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Hurricane Katrina Blame Game

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Just to get the facts correct below are public releases on how the President, Governor, and Mayor reacted before the storm hit New Orleans.


Kathleen Babineaux Blanco is Governor of Louisiana.


Here is a press release dated two days before Hurricane Katrina hit New OrleansAugust 27, 2005, where Governor Blanco asks President to Declare an Emergency for the State of Louisiana.


August 27, 2005



The President

The White House

Washington, D. C.



Regional Director

FEMA Region VI

800 North Loop 288

Denton, Texas 76209


Dear Mr. President:


Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35, I request that you declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period beginning August 26, 2005, and continuing. The affected areas are all the southeastern parishes including the New Orleans Metropolitan area and the mid state Interstate I-49 corridor and northern parishes along the I-20 corridor that are accepting the thousands of citizens evacuating from the areas expecting to be flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina.


In response to the situation I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on August 26, 2005 in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act. A State of Emergency has been issued for the State in order to support the evacuations of the coastal areas in accordance with our State Evacuation Plan and the remainder of the state to support the State Special Needs and Sheltering Plan.


Pursuant to 44 CFR § 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. I am specifically requesting emergency protective measures, direct Federal Assistance, Individual and Household Program (IHP) assistance, Special Needs Program assistance, and debris removal.


Preliminary estimates of the types and amount of emergency assistance needed under the Stafford Act, and emergency assistance from certain Federal agencies under other statutory authorities are tabulated in Enclosure A.


The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of State and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this emergency:

• Department of Social Services (DSS): Opening (3) Special Need Shelters (SNS) and establishing (3) on Standby.

• Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH): Opening (3) Shelters and establishing (3) on Standby.

• Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP): Providing generators and support staff for SNS and Public Shelters.

• Louisiana State Police (LSP): Providing support for the phased evacuation of the coastal areas.

• Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (WLF): Supporting the evacuation of the affected population and preparing for Search and Rescue Missions.


• Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD): Coordinating traffic flow and management of the evacuations routes with local officials and the State of Mississippi.


The following information is furnished on efforts and resources of other Federal agencies, which have been or will be used in responding to this incident:

• FEMA ERT-A Team en-route.


I certify that for this emergency, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.


I request Direct Federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property.


(a) List any reasons State and local government cannot perform or contract for performance, (if applicable).


(B) Specify the type of assistance requested.


In accordance with 44 CFR § 206.208, the State of Louisiana agrees that it will, with respect to Direct Federal assistance:


1. Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easement, and rights-of-ways necessary to accomplish the approved work.


2. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and shall indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work;


3. Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-Federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and


4. Assist the performing Federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.


In addition, I anticipate the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health, and safety.


Pursuant to Sections 502 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5192 & 5173, the State agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster. The State agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.


I have designated Mr. Art Jones as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.




Kathleen Babineaux Blanco



The White House posted a press release on August 27, 2005 that the President declared at State of Emergency in Lousiana.


The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing.


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 in the parishes of Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Claiborne, Catahoula, Concordia, De Soto, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Franklin, Grant, Jackson, LaSalle, Lincoln, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupee, Ouachita, Rapides, Red River, Richland, Sabine, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tensas, Union, Vernon, Webster, West Carroll, West Feliciana, and Winn.


Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.


Representing FEMA, Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Department of Homeland Security, named William Lokey as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.




Clarence Ray Nagin Jr. is properly the Mayor of Orleans Parish but is more commonly referred to as the Mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, as the Parish coexists with the city.


Mayor Nagin issued a voluntary evacuation request late in the day on August 27. He was hesitant to order a mandatory evacuation because of concerns about the city's liability for closing hotels and other businesses.


Here is an excerpt taken from Times-Picayune August 28, 2005. The day before the storm.


"Come the first break of light in the morning, you may have the first mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," Nagin told WWL-TV.


Nagin said the city would open the Superdome as a special-needs shelter today at 8 a.m. He advised anyone planning to stay there to bring food, drinks and other comforts, such as folding chairs, as if planning to go camping.


Citizens must call 568-3200 to verify that they qualify for admittance to the shelter, city officials said. Phone lines will be open at 7 a.m.


Nagin spokeswoman Tami Frazier stressed that the mayor does not want citizens to plan on staying in the Dome -- instead, they should make arrangements to leave the city if possible.


"We don't anticipate having to turn people away," Frazier said. "But (staying in the Dome) should not be a situation that you're counting on."


Nagin added, "No weapons, no large items, and bring small quantities of food for three or four days, to be safe."

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Barbara Bush (his own mother)


After a tour of the Houston Astrodome in Texas earlier this week, where thousands of hurricane victims are being housed, Barbara Bush said in a National Public Radio interview: “So many of the people here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”


Tom DeLay (Majority Leader)


U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it’s like to be living in shelter. While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, “Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?”


Laura Bush (The First Lady)


"I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school." –First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to a "Hurricane Corina" while speaking to children and parents in South Haven, Mississippi, Sept. 8, 2005


And…Bush himself


In an effort to raise the spirits of the hundreds of thousands who have lost their homes, Bush promised to rebuild devastated areas better than they were before, but at one point focused on the home of a powerful lawmaker. “Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch,” he said on a tour of the region Friday, drawing nervous laughter. Some Republicans winced, including one disbelieving congressional aide who told AFP: “Lott? He’s focusing on Lott? Surrounded by poor people, he talks about a sitting senator?”


It think this mock picture sums it up


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Guest Mystro

I guess this will make everyone happy.




(Bloomberg) -- Michael Brown resigned as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency three days after being ousted from the Hurricane Katrina relief effort because of protests over his handling of the U.S.'s worst natural disaster.


Brown's resignation was confirmed by an official at the Department of Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over FEMA. No successor has been named.

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Guest LAW

Isn't if funny how just 10 days ago, President George W. Bush praised his FEMA director, saying, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job.''


President Bush You are not doing a heck of a job. Get your act together and start

working for the American People.

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Guest Right

I guess you all want Bush to get out their with a bucket and clean it himself. Freaking morons. This must not be to serious if all people like you have to do is whine and complain about the federal government. I would have agreed with you but now that I see this death toll probaly wont even hit 2,000 people, I honestly think you people are looking for a reason to whine. I mean first everyone says the government needs to step in and get those people out of there, now the morons wont leave. I feel sorry for the people who are truly suffering, they need all they help that we can give them.


I dont see this as a united states anymore it seems like, no matter what he would have done people like you would still be complaining. You cant always make everyone happy. If you got a problem with it than why dont you run for president and do a better job. Like to see it. Sure it could of been handled better but now people are saying that if this was a terrorist attack we would be screwed. Not really, look what happened after the last attack on the United States. I would rather have Bush there than a stupid pencil di** named John Kerry. This is sickening that people have turned this into a political and racial issue. Now it just makes me care less and less the more that people whine about it.

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Guest Guest

Think before you write. Even if Bush was playing guitar in San Diego, he

doesn't have a magic powers to wish the National Guard troops onto every corner and bottles of water into every hand.


The federal government is pouring manpower, equipment, and supplies into the region. How many lives have been saved thanks to our government. All you do is comment from what you see on your liberal television screens.


Thank you Mr. President for saving so many lives.


Thank you Mr. President for tolerating ignorant propaganda.


Keep up the good work......

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Guest LAW

Hey Guest (whoever you are)


Here is something you might chew on before you make foolish statements


It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.


-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.

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Guest Guest

The New Orleans district already owed about $11 million to private construction companies after funding dried up last July, well before the end of the fiscal year.


Army Corps of Engineers, May 23: In Orleans Parish, two major pump stations are threatened by hurricane storm surges. Major contracts need to be awarded to provide fronting protection for them. Also, several levees have settled and need to be raised to provide the design protection. The current funding shortfalls in fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2006 will prevent the Corps from addressing these pressing needs.


When Bob Livingston (R-Metairie) was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, New Orleans district never have a money problem.


So let's cut this political crap and move on.

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Guest Jennifer Crider

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced today that she supports forming an independent commission to investigate the federal government’s failed initial response to Hurricane Katrina, and that she would not appoint Democratic Members to Speaker Hastert and Leader Frist’s bicameral committee:


“The American people want Democrats and Republicans to put their differences aside and work together to address the emergency assistance and recovery needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina and to investigate why the initial federal response compounded the disaster. Speaker Hastert and Leader Frist had an opportunity to join Democrats in this effort and have chosen not to.


“For nearly a week, I have urged the Speaker to establish a bipartisan task force that is truly bipartisan, made up of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, has real authority to cut congressional red tape, and would have bipartisan subpoena power.


“The partisan proposal that Republican leaders outlined yesterday is completely unacceptable. House Democrats will not participate in a sham that is just the latest example of congressional Republicans being the foxes guarding the President’s hen house.


“Americans want an objective assessment of what went wrong during the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Now that Speaker Hastert and Leader Frist have decided to form a partisan committee, the only way to get Americans the truth about what went wrong and correct how we respond to future disasters is by creating an independent commission. It could be modeled after the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission, which did a huge service to our country with its excellent report detailing the urgent task before us to make our nation safer.”

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Guest Mike Walsh

I am with Hail to the Chief. Here is some satire that has a point between the lines.


"The president has vowed to personally lead the investigation into the government's failed response to Katrina? Isn't that a job perhaps someone else should be doing?" --Jon Stewart


"No, not at all, Jon. To truly find out what went wrong, it's important for an investigator to have a little distance from the situation. And it's hard to get any more distant from it than the president was last week." --"Daily Show" correspondent Samantha Bee


"Just a quick observation, when people don't want to play the blame game, they're to blame." --Jon Stewart, on the Bush administration cautioning against playing the "blame game"



"Many Americans are calling on President Bush to fire the head of FEMA Michael Brown because of the slow response to the crisis. Unforuantely, due to the red tape, firing Brown will take 6 to 8 months." --Conan O'Brien


"This is inarguably a failure of leadership from the top of the federal government. Remember when Bill Clinton went out with Monica Lewinsky. That was inarguably a failure of judgment at the top. Democrats had to come out and risk losing credibility if they did not condemn Bill Clinton for his behavior. I believe Republicans are in the same position right now. And I will say this: Hurricane Katrina is George Bush's Monica Lewinsky. The only difference is that tens of thousands of people weren't stranded in Monica Lewinsky's vagina." --Jon Stewart (Read a transcript or watch video of Stewart's remarks)


"While everybody else is busy setting up commissions and finding fault, through the president's leadership he'll end up building a billion dollar dam in Arkansas." --"Daily Show" correspondent Ed Helms

"Why would he build a dam in Arkansas?" --Jon Stewart

"His plan will be to fight the water there so we don't have to fight it here." --Ed Helms


"So no one's going to be held accountable for this at all?" --Jon Stewart

"No. In fact, if history is any indication, they'll be hard-pressed finding enough medals to pin on these guys. My sources tell me the head of FEMA will be dipped in bronze and turned into an award to be given to other officials." --Ed Helms


"I used to work at a bar ... and there was a fat guy there. And he just sat there drinking and being fat. And one day someone tried to break into his car in the parking lot…and he got up and ran out there and beat two people with a tire iron. And I remember thinking '***brown trout***, that guy can move, I had no idea' ... That's how I feel about the media." --Jon Stewart on the media's coverage of Hurricane Katrina


"Our president isn't exactly getting high marks for his handling of the catastrophe. People don't seem to realize, yes the hurricane has been devastating to the people who live in that area, but it has also ruined the last three days of his vacation. He has suffered too." --Jimmy Kimmel


"Everyone is still talking about Hurricane Katrina. Experts say it could take 80 days to drain all of the flood water out of New Orleans. When President Bush heard this he said, '80 days, that’s half a vacation.'" --Conan O'Brien


"As you know, FEMA stands for 'Fix Everything My Ass.'" --Jay Leno


"Even President Bush, almost a week later, President Bush said his administration's response to Katrina was unacceptable. Then he said 'Hey, don't blame me, I was on vacation.'" --Jay Leno


"Although, to his credit, President Bush did respond quickly and he did send troops as soon as he found out Louisiana had oil." --Jay Leno


Did you know you don't even have to be a lawyer to be on the Supreme Court? You don't even have to be a lawyer. Just like you don't have to be an emergency expert to work for FEMA." --Jay Leno


"Who would have known we’d be better off with President Bush on vacation?" --David Letterman


"President Bush is actually busy trying to fill two vacancies. One for the Supreme Court and another one at FEMA." --David Letterman

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Guest John Kerry

"More tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are off the table." Those are the words that America is waiting to hear from President Bush. At a time of crisis and enormous need, it should be an easy decision for him to make. He could make the announcement tomorrow.


There is hurt and suffering all around us. Estimates are that it will cost as much as $150 billion to help the hard-hit people and communities of the Gulf Coast get back on their feet following Katrina's devastation. And the Bush administration's failed policies in Iraq are draining billions of dollars from our treasury every month.


But still, Republican leaders refuse to abandon their obsession with granting still more tax cuts to the wealthy and well-connected. Don't let them get away with it.


Sign our "Don't You Dare" petition right now.



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Guest Howard Gantman

Statement of Senator Dianne Feinstein


On the Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina


Citing the massive failure of government on all levels to anticipate, prepare, and respond to Hurricane Katrina, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today urged the establishment of concrete emergency plans for every city in America in cooperation with State and Federal officials to prepare for a future calamity.


Senator Feinstein also said the Administration and Congress “need to conduct a nationwide assessment to determine the other most vulnerable areas and have federal disaster assistance resources pre-positioned if possible so no time is lost in the aftermath of another future tragedy.”


Senator Feinstein also urged that:


An independent commission be created to investigate the failures in relief efforts;


There be a careful reexamination of the role and mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including prioritizing disaster preparation funding and staffing the agency from top to bottom with professionals knowledgeable and experienced in handling disasters and eliminating political appointments.


The U.S. Conference of Mayors convene a national intercity effort to share information and assist in emergency preparation efforts.


Consideration be given to establishing a Strategic Food & Water Reserve so these supplies can be airlifted directly into areas such as New Orleans that are struck by catastrophe.


The following is the prepared text of Senator Feinstein’s floor speech entered into the Congressional Record:


“Mr. President, I come to the floor today -- heart-sick -- to speak about the absolute devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. This tragedy represents the worst natural disaster in our nation’s history.


This hurricane spared nothing. Estimates of damage now run as high as $200 billion. The cost, in human lives and suffering, is just staggering.


Tragically, it will take weeks and weeks to ascertain the true loss of life. As the recovery proceeds, I pledge to do all in my power to help those in need – to rebuild cities, communities, and shattered lives and families across the Gulf Coast.


My home state of California knows well the destruction possible from natural disasters. So many times the people of California have been saved by the generosity of the American people.


I have no doubt that the people of my state will now rally to the aid of those in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Many already have.


In addition to monetary contributions from residents throughout the state, over 1,500 California first responders are on the scene as well as over 700 California National Guard personnel, 116 California Highway Patrol officers, eight Swiftwater Rescue Teams, eight Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces, and six Disaster Medical Assistance Teams.


On Tuesday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that California had accepted a request from FEMA to provide housing and assistance for 1,000 storm victims left homeless by the hurricane. San Diego has made 600 beds available, San Francisco 300, and San Jose 100. And if FEMA asks for more, the state will be ready. Los Angeles has planned accommodations for 2,000 evacuees and Sacramento County is preparing for 300.


Campuses of the University of California and California State University systems as well as private colleges and universities from across the state have opened their doors to college students that were displaced or had their educational plans interrupted by the hurricane. Hundreds of students have already taken advantage of these opportunities and will be starting classes this fall.


My heart goes out to all those suffering from this catastrophe. I have seen the destruction caused by massive mudslides, major earthquakes, and torrential rains. I have seen the fear and hopelessness that comes when families lose everything except the shirts on their backs. My thoughts and prayers are with those Americans in the pitch dark with no electricity, in shelters with their homes swept away, and with a future that seems without hope.


I’d like to commend all those who have worked literally around the clock in response to the disaster. The emergency responders—from the National Guard and Coast Guard to hospital workers to the local police and fire departments—have been nothing short of heroic. They are risking their lives and deserve our deep gratitude.


The American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and many other charitable organizations and religious groups have mobilized thousands of volunteer workers to bring aid and shelter to victims of the devastation.


The American people are already demonstrating their tremendous compassion and magnanimity – contributions exceed $500 million – with surely much more to come. Nations from around the world have also offered to help. I thank them as well.


But despite the effort and concern of all these individuals, I am shocked at what has gone terribly wrong in preparation for Hurricane Katrina. What we saw in the days following the storm has been a massive failure of government on all levels to anticipate, prepare, and respond. Days before the storm FEMA knew it was coming. It was announced well in advance that Katrina had become a lethal Category 5 storm as it made its way through the Gulf of Mexico.


To see the horrific images of the dead lying in the street unattended, bodies floating aimlessly facedown in the water, and Americans with no choice but to relieve themselves on the field of the Superdome – it boggles the mind that such depraved conditions descended on one of America’s great cities.


It was a flat embarrassment to the country. Those who have lost loved ones deserved much better than these appalling conditions.


Senators Collins and Lieberman have launched a Government Affairs Committee oversight investigation to ensure that the requisite support and resources go to those in need. They will also be examining the inadequate preparation and response to this disaster.


Senator Clinton and others have called on President Bush to appoint an independent national commission to review Hurricane Katrina relief efforts modeled after the 9/11 Commission.


I completely support these efforts, and would like to go on record with a few of the serious concerns that I have regarding what has taken place. These are all problems that we must grapple with if we are to truly protect our homeland from disasters of all kinds.


Two days before the storm, a mandatory evacuation order went out for the residents of New Orleans. But didn’t federal, state and local authorities know that tens of thousands of city residents lacked the funds and means to depart, and more fundamentally had nowhere to go?


As a result, the poor stayed put: stranded throughout the city, and away from any safe and secure shelter. Clearly there is not an adequate mechanism for removing Americans out of harm’s way in the face of a crisis.


Warning systems and evacuation plans, prepositioning of transportation assets and emergency communications facilities, are all in dire need of an overhaul.


As always in these situations, the first priority is to save lives. Once the storm had passed, emergency responders went to dramatic lengths to save those stranded in houses, in apartments, and on rooftops throughout the region. Through their tireless efforts, thousands have been saved.


But what should have been an immediate and massive delivery of food, water, and medical supplies to evacuees came much too late. Thousands of hurricane victims went for days without anything to eat or drink. Babies went without formula. Diabetics went without insulin. People took refuge on freeways only to bake in the heat without relief or water and nowhere to go.


I realize the unprecedented magnitude of this disaster. But the delay in response was simply inexcusable. It pains me to admit that people died because aid did not arrive fast enough to those in need.


Downtown New Orleans’ Charity Hospital went unevacuated for days with no food, clean water, or basic medical supplies. These represent the sickest and neediest of the storm victims and all efforts should have been made for their immediate evacuation – by boat to reach the hospital or at least helicopter airlifts from the roof if possible. Vigilant doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers performed courageously but did not have the support they needed.


There seemed to be no plan in place for providing shelter once the storm was over. Ad hoc decisions appeared to cause widespread confusion as desperate evacuees did not know where to find basic needs. Rumors swirled of food here, and fuel there, forcing victims to scavenge in search of the basic necessities of life.


As regional evacuation centers filled there was no effective plan for long or even short-term shelter and care of displaced residents. With nowhere for storm victims to go, evacuation centers turned to squalor. Serious reports of abuse and assault have come out of these shelters.


Other cities graciously volunteered to open facilities to evacuees. For that I offer them my sincere gratitude. But now even they have reached capacity – the Houston Astrodome, for example. We were just not prepared to handle an evacuation of this magnitude.


We were quickly and brutally reminded that an effective response to this type of tragedy cannot happen until a reasonably safe situation exists on the ground. This is nothing new. It is a given in these types of situations.


Yet days passed before adequate National Guard troops arrived. Meanwhile, thugs, miscreants and ruthless pillagers terrorized the streets and thwarted rescue and aid.


Command and control breakdowns have been rampant. Throughout the region complaints abound that no one seems to be in charge. This is a recipe for chaos, which only works to hamper relief efforts and put innocent people in serious danger. Again, this points to the fact that we do not have adequate plans and mechanisms for dealing with serious disasters.


Regrettably, I could go on, but the time for dealing with the faults in preparation and response has not yet come. Right now, the victims of Hurricane Katrina need our help. Entire communities have been destroyed. Families have been torn apart. Many are still missing. Tens of thousands remain homeless. We must find a way to help bring some stability and hope back into their lives.


Congress has made a start by keeping FEMA operations running through an immediate $10.5 billion appropriation last week. And the President has asked for $51.8 billion more, which Congress will surely approve soon. But even this will not be enough -- we have just begun the effort to rebuild these cities and communities.


This is a process that will take years to accomplish and require a great deal of commitment on our part. I call on all Americans to do what they can to assist in the recovery efforts. There are countless opportunities and help is vitally needed.


As we move forward together as a nation, we also need to focus on concrete solutions for improving our preparedness for calamities that engulf any part of the country.


In close cooperation with state and federal emergency agencies, each city in this country absolutely must have an effective emergency plan in place.


These plans need to include professional and skilled emergency operations directors, clear lines of authority, practical evacuation strategies, and previously determined command centers that can be up and running on a moment’s notice with satellite connections and powered by their own generators.


Key department heads should carry two-way radios with extra battery packs at all times.


The plans also must have mechanisms to immediately call for and facilitate the delivery of food, water, and medical supplies to areas in need.


But it is not enough to just have a plan in place. These plans must be rehearsed and drilled until they become second nature for the public agencies, emergency responders, and communities involved. When disaster strikes, there can be no confusion as to what must happen.


Unfortunately, even when effective and rehearsed plans exist, large-scale catastrophic events such as Hurricane Katrina can quickly overwhelm local jurisdictions.


In these cases, we need a system in place that allows the federal government to come in immediately with the full force of its resources and assume primary responsibility for response and relief.


The U.S. Conference of Mayors should convene a national intercity effort to share information and assist in emergency preparation efforts.


In emergency situations such as this, communications capabilities are essential. Emergency responders must have the equipment that will allow essential communications efforts to continue in case of the major damage to infrastructure we have seen in New Orleans.


Clearly, the Federal Emergency Management Agency needs to change. We need to look at whether the tasks charged to FEMA are too large to be included with 21 other agencies under the Department of Homeland Security.


Let’s seriously consider professionalizing FEMA from top to bottom – some have called for the current Director Michael Brown’s resignation, whose credentials as an emergency manager have been widely questioned.


FEMA needs to be devoid of political appointees and employ only the highest trained professionals with expertise in transportation, emergency medical aid, communications, and providing federal disaster assistance.


Funds Congress appropriates for FEMA from this point forward ought to be prioritized for disaster preparation, and we need to intensively review programmatic appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security which, some critics point out, has received funds diverted from the levee project in New Orleans.


We have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but shouldn’t we have a Strategic Food & Water Reserve too, that can, within hours, be airlifted into directly and brutally hit areas such as New Orleans?


We need pre-planned, carefully thought out means for moving National Guardsmen and other military forces and particularly assets, such as high-water vehicles and Chinook transport helicopters, swiftly into place to prevent urban areas from sinking into anarchy – as was so painfully evident at the Convention Center in New Orleans and throughout the city.


The Army Corps of Engineers, the Administration and Congress knew for years about New Orleans’ vulnerable topography and the inherent weaknesses of the 350 mile city levee system but limited funding for flood control work nonetheless – why?


The Administration and Congress need to conduct a nationwide assessment to determine the other most vulnerable areas and have federal disaster assistance resources pre-positioned if possible so no time is lost in the aftermath of another future tragedy.


These are just a few ideas to consider. President Bush was conveniently understating the case last Thursday when he said that federal efforts were “not acceptable”.


Americans have an obligation to come together, now, with their resources, money, and can do spirit to save New Orleanians, their great city, and all those suffering down the Gulf Coast.


Nothing less is acceptable.”

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Guest Jim Manley

An independent investigation is the only way to ensure that the American people get the answers they deserve.


Washington, DC – Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today:


“We all believe our top priority must be to ensure that federal government never responds as poorly to a national emergency as it did with Katrina. Democrats believe the best way to do this is by creating a non-partisan, blue ribbon commission of independent experts like the 9/11 commission.


“I do not believe that the committee proposed by Speaker Hastert and Senator Frist is in the best interest of the American people. I do not support it and, as it is currently described, I will not appoint members to it. The only way to ensure that all levels of our government are held accountable to the people is to take this process out of the hands of politicians with a vested interest in the outcome.


“Americans deserve answers independent of politics. I stand with Senator Hillary Clinton in supporting an independent commission modeled on the 9/11 commission. An independent investigation insulated from politics and conflicts of interest is the only way to ensure that the American people get the answers they deserve. We know America and do better. Let’s get to work. Let’s change the future.”

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Guest Father Michael Jacques

We know the city didn't put a proper infrastructure in place.


It was a political decision not to improve the levee system and a political decision can be made to provide the infrastructure to protect people

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Guest DC Councilmember Evans

The lessons of New Orleans are important for DC, a city of approximately the same population (500,000+) that is vulnerable. What if DC had to evacuate? Are we ready? Who is in charge? Can we continue to rely on the federal government for disaster relief?

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Guest Mike Kline

Here is what you liberal pissants wanted. My hat goes off to a President that can admit a mistake. The truth is the government was responsible not President Bush.


President Bush said Tuesday that "I take responsibility" for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina and said the disaster raised broader questions about the government's ability to respond to natural disasters as well as terror attacks.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.


"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

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Guest Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Four years ago this week, our nation was grappling with the catastrophic aftermath of the attacks on 9/11. What happened on that tragic day changed my state of New York, our nation’s capital and our country forever.


Over the past two weeks, we have come to a similar realization about Hurricane Katrina. The Hurricane left in its path not just death and devastation, but a deep, lasting scar. And while we must now work to do everything we can to help the victims of this national tragedy, we must also do everything we can to make sure that the mistakes that were made never happen again.


I called for an independent Katrina Commission because it is simply not appropriate for government to investigate itself. If we are truly going to provide the people in the Gulf – and all Americans – with the answers they deserve, we need an independent commission free of partisan politics. It is also important that Congress not be distracted from the task at hand – making sure that our fellow citizens get all the help they need as they recover and rebuild.


What happened today on the Senate floor is the same thing that happened four years ago when our nation was desperately searching for answers after 9/11. Urgent calls for an independent commission were repeatedly ignored, but the American people did not fall silent. They continued to demand action and eventually the Administration relinquished its opposition to the 9/11 Commission. And our nation was well served by the Commission’s work.


On behalf of the people of the Gulf who I visited with last week in Houston, and all Americans who are demanding answers, I will continue to fight for the creation of the Katrina Commission. I firmly believe that we need to look back to see what went wrong so we can move forward and do better. Only through an independent Katrina Commission will we be able to know that no storm or no act of terrorism will ever again leave us so unable to respond.

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Guest Jonathan S. Landay

The federal official with the power to mobilize a massive federal response to Hurricane Katrina was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, not the former FEMA chief who was relieved of his duties and resigned earlier this week, federal documents reviewed by Knight Ridder show.


Even before the storm struck the Gulf Coast, Chertoff could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials.

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You are right. Chertoff didn't shift that power to Brown until 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. It appears that Chertoff did not understand that he had power to make the decision. It appears he waited for the White House to make the call.


I am starting to feel bad for Michael Brown. The whole country hates the man for something he might not been completely at fault.


I willing to bet all the media's focus will be on Michael Chertoff.


I really believe a commission should be created to investigate this whole mess. The 911 Commission benifited our country with the Intelligence Reform Bill. We may be see an National Response Reform Bill as well.

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Guest Guest

The Washington Post reported that an empty Amtrak train left New Orleans, with room for thousands of potential evacuees. "We offered the city the opportunity to take evacuees out of harm's way…The city declined," said Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black. The train left New Orleans no passengers on board.


Two weeks later, Nagin denies on NBC's Meet the Press that Amtrak offered their services. "Amtrak never contacted me to make that offer," the mayor tells host Tim Russert. "I have never gotten that call, Tim, and I would love to have had that call. But it never happened."


Who is actually lying here?


A. The Washington Post

B. Cliff Black

C. Mayor Nagin


Roughly five hours after Katrina strikes the coast, FEMA director Michael Brown sends a memo – later obtained and made public by The Associated Press – requesting an additional 1,000 rescue workers from the Department of Homeland Security "within 48 hours" and 2,000 more within seven days. It is addressed to his boss, Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security. Brown refers to Katrina as "this near catastrophic event" (our emphasis.) He proposes sending the workers first for training in Georgia or Florida, then to the disaster area "when conditions are safe." Among the duties of the workers, Brown proposes, is to "convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials, community organizations and the general public." (Emphasis added.)


Later Brown will say FEMA itself has only 2,600 employees nationwide, and normally relies on state workers, the National Guard, private contractors and other federal agencies during disaster relief operations.


Who is responsible here?


A. Michael Brown

B. Michael Chertoff

C. George Bush

D. All the Above

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Guest Moderate DC

It is funny how quickly after the President admitted faults at the Federal level, his brain (Karl Rove) is quickly spinning a different message.


"The way that emergency operations act under the law is the responsibility and the power, the authority, to order an evacuation rests with state and local officials," Mr. Chertoff said in his television interview. "The federal government comes in and supports those officials."


That line of argument was echoed throughout the day, in harsher language, by Republicans reflecting the White House line.

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Guest wkyc.com

Did any hear about how a few hours after Katrina struck, Vice President Dick Cheney's office ordered South Mississippi Electric Power Association restore power to the Collins substations to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast. The Vice President's order delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt.


read all about it



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Guest Yeah Right

Okay than why are over 3/4 of the dead in Iraq Army and National Gaurd maybe because they dont have a sense of esprit de corps. To me they are under trained and lack the proper proffesionalism to do the job. I works with many soldiers and national gaurd and when most are given an order they are like whatever. Sure they do it. They look nasty, cant even get a haircut everyweek, dont know how to wear the uniform of a member of the United States Armed Forces. These people are just people who feel like playing soldier once a month. You can be a proud NG wife, I could care less. That makes you just a pathetic as them. You are just saying that your proud to be a loser.


The Army needs to undergo much stricter training. I mean when the war started they were complaining about not having good enough equipment to train with. But yet they have the biggest budget of all brances of the service. The Marine Corps is given the old equipment from the Army but yet they take it and still get the job done in much more efficient ways. Maybe its because they take care of the gear, or they know that unlike the Army they wont have someone wiping their as* for them as they go.


So you go be a proud NG wife be all you can be. Oh that ARMY of ONE crap is bullshi**. Most of the guys in the army just look out for themselves sorry. Its just some recruiting tactic that idiots fall for like your husband. Tell him if he wants to train go be a Navy Seal or a marine. :lol:

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