Aspen firefighters report organized chaos in New Orleans |

Aspen firefighters report organized chaos in New Orleans

John Colson

Two Aspen fire fighters were the first to show up in New Orleans to help out in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they reported at a press conference today.

But they weren’t alone for long, said Rick Balentine and Bill McEnteer of the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department.

Within a day or two after they arrived on Sept. 4, a week after the hurricane struck the Gulf Coast, hundreds of fire fighters from New York City, Illinois and other locales were on the scene, helping the New Orleans Fire Department cope with the storm’s aftermath.

In fact, said the two, despite reports of chaos, mismanagement and slow response by federal and state emergency response organizations, it appeared that the New Orleans Fire Department was relatively well-organized and able to cope with the disaster from the start.

But Sheriff Bob Braudis, the chief law enforcement official in Pitkin County, commenting on the performance of federal relief organizations, declared that , “There’s a total lack of the type of communication our teams are used to. I think there is a screaming need … to get organized.”

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