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New Orleans



New Orleans: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
by George E. Curry
NNPA columnist

I am angry. I am angry at the mayor of New Orleans. I am angry at the governor of Louisiana. I am angry at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I am angry at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), now part of the Department of Homeland Security. I am angry at George W. Bush. I am angry because they were warned last November that New Orleans was one of the "Disasters Waiting to Happen" – and did nothing about it. Consequently, hundreds, if not thousands, of people are dead. Needlessly.

In an eerie prediction of what happened as a result of Hurricane Katrina, an article titled, "What if Hurricane Ivan Had Not Missed New Orleans?" was published in the Natural Hazards Observer, a major journal headquartered at the University of Colorado in Boulder. It was written by Shirley Laska of the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology at the University of New Orleans. In other words, this was an article written by a reputable author in a reputable national publication that should have been read by people involved in disaster relief. If they had taken heed, many of the dead in New Orleans would be alive today.

Under the headline, "What if Ivan Had Hit New Orleans?" the author wrote, "New Orleans was spared this time, but had it not been, Hurricane Ivan would have:

- Pushed a 17-foot storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain;

- Caused the levees between the lake and the city to overtop and fill the city ˜bowl' with water from lake levee to river levee, in some places as deep as 20 feet;

- Flooded the north shore suburbs as much as seven miles inland; and

- Inundated inhabited areas south of the Mississippi River.

"Up to 80 percent of the structures in these flooded areas would have been severely damaged from wind and water. The potential for such extensive flooding and the resulting damage is the result of a levee system that is unable to keep up with the increasing flood threats from a rapidly eroding coastline and thus unable to protect the ever-subsiding landscape."

Until I read this article, I had said one of the positive things that I hoped would come out of this disaster is that relief experts would realize that they need to make special provisions for the poor, elderly and homeless. In essence, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Now, however, I realize that there is no benefit in doubt.

The warning was there in black and white:

"For those without means, the medically challenged, residents without personal transportation, and the homeless, evacuation requires significant assistance."

Laska spelled it out in even more detail.

During Hurricane Ivan in 2004, she continues, ˜Residents who did not have personal transportation were unable to evacuate even if they wanted to.
Approximately 120,000 residents (51,000 housing units x 2.4 persons/unit) do not have cars.

"A proposal made after the evacuation from Hurricane Georges to use public transit buses to assist in their evacuation out of the city was not implemented for Ivan. If Ivan had struck New Orleans directly it is estimated that 40-60,000 residents of the area would have perished."

The additional problem of people having the means to leave, but refusing to do so was addressed in the article.

"Researchers have estimated that prior to a ˜big one,' approximately 700,000 residents of the greater New Orleans area (out of 1.2 million) would evacuate," Laska wrote. "In the case of Hurricane Ivan, officials estimate that up to 600,000 evacuated from metropolitan New Orleans between daybreak on Monday, September 13 and noon on Wednesday, September 13, when the storm turned and major roads started to clear...

"The fact that 600,000 residents evacuated means an equal number did not. Recent evacuation surveys show that two thirds of nonevacuees with the means to evacuate chose not to leave because they felt safe in their homes. Other nonevacuees with means relied on a cultural tradition of not leaving or were discouraged by negative experiences with past evacuations."

Those that dismiss environmentalists as kooks, should pay special attention to the observations about marshes.

"Loss of the coastal marshes that dampened earlier storm surges puts the city at increasing risk to hurricanes," the article noted. "Eighty years of substantial river leveeing has prevented spring flood deposition of new layers of sediment into the marshes, and a similarly lengthy period of marsh excavation activities related to oil and gas exploration and transportation canals for the petrochemical industry have threatened marsh integrity."

Using the Hurricane Ivan model to predict what would happen if a major hurricane struck New Orleans, Laska wrote: "Should this disaster become a reality, it would undoubtedly be one of the greatest disasters, if not the greatest, to hit the United States, with estimated costs exceeding 100 billion dollars. According to the Red Cross, such an event could be even more devastating than a major earthquake in California. Survivors would have to endure conditions never before experienced in a North American disaster."

It ended, "The hurricane scenario for New Orleans that these conveying risks portend is almost unimaginable. Hurricane Ivan had the potential to make the unthinkable a reality. Next time New Orleans may not be so fortunate."


George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and BlackPressUSA.com. He appears on National Public Radio (NPR) three times a week as part of "News and Notes with Ed Gordon." In addition, his radio commentary is syndicated each week by Capitol Radio News Service (301/588-1993). To contact Curry or to book him for a speaking engagement, go to his Web site, http://www.georgecurry.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins

 

AFRICAN AMERICA IS AT WAR

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICA

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICANS

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

AMERICA'S RACISTS HAVE INFILTRATED AMERICAN POLICE FORCES TO WAGE A RACE WAR AGAINST BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

THE BLACK RACE IS AT WAR

FIRST WORLD WAR:  THE APPROXIMATELY 6,000 YEAR WORLD WAR ON AFRICA AND THE BLACK RACE

Original Post

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Not to defend anyone i think everyone did a lousy job overall-i will say this, the local government has been asking the federal government for years (as far back as i rememeber) to give the state more money for the coastal marshes to protect the state and they did nothing.

Also the mayor of new orleans, ray nagin wanted to call for a mandatory evacuation of the city of new orleans as soon as word was given on how strong a cateogory the hurricane was going to be but was not allowed to until the last minute by louisiana's governor kathleen blanco. he urged residents to get out but said for political reasons and without the backing of the governor he could not call for a mandatory evacauation but he personally would suggest it. i recall at the beginning of hurricane season, he went on a campaign to promote new orleanians evacuating during a high cateogory hurricane. he felt alot of the older residents would not leave because they rode out previous hurricanes (Betsy back in the 60's and andrew in the 90's) and felt they could ride out any more to come[which i find to be true amongst the oldest of the community myself]. he felt they would encourage their family members to stay. he was going around stating how dangerous a cateogory 3 or higher hurricane could be, how devastating it could be for the city and how important it is for people to evacuate if they had the meanas to and to seek help if they did not. unfortunately he knew what he was talking about alot of people refused to leave-my mother being one of them.
Thank you for putting on-the-ground experience into the body of information for the forum.

No interviewer will allow Mayor Nagin to represent his decisions because of 'time constraints', or 'we know that', or in some cases simple malevolent intent.

And...I believe the Mayor could have made better decisions. I do not know the political obstacles he was faced with.

Media-types like to compare Nagin with New York's mayor. They don't allow Mayor Nagin the resources of the five boroughs of New York City, and the neighboring counties of New Jersey, that were not physically touched.

Everyone believes their version of what's true, based on their Monday-morning, birdseye view, is what is real.

This thing was planned so badly, and managed by with such incompetence it seems almost criminal to now try to lay blame on those at the bottom of the power structure.

In all the occurences I have dealt with, the Mayor has the greatest responsibility, and the least knowledge and resource.

Thanks again.

PEACE

Jim Chester
Why isn't anyone amazed at what was actually accomplished here. Nearly a million people did escape the city and surrounding areas. That happened despite, from what all that I am reading, Governor Blanco's (appropriate name) twists and turns that caused more damage to people than necessary.

I'm sorry, but both the President and the Mayor, while having their own levels of culpability for problems, seemingly both had to deal with many legal and decision making roadblocks handed to them by the Governor/State.

You gotta remember people, that FEMA and the federal government are not the first responders. They help with preparedness, study scenarios, and come in with checks days after an event.

It was the Governor who wouldn't support the Mayor in evacuating the city. It was the Governor who would (and still hasn't) allowed the Fed to federalize and coordinate the National Guard troops. It was the Governor who gave the order for the Red Cross and Salvation Army to stand down and not deliver food and water to the Superdome area. It was the Governor who told the President, "I need 24 hours to think about it." I could go on and on.

Yes they were warned, and it seems that their plan for the most part worked on getting people out of the city. And they have also rescued over 30,000 people since. Much of this has gone amazingly well considering the new precedent setting scope of the disaster across a swath of the country the size of Great Britain. But the things that didn't go well (yes, generous of me) all seem to have a common link- Blanco.
quote:
Originally posted by Marty:
Why isn't anyone amazed at what was actually accomplished here. Nearly a million people did escape the city and surrounding areas. That happened despite, from what all that I am reading, Governor Blanco's (appropriate name) twists and turns that caused more damage to people than necessary.

I'm sorry, but both the President and the Mayor, while having their own levels of culpability for problems, seemingly both had to deal with many legal and decision making roadblocks handed to them by the Governor/State.

You gotta remember people, that FEMA and the federal government are not the first responders. They help with preparedness, study scenarios, and come in with checks days after an event.

It was the Governor who wouldn't support the Mayor in evacuating the city. It was the Governor who would (and still hasn't) allowed the Fed to federalize and coordinate the National Guard troops. It was the Governor who gave the order for the Red Cross and Salvation Army to stand down and not deliver food and water to the Superdome area. It was the Governor who told the President, "I need 24 hours to think about it." I could go on and on.

Yes they were warned, and it seems that their plan for the most part worked on getting people out of the city. And they have also rescued over 30,000 people since. Much of this has gone amazingly well considering the new precedent setting scope of the disaster across a swath of the country the size of Great Britain. But the things that didn't go well (yes, generous of me) all seem to have a common link- Blanco.


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Marty,

We are 'amazed' at the number of people who got out, however, we are even more amazed that our own government would leave so many people to just die; die from thirst, hunger, disease, injuries, and exposure. We are amazed that it took everyday people from all across America to come to the aid of the people dying in New Orleans and the hell raising of the Mayor and Americans across this nation, along with the constant eye of the media lense trained on the situation to even get help to those people stranded and left to die in New Orleans.

The normal disaster protocol is local, state, then federal(FEMA); it was well known when the hurricane hit, certainly, the next day that Katrina had eclisped both the local and state response capabilities.

We are also 'amazed' that when the government DID first respond, it was only to shoot looters, not to give water, aid, food to those stranded, or to free those that they had LOCKED in the super dome without food, water, medicine, light, bathroom facilities, medical care, temporary morgues for those dying all around small children.

We were also more 'amazed' that the United States government would allows thousands of its citizens to go without water or food or medicine for as long as five days or more.

We were also 'amazed' that the United States government would allow people to be left on an empty highway to die from thirst, hunger, lack of medical care for at least five days.

We were also 'amazed' that the United States governmentm, while doing nothing to help people who were thristing, starving and dying from injuries and lack of medical care to stand guard at the entrace of New Orleans holding private citizen, Walmart, numerous other corporations and volunteers at bay from day one until AFTER people had been left to wade through toxic, infested waters and go without water, food, medicine, an even milk for small babies for at least 5 day and more.
Maybe some heads are gonna roll ....

'People making decisions hesitated'
More officials' jobs may fall to Katrina response criticism


(CNN) -- Michael Brown may have been the first official to lose his job to Hurricane Katrina, but he might not be the last.

Even after Brown's resignation as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, criticism of the government's response to the disaster keeps rising.

It threatens to swamp other officials involved in the recovery effort. Blame is being directed at every level of government -- federal, state and local

As new details emerge on what happened behind the scenes as the storm ravaged New Orleans, it is becoming clear that government officials knew what to expect, despite claims to the contrary. ( Watch the video that documents what officials knew and who warned them -- 3:28)

They had planned and trained for it for five days last year, playing out the disastrous scenarios of a hypothetical Hurricane Pam. But when the real disaster stuck, they appeared to be paralyzed.

President Bush on Tuesday acknowledged "serious problems" in the government's response to emergencies, and accepted responsibility for the federal government's failures in responding to the disaster.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said during a news conference.

There are plenty of unanswered questions about what went wrong, when it went wrong and who is at fault.

In the hurricane's aftermath, thousands of people trapped in the submerged city began asking how they got left behind without food and water. And why?

Why did it take so long to get help to stranded people? Where were the helicopters to drop food and emergency supplies? And eventually, why were people who sought safety in shelters still without food and water five days after the storm?

In the aftermath, the questions grew sharper: Why did aerial shots of the flooded city show hundreds of school and city buses window-deep in water? Why hadn't anyone used those buses to move people out? Did Amtrak really offer residents seats on trains the company moved out of harm's way? And if so, who refused that offer and why?

People also asked why FEMA wouldn't allow the delivery of 20,000 trailers Sen. Trent Lott found. Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, lost his own home.

Then there's perhaps the most alarming question of all: Is the Department of Homeland Security too big a bureaucracy to be effective in its mission?

"We had our first post-9/11 task and we've miserably failed," said former U.S. Rep. Tim Roemer, an Indiana Democrat who was a member of the 9/11 Commission.

"Our government couldn't drop water to our most needy citizens," Roemer said. "We couldn't get generators to people in hospitals. We didn't go by any evacuation plan."
Plenty of blame

In addition to Brown, other public officials face criticism and hard questions about what they did and didn't do. Chief among them are Michael Chertoff, who heads the Department of Homeland Security, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

Chertoff has insisted for two weeks he had no warning of how bad Katrina could be.

But the National Weather Service issued a detailed message a day before Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, saying buildings would be leveled, high-rises crippled and most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer.

Chertoff, whose department oversees FEMA, had continued to downplay the significance of the levee breaks in New Orleans, even as floodwaters consumed 80 percent of the city.

Blanco is under fire over whether she asked the right people in Washington for help soon enough. She has been accused of engaging in a bureaucratic turf war that delayed the National Guard response as New Orleans spiraled into anarchy.
Help turned away?

State officials also are being blamed for turning back assistance during the critical first few days. Sheriff Steve Simpson, of Loudon County, Virginia, sent 22 deputies with supplies and 14 vehicles, including four all-terrain vehicles. But he called them back when Louisiana state police officials waved him off.

"I said, 'What if we just show up?' and he says, 'You probably won't get in," Simpson told CNN. Later that night, Blanco cleared legal hurdles that would have allowed local officials to accept the help, but no one ever got back to Simpson.

"I'm very frustrated, trying to figure out what went wrong in that process," Simpson said.

The White House has suggested that Gov. Blanco also failed to call early enough for the federal help she needed. The governor's office says that before, during and after the storm, Blanco's message to the president was consistent. (Watch the video on political defensive moves -- 1:56)

"The governor genuinely felt at that time she had asked for help," press secretary Denise Bottcher said, "She said, 'We need your help. We need everything you've got.'"

Blanco lashed out at FEMA Tuesday for what she said was a "lack of urgency and lack of respect" involving the recovery of bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.

Blanco said she ordered the state to sign a contract with Kenyon International Monday after Chertoff failed to live up to renew the private disaster recovery firm's contract. The company has been recovering bodies in New Orleans.

Kenyon worked for the Australian government to identify the remains of tourists killed during the December tsunami, and the company handled the remains of plane passengers who crashed into a Pennsylvania field during the September 11 attacks.

Kenyon told the state that if they didn't get a contract soon, they would be forced to leave as soon as they professionally could.

"In death, as in life, our people deserve more respect than they have received," Blanco said.
Empty train

Nagin, whose desperate plea for help in the days after the storm made him a folk hero to some, faces criticism for turning away resources that could have moved more people out of the city faster.

The mayor's disaster plan called for mobilizing buses and evacuating the poor, but he did not get it done. He said he could not find drivers, but Amtrak says it offered help and was turned down, so a train with 900 seats rolled away empty a day and a half before the storm. (Watch the video detailing the failed evacuation plan -- 2:11)

"One of the problems that we're facing at the federal level and at the state level and at the local level -- and again, not casting blame anywhere, is a total systemwide failure, because people making decisions hesitated," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, told CNN.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, said he initially was impressed by how quickly federal authorities mobilized before the storm. But after it hit, nothing happened for days.

"There was absolutely no execution," Vitter told CNN.

"I was very happy with how quickly the president had signed his first emergency order," he said. "The FEMA director was on the ground before the storm. FEMA teams were on the ground. But then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, absolutely no execution. I don't know what they were doing."
Bureaucratic breakdown

The accusations and the public outrage make federal, state and local leaders jittery and defensive. They know that just a few days ago Brown's job appeared to be safe.

Vitter believes the time will come soon enough to answer the hard questions.

"I don't have a doubt in the world that all of these questions are going to be asked in a very forceful, focused way," he said. "So there are a lot of folks, myself included, just as a citizen of Louisiana, who are going to demand straight answers and get the full story, wherever that leads."

He said that the blame does not rest solely with Brown.

"This wasn't a failure of one person, although it was that also," Vitter told CNN. "It was a failure of the whole bureaucracy, and the solution to that isn't getting a new head bureaucrat or a new type of head bureaucrat. I think the whole bureaucratic FEMA model is what has to be probably discarded. "

CNN's Tom Foreman, Mike M. Ahlers and Anderson Cooper contributed to this report.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/13/katrina.response/index.html
Last edited {1}
We? Are you the official spokesperson here. Great. Perhaps you can answer some questions for everybody here.

Now of the things you listed...

quote:
...we are even more amazed that our own government would leave so many people to just die; die from thirst, hunger, disease, injuries, and exposure. We are amazed that it took everyday people from all across America to come to the aid of the people dying in New Orleans and the hell raising of the Mayor and Americans across this nation, along with the constant eye of the media lense trained on the situation to even get help to those people stranded and left to die in New Orleans.


And who kept most of the aid that was coming in out? The Red Cross was ready to go with food and water, but what happened to them?

Here's your hint:

quote:
Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard [controlled by the state/Blanco] and local authorities [city officials] and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.


quote:
We are also 'amazed' that when the government DID first respond, it was only to shoot looters,...


Uh- Excuse me? Whose order was it to shoot looters and whose forces were given the order?

Hint- the people who authorized the order and those executing the orders live in Louisiana.

quote:
...not to give water, aid, food to those stranded, or to free those that they had LOCKED in the super dome without food, water, medicine, light, bathroom facilities, medical care, temporary morgues for those dying all around small children.


I think I may have covered this, but the diversion/denial of additional food, water, medical etc. were done by state authorities who didn't want to attract more people to the area (which I share your outrage about.) The Red Cross and the Salvation Army, were ready with truckloads of provisions and were turned away. Wal-Mart had truckloads of provisions that were re-directed by state officials to places with "higher need."

quote:
We were also 'amazed' that the United States governmentm, while doing nothing to help people who were thristing, starving and dying from injuries and lack of medical care to stand guard at the entrance of New Orleans...


LANG was and is controlling access to New Orleans- not the United States Government.

quote:
...holding private citizen, Walmart, numerous other corporations and volunteers at bay from day one until AFTER people had been left to wade through toxic, infested waters and go without water, food, medicine, an even milk for small babies for at least 5 day and more.


Are you saying here that the government of NO, LA, and the USA did absolutely nothing for 5 days? Are you saying that nobody got in at all, or did anything?

You might want to read this. And before you pooh-pooh the source, it is and extremely well sourced list of things that were dones in just NOLA (not even mentioning the other 90,000 square miles of disaster area.)

Look- I have been mad about most of the same things as you as a gut reaction to what I percieved was and wasn't happening before during and after Katrina hit.

I was mad about the "looters"/"finders" incident. I was mad about the situation in the Superdome. I was mad that all those buses were available and weren't used. I was mad that people weren't being helped.

But the more and more I read (from many different sources) and the more I think about the scope of the disaster itself (not just in New Orleans, but the in LA, MS, and AL also, and then think about what was done in other disasters, I would say that FEMA is doing the same job they have done in the past. They are a bureaucratic agency that comes in, makes recommendations, helps people fill out forms and points them in the right direction.

It not the Federal Government who is the first to respond/rescue people although they have people who work for FEMA that are also involved in those efforts. FEMA is a relatively small agency full of pencil pushers(you posted their info- 2500 people with 4000 part time/standby. Do you know how many people the IRS has?)

Yes, they made mistakes too, but I still have to ask, why is Governor Blanco getting a pass when she is the common link to most of the mistakes that resulted in the disaster after the disaster. In reading what Ebony posted her, perhaps she isn't any longer.
quote:
Originally posted by Marty:
We? Are you the official spokesperson here. Great. Perhaps you can answer some questions for everybody here."

____________________________________

I never claimed to be the official spokesperson here, however, I do believe that the "you" is understood by the majority of this board concerning the Katrina/NO horror show.


Now of the things you listed...

quote:
...we are even more amazed that our own government would leave so many people to just die; die from thirst, hunger, disease, injuries, and exposure. We are amazed that it took everyday people from all across America to come to the aid of the people dying in New Orleans and the hell raising of the Mayor and Americans across this nation, along with the constant eye of the media lense trained on the situation to even get help to those people stranded and left to die in New Orleans.


And who kept most of the aid that was coming in out? The Red Cross was ready to go with food and water, but what happened to them?

Here's your hint:

quote:
Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard [controlled by the state/Blanco] and local authorities [city officials] and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.


quote:
We are also 'amazed' that when the government DID first respond, it was only to shoot looters,...


Uh- Excuse me? Whose order was it to shoot looters and whose forces were given the order?

Hint- the people who authorized the order and those executing the orders live in Louisiana.

quote:
...not to give water, aid, food to those stranded, or to free those that they had LOCKED in the super dome without food, water, medicine, light, bathroom facilities, medical care, temporary morgues for those dying all around small children.


I think I may have covered this, but the diversion/denial of additional food, water, medical etc. were done by state authorities who didn't want to attract more people to the area (which I share your outrage about.) The Red Cross and the Salvation Army, were ready with truckloads of provisions and were turned away. Wal-Mart had truckloads of provisions that were re-directed by state officials to places with "higher need."

quote:
We were also 'amazed' that the United States governmentm, while doing nothing to help people who were thristing, starving and dying from injuries and lack of medical care to stand guard at the entrance of New Orleans...


LANG was and is controlling access to New Orleans- not the United States Government.

quote:
...holding private citizen, Walmart, numerous other corporations and volunteers at bay from day one until AFTER people had been left to wade through toxic, infested waters and go without water, food, medicine, an even milk for small babies for at least 5 day and more.


Are you saying here that the government of NO, LA, and the USA did absolutely nothing for 5 days? Are you saying that nobody got in at all, or did anything?

You might want to read this. And before you pooh-pooh the source, it is and extremely well sourced list of things that were dones in just NOLA (not even mentioning the other 90,000 square miles of disaster area.)

Look- I have been mad about most of the same things as you as a gut reaction to what I percieved was and wasn't happening before during and after Katrina hit.

I was mad about the "looters"/"finders" incident. I was mad about the situation in the Superdome. I was mad that all those buses were available and weren't used. I was mad that people weren't being helped.

But the more and more I read (from many different sources) and the more I think about the scope of the disaster itself (not just in New Orleans, but the in LA, MS, and AL also, and then think about what was done in other disasters, I would say that FEMA is doing the same job they have done in the past. They are a bureaucratic agency that comes in, makes recommendations, helps people fill out forms and points them in the right direction.

It not the Federal Government who is the first to respond/rescue people although they have people who work for FEMA that are also involved in those efforts. FEMA is a relatively small agency full of pencil pushers(you posted their info- 2500 people with 4000 part time/standby. Do you know how many people the IRS has?)

Yes, they made mistakes too, but I still have to ask, why is Governor Blanco getting a pass when she is the common link to most of the mistakes that resulted in the disaster after the disaster. In reading what Ebony posted her, perhaps she isn't any longer.

_______________________________________________

To make a long story short:

The Mayor of any city does not have the power to overstep the authority of the govenor; Mayor Nagin has stated that while he wanted to madatorily evacuate early on, he was FORBIDDEN to do by law and legal protocol, however, he did hold a press conference at least telling people that "in his personal opinion . . ." ----everyone should evacuate, leave, immediately.


And no matter what you are anyone else says that so desparately want to see fault only in the local level and leave the Federal Government out of the equation and responsibility, ----none of what you said matters like I said before, once the federal government knew (at least by day one or day two) that it was beyond whatever control, response and aid that could be afforded by state and local government, hell, state and local government could not even communicate with each other, there was not power or means of communications after the hurricane it, just to name one problem.

I am not trying to absovle Blanco, especially, since, it is the governor and not the mayor that has the authority to call out the national guard and call the shots during such a disaster, but I am not going to absolve the federal government form it responsibility to its citizens during an unprecedented disaster, especially for letting so many people suffer for so long out of racism and classism.

Basically what happened is that Blacks, the poor, children and the sick and the elderly was left to just die or what the fuck ever it took to keep hungry, thristy, sick and dying people (human beings) out of the more affluent communities that were not devastated.

I will not make excuses like 'bureacracy,' 'red tape' or anything else white wash the truth about this disaster and racism in America. I am not making any excuses for ANYONE that would leave me to just die, leave children and the elderly to just die when all they needed was water, food, medicine, and a way out. I am not excusing seeing African Americans being LOCKED in the super dome with no food, no water, not medicine, no bathroom facilcies, no safety, with not even light, in the pit black darkness, the same way our ancestors were brought over here in the first place in the dark, over crowed, infested, overcrowed bowels of a ship (also, without even place to deficate.
And what part of what I wrote says I see fault "only in the local level."

quote:
but I am not going to absolve the federal government form it responsibility to its citizens during an unprecedented disaster, especially for letting so many people suffer for so long out of racism and classism.


Again I ask you- who made the decisions on who got out of the city and who got "LOCKED" in the Superdome? Funny how those hotel guests were taken out of the city, but local residents were bused to the Superdome. WHO made that decision?

WHO made the decisions to turn away trucks full of food and water headed to the Superdome that would have given relief to African Americans "LOCKED" there?

quote:
Basically what happened is that Blacks, the poor, children and the sick and the elderly was left to just die or what the fuck ever it took to keep hungry, thristy, sick and dying people (human beings) out of the more affluent communities that were not devastated.


WHO made THOSE decisions?

See you say that I desperately want to see the Federal Government out of the equation of responsibility (which is false.) and yet you seem to desperately want this to be all about the Federal Government. Damn- I've been easy on the Mayor in this, because I think that he did what he could within the constraints of his position.

(Although, I do fault him with two things- he had no trouble finding buses for the Tourist at two of the higher end hotels and getting those people out of the city, but could only find buses to the Superdome for his own residents. I guess those hundreds of yellow school buses needed a bath.)

I blame the State and Federal Government for not getting their schit together and worrying about the damn politics of it all while people were suffring. I blame the Governor for the direct actions she took against getting relief to people in need. I blame the President for having an idiot for a FEMA director. I blame the new bureaucracy called "Homeland Security" who doesn't seem to know what the hell their job is (Chertoff is the one who should have set things in motion sooner- but then again, on day 1 after the storm passed everyone was saying that "we dodged a bullet"- then the recently reinforced levy broke.)

I'm with you on all of that except for the racism, slave ship analogy. I heard that same thing from Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and wasn't buying it then either. New Orleans is something like 80% black and about 90-95% of the residents of the city got out. Thus most of the black people got out too. But it is definitely an economic issue and the city and state officials just dumped the poor wherever they could hoping somebody else would take care of it. And it is costing us dearly.
quote:
Originally posted by Marty:
And what part of what I wrote says I see fault "only in the local level."

quote:
but I am not going to absolve the federal government form it responsibility to its citizens during an unprecedented disaster, especially for letting so many people suffer for so long out of racism and classism.


Again I ask you- who made the decisions on who got out of the city and who got "LOCKED" in the Superdome? Funny how those hotel guests were taken out of the city, but local residents were bused to the Superdome. WHO made that decision?

WHO made the decisions to turn away trucks full of food and water headed to the Superdome that would have given relief to African Americans "LOCKED" there?

quote:
Basically what happened is that Blacks, the poor, children and the sick and the elderly was left to just die or what the fuck ever it took to keep hungry, thristy, sick and dying people (human beings) out of the more affluent communities that were not devastated.


WHO made THOSE decisions?

See you say that I desperately want to see the Federal Government out of the equation of responsibility (which is false.) and yet you seem to desperately want this to be all about the Federal Government. Damn- I've been easy on the Mayor in this, because I think that he did what he could within the constraints of his position.

(Although, I do fault him with two things- he had no trouble finding buses for the Tourist at two of the higher end hotels and getting those people out of the city, but could only find buses to the Superdome for his own residents. I guess those hundreds of yellow school buses needed a bath.)

I blame the State and Federal Government for not getting their schit together and worrying about the damn politics of it all while people were suffring. I blame the Governor for the direct actions she took against getting relief to people in need. I blame the President for having an idiot for a FEMA director. I blame the new bureaucracy called "Homeland Security" who doesn't seem to know what the hell their job is (Chertoff is the one who should have set things in motion sooner- but then again, on day 1 after the storm passed everyone was saying that "we dodged a bullet"- then the recently reinforced levy broke.)

I'm with you on all of that except for the racism, slave ship analogy. I heard that same thing from Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and wasn't buying it then either. New Orleans is something like 80% black and about 90-95% of the residents of the city got out. Thus most of the black people got out too. But it is definitely an economic issue and the city and state officials just dumped the poor wherever they could hoping somebody else would take care of it. And it is costing us dearly.


_______________________________________


Taking on the Week's Big Issue
Facts and Rumors: Federal Power in a State of Emergency

First, a note to all the Debaters: Ordinarily, Wednesday would mark the beginning of a new week for The Debate -- it's the day a fresh topic would be introduced for discussion until the following Tuesday. But this is no ordinary week. So we're bending the rules to make room for a few more days of Hurricane Katrina, and we'll introduce next week's issue, the Roberts nomination, on Monday -- just in time for the start of his hearings.

But for now, we're still talking about the hurricane, and all the false assertions that have been floating around with regard to who had the power to do what in Louisiana have got to be put to rest. Please allow me to use the text of federal laws and some other reputable sources in order to set the record straight. (My very basic conclusions based on those facts appear in parenthesis.)

Fact: Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declared a State of Emergency for her state on Friday, Aug. 26. Full disclosure: The Post reported last week -- erroneously, it turned out -- that Louisiana had not issued such a declaration. A correction was published on Sept. 5.

Fact: President Bush declared a State of Emergency the next day Saturday before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Fact: Presidential declarations of emergency are made after a request from "the governor of the impacted state, based on finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the ability of the state and affected local jurisdictions."
[Update: The link above doesn't seem to be working anymore, so here's a copy of the page as it appeared on Aug. 14, 2004, courtesy of archive.org's Wayback Machine. The page does not appear to have changed between when it was archived and when I looked at it yesterday.]

Fact: Blanco sent a letter dated Aug. 28 to Bush -- via the FEMA regional director -- requesting that he "declare a major disaster," and Bush responded by wisely declaring an emergency. There is a very slight difference, funding-wise, between declaring a major disaster and declaring an emergency -- the difference is explained here -- but both authorize "emergency protective measures."
[Update: Thanks to the astute anonymous reader who provided the link to the letter.]

Fact: A declaration of emergency "unleash[es] the support of any or all of 27 federal agencies. It also authorizes reimbursement of emergency work, such as debris removal and emergency protective measures."

Fact: There is a FEMA program called the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System (US&R) -- now part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate (EP&R) of the Department of Homeland Security. According to federal legislation, it "provides specialized lifesaving assistance during major disasters or emergencies that the President declares under the Stafford Act. US&R operational activities include locating, extricating and providing on-site medical treatment to victims trapped in collapsed structures, victims of weapons of mass destruction events, and when assigned, performing incident command or other operational activities."

(I think we can all agree that such teams would have been immensely helpful on the two to three days immediately following the hurricane. The Coast Guard did a great job, it would seem, of airlifting people out of drowning homes very soon after the flooding happened, and New Orleans police devoted a great deal of time to performing search and rescue as well. Yes, some deserted, but others stayed and did everything they could to help the city and its residents recover. Perhaps if more search and rescue professionals had been sent in in the immediate aftermath, the police could have spent that time maintaining order in the city.)

Fact: In the Rules and Regulations section of the US&R legislation, "emergency " is defined as "any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, Federal assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States."

Fact: In the supplementary information for the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System legislation, it says (I've taken out some of the extraneous numbers and some unnecessary phrases for ease of reading, but the meaning is unchanged):

Section 303 of the Stafford Act authorizes the President of the United States to form emergency support teams of Federal personnel to be deployed in an area affected by a major disaster or emergency. The President delegated this function to the Director of the FEMA under Executive Order 12148. Under E.O. 13286 of February 28, 2003, the President amended E.O. 12148 to transfer the FEMA Director's delegated authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security, and under Homeland Security Delegation No. 9100, delegated the Secretary's authority under Title V of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which includes the Stafford Act, to the Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R).

Fact: The Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response is Michael Brown.

(So, EP&R director -- the head of FEMA, the guy the New Orleans Times Picayune said should "especially" be fired -- had the authority to dispatch specialized rescue squads right away. Where were they? Why didn't the president, under whose direction the Department of Homeland Security ultimately falls, insist on getting those teams on the ground -- or in the air -- as soon as the levees were breached and the flooding began?)

In 1995, the Washington Monthly wrote about FEMA's miraculous turnaround after its abysmal performance dealing with Hurricane Andrew. In that story was this tidbit from Jeffrey Itell, who conducted a massive study of FEMA's operations, which uncovered that FEMA had extensive powers according to the Stafford Act that, to everyone's detriment, it was not exercising:

We found that without state requests, FEMA could assess the catastrophic area, assess what assistance the state needed, start mobilizing that relief, present its recommendations to the governor, and, if necessary ... get in the governor's face to force the issue of accepting federal help.

This should all still apply -- unless the Department of Homeland Security nullified these common-sense FEMA powers when it subsumed the agency a couple years ago. (If it did, DHS has a lot of explaining to do.)

Again, that's without state requests. (This is not to say the the local authorities couldn't have done more. For starters, they could have taken into account the substantial number of poor Now Orleans residents who wouldn't have the means to evacuate. But they were right in the middle of it all, their resources overwhelmed, whereas the federal emergency management professionals are likely to have vastly more resources. How many helicopters did the New Orleans Police Department have? I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing not as many as the federal government.)

What's important to remember here is that misinformation is swirling, as is not unusual after unprecedented disasters. (David Brooks of the New York Times recalls the news accounts of [insert then-feared minority group here] cutting off the fingers of the dead in order to steal their wedding rings.)

Don't get me wrong, the Debate loves and encourages a wide variety of opinions. But many opinions you'll hear from pundits on both sides of the aisle are based on false assertions. Before buying into one of these logical-but-inaccurate arguments -- many of which probably originated in a spin machine belonging to someone or another -- it makes sense to check that the facts are solid.

By Emily Messner | September 8, 2005; 09:23 AM ET | Category: Facts
Previous: Dealing With Disaster: When Optimism Makes Things Worse | Main Index | Next: Are We Prepared for Next Time?
Comments

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Thanks for supplying facts that are relatively untainted by the sort of shameful partisan bickering that is dominating the current news cycle.

Are the politicians so removed from reality that they really expect us to believe the things that they are saying? From Nagin to Blanco to Brown to Chertoff to Bush (and throw a few Senators and Representatives in there as well - I'm talking about YOU DeLay!), these people have been making public statements that amount to a whole lot of CYA (pardon my language!). I can only hope that there will be some true accountability for the terrible and tragic loss of life and property that could have been diminished, if not averted, by a true, caring plan of evacuation and prevention.

Posted by: Kristian | Sep 8, 2005 10:42:07 AM

Dear Detective Friday: Thanks for the facts. The spin machines were raising so much dust it was hard to see the truth.

Posted by: Alice Rood | Sep 8, 2005 10:42:54 AM

Thanks for doing the fact gathering, which many more reporters should do. All the spin out there drives me nuts

Posted by: Bob | Sep 8, 2005 10:43:39 AM

Could you please give some facts as to who is responsible for evacuation, especially of the elderly, disabled and those too poor to leave on their own? Who was responsible to stock the superdome with food/water for the evacuees that were told they would spend three days there? Who was responsible to provide security to the superdome and convention center?

Posted by: Carrie Brotherson | Sep 8, 2005 10:53:37 AM

You wrote, "(This suggests Blanco must have asked Bush to declare a State of Emergency, and Bush wisely did.)" Suggestions aside, you may view the actual request at this web address : http://gov.louisiana.gov/Disaster%20Relief%20Request.pdf

Posted by: | Sep 8, 2005 10:54:12 AM

It's pretty obvious that the Bush Gang have been
dismantling this country piece by piece with the
collusion of all those credulous enough to put them
in power through their vote.

One is tempted to declare "this is not my country"
when faced with the scenes out of the Gulf coast
and to pin it on momentary incompetence of the
officials involved...however, IMHO, the situation
is simply _a_ result of the success of the
"government not in my face" con job the GOP
started pulling on this country since the early
first Reagan term. And more "results" of this sort
_will_ follow unless someone like Bill Clinton
ends up in the White House to clean up the mess
(if the GOP noise machine lets that person
succeed).

I believe we need to clean Congress in '06, and
take away the reins from those GOP con men/women
who are colluding with the Bush Gang to destroy
this country and sign it away to their corporate
paymasters. And we've got to watch the next
President closely. At the first sign of business
as usual we _must_ protest in masses all across
this country.

Posted by: peter | Sep 8, 2005 10:56:59 AM

Emily wrote:

===========================================
"In 1995, the Washington Monthly wrote about FEMA's miraculous turnaround after its abysmal performance dealing with Hurricane Andrew. In that story was this tidbit from Jeffrey Itell, who conducted a massive study of FEMA's operations, which uncovered that FEMA had extensive powers according to the Stafford Act that, to everyone's detriment, it was not exercising:


We found that without state requests, FEMA could assess the catastrophic area, assess what assistance the state needed, start mobilizing that relief, present its recommendations to the governor, and, if necessary ... get in the governor's face to force the issue of accepting federal help.

This should all still apply -- unless the Department of Homeland Security nullified these common-sense FEMA powers when it subsumed the agency a couple years ago. (If it did, DHS has a lot of explaining to do.)"
===========================================

The above says it all, folks. Lord Occam would be proud. :-)

One thing is for sure, on all levels everyone dropped the ball on this disaster. There is fault to find in the local government (for not having the backbone to thwart development to preserve the wetlands, so it will shield New Orleans and area towns from the blunt of a hurricane/floods; to not doing more to evacuate not even the nursing homes [who everyone knows can't drive out]; to not stockpiling at least 3 days of food for emergencies for thousands of displaced residents :-(

SandyK

P.S. -- Nevada governor/residents: don't allow that radioactive waste in your state. If FEMA and the federal government can't help with a 3 day advance warning of pending doom with the best climate technology, it's not going to help the residents in your state without even a clue of a leak with the best geological technology. They're more interested in politics than lives now -- DON'T ALLOW IT IN FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY!!

Posted by: SandyK | Sep 8, 2005 11:18:44 AM

The night before Katrina hit New Orleans I e-mailed my old boss to let him know that my wife and I were thinking of them.

I also wanted to be sure that they were NOT in New Orleans and that they had managed to sell their house down there already (they had made that decision some time ago).

I was concerned because 12 hours before that storm hit the coast I had no doubts that New Orleans was going to get smashed this time.

The National Weather Service certainly saw it coming. Even the Storm reporter that was based in New Orleans for the ˜Weather Channel' did something that I don't remember any reporter doing prior to Katrina. He openly left his station in New Orleans and evacuated to Slidell the night before the storm hit. He said that New Orleans was not a good place to be right now. When was the last time you remember a ˜Storm reporter' doing that???

Admittedly, I am no expert....but no one will ever be able to convince me that the Emergency Management ˜experts' did not see this one coming well before it hit. The director of FEMA apparently had the authority to begin the massive relief efforts that would be required by a Cat 4-5 storm hitting New Orleans and vicinity...and he had a dry seat to work from.

Other politicians may have failed at local and state levels, but they (and their own resources) were directly in the path of a 200 mile wide bullet that was twice the size of ˜Camille' in 1969. If the director of FEMA could not see that one coming and start a REAL effort from his ˜dry seat' before it hit....he has no business directing FEMA.

Posted by: Dennis F. | Sep 8, 2005 11:24:48 AM

Note: 1/2 of my above post was edited out (within 3 minutes at that too -- hmmmmmmm).

What don't like Eiffel 65? lol

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | Sep 8, 2005 11:27:12 AM

Fact: President Clinton allowed 500,000 people to needlessly die in Rwanda. No one alledged that this was due to racist attitudes.

Posted by: Menlo Bob | Sep 8, 2005 11:32:54 AM

How refreshing! How matter-of-fact! How...journalistic.

Where is the like from any of the yappers on TV? How sad that true investigative reporting on TV has become obsolete, in the manner of 8-track tapes and (thankfully) Pat Robertson.

I thank you and your editors for delving into the aftershocks of Katrina like real reporters could and should be doing. The past week has exposed the underbelly of this administration for all to see - the one that us progressives have been screaming about for five years, unheard or ignored. There are facts galore out there that support our anger, our frustration, our utter disbelief at the ruthless, clueless, self-grandizing and power-obsessed Bush administration. As I've posted in another thread, just google bush administration poverty for starters, and you'll see what I mean.

I'm angry.

I myself cannot qualify for Medicare, even though I'm in need of a kidney transplant at this very moment (don't have any money - already owe my soul and my first-born child to a small college in Tennessee). The state's health-care system for the poor has collapsed, and as we speak there are thousands of elderly and sick choosing between buying food and medicine. Good people! My great-aunt in particular. People who, amazingly enough, voted for Bush in droves last election. Why? For MORAL reasons?? It boggles the mind.

And we won't even GO to the Iraq thing. Not enough writing space in the universe for that.

I am a redhead, so I am fairly talented at going off on a tangent - I apologize, but not really. I'm tired of being told my opinions don't matter or that they're somehow less, simply because they don't mesh with the powers-that-be. I'm tired of watching the members of my beloved Democratic party mewling around, afraid of political retaliation if they voice a peep in protest. I'm done with being embarrassed for America on an almost daily basis since the squandering of 9/11 world goodwill.

I expect my government to uphold a higher standard of honor, liberty, common defense, general welfare, national pride in doing something for the good of all. I expect the government to be able to care for its own people in need. I expect something better than utter ineptitude when a Category 5 hurricane threatens a major U.S. port.

How many more excuses can we make for this government? When Bush declared the Gulf Coast a disaster area, the responsibility fell on him. Period. America didn't elect him to play the guitar and eat cake during the worst natural disaster in this country since Galveston. We're supposed to hold the President to the highest standards of competency, of empathy, of RESPONSIBILITY. Those standards have not been met in his time of office by any stretch of the imagination.

And Clinton was impeached...for what exactly? Affecting whom?

I rest my case.

Posted by: Mary Eliz | Sep 8, 2005 11:37:22 AM

Menlo Bob wrote:

===========================================
"Fact: President Clinton allowed 500,000 people to needlessly die in Rwanda. No one alledged that this was due to racist attitudes."
===========================================

Fact: yes they did.

The US has a "hands off" policy on Africa. Be it because of charity burnout; not wanting to be dragged into another civil war (with a sizeable sympathetic population in this country, that can cause an insurgency as well); or flat out INSTITUTIONAL racism. But short of 10,000,000 dying outright, the US won't get involved in Africa, period. Be it a Democratic or Republican administration -- they won't touch it.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | Sep 8, 2005 11:46:03 AM

Thank you for your definition of emergency and review of federal regulations given without context. But I must advise you that I agree with my mother who taught me that telling half the truth is not the same as telling the truth.

It seems to me that your lists of facts, while perhaps technically accurate, are a hand picked slice out of a huge mountain of questions designed to make the Bush administration look bad, and avoids the questions that real reporters should be asking completely ignoring realities that existed on the ground.

I notice that both you and leading Democrats (Pelosi) are quick to attack the Bush administration, particularly Mike Brown, yet ignore questions surrounding the local officials in Louisiana who happen to be Democrats. For example, is it a fact that Blanco ordered FEMA and the Red Cross not to deliver supplies to the Superdome as some have suggested? Did Blanco refuse to federalize the National Guard when Bush asked? Those questions should be asked too.

In my opinion all these issues should be explored. Bush's and Brown's performance should be examined. So should Blanco's and Nagin's. We will probably find out that they all did some things right as well as wrong. Perhaps someone in the end should be fired. But one-sided views such as yours are not helpful and don't solve anything. Such partisan attacks cloud the debate making it more difficult for the needed changes in the systems to take place. And more than that, they are a particularly despicable form of political opportunism.

Posted by: Balanced | Sep 8, 2005 12:00:19 PM

Re Clinton & Rwanda: Bush has done nothing about the genocide in the Sudan and elsewhere in Africa.

Posted by: BubbaT | Sep 8, 2005 12:10:46 PM

In response to Balanced:

Yes, select questions can certainly frame the discussion. Some of your own questions lead to further questions, however! You ask if it is a fact that Blanco resisted Bush's request to federalize the National Guard? Interesting question, but WHY would Bush want to do that? I could then ask - would federalizing the Guard allow blame to shift from the Feds to the State?

The Federal Government has been giving us one sided views - the questions in the column are a small attempt to give us a different perspective, and in my opinion, deal directly with some of the double talk that we've been getting.

Note the very first fact. Do you know why the Post had to run a correction? Because they took a Federal Government official on his word. Turned out that he was either totally misinformed or lying. Why would a Gov't official claim that LA had not declared a State of Emergency? It couldn't possibly be for political reasons, could it?

Posted by: Kristian | Sep 8, 2005 12:15:03 PM

I would encourage Balanced to visit the Red Cross' own website for an explanation of why supplies were not delivered to the Superdome (http://www.redcross.org/faq/0,1096,0_682_4524,00.html):

------------------------------------------
Hurricane Katrina: Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans?

* Acess to New Orleans is controlled by the National Guard and local authorities and while we are in constant contact with them, we simply cannot enter New Orleans against their orders.

* The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.
------------------------------------------
Yes, state officials kept the Red Cross away from the Superdome, because they were trying to get everyone to leave the Superdome for their own safety. See?--it's not that hard to explore issues in a balanced way, if you want people to find out the actual answers.

Posted by: More Balanced | Sep 8, 2005 12:16:40 PM

Do the "specialized rescue squads" as defined under the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System (US&R) -- now part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate (EP&R) of the Department of Homeland Security include units of the active duty military or National Guard? The laws governing the use of active duty personnel and equipment are very specific in regards to activities within the US, even in times of emergency. As for the Guard, the requirements for activation between a Governor and the President are distinct. I have yet to hear an interpretation of weather the "specialized rescue squads" are a small cadre of personnel assigned to FEMA, vice the widely held perception that FEMA could directly task Guard and active duty troops without the direct approval of the President, after an official request from the Governor.

Posted by: Andy Hargreaves | Sep 8, 2005 12:17:07 PM

Do the "specialized rescue squads" as defined under the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System (US&R) -- now part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate (EP&R) of the Department of Homeland Security include units of the active duty military or National Guard? The laws governing the use of active duty personnel and equipment are very specific in regards to activities within the US, even in times of emergency. As for the Guard, the requirements for activation between a Governor and the President are distinct. I have yet to hear an interpretation of weather the "specialized rescue squads" are a small cadre of personnel assigned to FEMA, vice the widely held perception that FEMA could directly task Guard and active duty troops without the direct approval of the President, after an official request from the Governor.

Posted by: Andy Hargreaves | Sep 8, 2005 12:17:40 PM

Do we really need a Congressional "whitewash" investigation to cover up the facts exposed here?

Why not just send the Committee members your piece? And send Speaker Hastert and President Bush a copy, along with someone to read it to them.

Posted by: Bonnie | Sep 8, 2005 12:19:46 PM

It just might be a fact that W declaration did not cover any parishes that bordered the Gulf.

Posted by: Chris | Sep 8, 2005 12:20:34 PM

I notice that both you and leading Democrats (Pelosi) are quick to attack the Bush administration, particularly Mike Brown, yet ignore questions surrounding the local officials in Louisiana who happen to be Democrats.

Since I'm neither a citizen of New Orleans nor of Louisianna I have less interest in those incomptent idiots. They must answer to their constituents. So must the Bush administration; And that means answering to the entire nation and not cravenly hiding behind the locals.

Whether he likes it or not, the buck stops at Bush.

Posted by: Sarcastro | Sep 8, 2005 12:21:16 PM

Thanks so much for setting the record straight. We have heard so much about buses being turned away to evacuate those without transportation. I would like to know the facts about that situation. Were there buses turned away or were buses requested and not forthcoming?

Posted by: Millie Kirkwood | Sep 8, 2005 12:24:02 PM

Balanced wrote:

===========================================
"I notice that both you and leading Democrats (Pelosi) are quick to attack the Bush administration, particularly Mike Brown, yet ignore questions surrounding the local officials in Louisiana who happen to be Democrats. For example, is it a fact that Blanco ordered FEMA and the Red Cross not to deliver supplies to the Superdome as some have suggested? Did Blanco refuse to federalize the National Guard when Bush asked? Those questions should be asked too."
===========================================
Nice attempt at spin, but no cigar.

1. Nagin is a Republican (he switched parties to get elected, but helped Bush and endorsed a Republican candidate). He's no more Democrat, as Strom Thurmond was a Republican.

2. The above is why there's a conflict between Nagin and Blanco (Blanco knows of the embarassment Nagin put her in, when he endorsed Bush for president in 2004, and Blanco Kerry).

This "miscommunication" will turn out to be that Nagin and Blanco were settling old political scores, which help kill New Orlean residents. What Nagin probably didn't think would occur, is Bush/DHS/FEMA royally dropping the ball.

That doesn't get Bush off the hook, because FEMA could've organized and had those relief trucks/helicopters/fixed wing aircraft at the state line ready to roll as soon as Bush issued the order. Supplies had to be loaded somewhere near Lousianna, so they could've been but hundred miles away just waiting to get to New Orleans.

EMS isn't just waiting to you get your orders THEN get the relief goods loaded. It's you're ready to roll out with the goods as soon as you got your orders.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | Sep 8, 2005 12:26:48 PM

I agree that all aspects of this incident should be reviewed! Not to apportion blame (exclusively), but to determin what needs to be changed! Afterall, this was a dressed rehersal for the "big one" that the Department of Homeland Security was created to react to.
If they can not rely on the locals, the locals should be taken out of the loop! If they can't respond as required by their plans, the plans must be changed. If their people are incompetent, reassign them to the department of former government officials!
43 Billion dollars later, we have created a department that failed in its charter, regardless of which party you are affiliated with. Why that happened needs to be determined, and that won't happen here!


Posted by: Bob | Sep 8, 2005 12:28:09 PM

How can it be that our Government's emergency response system is an illusion? A flimsy deck of cards built into a house that can collapse with one strong gust from a hurricane?

A week after the worst disaster in natural history, there is still chaos among the agencies. Rescue choppers sat on the ground for 34 hours waiting for clearance to rescue people. After the federal agencies got involved, they now sit in multiple briefings, cutting down time to get out and actually rescue people.

Agencies who did send relief found their trucks stuck in a 200 plus line waiting for entry to ground zero. In some instances upplies had to be re-sent by plane, picked up and hand delivered while the trucks were delayed getting provisions to those who needed it.

Police from around the country find themselves patroling the same New Orlean city blocks, and were not told until yesterday there was a makeshift jail to deposit the criminals they capture as they patrol the streets.

People being shuttled out of New Orleans are not being told until their plane is in flight that they are being deposited in Utah, Washington DC or wherever. Several people who arrived in DC demanded to be taken to TX or LA, so they could be closer to their home city and find their missing family members.

People in Mississippi do not have power for at least 100 miles and cannot use their credit cards. Gas is $6 a gallon in some places. People are being told to drive to two different locations to get ice and water. They are standing in each line anywhere from two to four hours. Some places designated as shelters are being shut down because they are not safe, and no one is manning them. Almost all the agencies are focusing their manpower on the more disastrous New Orleans.

And then there is the final New Orleans evacuation. The mayor wants everyone out, but understandably, people do not want to leave their homes and possessions and not return for months. But there are mixed signals. The mayor says it is a forced evacuation, and rumors are they will stop delivering water and food. The military says it is New Orleans responsibility to force evacuations, not theirs. And no one is saying what "forced" really means (dragging people out of their houses?) or when it will really be enforced. No one wants the bad PR that will surely accompany forced evacuations.

Now the Government is into damage control. Just like with Iraq, no one is allowed to photograph the dead. They do not want you to see the carnage they are responsible for.

When this is all over, people in America will realize it was our grass roots efforts across the nation that responded first. Every day Americans opened their pocketbooks, homes and hearts to help disaster shocked victims get through the worst natural disaster in our country's history.

All those in the Federal Government and at state and local levels will never accept responsibility for what happened. They are not going to admit they caused the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of humans and animals, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people - most who probably have never been out of their home state.

While I would like to see all those responsible put on trial for as accesories to negligent homicide, rape, robbery and animal abuse, that is not going to happen. A few Federal, state and local sacrificial lambs will be paraded before the public and the media spin game will die down.

But that will not save us the next time a natural disaster or a terrorist attack occurs.

The Federal Government needs to move FEMA back where it was as a cabinet post and hire someone qualified to run it - not someone's best friend from a horse show. They also need to shorten the phone tree and the time it takes to 1) give people the go ahead to respond and 2) provide a authorization number to cover labor and costs.

In some cases, the Government was waiting on bids before they got telecommunications infrastructure worked on. Have a once a year bid for services to be provided, so you can just activate them later.

The Government also needs to do a better job of communicating with disaster victims what is happening, and of keeping families together. Thousands of mothers are searching for their children among the over 100,000 children who were displaced. To send families to different locations with no means to get in touch with each other is cruel.

The Government also needs to find a way to keep pets with owners. Losing your home and possessions is one thing. Being told you have to abandon your pet to die is inhumane. The Government not only sentence countless pets to a watery grave, they created an unnecessary health risk.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, so we are at the peak of the season right now. This occurs every year, so the posibility of a big one slamming into Florida, the Gulf Coast or the East Coast is a sure thing. We need to be prepared for it.

We do not need a costly, lengthy Katrina Commission investigation that will further deplete the tax papers dollars.

We need for all the Federal, state and local agencies to sit down and say to each other - "What do you need to respond within 24 hours?" And do not worry about the cost.

We are spending $2 billion a day on Hurricane Katrina and $5-7 billion a day on the war in Iraq. This week the Government has a failing grade for both events in progress.

I get the feeling a lot of politicians are not going to get re-elected next go round.

Posted by: Jacki Whitford | Sep 8, 2005 12:28:37 PM

In response to Balanced: I had to laugh about your comment on Louisiana "Democrats." You obviously don't know our state's politics. Down here, Democrats are really Republicans in sheep's clothing, and almost all of them had supported Bush. Louisiana is most decidedly a conservative Republican state in actual fact if not in name. And it will be even after this Katrina debacle.

Posted by: Louisiana native | Sep 8, 2005 12:30:53 PM

The fact is this city is below sea level. They should have all left prior to the storm (the city/state could have moved them all). But they were thinking if the storm does not hit, then who would pay for the move. The city knew it could only handle a cat. 3 storm. If you want to find someone to blame then blame anyone that lives in a city below sea level. Now they want to use my taxes to rebuild it.

Posted by: Michael | Sep 8, 2005 12:31:08 PM

August 29, 2005 Monday 3:00 pm CST.

SECTION: PRESS CONFERENCE OR SPEECH
LENGTH: 3979 words

HEADLINE: PRESS CONFERENCE WITH LOUISIANA GOVERNOR KATHLEEN BLANCO; SENATOR MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA); SENATOR DAVID VITTER (R-LA); MICHAEL BROWN, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ADMINISTRATION

SUBJECT: HURRICANE KATRINA AND RECOVERY EFFORTS

GOV. BLANCO: Director Brown, I hope you will tell President Bush how much we appreciate it. These are the times that really count, to know that our federal government will step in and give us the kind of assistance that we need and are in desperate need of. So thank you for being here.

MR. BROWN: Thank you.

GOV. BLANCO: Director Brown.

MR. BROWN: Thank you very much, Governor.

Let me first say on behalf of President Bush and the first lady, extend their condolences and their prayers to everyone in Louisiana who has suffered from Hurricane Katrina. As a former governor, he understands exactly what it's like to go through these kinds of disasters, and I know personally that his heart aches when he sees these kinds of things.

I spoke to the president while he was traveling on Air Force One, Governor, and he has given me the verbal okay to let you know that he will be signing the Presidential Disaster Declaration to make this a major disaster declaration, giving us the full authority to exercise whatever we need to do and to spend whatever we need to spend to help the state of Louisiana recover. So that's a little bit of good news for you today, I hope.

I want to say a couple of things about Governor Blanco and her team. I have the best job and the worst job in the federal government, and I get to travel around and see some of the worst things that happen in this country. But I also get to see communities and states that come together and work together as a team. And I can tell you, Governor, that what I've seen here today is a team that is very tight-knit, working closely together, being very professional, and in my humble opinion making the right calls. We often tend to forget that, you know, we had hurricane-force winds still blowing through downtown New Orleans as short a time as an hour ago. And so you're making the right decisions about encouraging people not to move back in yet, to stay away.

Most deaths, most injuries from hurricanes occur after the storm has passed. So I would say to all folks in Louisiana, as you return to your homes when you're allowed to return to your homes, be careful. Don't get in that water. Watch the downed power lines. Watch for -- if you're going to use a chainsaw, know how to use the chainsaw. If you're going to have a generator, know how to exercise and how to operate the generator. Be very, very careful.

The storm is not over. Again, because of my unfortunate experience with hurricanes, everyone in Louisiana is going to get tired. You're going to get worn out. And so I say to everyone, be patient, be calm. FEMA -- my guarantee to you is that FEMA will stay here as long as we need to be here to help you in every way possible that we can help you.

You've got a good team. You've got a good start. Let's say that right now you're on your road to recovery.

So, Governor, good luck.

And I'd like to introduce Senator Landrieu and let her make a few comments.

Posted by: Kathleen | Sep 8, 2005 12:33:32 PM

Jacki Whitford wrote:

===========================================
"But there are mixed signals. The mayor says it is a forced evacuation, and rumors are they will stop delivering water and food. The military says it is New Orleans responsibility to force evacuations, not theirs. And no one is saying what "forced" really means (dragging people out of their houses?) or when it will really be enforced. No one wants the bad PR that will surely accompany forced evacuations."
===========================================

Oh, yeah!

Think about this scenerio: the police/NG troops are mostly white. They charge in with weapons (doesn't matter if they're pointed down, they're still armed) and literally drag out a Black grandma out of her home she's lived in all her life (passed on down the generations). That image will seer every prejudice, every bitterness known in the Black committee of injustice.

On the flip side of the coin, Middle America (already reeling over the Supreme Court decision that cities can take away homes for strip malls) will reel that any troop can take away their property in another way, too (remember Timothy McVeigh anyone??).

It's more than a PR disaster if it's enforced. No sane politician would want that to happen on their watch, now!

And the other angle: if Al qaeta or other unfriendlies get their hands on a TV or camera shot of that grandma pulled out of her home, say goodbye to USA sentiment around the world (as the rest of the world fears that the USA could do it to them, as well).

No, no, no.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | Sep 8, 2005 12:45:21 PM

I'm no legal expert, but I know the following:

1) 9/11 happened four years ago. We've had four years to work out any federalist issues.
2) Bush/Cheney ran on keeping us safe and having a better plan for catastrophic national threats of terror.
3) A national state of emergency saying that state and local resources were inadequate to the task was announced by the President the Saturday before the hurricane.
4) There was no significant federal response until the next Friday. The plan apparently includes federal officials being on vacation, no matter what the cost.

Regardless of whose fault this all was and how responsible New Orleans should have been, that's a pathetic response by FEMA, who has the primary role in national emergencies and by an administration that declared the state of emergency in the first place.

Since we all have an investment in federal responses to terrorist or catastrophic threats, the federal response is the one that concerns us the most as a country. If New Orleans and Louisiana are incompetent, that doesn't affect DC, New York City, or San Francisco so much.

Knowing that the Feds will take four days to mobilize when an emergency is telegraphed as obviously as New Orleans should scare the hell out of all of us and go far beyond politics. And that the average CNN viewer knew more about the New Orleans Convention Center than the head of FEMA is completely inexcusable.

These are our lives at stake and our families threatened here. Disasters like this are the definition of Homeland Security. Katrina could not have been avoided, but the death toll could have been minimized. And it wasn't.

Posted by: Mr. Obvious | Sep 8, 2005 12:53:09 PM

By appointing political hacks to run FEMA, (The top 4 employees, including Brown), George Bush was the architect of the disaster. I beleive that their appointments represent a culture of denial of education and expertise. Don't hire experienced educated people to run government agencies, reward your politcal allies with sinecures...FEMA had the tools to do a decent job, if run competently.

Deny the climate changing aspects of carbon production, deny expertise in planning Iraq (largely planned by an office lead by politcal hacks rather than generals), deny the necessity for building energy security with a move to reduce consumption.... On the whole, when you elect people born into privledge, who've never actually DONE anything.... Its no wonder the system fails... You get the government you deserve.

Posted by: Rick | Sep 8, 2005 12:54:33 PM

I agree that with a little homework one can figure out who is accountable and responsible (keep in mind the distinction: I choose to delegate and make another person responsible I am still accountable).

I suggest folks look through the National Response Plan (NRP). There are sections that outline the responsibility of Federal, State, and Local official. http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRP_FullText.pdf

Anyhow, I am attaching some references from press a press conference and the NRP that detail out what I am talking about here.

From the Whitehouse:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050831-2.html
Oh, a couple of other things, too. As you all are aware, Secretary Chertoff declared this an incident of national significance, which means that the national response plan that we have developed has been activated. This is the first time it's ever been activated. It's really there for major disasters or emergencies that really overwhelm state and local resources, and require coordination across the federal government to help the state and local efforts that are going on. And it enables us to really fully mobilize all agencies within the federal government under the Department of Homeland Security, under his oversight. " – Scott McClellan, Aug 31, 11:09AM EDT


From National Response Plan
December 2004
http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRP_FullText.pdf

Incident of National Significance. Based on criteria established in HSPD-5 (paragraph 4), an actual or potential high-impact event that requires a coordinated and effective response by and appropriate combination of Federal, State, local, tribal, nongovernmental, and/or private-sector entities in order to save lives and minimize damage, and provide the basis for long-term community recovery and mitigation activities.

"In an Incident of National Significance, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with other Federal departments and agencies, initiates actions to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the incident. These actions are taken in conjunction with State, local, tribal, nongovernmental, and private-sector entities."

"The President leads the Nation in responding effectively and ensuring the necessary resources are applied quickly and efficiently to all Incidents of National Significance. As necessary, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security convenes interagency meetings to coordinate policy issues. Though White House-level coordination mechanisms are not described in detail in the NRP, all other Federal coordinating mechanisms and entities described in the NRP support, and are consistent with, White House-level interagency coordination.

During actual or potential Incidents of National Significance, the overall coordination of Federal incident management activities is executed through the Secretary of Homeland Security

--------
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency
Assistance Act, [..] establishes the programs and processes for the Federal Government

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