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"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." - Winston Churchill


Bush, Nagel, Blanco and Hurricane Katrina: Was the response racist and slow?
(This is in response to a posting by TVD on Bookerrising, and also all the other criticism's I have heard.)

Lets start with Hurricane Charley:
"It was the strongest hurricane to strike the area since Hurricane Donna in 1960 and the strongest hurricane to strike Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992."

Aug 11. It reached hurricane stregth. "Charley became the second tropical storm to strike Florida in 24 hours when Tropical Storm Bonnie struck the Florida panhandle in Apalachicola at 11 a.m. EDT on August 12, 22 hours before Charley went over the Dry Tortugas. This made 2004 the first year two named storms have struck the same state in the same 24-hour period since 1906. Mainland landfall occurred only 29 hours apart."
"Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, said the President took the action under a major disaster declaration issued this afternoon immediately after receiving FEMA's analysis of the state's expedited request for federal assistance. The declaration covers damage to private property from the storms beginning on August 11."
This was issued on August 13th, after Charley had hit.

August 15th: "Recovery Activities Shift Into High Gear For Victims Of Hurricane Charley"
That is also the day Bush visited. Two days after the hurricane hit.

August 17th: "First Disaster Aid Checks Issued As Delivery Of Resources Ramps Up"

Now let's talk about Frances:

The press release from the White House is a Sept. 6 press release.

Aug 26 it was named Hurricane Frances. 14 days after Charley had hit florida.

Sept 1. GOVERNOR JEB BUSH. declared a state of emergency, and ordered the evacuation of 500,000 people. They ended up evacuating 2.8 million people, the largest in Florida history. (way more then was need to be evacuated from NO) Notice who was leading the evacuation, and this is after charley has hit, and this is the President's brother!!

"The STATE education system also responded to the pending crisis. Many universities across Florida canceled classes....Most schools were shut down from southern West Palm Beach to just south of Melbourne two days before the hurricane."

Frances hits Florida on Sept 4th.

"September 6th - Red Cross begins action in the area providing warm meals twice a day for a week as well as water and other needs. National Guard BEGINS providing MREs, water, ice, and occasionally tarps."
That is 2 days after Frances hit, when they BEGAN to provide MRE's and water.

how many people died? 5 in Florida, and 1 in Ohio due to weather related to Frances.

Notice, two days after it hit, the MRE's were "ready" to be distributed. Not "they are being distributed". Two days after Katrina the feds were ready to distribute food and water.
Again, the feds were not expected to respond to the first 24-48 hours.

Oh yeah, Ivan: (using the link TVD gave)
"Brown urged citizens to heed all warnings and follow instructions of local authorities, especially regarding evacuations. He reiterated the advice of state officials for residents in the hurricane’s potential path to have food and water to survive for a minimum of 72 hours, a battery operated radio, flashlights and batteries."

"Once Hurricane Ivan clears impacted states, supplies and equipment WILL BE moved into the hardest hit areas as quickly as possible, especially water, ice, meals, medical supplies, tents and tarps. Due to expected FLOODING, FEDERAL AND STATE officials caution that it may be SEVERAL DAYS before supplies and emergency workers can reach all the victims of this hurricane."

"FEMA personnel remain in Florida working with the victims of the two previous hurricanes. However, some staff has been repositioned to RESPOND to STATE requests for assistance with Hurricane Ivan."

Am I the only one seeing a pattern here regarding who is responsible for what actions, and the expected time frames?

Now let's go to Katrina. Let's see if the response was different because the people were black and poor, and that Bush responded in a slow manner. We must keep in mind, that Katrina was MUCH worse than the other three hurricanes, more infrastructure was damaged. It would not be unreasonable to expect a slower response, due to the security situation and the complete devastation. (For those who seem to forget, it is the worst natural disaster in at least 100 years!) But guess what actually happened.
"We cannot stress enough the danger this hurricane poses to Gulf Coast communities," Bush told reporters on his ranch in central Texas. A day after declaring an emergency for Louisiana, Bush declared an emergency for the state of Mississippi. Federal emergency workers were sending water, food and other supplies to staging centers in the Southeast expected to be affected by the powerful storm."
The date? August 28th (just FYI Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29th.)
Well looky there! they were responding BEFORE Katrina hit. It continues: "Bush met briefly with reporters after speaking with federal disaster management officials and with the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida."

WAIT! There is more.
August 28: "A monstrous Hurricane Katrina barreled toward New Orleans on Sunday with 160-mph wind and a threat of a 28-foot storm surge, forcing a mandatory evacuation of the below-sea-level city and prayers for those who remained to face a doomsday scenario."
Katrina intensified into a Category 5 giant over the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 175 mph before weakening slightly on a path to hit New Orleans around sunrise Monday. That would make it the city's first direct hit in 40 years and the most powerful storm ever to slam the city....By evening, the first squalls, driving rains and lightning began hitting New Orleans. A grim Mayor C. Ray Nagin earlier ordered the mandatory evacuation for his city of 485,000 people, conceding Katrina's storm surge pushing up the Mississippi River would swamp the city's system of levees, flooding the bowl-shaped city and causing potentially months of misery. "We are facing a storm that most of us have long feared," he said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime event." Conceding that as many as 100,000 inner-city residents didn't have the means to leave and an untold number of tourists were stranded by the closing of the airport, the city arranged buses to take people to 10 last-resort shelters, including the Superdome.
(It appears the mayor knew that at least 100,000 of the residents didn't have a means to leave the city. His response? Did he contact the Gov? the White House? have more buses called up?)
It does look like the city did provide SOME buses for residents to flee. Some of the buses only took people to the superdome. again, giving the impression that it would be a safe haven. It also looks like the city told people to bring supplies:
"The 70,000-seat Superdome, the home of football's Saints, opened at daybreak Sunday, giving first priority to frail, elderly people on walkers, some with oxygen tanks. They were told to bring enough food, water and medicine to last up to FIVE DAYS. "I was going to the Superdome and then I saw the two-mile line," the 42-year-old musician said. "I figure if I'm going to die, I'm going to die with cold beer and my best buds."

But it does not look like they were actually prepared for the people at the superdome. The NFL can get 70,000 inside in less than an hour, but the city cannot? Sorry, but it looks like the mayor and the city said "you are on your own. If you dont bring water, you will not have water" Such compassionate Democrats. LOL. Notice they knew early Sunday morning the huge amount of people coming to the Superdome, that's the day before Katrina hit.

August 29: "Huge lines stretched over several city blocks as some 30,000 people loaded with sleeping bags and coolers waited to get inside the city's Superdome stadium, declared an emergency shelter by authorities....Officials told local radio that some 30,000 people were in the Superdome stadium and that there was room for about 70,000."
Monday, the city is still sending out the message that the Superdome is safe, and people can still come.

"...forecasters warned that Hurricane Katrina would cause potentially deadly floods in this city of 1.4 million people. It was expected to make landfall early Monday....Ashley Thomas, a 20-year-old student at Xavier University here, was among those checking in. 'I can't leave, I don't have a dependable car,' she said....She said the family also did not want to flee the coastal city as an aunt is in hospital and is not being evacuated........The mayor of Kenner, a western suburb, warned that the city's water would be turned off Sunday evening and it would take at least THREE DAYS to get it online again. Kenner Mayor Philip Capitano pleaded with residents to flee, warning that the storm swell from Lake Pontchartrain would flood the entire city, including the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. If you're staying make sure you have a way to escape out of your attic or roof. This is clearly a killer storm. If the wind doesn't get you the water will," Capitano warned....(Four friends leaving a cruise was caught in New Orleans) "Of the four who set off for the cruise, just three remained in New Orleans. One headed for the highway in a huff and hasn't been heard from since. 'He was furious with us because he feels we did not try hard enough to get out of here,' Prisco said. "We heard from a friend of a friend he hitched a ride with some people. They made it about sixty miles in eight hours." A visitor to the city with no car found a way to get out!

My Closing Comments:
The info in those links back up my contention that the city said the right things regarding a mandatory evacuation, but it's actions told the citizens a different story. Would you leave the city with loved ones still in a hospital? How bad could it be, if the Superdome is a safe spot? Nobody expected to be living in the Superdome, it sent a message that things would blow over quickly. The fact that the city was also busing people from other areas to the Superdome, also said that it was a safe place. So why leave? I am, in no way, taking away from people their personal responsibility. It comes down to an individual making a decision. The city could not even provide enough police to secure the Superdome?

The federal government responded in a manner that is astounding to anybody other than partisans. Within 72 hours (Of begginning the main actions, and five days total) they evacuated over 100,000 people; over 5,000 more people were rescued (In addition to the 4,500 rescued within the first two days); food was brought in; medical supplies brought in and hospitals evacuated; the Convention Center evacuated (Another 20,000 people). Over 30,000 national guardsmen were mobilized; Naval ships were moved to the coast; satellite images were avaliable to the rescuers; Communications was restored for some of the city govt. This does not include all of the work that was done in Alabama and Mississippi. An area of land about the size of the UK!
This is with the worst breakdown of infrastructure caused by a natural diaster.
Look at the facts. In conditions many times worse than anything over the last 100 years, the federal government responded in the same amount of time as it did for Charley, Frances and Ivan.
FYI: The levees did not break, the flood walls broke. The levee and flood walls were suppose to be able to handle a Cat 3 hurricane. Katrina was a Cat 3 when it hit New Orleans.

The monday morning QB's who are attacking Bush need to take a good look at reality. They might even want to listen to their hero, Bill Clinton.

(I am willing to even say that Bush maybe should have stayed on the backs of the city and state officials much harder to ensure they were doing what needed to be done. That by Monday when Katrina hit, he should have probably spoken out a little sooner. At best it would have saved one day in the entire timeframe. )

Those who are excusing Nagel and his crying , whining tirade that was an embarrassment. You have to deny reality and facts to excuse him from all, or even a large majority of the fault. Most of the people probably dies from the initial flooding. That means ONLY evacuation would have truly changed in any meaningful way the loss of life due to Katrina. Isn't the loss of life the most important thing? Not discomfort.
(FYI: I have a friend who is a liberal Dem, one who loves Clinton and hates Bush. She even felt Nagel was an embarassment. All Dems do not portray this man as some beacon of courage.)

Couldn't Nagel have at least thanked the Gov of Texas, and those Texans along with the people of Baton Rouge for helping? I guess he felt they were obligated to do good things, therefore did nto deserve credit. What is also most amazing is that he can only say that the Gov. and Bush should have ignored the law and done something. Thats what he said on 60 Minutes. Not once has he visited the Superdome or the Astrodome. (But he had time to get on 60 Minutes.)
All the liberals that screamed "If Bush would just admit he made a mistake (regarding Iraq), then I could feel differently" Suddenly, they dont even see mistakes made by Democratic politicians, especially if they are black or a woman. Why can't Nagel tell us all the things he did (other than cry and curse) and that when he handed the baton to the federal people, they dropped it? (ooh, ooh, I know the answer.) I am not laying all the blame on Nagel, the Gov shares a large part, if not the largest part of the blame. She had the National Guard under her command. (FYI: Gov. Blanco ordered buses to the Superdome for the first time on Sept. 1)

What happened in New Orleans is that a corrupt police force that was already undersized for that city (Not Nagel's fault), was exposed. This is what happens when first responders fail to act properly, this shows the importance of police and firemen in reacting to any crises. Maybe we need to debate exacty how quickly the federal government should inject itself, especially with natiuonal security issues, but hindsight partisan name calling is nto accomplishing anything.

posted by Sean McCray | 12:55 AM |
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