Survivor, evacuee, refugee, internee?

Friends, I will go to the barracades over this. Not in my country, not in my home state. We are interning the survivors. As this Denver Post article begins:

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.

Via BoingBoing, I ran across this account of a rural Oklahoma mom whose family tried to bring food and other necessities to a Baptist church camp. What they heard and saw is stunning.

Granted, it’s posted to a conspiracy site but the narrative and photos ring too true to be fake. And you know what? Those crazy conspiracy theorists have been saying for years that FEMA had plans for incarcerating large civilian populations… they just didn’t realize the citizens in question would be the same color as the helicopters they have worried so much about.

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 lugged the bags of clothes back to the car. We then turned to bringing in our personal hygiene products. That’s when we learned our cabin had been designated a “male only” cabin. Approximately 40 men, ranging from age 13 on up would be housed there. We started resacking the female products and sorted out everything that would be useful for men.

We lugged the bags of female products back to the car. We asked if they knew of a cabin that had been designated for women. The “host” (the hosts are Oklahoma civilians who have been employeed??? by FEMA to reside at each cabin and have already gone through at least one “orientation” meeting conducted by FEMA at “BASE” which is some unknown but repetitively referred location within the camp) told us he believed McAlester cabin was dedicated to females. He then explained there were male, female and family cabins designated.

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.”

That, sadly, is an insult on Krakow.

Something terrible is unfolding from the dark corners of our shared nightmare of America gone wrong. We can see the shape of it, but not the intent. Our government is powerless to rescue people, but can open detention centers almost over night. There was clearly more planning for warehousing the poor of New Orleans than there was for their evacuation. We are Gitmo-izing the survivors of Katrina. Their crime? Being black until proven innocent. All of that braying when Amnesty International called us on the New American Gulag? I do believe someone was protesting too much.

So what do we do? I’m ready for suggestions– but we’ve done the online activist thing pretty successfully before. If there were a few of you willing to help on this, we could really do it right.

One thought on “Survivor, evacuee, refugee, internee?”

  1. Jay, you know you can count on my furiously typing hands to help out. I’d request that if the NonFamousi do go after this, it’s bundled in with some kind of way to HELP the people affected.

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