Federal Response Not as Portrayed

Discussion in 'Politics' started by OldRegular, Sep 15, 2005.

  1. OldRegular

    OldRegular
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    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05254/568876.stm

    Jack Kelly: No shame

    Jack Kelly is national security writer for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio ([email protected], 412-263-1476).

    The federal response to Katrina was not as portrayed

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    It is settled wisdom among journalists that the federal response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was unconscionably slow.

     "Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever during a dire national emergency," wrote New York Times columnist Bob Herbert in a somewhat more strident expression of the conventional wisdom.

    But the conventional wisdom is the opposite of the truth.

    Jason van Steenwyk is a Florida Army National Guardsman who has been mobilized six times for hurricane relief. He notes that:

    "The federal government pretty much met its standard time lines, but the volume of support provided during the 72-96 hour was unprecedented. The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne."

    For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three.


    Journalists who are long on opinions and short on knowledge have no idea what is involved in moving hundreds of tons of relief supplies into an area the size of England in which power lines are down, telecommunications are out, no gasoline is available, bridges are damaged, roads and airports are covered with debris, and apparently have little interest in finding out.

    So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history.

    I write this column a week and a day after the main levee protecting New Orleans breached. In the course of that week:

    More than 32,000 people have been rescued, many plucked from rooftops by Coast Guard helicopters.

    The Army Corps of Engineers has all but repaired the breaches and begun pumping water out of New Orleans.

    Shelter, food and medical care have been provided to more than 180,000 refugees.


    Journalists complain that it took a whole week to do this. A former Air Force logistics officer had some words of advice for us in the Fourth Estate on his blog, Moltenthought:

    "We do not yet have teleporter or replicator technology like you saw on 'Star Trek' in college between hookah hits and waiting to pick up your worthless communications degree while the grown-ups actually engaged in the recovery effort were studying engineering.

    "The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network.

    "You cannot speed recovery and relief efforts up by prepositioning assets (in the affected areas) since the assets are endangered by the very storm which destroyed the region.

    "No amount of yelling, crying and mustering of moral indignation will change any of the facts above."

    "You cannot just snap your fingers and make the military appear somewhere," van Steenwyk said.

    Guardsmen need to receive mobilization orders; report to their armories; draw equipment; receive orders and convoy to the disaster area. Guardsmen driving down from Pennsylvania or Navy ships sailing from Norfolk can't be on the scene immediately.

    Relief efforts must be planned. Other than prepositioning supplies near the area likely to be afflicted (which was done quite efficiently), this cannot be done until the hurricane has struck and a damage assessment can be made. There must be a route reconnaissance to determine if roads are open, and bridges along the way can bear the weight of heavily laden trucks.

    And federal troops and Guardsmen from other states cannot be sent to a disaster area until their presence has been requested by the governors of the afflicted states.

    Exhibit A on the bill of indictment of federal sluggishness is that it took four days before most people were evacuated from the Louisiana Superdome.

    The levee broke Tuesday morning. Buses had to be rounded up and driven from Houston to New Orleans across debris-strewn roads. The first ones arrived Wednesday evening. That seems pretty fast to me.

    A better question -- which few journalists ask -- is why weren't the roughly 2,000 municipal and school buses in New Orleans utilized to take people out of the city before Katrina struck?

    (Correction/Clarification: (Published 9/12/05) -- Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in 1992, not 2002.)
     
  2. Daisy

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    The Coast Guard and the Army Corp of Engineers, by all accounts, performed admirably. FEMA, by most accounts, performed belatedly & in many cases abomidably.
     
  3. carpro

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    The problem with FEMA is that many people don't actually know what they do. That included the Governor and the Mayor, and sometimes, it seems, FEMA itself.

    The poorest performers in order of worst to first is:

    Mayor
    Governor
    FEMA
     
  4. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy
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    If you want to see how corrupt our domestic politics is, watch and see the waste and fraud that will be associated with the reconstruction of the southern coastal areas, and especially in the Democrat stronghold of New Orleans. You are going to see a flood of red ink and you are going to see massive fraud both by individuals and by the governments in the southern states.
     
  5. ASLANSPAL

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    Oh, carpro partisan and bush apologist
    just keep enabling the guy to ruin our country.


    Man! carpro when you drank the bush koolaid you
    you tied in to a intravenous drip at the same
    time. ;)

    ?? question for you why would the Republicans vote
    along party lines not to hold an 9/11 style independent investigation into the disaster.

    could it be they are protecting someone...someone
    if the investigation were held be shown to be even
    more incompetent...someone instead of protecting
    the homeland like he promised..took a bathroom
    break.

    Again a chronology of bush breakdown of protecting
    the homeland.

    NEWSWEEK: Bush didn't know the Hurricane damage was bad until THURSDAY AFTER IT STRUCK

    What we learn in the Newsweek story.

    1. Bush's aides are SO afraid of telling him bad news that they practically drew straws to see who would have to tell him, on TUESDAY, that the hurricane was so bad he'd need to come home.

    2. Even on Thursday AFTER the storm, Bush didn't realize how bad the storm was:
    President Bush knew the storm and its consequences had been bad; but he didn't quite realize how bad.

    The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.
    So Bush didn't realize how bad the storm damage wasuntil Thursday night, almost the fifth day AFTER the storm hit. Good God. He was going to watch the weekly news Friday for the FIRST TIME to get a sense of how bad things were.

    3. No one wanted to tell Bush the truth
    When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.
    4. Rumsfeld opposed sending in troops as cops.

    5. "Bush created a disaster within a disaster."
    A NEWSWEEK reconstruction of the government's response to the storm shows how Bush's leadership style and the bureaucratic culture combined to produce a disaster within a disaster.
    6. Washington just wouldn't listen
    A man in a blue FEMA windbreaker arrived to brief them on his helicopter flyover of the city. He seemed unfamiliar with the city's geography, but he did have a sense of urgency. "Water as far as the eye can see," he said. It was worse than Hurricanes Andrew in 1992 and Camille in 1969. "I need to call Washington," he said.... The FEMA man found a phone, but he had trouble reaching senior officials in Washington. When he finally got someone on the line, the city officials kept hearing him say, "You don't understand, you don't understand."
    7. 8pm on Monday, the day of the storm, the governor asked Bush for everything he's got.
    Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a motherly but steely figure known by the nickname Queen Bee, knew that she needed help. But she wasn't quite sure what. At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."
    8.Instead of helping New Orleans Monday night, Bush went to bed.
    here are a number of steps Bush could have taken, short of a full-scale federal takeover, like ordering the military to take over the pitiful and (by now) largely broken emergency communications system throughout the region. But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.
    9. Wednesday morning, while Bush was STILL on vacation, he wouldn't take the governor's call for help
    Early Wednesday morning, Blanco tried to call Bush. She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president's Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics.(this needs to be investigated)
    10. FEMA improved under Clinton, then was hurt under Bush
    Once a kind of petty-cash drawer for congressmen to quickly hand out aid after floods and storms, FEMA had improved in the 1990s in the Clinton administration. But it became a victim of the Iron Law of Unintended Consequences. After 9/11 raised the profile of disaster response, FEMA was folded into the sprawling Department of Homeland Security and effectively weakened. FEMA's boss, Bush's close friend Joe Allbaugh, quit when he lost his cabinet seat.
    11. Bush wanted to hear good news, so that's all they gave him until Friday.
    Bad news rarely flows up in bureaucracies. For most of those first few days, Bush was hearing what a good job the Feds were doing. Bush likes "metrics," numbers to measure performance, so the bureaucrats gave him reassuring statistics. At a press availability on Wednesday, Bush duly rattled them off: there were 400 trucks transporting 5.4 million meals and 13.4 million liters of water along with 3.4 million pounds of ice. Yet it was obvious to anyone watching TV that New Orleans had turned into a Third World xxxxhole.

    12. It took local officials ripping Bush a new one on Friday for him to finally wake up - a full 5 days after the disaster.

    The denial and the frustration finally collided aboard Air Force One on Friday. As the president's plane sat on the tarmac at New Orleans airport, a confrontation occurred that was described by one participant as "as blunt as you can get without the Secret Service getting involved." Governor Blanco was there, along with various congressmen and senators and Mayor Nagin.
     
  6. Bro. Curtis

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    Those are not your words. Where did you get them ?
     
  7. carpro

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    Blanco and Nagin should both be indicted for negligent homocide.
     
  8. carpro

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    August 30, the first day after Katrina rammed into the Gulf Coast, the German media began to imply that the storm was a result of “global warming” and wouldn’t have happened if the U.S. had signed the Kyoto Protocol. And so the blame game began.

    Environmentalists here in the U.S. soon picked up the cry. It was the fault of Bush that the U.S. had not signed the treaty and Katrina was a precursor of things to come. For those of you who don’t remember, the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in 1998 by Al Gore and presented to the Senate for ratification. It failed to be ratified by a vote of 95-0. Why? Because it was a bad deal for America.

    Katrina was a storm of immense proportions and no major American city had ever been totally flooded before. The damage was huge and the relief effort was complicated. No roads were passable, no airports were usable, and 300,000 citizens were trapped in the city. But it was all George Bush’s fault. At least those playing the blame game kept saying so.

    The mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, made a complete fool of himself with his baying at the moon, while Governor Kathleen Blanco wrung her hands in dismay. It took four days for substantial help, in the form of the National Guard, to arrive on the scene. Reprehensible! Unbelievable! Criminal! And it was all the fault of George Bush. And, if the people stranded in New Orleans had not been black, they would have received help much faster. Or so the blame game went.

    But let’s play the blame game fairly, folks. This is a serious problem and those responsible for any part in the mishandling of this disaster need to step forward and shoulder their part of the blame. The only one who has done so up until now is President Bush. The other culprits are still hiding behind political smokescreens pointing at Bush. Let’s see who is responsible for what and who took care of their responsibilities and who didn’t.

    The City of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and the New Orleans City Charter say, “The person responsible for …the issuance of an evacuation order is the Mayor of the City of New Orleans.” It goes on to say, “Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life saving assistance.” We have all seen those pictures of hundreds of school buses standing in floodwaters. The Mayor not only failed in his major responsibility to evacuate the city, he didn’t even try.

    The State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan states “The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles, school and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles…to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.” The Governor did not carry out this responsibility. In addition, it is within the power of the Governor to require mandatory evacuation. This she did, but only an astounding 20 hours before Katrina hit even though she had five days notice. And then only after she was contacted personally by President Bush and urged to do so. The mobilization of the Louisiana National Guard for law enforcement and evacuation assistance is the exclusive right of the governor. This she did at 7:00 A.M. the day Katrina smashed into the city. With 5 days notice!

    The Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana both failed miserably in their primary responsibility to protect the citizens of their respective city and state. Their lack of action borders on the criminal. Neither of these clowns has admitted any fault as of the time I write this. I hope their constituency is paying attention.

    That brings us to FEMA and their actions, or lack thereof, that President Bush has rightfully taken responsibility for. In accordance with the Stafford Act, FEMA is first and foremost a coordinating agency. They rely on a variety of partners to carry out their mission. With only about 2500 full time employees, their roll in actual relief efforts is relatively small compared to the efforts of their partners, i.e. State and local authorities, the National Guard and relief agencies like the Red Cross. FEMA does not respond to all disasters. Instead, when state and local capacity is overwhelmed, a Governor may ask the President for Federal assistance.

    FEMA actually did a credible job of prepositioning assets before the storm. They had even dropped off nearly 44,000 meals ready to eat and 90,000 liters of water at the Superdome before the storm. If it had not been for that action the people stranded there would have had a much harder time of it. FEMA did a lousy job of coordinating with state and local officials.

    Local officials seem to have thought that they could declare a disaster and stand back and the federal government, in the form of FEMA, would handle all the problems. It doesn’t work that way. FEMA responds to “specific” requests by local officials. Those requests were never made so FEMA had no guidance about what needed to be done where.

    The undisputed hero in this fiasco is the Department of Defense and Donald Rumsfeld. When he gave the order for active duty military personnel to become involved, things got better in a hurry. Why did it take so long? Certain conditions had to be met before federal troops could legally be deployed. It’s too complicated to cover in this limited space but that needs attention, as well.

    Katrina has revealed many problems at all levels of government that we, as a nation, need to correct. Playing the blame game hasn’t helped and will continue to hinder comprehensive reform. It seems to me that the major problem revealed was that the city, state and federal officials need to have a clearer understanding of who is responsible for what.

    This much I can tell you for certain. It is the responsibility of our local government to be the first responder in a disaster. They are here and need to have a plan and not be afraid to carry it out. No amount of finger pointing and denial or contractual agreement with the state or federal government will relieve them of that obligation.

    If we are going to begin to believe that it is the federal government’s responsibility to respond first to a local emergency, we either need to get used to a long wait for help or just do away with our state and local governments and replace them on a local level with federal bureaucrats. A truly frightening thought.
     
  9. Bro. Curtis

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    And also, to A-PAL...

    When you (or whomever you plagerized) say....

    "ripped him a new one"

    ...what exactly do you mean ? Is that the kind of metaphor you use often ? Does it belong on a Christian message board ? Would you use it in church ?

    Actually, I know you were probably in a rush to cut & paste something that would make Bush look bad, you probably didn't have time to read it all, so I take that into account.
     
  10. Dragoon68

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    This is an absolutely excellent work, Carpro!

    It's the exact opposite of the stupidity being advanced by some who want the federal government to be responsible for everything. They are willing to give up all their responsibilities, duties, and rights to let have them do it. They believe the federal government must now "make whole" every victim from the consequences of this disaster.

    Racial intimidation by the major race mongers is a big factor in this latest attempt. Bush-hating continues to be a major factor for some. Federalization of all government is a goal of others.

    Where are the 300 missing New Orleans police officers? Do they have the weapons "confiscated" for the residents forced to leave the city?
     
  11. OldRegular

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    ASLANSPAL as he, showing forth the love of Jesus Christ, lovingly points out to the president his grevious errors. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    ASLANSPAL as he learns that President Bush has already read it on the toilet stall. [​IMG] :( [​IMG] :mad:
     
  12. SeekingTruth

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    It appears that ASLANSPAL went to the same school of communication and elocution that another poster on a different thread in this forum who also likes to use similar phrases. Some people on this board seem to have forgotten how to carry on civilized discourse and must resort to such gutter language to either try to make their point or to drive their opponents away in disgust.
     
  13. just-want-peace

    just-want-peace
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    Of which, the main undergrad degree is VERBAL DIARRHEA
     
  14. OldRegular

    OldRegular
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    carpro

    That was an excellent, well reasoned post. [​IMG]
     
  15. Dragoon68

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    OldRegular, you hit the nail on the head!

    I have come to expect meaningless Bush bashing as the agenda of all that's written by some even when copied from the wall of the toilet stall.
     
  16. OldRegular

    OldRegular
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    Dragoon68

    O kindred spirit, Thanks!
     
  17. BroTom64

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    Excellent summary Carpo!
     
  18. Bunyon

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    As far as the Global warming thing. Just before the storm hit, are reporter asked one of meterologist if he thought this increased storm activity was due to global warming. He saind "No, huricans have always come in cyles. Some decades we have hardly any activity, then for decades we have lots of activity". He said it was just a natural and expected cycle.

    As long as Whinning will literally get you milti-billions of government money, people will scream bloody murder no matter how well the govenment does. I agree, the fed did an excelent Job. The mayor and gov.- well they should go to jail.
     
  19. carpro

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    Along these same lines, Governor Blanco has been caught on tape admitting she did not request federal troops. She also said she wished she had.
    I believe CNN is the one that caught this little gem. I'll have to try to find it tomorrow.

    The significance of her statement is that the law requires the Governor make that specific request or it won't happen. She believed by saying "give me all the help you have" or words to that effect, were sufficient. She was wrong. By law, it had to be specific.
     
  20. StraightAndNarrow

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    Leadership vacuum stymied aid offers

    (CNN) -- As violence, death and misery gripped New Orleans and the surrounding parishes in the days after Hurricane Katrina, a leadership vacuum, bureaucratic red tape and a defensive culture paralyzed volunteers' attempts to help.
    Doctors eager to help sick and injured evacuees were handed mops by federal officials who expressed concern about legal liability. Even as violence and looting slowed rescues, police from other states were turned back while officials squabbled over who should take charge of restoring the peace.

    Warehouses in New Orleans burned while firefighters were diverted to Atlanta for Federal Emergency Management Agency training sessions on community relations and sexual harassment. Water trucks languished for days at FEMA's staging area because the drivers lacked the proper paperwork.
    Consider the stories of these frustrated volunteers:

    · Dr. Bong Mui and his staff, evacuated with 300 patients after three hellish days at Chalmette Medical Center, arrived at the New Orleans airport, and were amazed to see hundreds of sick people. They offered to help. But, the doctor told CNN, FEMA officials said they were worried about legal liability. "They told us that, you know, you could help us by mopping the floor." And so they mopped, while people died around them. "I started crying," he recalled. "We felt like we could help, and were not allowed to do anything."

    · Steve Simpson, sheriff of Loudoun County, Virginia, sent 22 deputies equipped with food and water to last seven days. Their 14-car caravan, including four all-terrain vehicles, was on the road just three hours when they were told to turn back. The reason, Simpson told CNN: A Louisiana state police official told them not to come. " I said, "What if we just show up?' He says, 'You probably won't get in.' " Simpson said he later learned a dispute over whether state or federal authorities would command the law enforcement effort was being ironed out that night. But no one ever got back to him with the all-clear.

    · FEMA halted tractor trailers hauling water to a supply staging area in Alexandria, Louisiana, The New York Times quoted William Vines, former mayor of Fort Smith, Arkansas, as saying. "FEMA would not let the trucks unload," he told the newspaper. "The drivers were stuck for several days on the side of the road" because, he said, they did not have a "tasker number." He added, "What in the world is a tasker number? I have no idea. It's just paperwork and it's ridiculous."

    · Firefighters who answered a nationwide call for help were sent to Atlanta for FEMA training sessions on community relations and sexual harassment. "On the news every night you hear 'How come everybody forgot us?' " Pennsylvania firefighter Joseph Manning told The Dallas Morning News. "We didn't forget. We're stuck in Atlanta drinking beer."

    Where was Chertoff?

    But the men in charge of the federal Department of Homeland Security and FEMA in the critical days immediately after the hurricane haven't shared the blame.

    Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary, has offered no explanation as to why he waited three days after the National Hurricane Center predicted a catastrophic hurricane to declare Katrina an incident of "national significance."
    In a memo written the day after Katrina made landfall, Chertoff said the Department of Homeland Security will be part of the task force and will assist the [Bush] administration. But the National Response Plan, designed to guide disaster recovery and relief, dictates that the Homeland Security secretary leads the federal response.

    'Sluggish' response

    "At this point, we would have expected a sharp, crisp response to this terrible tragedy," Collins said. "Instead, we witnessed what appeared to be a sluggish initial response."

    One of the issues the committee will examine is whether FEMA should stay under the Department of Homeland Security instead of operating as a separate agency as it had in the past.

    Sen. George Voinovich, a Republican from Ohio, said the committee would "get into the bowels" of Homeland Security as its members investigate how the federal government, specifically FEMA, planned for and responded to the disaster.

    Members of the former 9/11 commission blasted Congress and the Bush administration for inaction on some of its recommendations. Had they been in place, lives could have been saved, they said.

    *************************************************
    What have we been spending billions of dollars on for 4 years following 9/11 if not to be prepared for a national catastrophe? As far as I can see, all that money has been wasted. I don't tnink we're any safer now than we were before the "Dept. of Homeland Security" was created. In fact, it looks like government response is worse now than on 9/11.
     

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