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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Escapees Disaster Relief
Date: Thu, 01 Sep 2005 22:29:18 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 01 Sep 2005 19:54:16 -0400, Frank Tabor
<> wrote:

>On Thu, 01 Sep 2005 23:13:09 GMT, "Nate"
><> wrote:

>>Just a thought, Janet.  You say they don't use any of the resources that the
>>locals need.  What about all the gas they burn getting there and running
>>their generators.  Would it not be less intrusive for them to drive their
>>fuel efficient toad and sleep in a tent?
>Gas and diesel was bought elsewhere.  Running a generator uses at most
>4 gallons of fuel a day, and that would be full load 24 hours.  Not
>going to happen.
>You would begrudge these folks the small luxury of being able to
>return to their homes, yes their homes, these are full timers, after
>sweating their asses off helping the less fortunate?
>Next you would have them taking whole families of refugees in and
>putting them up in their RVs.
>Sheesh, if you don't want to donate, fine.  But don't run down folks
>that are actually doing something useful.

After spending all day trying to organize a project to take my
portable kitchen to the disaster area and spend a week or two cooking
for people, I finally sit down to rest at 10:20 in the evening and I
see the likes of Nate and it makes me sick enough to puke.  I almost
missed it, as I've had this idiot filtered for a long time.

This is just unbelievable.  Not only is he not doing anything
constructive, he's criticizing those who are.  I put the Nates of the
world right down there with the scumbags who'll show up in the area
trying to rip off the victims.

If I get this thing organized, I'll be closing the restaurant for a
week or two, contributing two trucks, the concession trailer, my MH
and much of the equipment out of my restaurant.  I'll be working 18 or
more hours a day.  After all that, you can bet your ass, Nate, that
I'm going to shower in hot water and sleep in air conditioning in my
rig.  That way I'll be ready to work the NEXT day. And the day after.
While you're still sitting on your ass complaining.  Why don't you get
OFF your ASS and do something to help?

I've been a little surprised at the lack of interest in this project.
I'm trying to find 4 or 5 volunteer workers and to get the food and
fuel donated - sorry, but I can't afford to shut down my business AND
pay for everything.  So far, a little but not nearly enough.

John, mad enough to spit nails.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Escapees Disaster Relief
Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2005 02:55:28 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Before you get started in that direction.

My goal is to put together a small crew and take my portable
restaurant to a needy area and set up to serve meals directly to the
people.  No FEMA, homeland insecurity, red cross or other bureaucratic
BS.  I have all the equipment necessary to do that.  I need to find a
couple of volunteers and raise some money to buy food and fuel.  I'll
be taking 2 cube vans, a motorhome and my concession trailer set up as
a portable kitchen.

I'm trying to do this very rapidly.  If I can pull it together, I want
to be down there by about Monday.  To that end, I'm contacting the few
very wealthy people I know, soliciting one or two checks to cover the
project.  I'm trying to raise between $5 and 10k.  That will pay for
the fuel for two trucks and a MH, fuel for three generators (10kw,
5.5kw, 4kw) for 2 weeks, propane for the stoves and enough food for
maybe 500 meals a day for two weeks.  I don't have time to solicit a
bunch of small donations of money or food, or fool with the accounting
paperwork so I'm trying to find some few people for whom $5k or $10k
is pocket change and then I'll just buy the food.  If I can score the
money tomorrow, it'll be a round the clock effort to get packed and
away in time to get there Monday.  Whatever of the money I don't spend
on the trip will go to the salvation army.

I plan on fixing things that I can cook in 20 gallon batches - beef
stew, beans, rice, kraut and weenies, stuff like that.  Those staples
are reasonably inexpensive and if I use canned beef, I can do it with
all non-perishable goods.

If and only if I can pull this off, I'd not turn down some small
personal contributions.  It'll cost me about $300 a day in profits for
each day the restaurant is closed.  I'm willing to eat the cost if
necessary but some help would be nice.

I don't know if I can pull this off but I'm going to give it the old
college try :-)


On Thu, 01 Sep 2005 21:48:12 -0500, Hunter <> wrote:

>On Thu, 01 Sep 2005 22:29:18 -0400, Neon John <> wrote:
>>I've been a little surprised at the lack of interest in this project.
>>I'm trying to find 4 or 5 volunteer workers and to get the food and
>>fuel donated - sorry, but I can't afford to shut down my business AND
>>pay for everything.  So far, a little but not nearly enough.
>You know, if everyone of us sent Neon John 10.00 or 20.00 or more, if
>you can afford it,  it would certainly be a way we could be helping.
>I saw we do it.......
>He's willing to stand up and help, lets have a RORT charity moment.
>We need an address.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Escapees Disaster Relief
Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2005 02:59:38 -0400
Message-ID: <>

See my post earlier in this thread.  If and only if I can pull this
off, I'll post the name of an officer at my bank who will handle
donations.  These will be donations to me to help cover my losses
while the restaurant is closed.  As I described in the prior post, I'm
going to try to raise money for the actual project from some wealthy

By any rational analysis, I can't afford to do this, as business has
been quite bad the last few weeks with the gas price thing and all but
I'm going to anyway if I can.

Thanks for the offer.

On Fri, 02 Sep 2005 05:05:55 GMT, AJ <> wrote:

>Neon John wrote:
>> On Thu, 01 Sep 2005 19:54:16 -0400, Frank Tabor
>> I've been a little surprised at the lack of interest in this project.
>> I'm trying to find 4 or 5 volunteer workers and to get the food and
>> fuel donated - sorry, but I can't afford to shut down my business AND
>> pay for everything.  So far, a little but not nearly enough.
>> John, mad enough to spit nails.
>   So John what you think...  wanna take a bunch of donations from all
>the mouthy people at this campfire..  This one ain't about politics and
>if you can swing it I would hope we could at least help out with the
>expenses.    Hunter got the idea   now lets see if RORT can make it
>happen..  What's the best way to get donations to you ??
>   Well  everyone????????

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: The grand hurricane relief fiasco (was re: Escapees Disaster Relief)
Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2005 16:00:12 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Thanks much Carl.

Here's an update for everyone on Operation Chitlin, as I started
calling my effort to take my mobile kitchen down to the disaster and
cook for refugees.

It's 3:30 pm now.  I started phoning at 9am and haven't been off the
phone for more than 15 minutes since.  I am still at ground zero.  No
money and no place to go.

I am thoroughly disgusted on the fundraising side.  I've called half a
dozen people who I know to be worth tens and in a couple of cases,
hundreds of millions of dollars.  Not one would pony up even $1k!  The
excuses would make a good book.  "you're not a 501(c)3 corp."  Well,
no, I'm not interested in overhead, just doing something.  "I've
already given" yeah, probably $100 to the red cross that will be blown
on overhead.  "you don't have a track record".  Well no, I'm not a
professional beggar, just a small businessman trying to do something
WHEN it's needed.  I do have a 10 year track record in this town.  On
and on.

I called all the locally owned banks in town and separately, the head
cheese at each.  All make a big deal about their participation in
various charities.  $0.  I could summarize the excuses as "we've
already given (you choose one) a can of food, a little money, some
clothes, etc."  Hey guys, be sure and not inconvenience yourselves

I'll say one thing.  I'm certainly changing my views about "taxing the
rich".  The government is evil and corrupt and clumsy and occupied by
power-hungry bureaucrats but at least >it< can get money out of these

On the other side.  I've called FEMA Washington, FEMA region IV in
Atlanta, the local EMA, Miss EMA, salvation army, red cross, TEMA,
GEMA (Georgia), Zach Wamp's office, Frist's office, a couple different
state reps, several national charities I found on the internet, the
mayor's office, the county executive's office and a bunch of
individuals in the government suggested by customers today.

The best I got was "give me your name and number and we'll get back if
we need you. No, we don't know if we need you or not."  The worst was
quiet drooling.  A common attitude seemed to be "who do you think you
are, trying to do something as an individual?"  Another common one was
"Oh what a nice thing to do.  I can't help and I don't know anyone who
can and no, I can't spend any time thinking about it."  As of now, my
best lead is a local church that has raised some money but I'm still
waiting for that call.  Yeah, and the check is in the mail too.

At one point I called my broker, intending on cashing some stock out
of my retirement account.  He pointed out the blindingly obvious - if
no one else cares enough to help, why spend money you can't afford.  I
quickly regained my senses.

I'm pissed, disgusted, dispirited and worn out.

I'm going to keep calling until about dark and then punt this thing as
a good idea that just didn't quite happen.

Rest assured you may take with a LARGE grain of salt the claims you'll
hear on TV about how much they need volunteers and resources.


On Fri, 2 Sep 2005 08:27:59 -0400, "Carl A." <>

>"Neon John" <> wrote in message
>> See my post earlier in this thread.  If and only if I can pull this
>> off, I'll post the name of an officer at my bank who will handle
>> donations.  These will be donations to me to help cover my losses
>> while the restaurant is closed.  As I described in the prior post, I'm
>> going to try to raise money for the actual project from some wealthy
>> friends.
>Have you thought of getting funding from the local Salvation Army
>chapter and/or religious institutions?
>Given the politics and corruption that prevail in the state of
>Louisiana, be prepared to be arrested for trying to prepare and give
>away food without the proper licenses and permits.
>Anyway, the $50 I'm mailing today are yours to use as you see fit. I
>applaud your efforts.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: The grand hurricane relief fiasco (was re: Escapees Disaster 
Date: Sat, 03 Sep 2005 02:20:54 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 2 Sep 2005 15:00:14 -0700, "Technobarbarian"
<> wrote:

>     I may be incredibly naive and this may be a completely bad
>idea--but--it could be that you're attacking the problem from the wrong
>angle. This could be a loaves and fishes sort of situation. Look at what
>happened in New York on 9/11. It looked like the people who did the most
>immediate good were the ones who were on the spot and willing to help. What
>happens if you get as close to the problem as you can with that mobile
>kitchen and what you can reasonably spare? If you get stopped at a road
>block it's reasonable to suppose that reporters are also getting stopped
>there. Threaten to put anyone who stops you on the evening news. Get as
>close to the problem as you can and do what you can. Be loud (but humble).
>Communicate. Let people know what you need. I'd be willing to bet that food
>and money starts showing up where you are.

I'd do that in a heartbeat but I simply lack the resources.  Several
things have happened all at once.  The gas situation.  The sale of
Maytag.  This end of town lives and dies by the Maytag plant.  Almost
no Maytag employees have spent any money here in the last month or so
as they held their breath and their money, first against the Chinese
buying them and then whether or not Whirlpool would.  The dipsh*ts in
TDOT have completely blocked off US HWY 11 one block north of my place
so that they can lay in two brick crosswalks!!!!!  There has been NO
thru traffic on the highway in about 3 weeks.  I did about $4k in
gross sales last month when I should have done closer to $30k, based
on previous years' same month sales.  I can survive at that level for
awhile but there is absolutely NO money to do anything else, such as
buying fuel or food for this relief project.

One of the reasons closing this place for a couple of weeks is
tolerable to me is that there isn't going to be much business anyway
until they open the highway back up and people quit panicking over
gasoline prices.

I guess I was a bit naive in some respects.  I figured that if I put
this project together and supplied all the equipment and labor, that
folks who blow more than what I need on a ski trip to Vail every year
would inconvenience themselves enough to contribute at least a little
bit.  I was badly wrong.

I expected pretty much what I've gotten from the government and red
cross.  That is one of many reasons why I loath both so much.  I could
have worked around that one way or another, sneaking in via back roads
in the middle of the night if necessary.  That's what I did after the
big Charleston, NC hurricane disaster.

It's 1:30 am here now.  I'm done.  I'm headed to bed.  If the phone
rings in the next couple of days and someone says that they've decided
they need my services and the volunteers are still willing, we'll go.
Otherwise, stick a fork in me, I'm done.

While I'm writing, let me point out something else, another reason why
I despise the red cross and to a lesser extent, FEMA.  Red cross has
spent millions buying all sorts of disaster equipment such as portable
kitchens, tents and so on, duplicating what is already available in
both the civilian side and the military.  This equipment, invariably
the Cadillac of what's available (easy to do when you're spending
other peoples' money) sits idle most of the time and when it's needed,
it takes forever to be deployed by people with little experience.

Within 5 miles of my restaurant I know of at least 4 other mobile
kitchens, all larger than mine.  These are routinely used by larger
caterers to do on-site food prep for large events.  This stuff is used
all the time, is well maintained and there are people trained and
experienced in its use.

Suppose that instead of what they're doing now that does not work,
that they instead solicited volunteers to be available on a moment's
notice.  Suppose they even provided a stipend to fund each volunteer's
keeping on hand fresh consumables in sufficient quantities and agreed
to reimburse all costs associated with the relief effort including
lost profits.

When a disaster hits, work the call-out and email lists and send these
volunteers off to where they're needed with little more than general
orders.  Have the lead teams on the ground figure out where to send
them when they arrive.  Tell me, for example, "Go to Biloxi and ask
where you're needed when you get there."

That would be trivially easy for companies like me who are already
engaged in mass feedings (called caterings and special events.)  All
I'd have to do is warehouse a few more weeks' worth of staples.  Cycle
them through during the normal course of business so the stock remains
fresh.  During the emergency operation, I'd cook some of the same
stuff I cook in the restaurant every day.

I advertise that I can do events of up to 500 meals with no more than
48 hours' notice.  My truck and trailer is stocked with equipment and
non-perishables at all times.  Ditto with fuel, generators, cords and
so on.  All I have to do to cater an event is load the food and the
consumables specific to the job and go.  I reserve 48 hours in case I
have to have something trucked in from my supplier.  I'm reasonably
certain that the other caterers and concessionaires in the area work
the same way.

Or suppose the Red Cross and other agencies had accounts set up ahead
of time with the major food wholesalers - there are only about a dozen
left after all the consolidations of the 90s.  When an emergency
happens and I got the call-out, I'd order in the extra supplies I
needed on the R-C or FEMA account, have them delivered the next
morning (normal way of doing things in this biz), fork-lifted off
their truck and onto mine, and be ready to roll.  If I didn't have
enough employees (as I don't now), I'd have a call-out list of
volunteers that I could call on - just like the RC does now.

Or suppose they made arrangements with the major food wholesalers to
ship food when needed to pre-designated marshalling areas where we
could rendezvous and load out our rigs.  FEMA/R-C, etc would have
agreements with these people to continue to supply the marshalling
areas as needed during long emergencies and have the military handle
the resupply logistics from there to us individual service providers.
Supplies are routinely trucked across many states.  My truck, every
day if I need it, comes out of a warehouse near Lexington, Kentucky!

let's say I shut down for 2 weeks and lost $20k in gross sales. maybe
40% of that is gross profit before taxes, payroll, yadda yadda etc.
Let's say $8k.  Let's say they reimbursed me for that loss.  How does
that compare to what they're doing now?

Well, one of those ptomaine wagons, er, portable kitchens such as they
have around here can easily cost $100k.  All new vehicles and
equipment - after all, it's Other Peoples' Money.  There are a LOT of
$8k chunks in $100k.

This could work for all sorts of things other than food.  For example,
the guy I rent party tents from has a 20,000 sq ft warehouse packed
full of tents.  He could be contracted to truck those tents to a
disaster within xxx miles of here on a moment's notice.  Almost anyone
would agree to do that if he didn't have to lose money in the process.

The reason this approach would be so inexpensive is that all us
private companies are using the our equipment and people every day and
can make it available for emergencies when needed.  It doesn't sit
parked in some warehouse or parking lot unused most of the time. Since
we use this stuff every day and our livelihoods depend on it, we keep
it up to date and well maintained.

One small example.  I have a 500 pound per day crushed ice machine
that is brand new.  It cost me almost $5k last year.  It breaks down
into two man-portable units and both the electrical and water
connections are quick-connects.  I can grab this thing out of the
restaurant, roll it on the truck, set it up on site, hooked to a
generator and water tank and be making ice in literally an hour or
two.  I have done this many times.

When this machine gets to be 3 or 4 years old, the maintenance
contract runs out and I can't renew it, I'll replace the machine
because I can't afford even a few hours of downtime.  Contrast that to
a R-C or FEMA machine that spends most of its time sitting dry in some
trailer or warehouse with the seals drying out, dirt daubers building
nests inside the motors and probably being left with water in it to
freeze and burst.  No routine maintenance, of course.

Which one is cheaper from the disaster services perspective?  Which
one is more likely to be working perfectly when needed?  One guess. It
ain't the one in the trailer.

This very concept, minus the funding, is why ham radio works so well.
There are thousands of hams out there, each with his own equipment
that he uses every day.  When disaster hits, he packs up his gear and
heads out.  It is already in his possession and he knows it works.

Far too simple for government work, I'm afraid.

I really am going to bed now.


BTW, someone speculated that they may justify their indifference by
worrying that we might food poison someone.  Two thoughts.  First off,
what is starvation doing to those folks?  Second, my rig is a fully
licensed and inspected mobile food service rig, picked over twice a
year by the health department.  We maintain the same level of food
safety in the portable as we do in the restaurant.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Do they or don't they
Date: Sat, 03 Sep 2005 01:07:34 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 03 Sep 2005 00:46:32 GMT, "Mark Jones"
<> wrote:

>What I can't understand is how we are still this ill prepared
>after the 9/11 attacks. You would think that 4 years later we
>wouldn't be unable to have a truly rapid response. If the
>response is this bad for something where there was a
>couple of days warning, what happens when we have zero

Oh, that's easy.  They have spent billions building empires, spying on
what people check out of their libraries, confiscating nail clippers
at airports and a whole host of other useless unconstitutional things.
Nobody in the government is interested in actually DOING anything.

>Hurricanes happen every year. Why aren't there trucks
>pre-loaded with water and MRE rations and other vital
>supplies in cities about 500 miles back from the coast.
>They could be on the way at the first possible moment.
>It looks like nothing is even started until after a disaster
>occurs. Then it takes several days for the first significant
>supplies to arrive, instead of hours.

See, there you're thinking like an entrepreneur - or the military and
not like a bureaucrat.  Other than empire building, there is NO
justification for a civilian emergency management agency.  The
military is the world experts at logistics.  Task them with that job,
give them the funding and then let them go do it.  Bush's order to the
Joint Chiefs should have been "put every available resource on scene
as rapidly as possible", then stood back and let 'em do it.  The 101st
could have been in there in hours with MASH units, mobile kitchens and

I have a bunch of "lessons learned" documents from the various
branches about both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.  Two themes occur
over and over again.

Logistics controls everything.


Push command down to the lowest level possible.  Set the objectives
and let the unit leaders figure out how to get things done.  Reward
for innovation.  Bottom up management.

Comprehensive battle planning is impossible.  Manage the logistics,
train for tactics and let the units develop operational plans as the
combat situation unfolds.

Now what do we see the civilian clowns doing?

First off, they have NO logistics plans.  There is materiel by the ton
out there right now just waiting to get to the disaster area.  They
have no apparent plans for logistics and won't accept outside help.


Everything is being micromanaged from headquarters, top-down, soviet
style.  Field personnel are punished for attempting innovation.  Most
are afraid to try anything not written in some procedure.  This is
apparent at every level from the botched rescues at the Dome and
convention center to my humble little effort to go down and cook for
the refugees.  As I wound my way from one government office to another
Friday, what I heard over and over was "we don't know, we've had no
instructions from headquarters."

FEMA has spent $billions$ generating tons and tons of planning
documents, every single plan of which disintegrated when the hurricane
came ashore. The people who plan have no experience and those in the
field are not allowed to participate in the plans.  This approach
didn't work for the Soviets and it isn't working now.

Now some of these military lessons learned are over 10 years old.
There is NO EXCUSE for the likes of FEMA to be f*cking up what the
military figured out how to do right a decade ago.

Twenty years ago, I was this region's EMA radiological safety chief,
responsible for EMA operations relating to incidents involving
radioactivity.  We wrote plan after plan for dealing with everything
from a car wreck involving medical isotopes to a Soviet attack on Oak
Ridge.  The thing was, we were not supposed to actually DO anything.
We were supposed to "play pretend".

We developed elaborate plans for radiological evacuation, decon,
triage and segregated quarters for heavily contaminated people.  But
we were not allowed to acquire Geiger counters, decon suits, gloves or
any of the other supplies, or to drill on the procedures.  Supplies
would "be provided" by FEMA when we needed them.  Ya, right.  The
commies nuke Oak Ridge and they're going to be able to get equipment
to us in time?  Riiight.

I agitated until I got both the city and county to fund a minimal set
of supplies and instruments capable of at least handling a
traffic-related radiological incident.  Then we actually trained first
responders on the proper techniques and the instruments.  The training
came in handy on a number of occasions.

That was 20 years ago during the Reagan buildup when some folks in the
government considered a nuclear exchange with Russia highly likely,
yet there was no real planning and no real stockpiling of supplies.
I'm sad to see that the times have changed but FEMA is still exactly
the same as it was back then - living in a fairy tale world.

John, disgusted in Cleveland

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Do they or don't they
Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2005 17:55:13 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 02 Sep 2005 05:12:09 -0400, bill horne <>

>have truck transportable cellfone tower systems (they don't have to
>be real tall) for disaster response?
>Easily erectable tower, applicable electronics, generators. Cabled to
>an equally transportable 911 response center. The system could, of
>course, be more complex than that if necessary.
>If they don't, why don't they? It is, after all, 2005.

They do.  Have had for a long time.  They rolled in a couple for the
Olympics at Ocoee in 96.  I can think of several portable sites in
service around the area, filling in holes until permanent sites can be
erected.  I know where there is a laydown yard with dozens of 'em in

I imagine there are several problems.  At the top is the list is the
"don't know ass from a hole in the ground" effect that I've been
experiencing all day.  A whole bunch of grossly incompetent people
who've been promoted on the peter principle and who can't do the job

Then there are logistics.  Getting the things there is hard enough.
Getting enough fuel to keep 'em running is a whole 'nuther matter.
Twenty years ago when (was it Hugo?) hit Charleston, people could
truck in gasoline and diesel by pretty much any means possible.  Now
the truck has to be placarded for hazardous materials and driven by a
hazmat-licensed CDL driver.  Who, of course, has to observe the hours
of service rules. (To hell with those in need, the driver MUST get his
beauty sleep or the feds will shake their fingers at him.) Those seem
to be in short supply.  Thank you, federal government.

Then there is the matter of connecting to the outside world.  The
portable sites I'm familiar with are designed to connect to an
existing infrastructure.  Either wireline, fiber optic or microwave
links.  These sites are not designed for stand-alone or repeater
service.  With functioning wirelines being maybe hundreds of miles
away, all a portable site could do would be to let subscribers on that
service talk to each other in the area and maybe to other sites on the
same band.  That would be handy to an extent, I guess, but it would
not serve the greater need for communications with the outside world.

Finally, there is the FCC's polyglot of frequencies now in use.  In
the beginning, AMPR (analog) phones ran on one of two frequency bands
close enough together that retuning wasn't necessary.  Any phone could
work on any network.  I took advantage of that back in the bag phone
days to set up a link to the outside to a hospital in Atlanta whose
comm lines had been taken out by a storm.  I had to use the "other"
carrier and paid through the nose but the system worked.

With the current mess the FCC has created, a phone is limited to the
service provider it's subscribed to.  They can't cross services.  With
all the different providers out there (at least 2 majors and up to 5
PCS types in an area), one site can service only a small fraction of
the subscribers.  That's why the permanent towers now look like
they're going fuzz from all the antennae.  This is another example of
the government's grotesque interpretation of "free market".

The final problem, unrelated to the cell phone problem, is the rapid
demise over the past decade or two of the Amateur Radio Service.  The
FCC and the ARRL (the professional lobbyists) have treated ham radio
like the bastard step child for so long that the ham ranks are quite

Hams, by virtue of their very diversity in equipment and procedures,
can always manage to communicate when everything else fails.  They/we
have for a hundred years or more.

I'd like to think this would be a wakeup call but it probably won't.
The "let someone else do it" idea is far too firmly entrenched in
society, I'm afraid.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Do they or don't they
Date: Sat, 03 Sep 2005 04:37:07 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On 2 Sep 2005 22:56:05 -0700, wrote:

>And then there is Waffle House, a southern fast-breakfast chain, who
>has made it a policy that every Waffle House has enuf LP, the right
>appliances to operate without electricity and has regional stocking
>points for basic emergency food so they can truck it to where it's
>needed and prepare it.

Hmm, didn't know that.  I thought I knew Waffle House :-)

>How about the Salvation Army?

"give us your name and we'll get back to you if we need you."

>And all the religious relief groups?

Of all the ones I called today, only the Church of God Men and Women's
Action Group had anything positive to report.  They're leaving Sun
morning with a convoy of about 6 tractor-trailers full of
non-perishables.  A local radio personality has been promoting the
cause for the last couple of days.  My personal experience:

"Give us your name and we'll get back to you if we need you"

Still waitin'....


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: The grand hurricane relief fiasco (was re: Escapees Disaster R...
Date: Sat, 03 Sep 2005 04:56:04 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 2 Sep 2005 23:06:10 -0700, (Don Lampson)

>  At least your heart was in the right place. It's hard to get an
>operation like that off the ground,  unless you've got a "track record",
>at that sort of a thing...

Well, I've been doing this stuff - loading up food and equipment,
hauling ass to some out of the way place, serving 500 or 1000 folks,
tearing down and hauling ass back home for over 12 years.  I did
purely concessions and catering for about 2 years before I opened the
restaurant.  I have a track record.  The only difference is this time
it will be "non profit".  Very non profit.

I could sorta understand a brush-off or two from some bureaucrat in
Washington (not really, but play along) but I have a rep here.  I've
catered a wide variety of charity events in this area.  Heck, I've
even been contracted with to feed emergency shelter people by the Red
Cross on several occasions.  They know what kind of equipment I have
and what I can do.

>  Some of those refugees look like they need to be put on a strict diet
>anyway  - If you know what I mean  -  And,  I think you do!
>  Thanx anyway,  for trying..........

Yep, know what you mean.  As I was grinding my teeth in anger watching
those lard asses at the stadium whining on TV last night, something
occurred to me.  A healthy normally active individual can walk 15 or
20 miles in a day.  It had been 3 days as of the news report.  The
water isn't too deep to wade through.  Why haven't they gotten off
their *sses and walked out?  Oh wait, don't answer that.....


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: The grand hurricane relief fiasco (was re: Escapees Disaster R...
Date: Sat, 03 Sep 2005 15:38:45 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 3 Sep 2005 12:41:52 -0400, "NotMe" <> wrote:

>I have relatives on the ground in the area who are in the marine/oil
>business and are on the move with recovery related projects.  As such they
>have the equipment and the authorization to move about freely and travel the
>only way in/out regularly.  They report that the nearest place where there
>is any hope of shelter/substance is 70-80 miles with near nothing in between
>except a very heavy concentration of mosquitoes.

First off, both the sat photos and those on the ground reporting out
tell a different story as to how far one would have to walk. Secondly,
when one is on the move, he has a much better chance of being picked
up by a patrol, NG unit or even a civilian.  Third, if I had the
option of sitting on my *ss and dying or getting sick in that filth or
taking a chance of something bad happening while I was trying to save
myself, I'd climb up on my rear hooves and get the flock out. Forth,
even in the most devastated areas, there is something to drink if one
is clever.  Most any house that isn't leveled has toilets with fresh
water in the tanks and water heaters (partially) full.

I know from doing hurricane and tornado recovery work that even in the
worst spots, there are useful resources if one know what to look for.
As I walked I'd be looking for some sort of container for water - a
coke can, bottle, hunk of sheet metal or aluminum foil that I could
bend into a container - anything, and I'd have an eye open for a
container of bleach.  Almost every house has at least one and stores
have many.  With a little bleach and a water container I CAN survive
without getting sick.  Swimming pool chlorine and ammonia are other
alternatives.  Heck, even strong booze mixed with water will clean up
most of the bad critters.  Every time I've worked a disaster, I've
seen all of this kind of stuff laying around.  Anywhere there WAS
civilization, there will be the means to survive.

If I have water, I'll be fine for a week or two.

>How many people do you think can walk that far with no provisions, not even
>water?  Especially when the were on short/no rations for a bit before?

I'd obviously not expect everyone to try or even a majority, but jeez
Louise, there wasn't ANY attempt that I've seen from any of the photos
or reports.  Just a bunch of people bitching because someone isn't
taking care of them.

>As to FEMA/RED CROSS I can tell you of personal experiences  from previous
>storms that would turn your stomach.  By the same measure we had troop and
>equipment on the ground in previous storms as soon as the wind died down not
>four days later.

Yup, same here.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Ping: Neon John
Date: Sat, 03 Sep 2005 20:17:47 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 03 Sep 2005 17:24:14 -0500, The Road Princess
<> wrote:

>I just want to say that even though you and I have had our
>disagreements, you are a brave and generous man.  FWIW, I commend you
>and respect you for your generousity, bravery and perserverence. I'm so
>sorry that your good efforts were rebuffed.
>  Someday I'd like to shake your hand.

Thank you Janet, I really appreciate that.


Executive summary: no go.  I've been on the phone a good part of the
day following up on leads netters have sent me.  No go.

Someone emailed me to say that the Salvation Army was asking for 50
mobile kitchens for MS and sent me the number.  I faxed a detailed
description of what I had to offer and what I needed in fuel.  That
was about 3 pm.  8pm now and not a word back.

I'm just about to take a call from a guy in Tampa who may have
something to offer.  We'll see.  Update:  I have a driver for 2 weeks
but still no money.

My initial plan was to show up down there with everything needed to
feed a crowd for 2 weeks.  I've now ratcheted it down to "if I can get
the fuel, I'll show up with the kitchen and cook whatever is furnished
me."  That's the lowest possible cost.  Just fuel.

Here's my budget figuring from a note I worked up in the early AM in
response to a RORT lurker who is in the Biloxi area and though some
help might be available.  I just can't believe that this small amount
can't be squeezed out of somewhere.  This is the first time I've
really regretted my decision 10 years ago to wind down my lifestyle
and cash flow and live a simple, inexpensive life.  11 years ago I'd
have just written the check myself...  With the business uncertainty
in the air right now, I don't dare.


RE: funds.  Here is some off-the-cuff figuring.

My diesel cube van gets about 12 mpg fully loaded.  My MH gets about
12.  I figure I'll need another diesel Ryder truck that should get
similar mileage.  Figure 4 mpg cumulative.

Street Atlas says it's 488 miles to Biloxi, where I thought I'd
probably go.  976 miles round trip.  Call it a thousand.  That's about
250 gallons of fuel at $3.50 a gallon is $875.  Call it $1k.

I have 3 generators, a 10kw, a 5.5kw and a 4kw that will use probably
3 gallons an hour fully loaded (they will be).  Figure 16 hours a day
fully loaded.  That's 48 gallons a day * 2 weeks = 672 gallons.  Call
it 700 * $3.50 = $2450.  Add another approx 8 gallons a day to run the
genny on the motorhome for AC while we sleep, 112 gallons, $392, call
it $400.

propane for the stoves.  I normally run a 30 pound cylinder dry during
an all-day event.  I think that's about 7 gallons.  No idea what
propane is costing right now.  If it's $2.50 a gallon, that would be
about 100 gallons for 2 weeks, $250.  I have 3 30 lb tanks and 2 100
lb tanks.  That's probably about 65 gallons.  I can fill these from my
bulk filling tank here at the restaurant.  I'd not have to worry about
the money for that right now.

Fuel to get there and back:	250 gal	$1,000	assuming $3.50/gal
Generator fuel:			700 gal	$2,450
propane:				  $250
Misc exp/cushion.			  $500

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Please write your Congressperson about Katrina response
Date: Sat, 03 Sep 2005 22:31:32 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On 3 Sep 2005 18:31:25 -0700, "btolle"
<> wrote:

>Please demand the immediate resignations of Michael Chertoff, Secretary
>of Homeland Security and Mike Brown, head of FEMA for their lack of
>action last week in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

That sounds like the same kind of incompetent micromanagement meddling
that they've been guilty of.  Demanding a meaningless "solution" from
far away from the action when in reality you should be demanding a

My request, when I visit both Frist's and Wamp's field offices next
week for a chat will be simply "find out and fix what is wrong.  Here
are a few things that I know to be wrong."  I won't claim to know what
to do to fix things since I'm on the outside.  I will demand that they
be fixed.

Maybe those two need to be canned.  maybe canning them will fix
things.  But I doubt it.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Ping Neon John :   Airboats denied entrace to NO by FEMA
Date: Sun, 04 Sep 2005 04:58:22 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 3 Sep 2005 23:37:07 -0400, "NotMe" <> wrote:

>"To me, 500 airboats seems a perfect solution to the chaos and difficulty
>getting people out of their flooded homes," said U.S. Rep Mark Foley, R-Palm
>Beach Gardens. "I'd love them to be able to go in and help, and that's what
>I've conveyed to FEMA."

I hope they just do it.  A floatilla of airboats would be
spectacularly hard to stop.  Any attempt to would certainly make

>A FEMA representative said citizen volunteers are not being allowed into New
>Orleans for one big reason: It's just not safe.
>"I think it's understandable, particularly given the TV footage that the
>entire world is seeing, for folks who have a big heart to feel a little bit
>frustrated and want to help," said Frances Marine, Orlando's FEMA
>public-affairs director. "However, it's so important to be coordinated.
>Those areas are dangerous right now. There are health hazards and limited
>ways of getting in and out. . . . Right now, private citizens trying to go
>into those impacted areas are more hindrance than help."

So many thoughts rip through my mind that I'd be until next hurricane
season writing them all down.  That is so typical FEMA.  "Tut, tut,
tut little children.  Leave the REAL work to us experts.  After all,
if it's too dangerous for us professional cowards, what can you
possibly do?"  God, do I hate that attitude.

The highest priority, above even saving lives, is to control things.
After all, Big Brother knows best.

Maybe some of those folks could find some FEMA bastards and hook 'em
behind the airboats and go alligator trolling....  Nah, wouldn't work.
Even the gators have some standards.


>That explanation doesn't sit well with one victim of Hurricane Andrew, who
>e-mailed the airboat association, demanding to know why they weren't in New
>"I lost my house with Andrew," said Merle Arostegui, 59, of Perrine. "I was
>one of those people sitting on what was left of my doorstep. Let me tell
>you: I could be [a victim] in New Orleans right now, and I am so
>Meanwhile, airboat operators watch and wait.
>"It's probably a 50-50 chance right now that we'll go," said James E. Brown,
>a 54-year-old Longwood man who heads a convoy of 14 local airboat pilots.
>"We're willing to go, we're able to go, but it's all up to FEMA."
>However, chaos in the Big Easy is making boaters' family members nervous.
>"The more that is shown on TV of the shootings and looting," Brown said,
>"the more loved ones are telling us: 'Don't go. You're not going.' "

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: The fork is stuck and the Fat Lady sung
Date: Sun, 04 Sep 2005 05:45:29 -0400
Message-ID: <>

It's 5 am and I'm afraid I'm done.  I'm just bone-weary, that kind of
tiredness I felt at the end of my father's funeral after the several
days of frantic activities had held off the sadness and fatigue.

I spent a good deal of time on the phone today and I'm still
fuel-less.  As I mentioned earlier, someone sent me a reference to a
call by the Salvation Army for 50 more portable kitchens to go to MS.
The provided phone number (why do these orgs almost never supply valid
email addresses?) was busy (no surprise) so I typed up a note about my
capabilities and faxed it.  That was about 3 pm.

I heard nothing so at 6pm, thinking the fax might not have worked, I
sent it again.  This time with a cover note telling them that I'd be
up to about 5AM in case they wanted to call late/early in the AM.

It's now 5:15am and my phones remain quiet and my email box empty.  My
volunteer driver had told me that he needed to give his boss 24 hours
to schedule a replacement if he took vacation for 2 weeks.  That
pretty much meant making a decision Saturday.  I told him about
midnight when we last chatted that the odds were heavily against our
going and not to call his boss for Monday.  This guy was going to
drive up from Orlando and help me load equipment, only then to climb
behind the wheel of my truck and drive another probably 18 hours or so
to MS.  Are we all crazy?

At some point I have to admit defeat and that point has arrived.  My
efforts are now officially over and I'm going to sleep for about 12
hours to make up for the last couple of days.  If someone next week
wakes up and decides that my kitchen could be useful then I'll try my
best to put together a trip but as of now, I'm finished.

This whole thing is beyond criminal.  I'm not blaming Salvation Army
at this point.  Given FEMA and everyone else's non-performance, I'm
sure SA is swamped just trying to accomplish anything.  I've worked
with them before and have as much respect for them as I do loathing
for the red cross, FEMA and others.

In hindsight, I probably should have accepted the offers of small cash
donations.  I'd probably have the fuel money by now.  But I was so
optimistic that I could raise that paltry sum from just a couple of
donors and then I could be on the road by now.  I do want to thank
everyone who has offered money.  Your hearts are in the right place.

I urge anyone wishing to do something to NOT pour good money after bad
into the red cross or other corporate charities.  IMH, Salvation Army
is OK but even better is to donate directly.  Pick the name of a town
along the Gulf coast or a bit inland.  Go to an online yellow pages (I
like and ask for a listing of churches in the area.
Call until you connect with someone, find out where to send a donation
and do it directly.  That way 0% of your contribution goes to
supporting the suits at headquarters.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: The fork is stuck and the Fat Lady sung
Date: Mon, 05 Sep 2005 04:20:12 -0400
Message-ID: <>

A couple of things.  One, I had no interest in going to NO.  It
quickly became evident to me early on Friday that places outside NO in
MS and some of AL deserved help much more than the ghetto cesspool in
NO.  If I had been able to go, I'd have gone to MS, probably Biloxi,
since I've been there several times before.

Second, if the Red Cross, the fire department or other group harboring
cowards is too afraid to go in, then get the hell out of the way and
let those of us who aren't do the job.


On Sun, 4 Sep 2005 12:38:55 -0500, "RAM^3"
<> wrote:

>"Neon John" <> wrote in message
>> Later,
>> John
>There have been many news reports of complaints from such agencies as Red
>Cross, and others, that the emphasis is upon the total evacuation of New
>Orleans as the only way of resolving the issue of security for the relief
>The problem presented by the criminal element is intensified with each
>bus-load of evacuees that departs since that raises the relative percentage
>of the crooks to the remaining population. With luck, the time will soon
>come when "the innocent bystanders" will have all been transported out and
>"open season" can be declared upon the criminals by the NG.
>Once *that* phase is over *then* the cleanup can commence.
>Think of Watts during the riots - the situation is, if anything, worse in
>New Orleans right now.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: The fork is stuck and the Fat Lady sung
Date: Mon, 05 Sep 2005 04:37:00 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Sun, 4 Sep 2005 14:36:56 -0500, "Tom Shaw" <>

>Thanks for the strenuous effort and the good advice about contributions.  It
>appears that NO is still in a state of chaos as far as rescue operations are
>concerned since we get conflicting reports about what FEMA is saying about
>civilians not being allowed to help and what may actually be going on.

This is SOP for the FEMA control freak types.  I worked the
Charleston, SC disaster (Hugo?  I just can't keep 'em all straight).
Not cooking that time, but driving a chainsaw.  I loaded my truck with
my chainsaws, tools, gas, clothes and a week's supply of food and
headed SouthEast.  I got stopped by a roadblock and turned back fairly
far outside Charleston.  I simply rerouted, finally taking a dirt
rural road around the roadblock.

I drove toward Charleston until I saw trees that needed chainsawing
and went to work.  No guidance needed from washington or anywhere
else.  No expert needed to tell me that downed trees needed sawing.
There were a lot of others like me doing the same thing. I worked a
stretch of highway until I got to a subdivision, whereupon I started
working the streets there.  A bunch of us coalesced at night into
impromptu camps, most sleeping under our trucks.  I didn't have an RV
then.  A very jovial, can-do atmosphere with absolutely no authority
types anywhere to be seen.  Or media types.  Just the way I liked it.

Point being, FEMA really can't keep people out.  They can impede 'em
but not stop 'em.  I'd already be there if I had gas money, regardless
of the route it took.  Street Atlas would make dodging roadblocks
VASTLY easier than during Charleston.

I would not need to get to the coast to set up a kitchen (which is
still loaded in the truck, just in case).  I would stop at the first
shelter I found and would go to work.  With enough people doing that,
eventually everyone is served.

There is a basic mathematical principle that says that inside an
enclosed space, if one moves randomly, one will eventually cover every
point on the surface, albeit with wasted motion.  The same principle
applies here.  If a citizen army of relief workers descended on the
area, even though there would be chaos and much wasted motion and lots
of slop, things would get done.  The control freaks in washington
would freak out but who really cares.  We do'ers describe those types
as having one foot nailed to the floor, spinning around in little

On the good side, I-75 has been a continuous convoy of military
vehicles, many towing water tankers, all day today (Sunday) and into
the night.  I drove over an overpass several times today to watch and
salute.  Impressive.  Too bad the military had not been in charge from
the beginning.  This convoy would probably have rolled about Wednesday
instead of today.


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