Dealing with Disaster - Missouri's FEMA Pitches In

1 decade 2 years 6 months ago Wednesday, November 09 2005 Nov 9, 2005 Wednesday, November 09, 2005 2:33:49 PM CST November 09, 2005 in News

We catch up with a Missouri group that went door to door following America's worst ever natural disaster. Ted Kettlewell is a group leader with the Missouri Task Force One.

"We go ahead and use a minimal amount of force to go inside we don't want these folks coming back with their doors bashed in rambo we don't want them coming back with victims in the house of pets that are dead this is visual this is a compassion mission that's what this is," Kettlewell says.

What this is officially is one of 28 urban search and rescue groups in the country. Missouri men and women paid by FEMA, the federal emergency management agency, to go door to door.

Missourians know flooding. Proof of that would be the great flood of '93. But Missourians don't know Hurricanes. Katrina will likely go down as America's worst ever natural disaster there's a lesson to be learned in New Orleans.

"Could you do something differently? Absolutely," Jenkins said.

Eric Jenkins is a FEMA boss, he works in a Kansas City office building.

"If you can't find something you could have done differenly there's something wrong with you," Jenkins said.

Something as simple as the shirt on your back. This team was hired for search and rescue, not delivering food and water.

"Even if you don't have anything to give anybody if you have some fema shirts and hats it would have made a lot of people feel better," Jenkins said.

And did the Missourians get shot at in New Orleans?

"I think many of the acts of violence were sensationalized by the media," Task Force One Leader Doug Westhoff says. "We never felt threatened we were always met with open arms by these folks they were very appreciative.."

Doug Westoff is the man in charge. He's experienced his share of disasters.

"This is certainly a big wake up call--a huge one," Westoff said.

The huge one that happened so suddenly.

Some of the people we rescued said the water rose from the floor to the ceiling in ten minutes," Task Force One member Matt Schofield says.

The video doesn't tell the whole story. There wasn't any warning for these people. Cars are still in the driveway.

"They left in a hurry," Task Force One member Josh Creamer said.

What's the solution here? Task Force member Terry Wallace is originally from Louisiana.

"They're going to re-build bigger and better. It's in our nation's best interest. These are our citizens, they're hurting if we can do this for a 3rd world country we can sure do it for our own," Wallace says.

The search and rescue effort in New Orleans is over. FEMA is now beginning its recovery stage. That's expected to take 10 years.

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