fer (dogemperor) wrote in hurricane_fema,

Morning roundup

The Guardian (UK) has more info on the impromptu radio network set up post-Katrina for health and weather advice by WWL-AM. (WWL in general has been giving some of the best news reports post-Katrina.)

The Guardian also reports how consolidation of radio ownership by two major companies may cause troubles in future during disasters, specifically because so many Clear Channel and Infinity-owned radio stations are using satellite feeds and don't have "warm bodies" to monitor things like newsfeeds and the Emergency Alert System.

WHAS-AM is one of two primary "key channels" in the Emergency Alert System for Louisville and the surrounding area; per FCC rules, the EAS systems for radio stations must be keyed to automatically forward national-level (and often state- and local-level) messages from "key stations", and all stations must listen to either two "key stations" servicing their area or a "key station" and NOAA All Hazards Radio.

The other "key station" for Louisville is an FM radio station, and as a result stations in "fringe areas" often will have WHAS and a station in a neighbouring EAS area--like Evansville or Indianapolis or Lexington--as their "key stations" to monitor in the event of something like a severe weather warning or national emergency.

In the early 90's, WHAS--along with about 400 other radio stations--was bought out by Clear Channel Communications. Sometime between the buyout and 2002, the station was set to operate on a satellite feed only after 11pm or so.

This blew up rather messily in their faces in 2002, when a tornado struck Brandenburg at approximately 3am and ended up killing several people.

For whatever reason, WHAS did not carry the tornado warning until it had nearly expired (30 minutes *after* it had been issued, and warning given via the TV stations and NOAA All Hazards Radio). Many stations that relied on WHAS and its sister station, or WHAS and another "key station" outside of Louisville, *never received the warning at all*.

The investigation (which was noted in the papers and even on Internet storm-chasing lists at the time) showed it was WHAS's reliance on the satellite feed and automatic forward of EAS, combined with the fact that it was a "key station", combined with the fact *there was no live body to interrupt things and issue a tornado warning live on the air if necessary*...caused multiple people to end up being killed due to lack of warning.

Needless to say, WHAS-AM makes *damned sure* there is a live body in the studio during the "Art Bell" hours during tornado season after *that* incident.

The Beeb reports how a "Christian" group is housing evacuees and potentially profiteering from them. (Dream Center is a group that appears to have links to dominionist groups, at least in terms of theology and in terms of promotion by dominionists (Trinity Broadcasting Network is operated by a known dominionist and is probably the largest network dedicated to promotion of dominion theology of the "Avengelical" sort). People are reportedly "strongly encouraged" to convert at the center, and at many groups with close ties to dominionism, this crosses the line to overt harassment; many groups like this are also promoted as "Christian" alternatives to secular or even other Christian groups in the dominionist community (they are discouraged from even donation to Christian groups with no policies of overt prosyletisation because they aren't "Christian enough" and in their eyes one HAS to harass people to the point of conversion, if not outright practicing "convert or starve").

The LA Times reports more on the specific problems at this center (which include room searches, being prevented from contact with third parties wishing to directly help refugees, etc.); NBC reports further on these problems including complaints of evacuees being subject to mandatory drug tests.

UPDATE ON THIS 9/24: Dream Center is confirmed as being a front group of the Assemblies of God, a dominionist religious denomination.

Speaking of Avengelicals and how dominionist influence may have directly contributed to Katrina (and is still contributing to the worsening of the situation), Mother Jones Magazine has an article on how dominionist theology--and specifically the kind promoted in the "Left Behind" books--is specifically behind the stripping of environmental protections (and specifically discusses this in context of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts).
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