Homeland Stupidity

Inside a FEMA concentration camp

I thought the worst thing I’d heard in the Hurricane Katrina disaster was when children were being raped and killed in the Superdome.

I was wrong. It’s gotten worse.

FEMA intends to ship certain refugees from New Orleans to hastily converted detention camps where they will not be able to leave.

I draw heavily from an eyewitness report posted to the Internet on Wednesday by someone who attempted to deliver relief supplies to the camp, thinking it was going to be an ordinary shelter, and was horrified at what he found. Read the whole thing if you like; here are some choice cuts.

Falls Creek is nestled in the Arbuckle Mountains of south central Oklahoma. One of the more beautiful regions of the state. It would be a peaceful and beautiful place to try to start mending emotionally, and begin to figure what you’re going to do next. . . .

Falls Creek is very secluded and absolutely no where near a population center. The closest route from Falls Creek to a connecting road is three miles on a winding narrow road called “High Road” (It gets that name for two reasons ‘ it’s goes over the mountain instead of around it like “Low Road” does, and it’s where the teenagers of the area go to party). The road has not a single home on it for over 3 miles. After battling that 3 miles over mountains, you’ll find yourself about 5 miles from the nearest town, Davis, Oklahoma, population ca. 2000. This is no place to start a new life. . . .

We arrived at our cabin and started toting the clothes in. We finally found a group of men upstairs in the dorms trying to do something alien to them ‘ make beds. They had almost completed the room of bunk beds and told us we could go over to the ladies’ dorm room and start on it. We lugged our sacks of clothes back down the stairs. Then we got the first negative message. “You can’t bring any clothes in. FEMA has stated they will accept no more clothes. They’ve had 30 people sorting clothes for days. They don’t want anymore.” My mind couldn’t help but go back over the news articles that have accused FEMA of refusing water in to Jefferson Parrish, or turning fuel away. . . .

We then started lugging in our food products. The foods I had purchased were mainly snacks, but my mother ‘ God bless her soul ‘ had gone all out with fresh vegetables, fruits, canned goods, breakfast cereals, rice, and pancake fixings. That’s when we got the next message: They will not be able to use the kitchen.

Excuse me? I asked incredulously.

FEMA will not allow any of the kitchen facilities in any of the cabins to be used by the occupants due to fire hazards. FEMA will deliver meals to the cabins. The refugees will be given two meals per day by FEMA. They will not be able to cook. In fact, the “host” goes on to explain, some churches had already enquired about whether they could come in on weekends and fix meals for the people staying in their cabin. FEMA won’t allow it because there could be a situation where one cabin gets steaks and another gets hot dogs ‘ and–

it could cause a riot.

It gets worse.

He then precedes to tell us that some churches had already enquired into whether they could send a van or bus on Sundays to pick up any occupants of their cabins who might be interested in attending church. FEMA will not allow this. The occupants of the camp cannot leave the camp for any reason. If they leave the camp they may never return. They will be issued FEMA identification cards and “a sum of money” and they will remain within the camp for the next 5 months.

My son looks at me and mumbles “Welcome to Krakow.”

My mother then asked if the churches would be allowed to come to their cabin and conduct services if the occupants wanted to attend. The response was “No ma’am. You don’t understand. Your church no longer owns this building. This building is now owned by FEMA and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. They have it for the next 5 months.” This scares my mother who asks “Do you mean they have leased it?” The man replies, “Yes, ma’am–lock, stock and barrel. They have taken over everything that pertains to this facility for the next 5 months.”

As of Tuesday evening, the expected refugees had not yet arrived at this facility. It’s unclear exactly who will be sent here. But what is clear is that anyone who does come here isn’t leaving for quite a while. It is quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

Sure, nothing physically restrains anyone from leaving. Except the state police at all the exits. In theory, one could escape through the woods, but it’s five miles to the nearest town, and the cops are there too. And patrolling the surrounding areas.

The questions of the day are, who will be imprisoned here, and why? How many people will die trying to escape?

Update September 9: A report from the Denver Post talks about a second, similar camp in Colorado.

If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought I was peering through the fence at a concentration camp.

The signs on the buildings say “Community College of Aurora,” though for now they’re serving as an impromptu Camp Katrina. About 160 hurricane survivors are being housed in the dorms, surrounded by fences, roadblocks, security guards and enough armed police officers to invade Grenada.

There’s a credentials unit to process every visitor, an intake unit to provide identification tags and a bag of clothes to every evacuee, several Salvation Army food stations, portable toilets, shuttle buses, a green army-tent chapel with church services three times a day and a communications team to keep reporters as far away from actual news as possible. — Denver Post