If you mention the Red Cross or FEMA to people in Slidell, you hear rants about help that didn’t arrive and phone lines that are always busy. If you mention state or national politicians, you hear obscenities.
But if you visit the Wal-Mart and the Sam’s Club stores here, you hear shoppers who have been without power for weeks marveling that there are still generators in stock (and priced at $304.04). You hear about the trucks that rolled in right after the hurricane and the stuff the stores gave away: chain saws and boots for rescue workers, sheets and clothes for shelters, water and ice for the public.
“This was the only place we could find water those first days,” said Rashan Smith, who was shopping with her three children at Wal-Mart on Saturday. “I still haven’t managed to get through to FEMA. It’s hard to say, but you get more justice at Wal-Mart.”
That’s the same assessment you hear from public officials in Louisiana, and there’s even been talk of letting Wal-Mart take over FEMA’s job. The company already has its own emergency operations center, where dozens of people began preparing for the hurricane the week before it hit by moving supplies and trucks into position.
Read the whole thing here. Via T19. I remember reading in an article in the campus newspaper a few years ago how criticism of the faceless, greedy maw of Wal-Mart can overlook one important fact: they provide a lot of (relatively) high quality stuff, really, really cheaply. That's a boon to poor people. This story is a case in point.