I am flanked by Phil from FEMA, a cool customer who handles crises with aplomb in a voice that he must have inherited from 40’s screen star Ronald Colman, and the lovely Lori Getter.
I have not been blogging at you for good reason. (For which, young Kyle Nabilcy praises the Goddess Nature).
I have just finished one 12-hour stint on Thursday and a 10-hour tour of duty Sunday, Father's Day, at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) bunker on Wright Street monitoring this terrible flood that has engulfed so many our neighbors. And I'm due for the 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. slot on Tuesday.
I am already plumb wore out but, I guess, it is a good kind of tired. And now is not the time for normal routines. Not when so many of our neighbors' routines have been submerged or washed away. Thursday's 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. stint was especially rigorous. That is when I-94 in Jefferson County and I-39 in Sauk County were closed. I think I stole one-half hour of downtime and that included some bathroom duty.
The EOC is a very large room -- about the size of a basketball court -- crammed with three rows of tables fronting a head table and a podium, stocked with personal computers and telephones. The tables are staffed with all kinds of uniforms -- State Patrol, DNR wardens, National Guardsmen -- and civilians. DOT Highway, Ag, Public Health, DNR dams, Corrections and FEMA were all there, plus reps from Red Cross and Salvation Army in the private sector.
That is how America responds to a disaster, with all kinds of government and private sector groups working together. No New Orleans-style kvetching here.
Up in front, an Officer in Charge holds situation reports every two or three hours. Reports are gathered continually from county emergency centers, planes and helicopters are sending live feeds of aerial, real-time photography.
Corrections inmates are filling sandbags, Guardsmen are trucking pumps and bags, DNR wardens are piloting boats to rescue stranded homeowners. And on it goes.
And of course, the news media -- our allies -- help us get the word out on where to go for refuge, where to get financial aid and where not to drive. The National Weather Service does an occasional conference call as images are projected onto the white wall in front of weather cells advance menacingly from Iowa through Grant County and into our state. All that amidst more televisions than Pooley's sports bar.
Adjutant Gen. Donald Dunbar in his camo uniform is a low-key but authoritative presence, when he is not in the field. Johnnie Smith, boss of the EOC, is the only one who does not need to press his microphone button to be heard. But, for me, the glue is Lori Getter, the WEM public info officer. The EOC has been operating 24/7 since June 5 and I don't think the young lady sleeps.
Get the EOC flood updates here from Wisconsin Emergency Management.
- Lori on the telly reaming out a Milwaukee disaster official for trying to shake the news media. They have a right to cover the story and they help us get the word out. Plus, Lori laughs at my jokes.
- The DNR dams officer who reported that a citizen called to report that she dreamed that she fixed the Pardeeville dam, then wondered whether she had done so correctly. (Another official suggested she go back to dreamland to fill out the requisite permit paperwork.)
- I am flanked by Phil from FEMA, a cool customer who handles crises with aplomb in a voice that he must have inherited from 40's screen star Ronald Colman, and the lovely Lori Getter in this photo.
- Cousin John sent this photo of cows in trouble on Wilson Creek near Spring Green.
TCT plays politics with disaster aid
Leave it to the hyper-partisan Capital Times to politicize the flooding disaster:
No one seriously debates anymore that President Bush plays politics with declarations of disaster areas.
I have been following John Nichols long enough to recognize that whenever he leads off an argument with "no one seriously debates anymore..." he is about to disgorge a thesis that is ludicrous in the extreme.
John's entire case is that I Hate Bush declared Indiana a disaster area a day or two before Wisconsin -- all because Indiana has a Republican governor and Wisconsin a Democrat. So, how to explain that I Hate Bush gave Iowa, with its Democrat(ic) governor, its disaster declaration way back on May 27 -- a good two weeks before Indiana? Don't ask John, his head will explode.
Obama visited a different disaster site
The late and lamented Tim Russert specialized in serving up a fool's words cold and then making his hapless guest eat them with a knife and spoon. So I can do no worse.
Here is The Capital Times' editorial from May 20 about the state Republican Convention in Stevens Point:
Looking ahead to a difficult fall campaign to win Wisconsin for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Ryan said, "Friends, it's gut check time."
As it happens, McCain did do a gut check.
And the Arizona senator decided he did not want to be associated with the Wisconsin Republican Party.
Instead of showing up for the convention, which was held at precisely the right time and precisely the right place -- Stevens Point, in the heart of central Wisconsin's blue-collar heartlands -- McCain chose to spend the day in New York City.
Now, let's visit the Democrat(ic) convention June 14 in Stevens Point and what this hyper-partisan news(paper) could have written:
Looking ahead to a difficult fall campaign to win Wisconsin for
RepublicanDemocrat(ic) presidential candidate Barack Obama, John McCain, Ryan said, "Friends, it's gut check time."
As it happens,
McCainObama did do a gut check.
ArizonaIllinois senator decided he did not want to be associated with the Wisconsin Democrat(ic) RepublicanParty.
Instead of showing up for the convention, which was held at precisely the right time and precisely the right place -- Stevens Point, in the heart of central Wisconsin's blue-collar heartlands --
McCainObama chose to spend part of the day in New York City. Quincy, Illinois, inspecting flood damage and some of the rest visiting old folks in Ohio.
At least Barack isn't politicizing the Midwest floods.
Downtown Madison Inc.
Hooray for Susan Schmitz and DMI for their epistle, Keeping the Downtown Safe (PDF).
- We are entitled to be safe in our homes, and intrusion into the private space of another is not permitted.
- We are entitled to enjoy Madison's public spaces -- streets, parks, public buildings -- without being subjected to aggressive or violent behavior.
- We are entitled to have our city's physical and natural environments treated with respect.
- We are entitled to be protected from people with a tendency towards violent behavior.
- Agreement on community standards can then lead to agreement on what behavior must stop or suffer consequences. For instance, most would agree that trespassing, aggressive panhandling or verbal interaction with passers-by is unacceptable. Public urination or graffiti are unacceptable.
- Occupying public spaces in a way that excludes others, such as camping in parks or libraries, is unacceptable.
What's Brenda's take? "Speaking of friendly,... if you're homeless, you're not allowed to be... Downtown Madison, Inc. and Mayor Dave don't want the homeless talking to people."
Brenda, don't you think the adverb "aggressive" modifies both "panhandling" and "verbal interaction"?
Speaking of verbal interaction
Give them the money directly ... directly ... directly. No they don't just use it on drugs and alcohol, they mostly use it to buy food ... food ... food. Consider it a small tax ... small tax ... small tax...
Here's an MPD incident report from last week:
Incident Date 06/09/2008 - 12:17 PM
Address: 400 block W. Gorham Street
Suspect(s) Melvin Gene Donaldson, age 51, no permanent address
Officers ... were dispatched to a report of a drug deal going down in the 400 block of West Gorham Street ... and contacted three men -- none of whom have permanent addresses. One of the men, Mr. Melvin Donaldson began to struggle with one of the officers after the officer detected there was likely drug paraphernalia in his pocket. During the arrest the suspect spit into the mouth of the officer while loudly reeling off a list of derogatory words and making threats. ...The Madison Police Department will recommend he be banned from State Street.
As reported by CNN:
On the same day Democratic leaders stressed party unity after the drawn-out primary fight, one congressional Democrat said Tuesday that he will not endorse Sen. Barack Obama's bid for the White House.
"We're much more conservative," Rep. Dan Boren, D-Oklahoma, told The Associated Press.