Monday, September 05, 2005

Who's To Blame?

Many people, whether administration apologists or those who merely refuse to abandon faith in their president, place blame squarely on the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, and/or the Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, both Democrats. Certainly I did not see a lot of leadership coming from them either in this whole ordeal, especially prior to the levee breaking, in other words, when it came to evacuating the thousands of people our leaders knew were not able to leave. Unfortunately for the Feds, however, this blame the locals game is based on false claims.

The first myth is that Governor Blanco didn't declare a state of emergency, which would have made New Orleans eligible for emergency federal assistance. Sunday's Washington Post printed the following li(n)e:

As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.
Which is worse, that this is something being spread by an administration official or that the Post ran it not as a fact, but as a claim by an official as though it were fact? The truth is, a bit of responsible journalism would have uncovered the fact that Blanco had declared a state of emergency. In fact The Washington Post ran a retraction later that day:
A Sept. 4 article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina incorrectly said that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) had not declared a state of emergency. She declared an emergency on Aug. 26.

The second myth was that the local officials alone were responsible for getting people out of New Orleans, more than simply declaring a mandatory evacuation as they did, prior to the levee breach. In this letter from Governor Blanco to the President it is clear that she requested supplemental federal aid as early as August 28 in anticipation of Katrina and her aftermath:

Pursuant to 44 CFR ยง 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster ...
But even prior to this letter, as early as August 27, in response to the Governor's declaration of a state of emergency on Aug. 26, the following statement was released by the White House authorizing FEMA to assist Louisiana:
The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe ... Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.
An example of what the federal government could have done? Paul Krugman tells us of one such example:
The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.

Thanks to Talking Points Memo for the links and timeline.


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10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, Todd shows that he's capable of little more than cherry picking and selective editing of things he reads out on Democratic Underground. All to sate his irrational anger and bitterness of those he disagrees with, and his need to be an apologist for those with whom he claims common cause.

Here's something that Todd neglected (probably through his own lack of intellectual curiousity and ignorance) The disaster planning for Southern Louisianna spelled out rolls and responsibilities pretty clearly, assigning responsibility for the evacuation to the local authorities:


Page 13, read paragraph 5. It states:

5. 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.

And page 18, paragraph 2a 2 and 3.

2. Recommended Evacuation:
a. Risk Area Parishes:
1. Put EOC on 24-hour operations.
2. Mobilize parish/local transportation to assist persons who lack transportation or who have mobility problems.
3. Announce the location of staging areas for people who need transportation. Public transportation will concentrate on moving people from the staging areas to safety in host parishes with priority given to people with special needs.

Also see Page 20, paragraph 3a 5.

Page 21, paragraph c 4.

Page 29, all of it.

They say that a picture says a thousand words Todd. Here's the first thousand ,

second thousand and

third thousand.

That's three thousand words, Todd, showing that the local government, under Mayor "CIA commin' to git me" Nagin (yes, he really said that. He also decamped to Baton Rouge during the hurricane, rather than ride it out with his stranded constituents), didn't bother to activate the contingency plans.

And, of course, Todd also neglects to point out that the Saturday before the hurricane, President Bush called Governor Blanco and the Director of the National Hurricane Center called Mayor Nagin ... both to plead with them to order the evacuation (something they didn't do until Sunday morning).

Just shows that Todd is more interested in blaming President Bush and being an apologist for Blanco/Nagin and the Democrats than the truth ...

3:57 PM  

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