Message from the Administrator on Disaster Relief Efforts
None of you have missed the terrible images and reports coming out of the disaster area that lies in the wake of Katrina. There are no words I can add that would better enable us to understand and cope with the magnitude of this tragedy. What I will do is discuss briefly what we as NASA employees need to do going forward.
The Stennis Space Center and Michoud Assembly Facility have, as facilities, suffered substantial damage, and we will, as stewards of these facilities, be doing everything we can to stabilize them, and to restore them to service.
But more importantly, our people have been terribly hurt. I understand that perhaps more than half of the people who work at SSC and MAF have been left homeless by the hurricane. Their lives have been disrupted in a way that, I hope, the rest of us will never be able to comprehend. We need to do everything possible to help them, and I would urge you to begin by donating. You can do that online, if you like, through the NASA Web site to the NASA Family Assistance Fund.
I've received many e-mails from folks offering to drive a car, van or a truck carrying disaster relief supplies to SSC or MAF. However, if like me you are not trained in disaster relief and emergency management, then I would suggest that you resist the urge to help directly in the affected areas. Those of us who lack this background can help in other ways that the agency will identify as we gather more information.
Beyond that, we need to work to relocate people temporarily, to provide work stations and living accommodations at other NASA locations, so that our folks can return to work as they begin to restore their lives. We will also be doing everything possible to make sure that crucial payroll functions are maintained for all employees so that our people's financial disruption is not made worse by the lack of access to their money.
Many other measures have been and are being taken to provide help and relief. Bill Parsons, former Director of the Stennis Space Center and the present Space Shuttle Program Manager, has been detailed to NASA HQ to provide overall control of all disaster management efforts at NASA.
My office is coordinating with Bill to ensure that he has all needed authority and support. Bill has unimpeded access to Rex Geveden, NASA Associate Administrator, and to me.
In closing, I want to say how proud I have been, on behalf of all of you, to hear from Bill and others how aggressively NASA folks from more fortunate locations have pitched in to help in any way possible at SSC and Michoud. FEMA will, of course, be in charge of relief efforts for the region as a whole. But we at NASA are doing all we can to "take care of our own," and I applaud you.