Democrat From Kentucky


Democrat from Kentucky
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Where Does the Blame Lie For Katrina FUBAR Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I got my issue of Time today and the feature story discusses the collapse of government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The magazine breaks down the fault lines in to four sections, the Mayor, referring to Ray Nagin, the governor, referring Governor Kathleen Blanco and then we go now resigned FEMA chief Michael Brown and the head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Here's a paragraph from early in the story.

Already it's clear that this debacle was more than an act of God. This country's emergency operations, awesome in their potential, are also frighteningly interdependent. The locals are in charge--until they get overwhelmed. Then they cede control to the feds--but not entirely. The scarier things get, the fuzzier the lines of authority become. As TIME's investigation shows, at every level of government, there was uncertainty about who was in charge at crucial moments. Leaders were afraid to actually lead, reluctant to cost businesses money, break jurisdictional rules or spawn lawsuits. They were afraid, in other words, of ending up in an article just like this one.

Response

The article breaks it down this way. The city had a plan and it wasn't great. Ray Nagin probably could've done better because a lot of procedures should've been in place and he didn't call for mandatory evacuations until the day before the storm hit. But, as he said in the article, the basic plan was to get out as many as possible and then hole up on higher ground and wait for the feds to come in. One of the cities biggest single problems was lack of a communications infrastructure to handle the disaster as well as have a good command center. On the upside, he did get 3 interstates moving out of the city and estimate claim 80% made it out. That leaves nearly 100,000 left, which is about what the contingency plan expected.

The governor, while slow and considerate of her actions severely underestimated the response of FEMA and her expectations were much different than the reality. When she eventually figured out she was going to half to get things done, she got Bill Clinton's old FEMA chief and brought him in to assist. She called the White House multiple times and no one responded to her pleads. She ended up having to leave a message.

That leaves Brown and Chertoff, neither of whom took this whole situation seriously. Brown was a political favor and Chertoff was a hardnosed prosecuting attorney. Neither was up to the task at hand and neither took it seriously until it was much too late. The Bush administration had neutered FEMA to the point of being almost inoperable because they didn't take it's duty seriously. Clinton brought in disaster experts, Bush brought in cronies.

This brings us to the president, where the buck stops. He was right to accept responsibility but it goes much deeper than his one speech. FEMA and DHS need to be serious organizations with serious budgets. They need to be able to train personnel at all levels to be able to handle lots of mandated training for natural or any other type of disaster. Yep, you and your administration continue to do us in Mr. President. We're glad you care. You're not evil, you're inept and unintelligent, which in this case may actually be worse.


posted by Stithmeister @ 10:40 PM
 
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Location: Harrodsburg, Kentucky, United States

I'm currently working in the telecomm industry but one of my passions is still politics.



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