that should have played a pivotal role in the aftermath. The District Home Land Security and Emergency Management was clearly not prepared for an earth quake or any other natural disaster. They were virtually non existent. The very scope of planning and management was in and of itself missing. Even in the preparation of hurricane Irene, HSEMA were silent much of the time when they should have been vocal, and offering direction to both residents and visitors of the District. Their leadership was not engaged in the actual response to the earth quake and then preparedness of the hurricane.

      One has to really wonder where the District would be if in fact we suffered another major natural disaster or act of terrorism? Is the city prepared and capable of responding?

      With complications in numerous things after hurricane Irene, like, shelters and how their availability was communicated to our seniors and our disabled residents. Or better yet, how it was not communicated. As many of us realize most seniors and many disabled don't access the Internet so what system was in place to support the needs of these residents? Even a couple of days after hurricane Irene, food was set up in one community, with far to little help from the agency that planned it and MPD had to come in and help control the crowd. All of these things may be viewed as minor, but in a catastrophic situation what would we have done? Had the power failures created by nature been double what they were how would we have coped? If 2 or 3 times the amount of people that needed food and water after the hurricane have needed it or would need it tomorrow how would the city deal with it? Fact is we are missing the simple elements that make our city ready for such disaster. In the aftermath of 911 and with that tragedy's 10th anniversary approaching we are in need of better leadership and more advanced planning in emergency management. Frankly, I am worried and everyone should be.

      Had it not been for MPD's direction, and the leadership, planning and response of Chief Lanier and our MPD officers, the District would still be grappling with major failure in the emergency responsiveness of our city. It is to her, our officers, and our Fire and EMS that we as residents of the District of Columbia truly owe a great amount of gratitude and praise. These officers, fireman, and emergency personnel are the heroic part of this past week. Surrounded by the facts of which we should all raise the question about the need for more thorough planning and training of our city employees and the far reaching need for more experience and community engaged meetings. DC HSEMA needs to take a few notes and get their acts together.

      Please at every opportunity, today and in the next few days. When you see a MPD Officer or Command Staff Member or any of our Fire and EMS personnel on the streets. Stop and say thank you, throw up your hand and wave from a distance or call them on their phones and let them know that they are both appreciated and beloved.



      Keith Jarrell
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