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Governor Blanco; 24-hour delay


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New Orleans Mayor Slams Governor Blanco for 24-Hour Delay

Sep 5, 2005

 

The blame game for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is on.  Pundits, politicians and anyone with a forum is trying to blame someone for the natural disaster that hit just east of New Orleans one week ago.

 

Much has been made of the rift between President George W. Bush and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.  The New Orleans mayor has also been quite outspoken, and he has had plenty to say.

 

On Monday morning the mayor seemed to take sides.  He chose President Bush and slammed the Governor for what he called a "24-hour delay" that Blanco needed to make a decision.

 

From CNN:

 

NAGIN: Look, I've gotten promises to -- I can't stand anymore promises. I don't want to hear anymore promises. I want to see stuff done. And that's why I'm so happy that the President came down here, because I think they were feeding him a line of bull also. And they were telling him things weren't as bad as it was.

 

He came down and saw it, and he put a general on the field. His name is General Honore. And when he hit the field, we started to see action.

 

And what the state was doing, I don't frigging know. But I tell you, I am pissed. It wasn't adequate.

 

And then, the President and the Governor sat down. We were in Air Force One. I said, 'Mr. President, Madam Governor, you two have to get in sync. If you don't get in sync, more people are going to die.'

 

S. O'BRIEN: What date was this? When did you say that? When did you say...

 

NAGIN: Whenever air Force One was here.

 

S. O'BRIEN: OK.

 

NAGIN: And this was after I called him on the telephone two days earlier. And I said, 'Mr. President, Madam Governor, you two need to get together on the same page, because of the lack of coordination, people are dying in my city.'

 

S. O'BRIEN: That's two days ago.

 

NAGIN: They both shook -- I don't know the exact date. They both shook their head and said yes. I said, 'Great.' I said, 'Everybody in this room is getting ready to leave.' There was senators and his cabinet people, you name it, they were there. Generals. I said, 'Everybody right now, we're leaving. These two people need to sit in a room together and make a doggone decision right now.'

 

S. O'BRIEN: And was that done?

 

NAGIN: The President looked at me. I think he was a little surprised. He said, "No, you guys stay here. We're going to another section of the plane, and we're going to make a decision."

 

He called me in that office after that. And he said, "Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor." I said -- and I don't remember exactly what. There were two options. I was ready to move today. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision.

 

S. O'BRIEN: You're telling me the President told you the Governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision?

 

NAGIN: Yes.

 

S. O'BRIEN: Regarding what? Bringing troops in?

 

NAGIN: Whatever they had discussed. As far as what the -- I was abdicating a clear chain of command, so that we could get resources flowing in the right places.

 

S. O'BRIEN: And the Governor said no.

 

NAGIN: She said that she needed 24 hours to make a decision. It would have been great if we could of left Air Force One, walked outside, and told the world that we had this all worked out. It didn't happen, and more people died.

 

CNN noted that they had put a call into Governor Blanco's office.

 

"They declined to come on our show this morning and talk to us. Her spokesperson did say, though, that it was a -- this was a tragedy now that was being reduced to politics," the transcript notes.

 

Yikes.  No wonder Governor Blanco is so angry.  If this conversation gets more play, the governor is going to get some well deserved grief from all sides.

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Ghost Plan for a Ghost Town

Ghastly oversight in New Orleans.

 

By Chris Regan & Bryan Preston

 

Until it became known as the city of looters threatening jihad against Red Cross rescue workers, New Orleans, Louisiana was known as a city of ghosts. A walk through its French Quarter made clear why. Stately homes dating back to the city's founding look out on streets that have seen war, flood, storm, and pestilence over the centuries. Those floods used to literally raise the dead: The water table is so shallow in the Mississippi delta that even a slight rain would make buried coffins float. City residents eventually tired of seeing Uncle Etienne, dead ten years, riding the rapids down Canal Street after the latest spring shower, so they started placing all of their dead in above-ground mausoleums. But the ghosts, it was said, still stalked the streets, haunting the city whose spongy ground and seasonal storms had disturbed their eternal rest.

 

After hurricane Katrina, thousands of new ghosts will take up the march. Their lives, history will record, were taken not so much by yet another natural disaster, but by a human-made disaster of epic scale. If you go looking for these ghosts, any New Orleans bus lot will be a good place to start.

 

 

The Lesson of Georges

The story of buses has become the seminal tale of dereliction in New Orleans. Though the city owned hundreds of buses, it failed to use them to move its most vulnerable citizens — vulnerable either because of poverty or physical infirmity — out of the bowl-shaped city to safe higher ground. Initially it seemed as if the city that knew the levees protecting it would one day break just didn't have a plan to move so many people to safety. But it turns out that emergency-preparedness officials in New Orleans did have a plan, and they did think to use buses to evacuate the city before a major hurricane. They just decided not to fully implement it as Plan A. The plan was developed as a hurricane Georges lesson learned. This appeared in an article that appeared in November 2004 in the Natural Hazards Observer:

 

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 for 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.

 

So the question after dodging the Georges bullet seemed to be, "Do we figure out a way to use buses or do we allow 50,000 people to die for the crime of not having a car?" They chose Plan B.

 

Hurricanes come in cycles of frequency and activity. Meteorologists don't really know why, other than that it might have something to do with solar activity and shifting deep sea currents (but responsible scientists do know the hurricane cycle has nothing to do with humans burning fossil fuels). We are currently at the cusp of an intensification of hurricanes. We can expect more of them, and we can expect more of them to be strong.

 

As the hurricane cycle kept building in the last decade or so, there were increasing calls to create a real evacuation plan. Many of those who pleaded for the use of buses will come forward soon, but for everyone who does, there are others who do not have the strength to come forward. They can't hack their way out of their attics right now to tell us their side of it. And the journalists at the New Orleans Times-Picayune are no longer interested in speaking on their behalf. As their "Open Letter to the President" shows, they're now the spokesmen for other political interests. It didn't used to be that way until the inevitable happened. Now they have circled the wagons to protect the guilty and accuse the innocent.

 

Each hurricane season Louisiana officials decided to play a game of Russian roulette with those lives. They knew disaster would eventually strike, but gambled that it would happen on someone else's watch. They did take the action that nervous officials typically take: They formed a working group to reassure themselves and look busy to everyone else. According to that Natural Hazards Observer article from November 2004, here's what the hard-charging working group came up with:

 

Unwilling to merely accept this reality, emergency managers and representatives of nongovernmental disaster organizations, local universities, and faith based organizations have formed a working group to engage additional faith-based organizations in developing ride-sharing programs between congregation members with cars and those without. In the wake of Ivan’s near miss, this faith-based initiative has become a catalyst in the movement to make evacuation assistance for marginalized groups (those without means of evacuation) a top priority for all levels of government.

 

So a working group decided that the workable solution to the problem of thousands of stranded citizens was to ask churches to set up a giant car-pool system. The plan further called for a DVD to get the word out, which was still in production when Katrina struck. A cynic might say that such a plan was drafted so city officials could say they had a real evacuation plan, written down on official letterhead and signed and announced and all of the other things that make bureaucrats swoon, but was in point of fact yet another exercise in passing the buck to the next schmuck to occupy the conference-table chair. If it was a real plan, it doesn't seem a stretch to say that as hurricane Katrina bore down on the Big Easy, the real plan really failed.

 

More hurricane lessons from Georges and actions for Ivan, from the Natural Hazards Observer:

 

To aid in the evacuation, transportation officials instituted contraflow evacuation for the first time in the area’s history whereby both lanes of a 12-mile stretch of Interstate 10 were used to facilitate the significantly increased outbound flow of traffic toward the northwest and Baton Rouge. The distance of the contraflow was limited due to state police concerns about the need for staff to close the exits. And, although officials were initially pleased with the results, evacuees felt the short distance merely shifted the location of the major jams.

 

You read it right: "for the first time in the area's history."

 

So not only did officials keep putting bus-utilization plans on hold, they only began using an ineffectively implemented contraflow system last year. The contraflow plan was to turn both sides of the highways into outgoing lanes, but all that did was move traffic tie-ups from nearer the city to the points where the contraflow was ended. And they couldn't make the entire highways contraflow for miles and miles because some lanes were needed to get things into the city (rescuers, etc.). City officials barely even scratched the surface of what could have been possible in competently evacuating that city using an early-warning system, buses, and contraflow.

 

 

Third Time's a Disaster

The result was that in the worst-case scenario. The Natural Hazards Observer again:

 

Regional and national rescue resources would have to respond as rapidly as possible and would require augmentation by local private vessels (assuming some survived). And, even with this help, federal and state governments have estimated that it would take 10 days to rescue all those stranded within the city. No shelters within the city would be free of risk from rising water. Because of this threat, the American Red Cross will not open shelters in New Orleans during hurricanes greater than category 2; staffing them would put employees and volunteers at risk. For Ivan, only the Superdome was made available as a refuge of last resort for the medically challenged and the homeless.

 

It was to take ten days for rescue to get everyone out, not counting the dead. And city and state officials knew it would take ten days. For them to cry in the current crisis that 72 hours is unacceptable rings more than a little hollow.

 

Now we see belatedly that there never was a reasonable local evacuation plan or shelters with a hope of withstanding a real hurricane. And the communication process before the storm was as atrocious as the plan itself. It was no different for hurricane Ivan:

 

As Ivan charged through the Gulf of Mexico, more than a million people were urged to flee. Forecasters warned that a direct hit on the city could send torrents of Mississippi River backwash over the city's levees, creating a 20-foot-deep cesspool of human and industrial waste.

 

Residents with cars took to the highways. Others wondered what to do.

 

In this case, city officials first said they would provide no shelter, then agreed that the state-owned Louisiana Superdome would open to those with special medical needs. Only Wednesday afternoon, with Ivan just hours away, did the city open the 20-story-high domed stadium to the public. Mayor Ray Nagin's spokeswoman, Tanzie Jones, insisted that there was no reluctance at City Hall to open the Superdome, but said the evacuation was the top priority.

 

"Our main focus is to get the people out of the city," she said.

 

Callers to talk radio complained about the late decision to open up the dome, but the mayor said he would do nothing different.

 

"We did the compassionate thing by opening the shelter," Nagin said. "We wanted to make sure we didn't have a repeat performance of what happened before. We didn't want to see people cooped up in the Superdome for days."

 

When another dangerous hurricane, Georges, appeared headed for the city in 1998, the Superdome was opened as a shelter and an estimated 14,000 people poured in. But there were problems, including theft and vandalism.

 

 

 

Katrina was a three-peat major hurricane failure in planning. City and state officialdom didn't do enough after Georges warned them, kept hoping against hope when Ivan spared them, and have now reaped the mighty whirlwind of Katrina. When compassion is defined as delay and the subject is hurricanes, you are asking for a serious catastrophe. President Bush's call during the height of Katrina interrupted that compassionate liberalism. The goal of the locals was to avoid a mandatory evacuation that would cause trouble by having too many people in the shelter of last resort with too little security and no food or water. The goal was to fool more people to stay home or leave so that the city didn't look bad or descend into violent chaos if it took a direct hit. The mayor knew the danger of mass chaos with too many stuck in the Dome and planned for none of it.

 

Now we know that had Katrina held its strength and course at Cat 5+ it would have probably ripped most of the roof right off the Superdome. And the roof in that design is what holds the walls up. That was the other part of the scam. Nobody really knows if the Dome could take over 130MPH sustained, though they claimed a 200MPH design.

 

So the Louisiana state governor and emergency-preparedness officials allowed them to get by all these years with a sham plan that doesn't appear to even meet state standards. And guess what? Oh yeah, the state didn't even measure up to the federal requirements either:

 

Other federal and state officials pointed to Louisiana's failure to measure up to national disaster response standards, noting that the federal plan advises state and local emergency managers not to expect federal aid for 72 to 96 hours, and base their own preparedness efforts on the need to be self-sufficient for at least that period. "Fundamentally the first breakdown occurred at the local level," said one state official who works with FEMA. 'Did the city have the situational awareness of what was going on within its borders? The answer was no."

 

This is why every city must have sharp leadership, and a disciplined, non-corrupt police force that won't melt away into the population when under attack, like Saddam's army. And every state must have a governor who, when under pressure to perform, will not freeze and cry before consulting with lawyers and advisers before freezing up again in a passive-aggressive way that shifts blame to those trying to help. That's what we're all supposed to get in exchange for the big salaries, fancy dinners, 24-hour security, and other perks that go with the powerful political jobs. We give our politicians quite a lot. Is it too much to ask them to prepare for disasters in ways that won't get us all killed?

 

New Orleans is a major port of entry and exit for commerce. It's sinking into a bowl and is threatened by a gulf, a lake, and a river. It needed leadership, but what New Orleans had was an old political machine, a corrupt police force, and no real disaster leadership. Since the state knew of the problems with that police force though, the Louisiana National Guard could have had a dedicated special force with a plan to secure the city after the big one. A whole team of fast boats and such could have been training for years and deployed immediately to not just rescue but to keep order. That's the governor's job to think up something creative like that, not the feds. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. And here come the ghosts.

 

When you're clearly vulnerable to a nuke-sized catastrophe every summer, and you fake your emergency preparation like you've got it all under control, and then you still pretend that you have things under control even after it's perfectly obvious that everything has spun out of control, then you shouldn't blame others for being angry at the negligence. Who would want to have that many dead on their watch? You have to assume they had done everything humanly possible to save lives. But Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin did not even come close. Neither did others before them. Local leaders kept pulling the disaster trigger, but got empty chambers. Blanco and Nagin were just the unlucky pair who got the bullet.

 

It seems as though emergency planners in New Orleans gave up serious disaster preparedness a long time ago, even as the hurricane cycle swung toward intensity. They counted on luck and instantaneous "rescue welfare." Only the recent hurricane cycle woke them up. Slightly. They were still half asleep, under a strong spell of complacency any New Orleans voodoo witch would have been proud of casting. Anyone left out of the evacuation plan was given a massive overdose of false hope. It was playing Russian roulettewith 50,000 people, first fearing, then knowingthis time that the fatal bullet had moved into the chamber offshore, just praying that it didn't actually go off when the trigger was pulled at the shoreline and hoping to blame the world's universal scapegoat, George Bush, for racist genocide if it did.

 

The levees were designed to protect against hurricanes only in the lowest three of five categories of intensity, Strock said. Katrina was Category Four when it hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday.

"We figured we had a 200- or 300-year level of protection. That means that an event that we were protecting from might be exceeded every 200 or 300 years," Strock told reporters. "So we had an assurance that 99.5 percent, this would be OK. We, unfortunately, have had that 0.5 percent activity here."

 

"The intensity of this storm simply exceeded the design capacity of this levee."

 

 

Plans, working groups, more plans, an in-progress DVD, a near-miss, a relieved sigh, a folding of the hands, and then back to sleep. The city and state had directives to plan the planning session to start the process of making a plan, but little in the way of any real plan to deal with a real disaster. So the buses sat in their lots. The winds and the floods came, the unlucky local officials kicked in Plan B, and the city of New Orleans drowned with its least fortunate trapped inside. The evacuation plan was a plan, but it was really just a ghost plan with ghost buses and ghost drivers, with ghost emergency supplies kept in ghost "shelters" under control of a ghost police force with a ghost emergency communications system overseen by a ghastly governor.

 

It was a plan for a ghost town. That plan worked.

 

And here come the ghosts.

 

We'd better learn from them. The countless dead will expect nothing less.

 

 

Louisiana's plan

 

New Orleans's Plan

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The trouble at the local level

Linda Chavez

September 7, 2005

 

"You and your family (yes, your children, too) should be dropped right in the middle of New Orleans and be forced to live there for three days, and maybe then your tight grip on the GOP might be loosened and you'll be awakened to the failures of the incompetent man sitting in the White House."

 

Such is the vitriol spewing forth in the aftermath of Katrina from those who believe George W. Bush is responsible for all of life's misfortunes. I received this hateful e-mail after commenting on television that while the federal response to the crisis has shouldered most of the criticism, state and local officials bore major responsibility for the chaos that enveloped New Orleans in the immediate wake of the hurricane.

 

As it happened, my youngest son, Rudy, was in New Orleans as the storm approached the Gulf Coast, so I was acutely focused on what actions were being taken to evacuate the city. On Aug. 27, with the hurricane gaining force in the Gulf, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called for a voluntary evacuation of the city. But even after he ordered a mandatory evacuation the next day, he made no plans to transport the elderly, the infirm, or those too poor to get themselves out, much less thousands of tourists stranded without cars. On the afternoon of Aug. 27, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco held a press briefing in which she answered a question about what could be done to avert disaster: "We can pray very hard that the intensity will weaken. We don't know what it's going to be yet, but we're all watching the weather service. I believe that's the best we can do right now." It was at that point that I knew my son was in real trouble.

 

The governor had the power to call out the National Guard in advance of the storm. Indeed, it was imperative that she do so if troops were to be available in the immediate hours after the hurricane hit since it takes 72 hours to fully mobilize. Gov. Blanco delayed taking crucial actions -- in fact, it was the president who called her to plead that she declare an emergency. "Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding," the Associated Press reported Aug. 28.

 

The city had hundreds of vehicles at its disposal: school buses, city buses, garbage trucks, and city cars. But the mayor failed to mobilize these or to set up procedures for all city employees to be available to assist in keeping order and organizing evacuation. For those unlucky enough to end up at the Superdome, no plans were in place to get thousands of desperate people out of there once the winds died down. My son was able to get out on Sunday before the storm hit. Thanks to quick thinking, lots of determination and a measure of good fortune, he managed to get a rental car at New Orleans airport and drove to Baton Rouge with four friends. But others were not so lucky.

 

In our federal system of government, the national government does not step in -- even in dire emergency -- until state officials request that help. But what do you do when those officials are dysfunctional, as they clearly were in Louisiana? According to The Washington Post, federal officials have asked the governor for "unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law." And, the Post reported, "Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said."

 

No doubt, the federal response to this crisis was far from flawless, but at the end of the day, it was federal troops that restored order, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that plugged breaches in the levees, and federal forces that ultimately evacuated thousands of those trapped. Instead of blaming federal authorities, the country ought to be giving thanks.

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Was President Bush forced to use the Insurrection Act?

Barbara J. Stock

September 6, 2005

 

 

Hurricanes do not sneak up on people. Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes don't just reach down out of the dark storm clouds to wreak havoc on humanity. Hurricanes are tracked, named, have warning flags dedicated to them, and all coastal cities have long-standing plans for dealing with them. Nearly everyone in the world knew Katrina was going to hit Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and yet, so many have died in New Orleans. Why?

 

Hurricane Katrina struck the tip of southern Florida as a category 1 hurricane and made a beeline for the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. For three days Katrina churned her way across the Gulf, growing in size and strength until she was a monster storm. With sustained winds of over 175 mph, Katrina bore down on the city of New Orleans. Literally, at the last possible moment, Katrina was pushed, ever-so-slightly, by dry air from the Midwest, off to the East and dropped from a category 5 to a high category 4 with sustained winds of 160 mph. Katrina was still a killer storm by anyone's description. For three long days, the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans watched Katrina bear down on their state and city respectively but took very little action to protect their citizens other than to state the obvious: "Leave town." No assistance was offered to the poor or elderly.

 

Aerial views of New Orleans have shown pictures of hundreds of buses, left parked and unused. Why didn't the mayor of New Orleans activate those buses to move the people out of the city who wanted to leave but had no way out? Why was this golden opportunity to save lives left parked, only to be lost to the flood waters? This from the Louisiana disaster plan, pg. 13, paragraph 5, dated 01/00:

 

"The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating'..."

 

Why was the city's own disaster plan for using those buses to evacuate people not implemented? Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin had three days to evacuate the poor and elderly from New Orleans but they did not. Why?

 

While the governors of both Mississippi and Alabama put in a formal request for federal assistance before Katrina even made landfall, the governor of Louisiana refused to relinquish any of her power for the good of the people. Now she and her party point the finger of blame at the White House.

 

Liberal blogs and websites are pointing to the Department of Homeland Security's website which states that it can take control in any disaster, natural or otherwise, but this is not true. The Department of Homeland Security can only work with the state and local officials in organizing relief efforts such as food, water, and shelter. There is no military arm of the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the military is what was needed and everyone knew that.

 

Instead of asking why the Democratic leaders of Louisiana failed the people, these sites post disgusting pictures of floating bodies with the message: "George Bush did nothing." The truth is the Democratic governor wouldn't allow Bush to do anything. That floating body belongs to Governor Blanco. She is the one who "did nothing."

 

Roving bands of violent criminals quickly took control of the streets. While Mayor Nagin did declare martial law, it was a toothless declaration. The New Orleans police department was instantly overwhelmed. Many policemen just threw up their hands and walked off the job. Some joined the looters and were videotaped by MSNBC "shopping" in the local Wal-mart. The handful that was left on the job did their best but the best they could do was try to stay alive in a now lawless and dying city.

 

Because there was no one in charge, the initial rescue operations were feeble at best and there was chaos. The scope and magnitude of the disaster, which covers an area the size of Great Britain, still had not been realized by Governor Blanco who steadfastly refused to declare martial law and officially request that the federal government "send in the troops."

 

It has come to light that all during the night on Friday, September 2, the president of the United States was forced to "negotiate" with Governor Blanco for the lives of the suffering and dying people of New Orleans. She feared that allowing the federal government to take control would make her administration appear as though it had failed. How she would be judged was more important to her than the lives of those people who were dying in the squalor. How many died as Blanco maneuvered to protect her reputation?

 

The Posse Comitatus Act prevents, by federal law, the president of the United States from sending federal troops into any state without the direct request of the elected governor of that state. A frustrated President Bush could only stand by and watch as the horror unfolded until he received the request for help. Despite the finger-pointing at President Bush, there was little that he could do until he was formally asked for assistance. No matter how loudly the liberals scream, they know full well that the president was helpless to do much of anything.

 

As the death toll rose and the animalistic behavior of some of those who chose to remain within the city became public knowledge, it was obvious that authorities needed to regain control. As the scenes from New Orleans, now a national disgrace, were being beamed around the world, a shameless Governor Blanco only cared about her own political image.

 

There is reason to believe that President Bush, running out of patience with Blanco by Saturday morning, used the only option that remained to him. It is being reported that Bush went around Blanco and utilized the Insurrection Act to federalize the National Guard and send in active military troops to take over the rescue and put down the lawlessness that had taken over New Orleans. The forces that Bush had poised to move into the city, swung into action. It was no accident that the major, organized rescues began when the sun came up Saturday morning. At 6:30 AM, when the sky over New Orleans was suddenly filled with military helicopters and military convoys poured into the streets, they were there because of President Bush, not Governor Blanco.

 

The largest military evacuation the world has ever seen moved with the precision and efficiency that is only seen within the military. With men like Lt. General Russel Honore, 1st Army Commander and Army Brigadier General Mark Graham in charge, law and order was quickly restored, and an endless line of helicopters and boats began removing the stranded people and taking them out of the hell-hole called New Orleans. Those forces were ready to act because the President of the United States had positioned them to be ready.

 

Everyone demands answers and everyone wants to put the blame for this catastrophe on someone. The most convenient person to blame is President Bush. In truth, he is the least responsible on the local level. While the liberals feel this is the perfect time to make political hay because so many African-Americans are involved, the first line of defense for those people, the mayor of New Orleans and governor of Louisiana, both Democrats, are the leaders that failed them. The people of New Orleans were abandoned by an arrogant governor and a hapless mayor as both struggled to save their own political careers. But, because they are both Democrats, the leftists want these ineffective leaders seen as helpless victims of a thoughtless and racist Bush who ignored their repeated pleas for help.

 

Mayor Nagin has been reduced to babbling about how the CIA is out to kill him because he "spoke his mind," and Governor Blanco has become the invisible woman hoping that no one will notice that her gross incompetence and arrogance cost lives. But the left marches on, blaming President Bush because it knows it can. Most Americans are not aware of the laws preventing the federal government from "taking over" a city or a state.

 

The party has closed ranks around its incompetent members and blames the president who was forced to "deal" with an inept governor. Governor Blanco's thanks is to point the finger of blame back at the president when she knows the fault is her own.

 

The Democratic Party could not possibly sink much lower than it has this past week. The mayor, the governor, and all those liberal websites, blogs, and shrieking leftist politicians should jump into the sewer water that now flows in the streets of New Orleans. That's where they belong, with the rest of the floating waste. The Democratic or "Progressive" party should be buried with the dead. Cause of death: Gross incompetence, asphyxiation from lies, and the failure to accept responsibility for the deaths of thousands of American citizens because power meant more to them than lives.

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So why didn't FEMA bother visiting Biloxi until a day after Bush managed to? Why did FEMA turn away 3 Walmart trucks full of water and ice heading into New Orleans? Why is Trent Lott begging Bush to get FEMA to release the relief supplies sitting in trailers in a parking lot?

 

This is a larger story and will come down to failures at all levels. Hell, even UPS bailed out and couldn't/wouldn't figure a system to get supplies and aid into the affected areas.

 

But in the end, I believe the record will show that FEMA was grossly incompetent and failed the leadership test. And now Bush is getting burned for it.

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I think it was more a case that everyone thought someone else was supposed to be doing something, and no one knew who was supposed to be doing what.

 

This is what Homeland Security states is their mission from the

Homeland Security Website:

 

 

In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort.  

 

 

 

and this is what FEMA stated their mission is from a memo dated August 29, after the hurricane struck.

 

EXCERPTS FROM THE MEMO:

 

Role of Assigned Personnel:

Establish and maintain positive working relationships with disaster affected communities and the citizens of those communities.

 

Collect and disseminate information and make referrals for appropriate assistance.

 

Identification of potential issues within the community and reporting to appropriate personnel.

 

Convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public.

 

Perform outreach with community leaders on available Federal disaster assistance.

 

FEMA MEMO FROM AUGUST 29

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and my final comments (yes final)

 

How many days does any government official, local state or federal, need to watch CNN and see that it's 98 degrees in New Orleans and Mississippi, and that there are thousands of people there with no food and water, including children, elderly and disabled, and NOT lift a finger to help?

 

I was told that it was impossible to drop food or water to these people, but for the last 5 days, food and water has been dropped all over Southern Louisiana and Mississippi, though there's still some gaps....but why wasn't it done the first 4 days?

 

Because only the starving, dehydrated and dying asked for it? and that wasn't the correct procedure in the "rule book"?

 

Let's face it, hurricanes hit somewhere along the coast several times a year...and each time local governments order an evacuation, and each year millions of people hit the road to sit in huge traffic jams on the interstate, and many more people don't evacuate.

 

And since there isn't total devastation afterwards, or because the total devastation is confined to a small area, no one ever brings up the subject afterwards that someone should have put all the people unable to evacuate in busses and gotten them out of harm's way.

 

Even here in Florida local shelters are opened up all over the targeted area after a mandatory evacuation order is issued...we don't provide public transportation to evacuate people out of the area.

 

The next time a large-scale disaster happens, it will be somewhere else in the country. Who will have the experience to adequately respond to it? The Federal Government who deals with disasters regularly? or the local government with no experience?

 

As I've said previously, the long-term concern should be to identify and fix the response problems is the federal government, because they are the ones getting the big bucks to take care of large-scale disasters, the ones claiming responsibility, and there are hundreds of thousands of mayors, and 50 governors, and it's impossible to ensure that all of them are up to the task of handling a large scale disaster or that they have read "the rule book".

 

The mayor didn't offer any transportation to get his people or the stranded tourists out of harms way or try to evacuate nursing homes, hospitals, or colleges because it would have cost a whole lot of $$$ and taken a lot of work, and he would have been critcized afterwards for doing so if the storm had changed course, just like every other local government in the US does when there is a hurricane approaching.

 

The governor asked for help but refused to relinquish power? I don't understand why that prevented food and water drops for 4 days.  I haven't noticed Jeb Bush, our governor, relinquishing any power during disasters.  And it does seem that the governor of LA is an incompetent boob, but anyone who has had a job or dealt with any government employee knows that you find incompetent boobs everywhere....and you have to work around that person to get the job done. You don't let people die of thirst waiting for the incompetent boob to become more competent, it aint' gonna happen.

 

It seems to me that the rulebook needs to be changed to say something like "Politicians can argue endlessly over who is in charge here, but in the meantime, someone with food and water should take it to disaster victims"

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MAYOR Nagin IS SENDING 1500 FIRST RESPONDERS TO VEGAS FOR R&R??????

His explanation? "New Orleans is a Party city--get over it."

What the FUCK!!! ARE YOU SHITTING ME? Damn--that's inexcusable!!!

OKAY--I know they are under unimaginable stress--but WHAT THE FUCK??

Damn--Daytona Spirit--I can't wait to see your justification for this one.

Like I said--you get what you elect--and it looks to me like New Orleans might have had a BIG HAND in fucking itself!!!

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After 2 committed suicide.  They are near the end of the rope and the cavalary has arrived to relieve them.

Well that's all fine and good--and I do sympathise with them.

BUT--1 week?

Does that mean the cavalry leaves in a week to R&R  in Vegas?

Damn--that would make some headlines, and send Lisa right into a hell of a frenzy.

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Hell, I spent a year in Iraq and this was my 2nd time. Do I get a "Paid Vacation" to Las Vegas?   Oh HELL NO!

 

Suck it up....ITS YOUR JOB! :Furious:

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Ed, can you please supply a creditable source to verify the information you posted?

 

I have been unable to find any confirmation for your story on the Internet or on the news channels, and the mayor and police chief of New Orleans just held a press conference, and the subject was not discussed, and I can't believe that not one of those reporters would have let it pass by.

 

Or are you just making shit up as you go along?  :How-Rude:

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Ed, can you please supply a creditable source to verify the information you posted?

 

I have been unable to find any confirmation for your story on the Internet or on the news channels, and the mayor and police chief of New Orleans just held a press conference, and the subject was not discussed, and I can't believe that not one of those reporters would have let it pass by.

 

Or are you just making shit up as you go along?  :How-Rude:

Sounds made up doesn't it.

Hard to believe?

Some are already there.

I'll try to post this link if it doesn't work just go to the FOX New site--Britt hume Report and watch it.

Britt Humes Grapevine.

Grapevine

No I'm not making shit up.

Try changing channels from CNN for a change--there's a lot out there besides the Liberal viewpoint.

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Ed, can you please supply a creditable source to verify the information you posted?

 

I have been unable to find any confirmation for your story on the Internet or on the news channels, and the mayor and police chief of New Orleans just held a press conference, and the subject was not discussed, and I can't believe that not one of those reporters would have let it pass by.

 

Or are you just making shit up as you go along?  :How-Rude:

Posted on Mon, Sep. 05, 2005

Living graveyard emerges

By Chris Adams, Susannah A. Nesmith and Martin Merzer

 

NEW ORLEANS - On Sunday, the mayor of New Orleans said he would surrender control of his shattered, nearly abandoned city to federal and state officials, and authorities issued dire predictions of the human cost of Hurricane Katrina.

 

"We need to prepare the country for what's coming," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Sunday. "We are going to uncover people who died hiding in the houses, maybe got caught in floods. It is going to be as ugly a scene as you can imagine."

 

Late Sunday, Mayor Ray Nagin told Knight Ridder that his entire police force would be pulled off the streets by Tuesday and all firefighters, paramedics and emergency dispatchers also were being sidelined.

 

He noted that two police officers committed suicide in recent days, and he said the other uniformed officers were traumatized by recent events.

 

National Guard troops and state law enforcement officers will replace them, he said.

 

"I'm taking them out of here as quickly as I can," Nagin said. "I'm not going to sit back and let another one die."

 

Nagin, who has been demanding more federal assistance for days as his city struggled with refugees, death and flooding, said he had asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for the trips but the agency said it could not. He said the city, therefore, would pay the costs.

 

He said he believed there were now enough National Guard members in the city to allow the police to take a break and still keep the city secure, and he brushed off questions about whether such a trip might look like a dereliction of duty.

 

"I'll take the heat on that," Nagin said. "We want to cater to them."

 

His words were seconded by the police superintendent, P. Edwin Compass III, in a separate interview.

 

"When you go through something this devastating and traumatic, you've got to do something dramatic to jump-start the healing process," Compass said.

 

The officials were planning to send 1,500 workers -- about 900 of them police officers -- out in two shifts for five days each and were sending them to Las Vegas because of the availability of hotel rooms, and to Atlanta where many of them had relatives.

 

They said they were trying to get the first officers on their way today and the first stop would be Baton Rouge, about 75 miles from here.

 

There the officers will be given physical examinations and inoculations against possible infection from the polluted floodwaters, said Col. Terry Ebbert, the director of homeland security for the city.

 

Then, Ebbert and other officials said, those who want to go to Las Vegas will be given air transportation and a hotel room.

 

The city is reserving hotel rooms in Baton Rouge, they said, adding that the officers and firefighters may also be given the choice of flying to Atlanta or other cities.

 

Nagin's comments came after police exchanged gunfire with at least six suspected looters under the Danziger Bridge. Capt. Jeff Winn said three looters were killed and at least one wounded.

 

In a separate incident, a helicopter lay on its side in New Orleans after an apparent crash landing Sunday night. Details weren't immediately available, but early reports said two crew members suffered injuries.

 

Chertoff's comments and others by federal officials echoed the foreboding prophecies of state and city officials and seemed designed to condition Americans for death counts that could reach startling proportions.

 

President Bush on Sunday called Katrina, which struck the area last Monday, a "tidal wave of disaster."

 

Louisiana officials released their first official death toll -- 59 -- but said they already knew of 100 other victims in the state, and they expected the number to rise precipitously as attention turned from searching for survivors to recovering the dead.

 

"We were working for the living, and now we are working for the dead and the living," said Dr. Louis Cataldie, a state medical official in Louisiana. "It's pretty tough, pulling out dead bodies."

 

In St. Gabriel, La., northwest of New Orleans, authorities guarded a 125,000-square-foot warehouse transformed into a morgue capable of holding more than 1,000 bodies.

 

Residents said refrigerated and other trucks had been stopping there for days, though no one knew if any bodies had been delivered.

 

"I wasn't able to help the living," said St. Gabriel Mayor George Grace, "so I was not at all upset about having a suitable place to house the dead."

 

In the New Orleans area, here and there, down this blocked street and around that tattered corner, portions of the city blinked back to life. Some people emerged from their homes for the first time in almost a week; some traffic lights even burst into green, yellow and red.

 

"Today, Sunday -- right now -- this is the first time I've come out," said Deborah Phelps, 56, of the Bywater section, near the French Quarter.

 

And so, also on the seventh day, clergy and their flocks prayed for the souls of the dead -- and for deliverance of the living.

 

"God didn't bring this destruction on us," Vince Munoz of Biloxi, Miss., told 40 people at what little was left of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Biloxi, where congregants worshipped in an outdoor courtyard under the speckled shade of gnarled oak trees.

 

"It's the nature of the planet since the Garden of Eden," he said. "God is using this to help us reach out to each other."

 

Throughout the region, people did reach out to each other, often with sad results.

 

Rescue teams along the upper Gulf Coast struggled to gain access to wrecked inland communities, and when they did reach them, they often discovered bodies.

 

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said 12 fatalities were found in Laurel, Miss., almost 100 miles inland.

 

In the largely dead city of New Orleans, an odd, eerie sense of serenity was punctuated only by the sound of helicopters hovering above rescue sites.

 

Still, holdouts refused to leave, to the amazement of appalled volunteers who searched house-to-house through flooded, broken, starving neighborhoods.

 

At one point, a U.S. Navy helicopter hoisted a resident in a basket, brought her into the helicopter and whisked her away to one of the area's evacuation centers. Her neighbors wept and waved as they watched her go.

 

They said they were staying behind to care for older residents who refused to depart.

 

A water rescue team from Jefferson County, Ky., worked as hard to persuade people to evacuate as it worked to find them in the first place.

 

"The ones who didn't want to leave at first are now realizing they're running out of food, water and medicine, and it's time to go," said Eddie Whitworth, a team member.

 

Whitworth said the rescuers found two families that didn't want to leave the bodies of loved ones behind, but ultimately they were convinced that they had to save themselves.

 

To the north, in the now-overwhelmed city of Baton Rouge, hundreds of evacuees continued to pour into makeshift shelters, often seeking lost relatives. City officials fear that the parish's population of about 415,000 soon could double.

 

One man carried a sign with the name of his wife's family scrawled on it. Children searched lists for names of missing siblings. A mother asked volunteers for help finding her daughter.

 

"This is an immense task," said Red Cross spokesman Dick Burch of reuniting families.

 

In other developments:

 

• Private donations to Katrina relief reached $404 million, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a trade publication for charities. Donors are giving more and faster than after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks or December's Indian Ocean tsunami, according to the Chronicle.

 

• Oil refiners made progress in restoring some of their lost production capacity. ExxonMobil Corp., Marathon Oil Corp. and offshore pipeline operators said their operations were beginning to ramp up.

 

• Medical examiners said they expected to have great difficulty identifying many of the victims. Many birth and dental records have been destroyed.

 

"I don't think visual identification is a possibility," said Cataldie, the Louisiana health official. "They have just been in the water too long."

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September 07, 2005

 

Using the first-responders' to make a jab at New Orleans and Mayor Nagin was hitting below the belt on yesterday's Grapevine segment 9/06/05. Their immense human suffering was delegated to a tart snippet crafted to conjure sneers of distaste from the judgmental viewers.

 

Brit read "Mayor Ray Nagin says that with National Guard troops in place in New Orleans, he's sending some overworked police officers and firefighters on Las Vegas vacations. Nagin says 1500 first responders will get $200 in cash for the trip, along with free hotels, restaurants, and Vegas shows.

 

The mayor also blasted critics who suggested granting such vacations in a time of crisis constitutes a dereliction of duty, and a call to party, saying, "New Orleans is a party city. Get over it."

 

That philosophy was echoed by French quarter residents already planning next year's Mardi Gras celebrations, one of whom says, "We'll always have something to parade for."

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Seems to me that there's a world of difference between:

 

New Orleans' mayor wants city's first responders to get break in Las Vegas

 

 

and

 

 

MAYOR Nagin IS SENDING 1500 FIRST RESPONDERS TO VEGAS FOR R&R

 

 

And it also seems that both yours and Britt Hume's grapevine could you a fresh infusion of facts.

 

Especially since several Fox News Reporters were at the N.O. police news conference a few minutes ago, and didn't mention Britt Hume's as a source of news.

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KATRINA'S AFTERMATH

 

Bush pledges probe of relief effort

Scott Gold and Lianne Hart

Los Angeles Times

 

September 7, 2005

 

NEW ORLEANS -- As the recovery effort persisted and the floodwaters continued to recede in this shattered city, President Bush sought to short-circuit congressional criticism Tuesday by declaring that he will investigate the federal relief effort.

 

Bush has made two trips through the Gulf Coast and has visited relief agencies in Washington as part of his effort to persuade people that his administration cares about the disaster and will use all means to help the region recover, in particular the hard-hit city of New Orleans.

 

Local officials have been fiercely critical of the federal government, saying that basic necessities were delayed, costing lives. With Congress returning Tuesday to Washington, the anger has been growing as some legislators launched their own investigation and promised hearings to determine who is at fault.

 

In an effort to get ahead of the issue, Bush said he will lead his own probe.

 

"What I intend to do is to lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong," he said.

 

"It's very important for us to understand the relationship between the federal government, the state government and the local government when it comes to a major catastrophe. And the reason it's important is, is that we still live in an unsettled world. We want to make sure that we can respond properly if there's a WMD attack or another major storm. And so I'm going to find out over time what went right and what went wrong," the president said.

 

Katrina dealt New Orleans a glancing blow, but it was severe enough to break three levees that turned the city into a disease-ridden cesspool whose inhabitants had to be evacuated. Tens of thousands of people went days without food and water before transportation arrived to carry them to safety.

 

With growing concerns about gas leaks, fires, toxic water and diseases spread by mosquitoes, Mayor Ray Nagin said he wanted to ratchet up pressure on the estimated 5,000 to 10,000 remaining citizens to leave.

 

The mayor said he was reissuing a mandatory evacuation order and urged stragglers to leave immediately, saying he did not want the possibility of explosions and disease to increase a death toll that, according to Lt. David Benelli, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, could range from 2,000 to 20,000.

 

With 250,000 people evacuated to Texas and hundreds of thousands more from southern Louisiana voluntarily fleeing, the city has turned into a watery ghost town. More than 32,000 people have been rescued in Louisiana since Katrina hit last week, according to David Passey of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. To date, FEMA has allocated $2.8 billion to provide emergency assistance to Louisiana, he said.

 

And 315,568 households have registered for federal and state assistance, officials said.

 

Nagin said the mandatory evacuation remains in effect and that the city will begin moving emergency people out of the area to Las Vegas and Atlanta so they can recharge.

 

"Las Vegas is a party town," he said, fending off criticism. "New Orleans is a party town. Get over it."

 

Nagin said that the city is now 60 percent under water -- still in a debilitated state, but much improved since the weekend, when the saturation reached 80 percent. Several pumps are now sending water gushing over the levee system into Lake Pontchartrain, and the city is trying to get Pump Station 6 -- a critical facility that Nagin called "the big daddy" -- operating.

 

Water service could begin flowing into the city within 24 hours, Nagin said, but he cautioned that officials were wary of how clean the water would be. The water supply is off -- and the water flowing through pipes once they are fixed is so full of pollution and bacteria it cannot be drunk even after it is boiled, Nagin said.

 

"We have to flush the system," he said.

 

Officials continue to find people awaiting rescue from houses, attics and rooftops, he said. Many are elderly, delirious or severely dehydrated.

 

Nagin also said reports that authorities had withheld food and water from some neighborhoods in an effort to flush out stragglers who don't want to leave are "absolutely false."

 

He said he told his officers and other authorities: "Do not harm anyone. Do not allow anyone to starve. Do not allow anyone to go without water."

 

On Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers plugged one of the broken levees and officials continued their efforts Tuesday to pump water out of the city. Pumps are slowly being restarted as the water recedes and workers can dry and repair them. It will take 24 days to drain eastern Orleans Parish, and as much as 80 days to remove the water from Chalmette, officials said.

 

As the waters recede, more bodies are likely to be found.

 

Fires, some started by candles used to replace broken electric lights, have also been a problem. Several blazes were burning, pouring thick smoke into the air.

 

Officials announced in Baton Rouge that they have begun testing the quality of the air. Scientists are also sampling the brackish floodwater in New Orleans as well as the water in Lake Pontchartrain, said Mike McDaniel, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

 

"It is simply infeasible" to pump the floodwater anywhere but the lake, he said. "We have to get the water out of the city, or the nightmare gets worse. We will deal with the issues of the water, but right now the priority is to save lives," he said.

 

He said there will obviously be bacteria from sewage in the water, as well as gas, fuel and traces of toxic materials such as pesticides and heavy metals.

 

The impact of the storm on the Louisiana coast is enormous, McDaniel said. "The aerials we see are complete devastation. It will take a while to re-establish."

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Seems to me that there's a world of difference between:

 

New Orleans' mayor wants city's first responders to get break in Las Vegas

 

and

 

MAYOR Nagin IS SENDING 1500 FIRST RESPONDERS TO VEGAS FOR R&R.

Where is the difference?

 

R&R (Rest & Recuperation) is getting a break.

I don't see a slight difference let alone a world of difference

 

 

 

Oh, and I watched the Mayor say "NO is a party town, get over it" this live on CSPAN. Wish I had a tape of it. What he said was silly at best.

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And--where do you get this as a defend Bush at all cost comment?

Hell if he needs his ass lit up--do it.

I wouldn't have any problem.

 

This was all so predictable is what I'm pissed about.

I'm just trying to see how you are going to blame him for creating a Hurricane in the first place.

Oh!! Wait a minute there's some folks out there doing that already! :rotfl:

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