The Federal Response to Katrina - The Disaster Continues

The Washington Post:

It’a harder to blame the locals when the problems are happening nation-wide.

Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, red tape and poor planning have left thousands of evacuees without basic services, according to local and state officials, public policy experts and survivors themselves.

* In Houston, some housing shelters have been located so far from the center of town that it has become difficult for evacuees to find jobs.
* In Mississippi, people waiting for promised housing in the form of mobile homes or trailers found themselves in a Catch-22 situation: Even as local officials said they were waiting for FEMA to provide the shelters, officials at the federal agency said they were waiting for local officials to provide the right locations.
* In Mobile, Ala., careful plans by school administrators to cope with a certain number of evacuee children from Mississippi and Louisiana were disrupted when a fax last week gave officials 48 hours' notice that hundreds of additional evacuees were on the way.
* Some services have not reached their targets: At the Dallas convention center free legal resources for evacuees were hardly being used, partly because no one had told survivors how to think through what their legal needs might be.
* Public assistance programs for evacuees are going to vary widely, depending on welfare policies in individual states, meaning that evacuees who happened to be transported to one state are likely to receive very different benefits than those in others.

“I don’t see much evidence of overall planning and guidance,” said Richard Murray, a public policy expert in Houston, which is hosting thousands of evacuees.

In an e-mail, Murray, who is director of the University of Houston’s Center for Public Policy, wrote: “Couple a multi-state disaster of Katrina’s magnitude, (including some of the poorer and less well-governed states in the union), add on a dysfunctional federal bureaucracy that had deteriorated in recent years, and a chief executive whose motto seemed to be, until yesterday, the buck stops there, and we get a helluva mess.”

I’m seeing a ton of this stuff, and there are plenty of reports of people in the Gulf who still haven’t seen a FEMA rep.

But at least they turned on the lights for half an hour when Bush drove through on Thursday night.

Hey keep your liberal WAPO stuff in the P&R forums! Keep this zone free for those of us who love sex, minivans and baseball.

Edit: Dammit maybe I should make sure I clicked the right link before I spew my venom onto the page.

nah, spewing venom before confirming information sounds about right for p&r.

“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.

Of course, let’s not let facts get in the way of Bush/Fed Gov’t bashing.

Saying something doesn’t make it a fact. Also the response time didn’t matter much since so much of the support that did arrive ended up sitting on their collecitve asses waiting for someone to actually use them.

But that has nothing to do with this topic, which deals with the fact that things are still FUBAR weeks after the incident.

Oh, never mind then. :roll:

Here’s what the FEMA guy in charge of the response to Floyd has to say about Katrina:

John Copenhaver, a former FEMA regional director during the Clinton administration who led the response to Hurricane Floyd in 1999, said he was bewildered by the slow FEMA response.

It had been standard practice for FEMA to position supplies ahead of time, and the agency did pre-position drinking water and tarps to cover damaged roofs near where they would be needed. In addition, FEMA has coordinated its plans with state and local officials and let the Defense Department know beforehand what type of military assistance would be needed.

“I’m a little confused as to why it took so long to get the military presence running convoys into downtown New Orleans,” Copenhaver said.

Edit: Try this cached page if you don’t want to subscribe.

So I don’t know what to think. Believe facts tossed at me by a conservative editorialist as quoted on a message board or the words of a professional who was at the center of events back then. Decisions, decisions.

I don’t know who to believe, either.

John Copenhaver, a former FEMA regional director during the Clinton administration

" a professional who was at the center of events back then" Center of events? He is active in the Katrina situation?

Politics, politics. I’ll see your quote, and raise you mine.

Did you read, and think about, the link I provided? Especially the part about “no teleportation”?

Granted that we all wish the response could have been better, but was it really so bad (considering “real world” logistics), and was it Bush’s fault if it did not live up to your, perhaps, unrealistic expectations?

I honest to God /god think that sometimes the majority of posters on this forum live in a fantasy world, one where “if only the government was competent”, there would be no problems, the gov’t would take care of all our needs.

Let’s trade highlights, shall we? Here’s a little detail you conveniently left out:

John Copenhaver, a former FEMA regional director during the Clinton administration who led the response to Hurricane Floyd in 1999

I think Copenhaver’s certainly qualified to comment on what he observed in the FEMA response to Katrina, versus his own experiences with Floyd. Amazing how you have blinders of your own, isn’t it?

Blinders? Hardly, I see with the clarity of God’s Chosen Few, I Pray that you may See the Light also, and journey into the Sunlit Uplands .

Where’s your cult located? What are the membership requirements?

Where’s your cult located? What are the membership requirements?[/quote]

I have to agree with this statement.

The Sunlit Uplands sounds like someplace from a Tolkien book.

All “uplands” would be sunlit, unless they are underground uplands lit by kleig lights.

The reason we love you so much is because you’re so unbelievably batshit insane. Snuggles!

So… about school buses:

On the day of the storm, or perhaps the day after, FEMA turned down the state’s suggestion to use school buses because they are not air conditioned, Blanco said Friday in an interview.

Even after levees broke and residents were crowding the Louisiana Superdome, then-FEMA Director Mike Brown was bent on using his own buses to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco said.

During the delay, misery and mayhem mounted in the Dome, thousands gathered in desperation at the nearby convention center, and Americans watched in shock as dead and dying New Orleans residents were broadcast on national television.

The state had sent 68 school buses into the city on Monday.

Blanco took over more buses from Louisiana school systems and sent them in on Wednesday, two days after the storm. She tapped the National Guard to drive them. Each time the buses emptied an area, more people would appear, she said.

The buses took 15,728 people to safety, a Blanco aide said. But the state’s fleet of school buses wasn’t enough. On Wednesday, with the FEMA buses still not in sight, Blanco called the White House to talk to Bush and ended up speaking to Chief of Staff Andy Card.

“I said, ‘Even if we had 500 buses, they’ve underestimated the magnitude of this situation, and I think I need 5,000 buses, not 500,’” Blanco recounted.

“‘But, Andy, those 500 are not here,’” the governor said.

Card promised to get Blanco more buses.

Later Wednesday night, Blanco walked into the State Police Communications Center and asked if anyone knew anything about the buses.

An officer told her the buses were just entering the state.

“I said, ‘Do you mean as in North Louisiana, which is another six hours from New Orleans?,’” Blanco recalled in the interview. “He said, ‘Yes, m’am.’”

It was at that point, Blanco said, that she realized she had made a critical error.

“I assumed that FEMA had staged their buses in near proximity,” she said. “I expected them to be out of the storm’s way but accessible in one day’s time.”

It was late Wednesday. The buses wouldn’t get to New Orleans until Thursday. By then, many of the sickest and the weakest were dead or dying.

Well. That bus thing turned out unexpectedly.

So, hopefully the locals learned what happens when we ass-u-me… at least I can rest knowing that Brown has been vindicated 120%.

I can’t tell what’s a joke around here anymore.

I know what you mean…