Adopt a platoon for Christmas while FEMA, GM fail

Published 2:13 pm Monday, November 24, 2008

I discovered today that there are more than 200 families in Seabrook (Texas) whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Ike who are still waiting on FEMA help.
Two months later there are no FEMA trailers available for these people.
Instead, as winter moves in, they are living in tents on their property and showering under a tarp in houses with holes in the walls so big you don't need a door to walk inside.
President Obama will have to reform a broken system that can let people sleep in tents for months when FEMA has unused trailers sitting nearby in parking lots and paperwork is more important than distributing assistance.
I found about this at a Seabrook Rotary meeting, when the club presented food coupons to Seabrook Intermediate School.
The school's vice principal said she walked the streets after Ike and was struck by the devastation and the conditions people were living in.
She took the lead in getting assistance to these people hit with the full force of Ike's tidal surge on Galveston Bay.
The FEMA people came and did paperwork, then left!
They didn't deliver trailers; the only action FEMA has taken is paperwork.
The city people told me that they thought that the FEMA people they met were well-intentioned, but that the bureaucratic process was unbelievably awful and frustrating.
It needs fixing. If it weren't for the leadership of the school vice principal of Seabrook Intermediate School, who discovered that children were the best way to find out which families needed what, these Seabrook residents would be in an even more desperate situation.
The only help people got today was from local grocery stores, including Kroger, who donated $25 food-only coupons.
Our Rotary also donated and presented the coupons to the school to give to needy families.
The vice principal also said that they had received a donation from a ladies group in West Columbia, Canada, which sent quilts!
That must be a first: Americans receiving international assistance.
I appreciate it, as well as the people from other states who also donated items to the school for distribution.
FEMA has failed again.
Like General Motors, it is too much bureaucracy and slowness. It needs to be reformed in 2009.
Finally, here is something that could make a huge difference and won't cost you much but a little time.
My Seabrook Rotary adopted a platoon in Iraq.
The commander told our contact that he noticed 11 people in a platoon who had never received a package.
So our Rotary group agreed to adopt the platoon and put together 11 boxes for those 11 soldiers.
Last night people came with little things like tool kits, socks, DVD's (I donated a science fiction movie figuring a little escape wouldn't be a bad thing), some treats, etc.
As a result, soldiers who normally never get any mail will get a package from America this Christmas.
I encourage you to do the same: find someone who has a husband, wife, brother, sister or relative in Afghanistan and Iraq and adopt their platoon.
Send packages to the ones who don't get packages from family here.
Our packages even included a signed holiday card from whoever adopted a box. Why not?
We need to get out of our self absorption despite the financial mess.
What is our 401k value versus the potential losses by these young soldiers – who face bullets or IEDs instead of a disappointing stock portfolio?
We may be losing money; they are losing lives and time with their families.
We have great challenges ahead in 2009 but it wouldn't cost much for those of us here on the safe homefront to show our appreciation to our soldiers, many who are serving multiple tours in difficult circumstances.
They didn't start these wars and deserve a thank-you from us. Mail it now so it will get there by the holidays. Thanks.
Pass it on.