She hooked me up on some info regarding the lifestyles of the rich & famous staying tres chic, even during times of devastation.
Read the story below:
Acupuncture and massage help the victims of a very Californian disaster
Massages, acupuncture and stress counseling are being offered to around 10,000 wildfire evacuees gathering at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego — along with Starbucks coffee, beef empanadas and fresh Caesar salads.
There are stacks of magazines, free telephone calls to anywhere in the United States, toys for the children and entertainment provided by a live blues band. A local pizza restaurant’s donation of food has been turned down because there is already too much to eat.
“The people are happy. They have everything here,” said the Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, after touring the site. “Nobody does disasters better than California,” agreed David Paulison, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
It is all a long way from the scenes inside another stadium — the Superdome in New Orleans — two years ago when thousands sheltered from the floods of Hurricane Katrina for several days without proper food or water supplies, sanitation or government assistance.
The fires consuming hundreds of thousands of acres in southern California coincided with heavy rainfall this week in New Orleans which overwhelmed the drainage and pumping system and left some streets under water for the first time since Katrina.
Charmaine Marchand, the Louisiana state representative for the Lower Ninth ward in New Orleans — which was hit hardest by the hurricane — was amazed when told of the care available to displaced Californians yesterday.
“Some of my constituents could certainly have done with a massage a couple of years ago,” she said.
The wildfires, which have forced the evacuation of at least 500,000 people including a clutch of Hollywood celebrities, are the biggest emergency America has faced since.
Ms Marchand yesterday suggested that the difference was that it was happening in one of the wealthiest corners of America, rather than one of the poorest. “I guess the fact that California is such a rich state — and a Republican-run state — is a big factor in the help being offered to them,” she said.
President Bush’s Administration, heavily criticised for responding slowly and incompetently to Katrina, is hoping to demonstrate it has learnt from mistakes made in the previous disaster.
Mr Bush has cancelled his engagements so that he can fly to California today to “witness first-hand what people are going through,” said aides. Two years ago, in a cataclysmic public relations catastrophe he was photographed gazing imperiously down from Air Force One at Katrina’s floods as he belatedly returned to Washington from his holiday. In contrast yesterday, after receiving updates on the battle to control the wildfires at an emergency cabinet meeting, he said: “I believe the effort is well-coordinated I know we’re getting the manpower and assets on the ground that have been requested by the state and local governments.”
The President added that he had told Mr Schwarzenegger that “if he needs anything and we’re able to provide it, we will do so”. He has signed a disaster declaration for California which puts in motion long-term federal recovery programmes to help California and some of the estimated 1,500 people who have lost their homes in the fires.
“Americans all across this land care deeply about them,” Mr Bush said, “we’re concerned about their safety. We’re concerned about their property.”
Mr Paulison appeared on a succession of morning television yesterday to emphasise there would be no repeat of the Katrina experience — when “things didn’t run so smoothly” — saying: “This is a new FEMA.”
The White House press secretary, Dana Perino, said: “We have learnt those lessons and those lessons are being applied. There’s increased co-ordination and communication and earlier communication and co-ordination between the federal, state and local governments.”
In New Orleans yesterday, Ms Marchand said the real test “would be the aftermath of the fires when people tried to rebuild”. Thousands of people from New Orleans were still living in FEMA trailers and many more had been unable to obtain compensation for the loss of their homes. “I don’t think FEMA has learnt any lessons. If they had, New Orleans would not still be in the situation we find ourselves in now.”
(image courtesy, Google Images)