Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rebuilding Fire Stations in New Orleans

Pajamadeen is on the case...fire fighters in New Orleans have to turn to celebrities to get help because the government...well, read on:

So, let’s see…We can spend over $2.4 billion a week “rebuilding” Iraq, but we can’t rebuild fire stations in New Orleans?

Help has come, instead, from the kindness of strangers. Actor Denis Leary, who portrays a firefighter on the Rescue Me TV show, formed The Leary Firefighters Foundation in 2000 in response to a Worcester, Massachusetts fire in an abandoned warehouse in his hometown. More than 75 firefighters worked what’s been called “the perfect fire.” Six of them perished, including Jerry Lucey, who was Denis’ first cousin, and Lt. Tommy Spencer, a childhood playmate and high school classmate.

The Leary foundation has provided millions of dollars in equipment and training support to firefighters. After 9/11, the foundation created The Fund for New York’s Bravest to raise money for families of the 343 fallen firefighters. Relying on his entertainment industry connections, Leary created The BASH for New York’s Bravest, which is now an annual star-studded fundraiser. After Hurricane Katrina, FEMA estimated that it would cost millions of dollars and take 10 years to repair and replace the damaged New Orleans fire stations. Last year, a member of the New York District Council of Carpenters, Jerry Cremins, was in New Orleans to pick up his son at Loyola University. He couldn’t believe what he saw. As he told CNN: “It doesn’t translate that well on TV…It was astounding to me that they haven’t been helped out — that local governments and municipalities haven’t held up their obligations. That is basically when citizens have to step in and get the job done.”

Deciding he was just the man to help, Cremins contacted the Leary foundation. Soon, union volunteers and NOFD firefighters were working together. So far, five fire stations have been rebuilt by the volunteers, with two more scheduled to be finished this spring. Cremins himself has made nine trips to the Big Easy, on his own dime and own time. Leary says he got involved because “I gave up on ever hoping that politicians in this country — local, state or federal — would step in to help these guys.” Leary says that some of the firefighters have told him almost-unbelievable stories of bureaucratic red tape and heartlessness. One firefighter spoke of a fire house that had three feet of water in it; he told Leary that when FEMA inspected the fire station, they told the fire department that they’d pay for the hinge on this door below the water line, but the two hinges above the water line they weren’t going to pay for.”

Edward Blakely, who’s in charge of New Orleans recovery efforts, said he appreciates the Leary Foundation’s work but, due to spiralling crime rates in town, the city has focused on rebuilding police headquarters instead. While not complaining, firefighters like to note that not a single firefighter abandoned a post during Hurricane Katrina — unlike many NOPD officers who bailed.

That's right--your fucking government is arguing over which hinges on which particular fucking doors it will fucking pay for. In New Orleans. In America. In April of 2008.

Is it January 20, 2009 yet?

No comments: