Katrina, Meet Rene'

Randy Leonard


Some have been very critical of my style of getting things done. “You don’t PROCESS enough Randy!"

I have to admit that at times it is very wearing and frustrating to hear that criticism. Our city, I believe, already has an ample share of those who love to study, contemplate, draft and consider.

While I have tried to improve my processing skills, I still gravitate to those that are result oriented.

Meet Portland Firefighter Rene' Pizzo.

Rene' has always been one of my favorite firefighters.

As a Fire Lieutenant, I was fortunate to have her assigned to my firefighting crew when I worked at Station 25 on SE 52nd. She was one of the best firefighters I have ever had the privilege to lead. She is smart, resourceful, dedicated, hard working and has a quiet determination that causes her to be one of the most effective emergency care givers I have ever known.

So it was with not a little pride that I watched Rene’ last night on a news story that showed her rescuing stranded and dying dogs trapped in a house in the heart of New Orleans.

She had climbed into a window of the vacant house to rescue three chained dogs. She cut one of the dogs chains with bolt cutters and handed the emaciated animal to rescuers outside.

Rene', quite simply, was getting it done. As various officials were wringing their hands, holding briefings and showing reluctance to put the machinery of this country into gear, Rene' and thousands of other men and women who do emergencies for a living were responding to the victims of Katrina and doing what they do best...saving people, property and, yes, even pets.

As some firefighters are stuck in their version of hell, others, such as Rene', somehow confounded the bureaucracy to get to where they were actually needed to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

FEMA needs a person like Rene' to lead it. She understands the dynamics of a disaster. True disaster professionals do not hold back emergency crews from responding to the heart of a catastrophe, they figure out how to get emergency crews there with the supplies they need as quickly as is physically possible.

However, the country can count on not having Rene' or someone like her leading FEMA for the next three years. You see, Rene' does not have powerful friends who hang with the President and she does not have the resources herself to donate large sums of money to the President.

However, if the debacle on the Gulf Coast has caused you to reconsider your criteria for appointing the head of FEMA, Mr. President, I nominate Rene' Pizzo to be the Director of FEMA.

The country will sleep better at night knowing her experienced, calm hand is protecting us when the next disaster hits.

  • (Show?)

    Great story, Randy. Thanks. I second the nomination.

  • Michael (unverified)

    As a libertarian I am generally critical of most of what I have seen from the government over some 50 years and this crisis doesn't change my views. However, as a former member of the U.S. Coast Guard, a branch of the government that gets a lot done with out dated and hand me down equipment, I must admit to feeling a large surge of pride with the announcement that Vice Admiral Thad Allen would be taking over much of the operation in and around New Orleans. Admiral Allen will bring a lot of skills to the operation that have been missing. Lets hope the bureaucrats understand that when he says move he means now, not tomorrow and that there is not time for a committee to study the issue and vote on it. Michael

  • Randy Leonard (unverified)


  • (Show?)

    I know Rene' personally, and have the privilege work with her on the Quality Improvement Committee for the Portland Fire EMS office. I can't add anything to what Randy has said, except to echo his praise and note that she continues to lead Portland Fire in positive directions, years after the Commissioner has left active fire duty.

    Think about Rene' the next time you feel the urge to piss and moan about excessive compensation for disabled and retired first responders. (That's a generalized 'you')


  • Kathy (unverified)

    Rene truly was an asset to the Oregon Humane Society animal rescue team during their 9 days in the field. OHS is proud of her contribution to this effort. Not to mention the countless hours she spends giving love to the dogs here at the shelter in Portland.

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