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  1. #46
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Quote Originally Posted by thoey
    I guess it's better than being known for a cigar and a stained dress...

    :tongue:
    I'm not sure I agree with that. I'd rather be the president remembered for a cigar and stained dress than one that's going to be remembered as having two of the country's biggest low points under his watch, with questions about his leadership, motives, and decisions surrounding the administration during that time.

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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Sept. 6, 2005 10:18 p.m. EDT
    Louisiana Officials in Flood-Money Scam
    Nine months before the Hurricane Katrina disaster, three Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness officials were indicted for obstructing an audit into flood prevention expenditures.

    In a November 2004 press release, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana announced: "A federal grand jury has returned two separate indictments charging three members of the State Military Department with offenses related to the obstruction of an audit of the use of federal funds for flood mitigation activities throughout Louisiana.
    "The two emergency management officials were senior employees of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Both were charged with conspiracy to obstruct a federal audit."
    Gov. Kathleen Blanco told Louisiana's News-Star at the time that she was disturbed by the indictments. She said the National Guard is cooperating with the investigation "as I expect them to do." Reports of rampant corruption among Louisiana's state and local agencies have been cited in recent days to explain why officials were so ill-prepared to deal with the Katrina disaster.
    My heart beats crazy and my blood runs wild

  3. #48
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Gratifying and Disturbing Reactions

    Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005
    In the immediate aftermath of Katrina's wrath, two almost contradictory reactions have emerged. One is the reaction of most American people and is overwhelmingly positive and constructive. The other that of the media and certain politicians is negative and destructive.

    We are witnessing in the American people, who are united in a spirit of beneficence, sacrifice and selflessness, a magnificent outpouring of good will, untainted and undistracted by issues of blame or self-flagellation.
    This is the best of the best of the human condition. We saw it post-9/11 in the heartfelt sympathy flowing from all Americans toward the victims of the terrorist attacks and the philanthropic action taken to ameliorate and repair the damage and loss.
    In response to 9/11 and now Katrina, we haven't seen just empty rhetoric, but hard-core action from individuals, corporations and churches throughout the land. In my own little hometown in Missouri, as well as scores of surrounding communities, hundreds, perhaps thousands of volunteers are coming out of the woodwork and vaulting into action. They are opening up their wallets and homes to the victims people they've never heard of or met and dedicating their valuable time to the relief effort.
    People are engaged in these activities not for the credit or praise they might bring to themselves, but simply because they are motivated to help fellow human beings in need. These are not isolated incidents by the usual good Samaritans, but part of a widespread pattern of genuine altruism.
    In this we are seeing the greatness and goodness of the American people, born of an independent, can-do spirit that requires neither prompting by government nor chiding by lecturing onlookers.
    Sadly, we have seen another, far less admirable pattern on display following these national tragedies and losses, mostly generated by the media and politicians, if recent polls are any indication.
    Everyday American people and institutions are busy donating funds and getting their hands dirty to help the needy. Meanwhile, the chattering classes and political demagogues, at their repugnant worst, are pointing their arrogant fingers at others and pounding their puffed-up chests, demanding investigations.
    Among other things, this is transferred hostility of epic proportions. The Bush-haters, for example, couldn't wait to add his administration's alleged inadequate disaster response to their laundry list of reasons to despise him.
    Someone needs to answer those allegations in due course, and there needs to be accountability wherever fault lies, if for no other reason than to try to correct whatever problems or weaknesses might have contributed to governmental failures.
    But this doesn't mean we should rush to judgment and condemn people and institutions before all the facts are in, especially when our constructive energies, for now, ought to be directed elsewhere.
    I think part of the reason we see such finger-pointing is that some of us live in a distorted reality born of a stunning hubris. It teaches that human beings and especially Americans are virtually immune from harm from human or natural enemies if we just take the appropriate precautionary measures or avoid missteps that lead to disasters.
    We saw similar finger-pointing after 9/11; we see it every time an American soldier tragically dies in Iraq. It can't just be that murderous terrorists attacked us without provocation or warning. The fault has to lie with failures of our intelligence agencies as if they are capable of perfection and preventing all attacks.
    When our soldiers die in Iraq, it can't just be that murderous, shadow-lurking terrorists are bound to succeed on occasion. It must be that we are failing altogether in our mission, because the presumption is that unless we have an unblemished record, someone is radically at fault.
    This same hubris causes some to underestimate nature and overestimate our ability to affect its awesome forces whether it is our disbelief at being unable to tame the destructive powers of hurricanes or the ludicrous attribution of such disasters to man-made global warming.
    As great as we Americans are, we are just human beings wonderful as human beings go, but far from perfect. We are vulnerable to the same harms as all other human beings, and not everything that befalls us is our fault. Maybe heads need to roll on this thing in the fullness of time; those at whatever level of government whose action or inaction may have led to suffering or death must be accountable. But for now, we mustn't allow the armchair demands for perfection by the whining classes to obscure our glimpse of the human kindness on display in response to this disaster and the heroic rescue efforts now under way.
    My heart beats crazy and my blood runs wild

  4. #49
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    www.washtimes.com/national/pruden.htm

    George W. finally gets it -- in more ways than one. The tardy president was back on the Gulf Coast yesterday, bucking up the spirits of the damned and stiffening the resolve of the slackers.
    He's getting it as well from his critics, many of whom can't believe their great good luck, that a hurricane, of all things, finally gives them the opening they've been waiting for to heap calumny and scorn on him for something that might get a little traction. Cindy Sheehan is yesterday's news; she couldn't attract a camera crew this morning if she stripped down to her step-ins for a march on Prairie Chapel Ranch.
    The vultures of the venomous left are attacking on two fronts, first that the president didn't do what the incompetent mayor of New Orleans and the pouty governor of Louisiana should have done, and didn't, in the early hours after Katrina loosed the deluge on the city that care and good judgment forgot. Ray Nagin, the mayor, ordered a "mandatory" evacuation a day late, but kept the city's 2,000 school buses parked and locked in neat rows when there was still time to take the refugees to higher ground. The bright-yellow buses sit ruined now in four feet of dirty water. Then the governor, Kathleen Blanco, resisted early pleas to declare martial law, and her dithering opened the way for looters, rapists and killers to make New Orleans an unholy hell. Gov. Haley Barbour did not hesitate in neighboring Mississippi, and looters, rapists and killers have not turned the streets of Gulfport and Biloxi into killing fields.
    The drumbeat of partisan ingratitude continues even after the president flooded the city with National Guardsmen from a dozen states, paratroopers from Fort Bragg and Marines from the Atlantic and the Pacific. The flutter and chatter of the helicopters above the ghostly abandoned city, some of them from as far away as Singapore and averaging 240 missions a day, is eerily reminiscent of the last days of Saigon. Nevertheless, Sen. Mary Landrieu, who seems to think she's cute when she's mad, even threatened on national television to punch out the president -- a felony, by the way, even as a threat. Mayor Nagin, who you might think would be looking for a place to hide, and Gov. Blanco, nursing a bigtime snit, can't find the right word of thanks to a nation pouring out its heart and emptying its pockets. Maybe the senator should consider punching out the governor, only a misdemeanor.
    The race hustlers waited for three days to inflame a tense situation, but then set to work with their usual dedication. The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, our self-appointed twin ambassadors of ill will, made the scene as soon as they could, taking up the coded cry that Katrina was the work of white folks, that a shortage of white looters and snipers made looting and sniping look like black crime, that calling the refugees "refugees" was an act of linguistic racism. A "civil rights activist" on Arianna Huffington's celebrity blog even floated the rumor that the starving folks abandoned in New Orleans had been forced to eat their dead -- after only four days. New Orleans has a reputation for its unusual cuisine, but this tale was so tall that nobody paid it much attention. Neither did anyone tell the tale-bearer to put a dirty sock in it.
    Condi Rice went to the scene to say what everyone can see for himself, that no one but the race hustlers imagine Americans of any hue attaching strings to the humanitarian aid pouring into the broken and bruised cities of the Gulf. Most of the suffering faces in the flickering television images are black, true enough, and most of the helping hands are white.
    Black and white churches of all denominations across a wide swath of the South stretching from Texas across Arkansas and Louisiana into Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia turned their Sunday schools into kitchens and dormitories. In Memphis, Junior Leaguers turned out for baby-sitting duty at the city's largest, most fashionable and nearly all white Baptist church, cradling tiny black infants in compassionate arms so their mothers could finally sleep. The owner of a honky-tonk showed up to ask whether the church would "accept money from a bar." A pastor took $1,400, some of it in quarters, dimes and nickels, with grateful thanks and a promise to see that it is spent wisely on the deserving -- most of whom are black.
    The first polls, no surprise, show the libels are not working. A Washington Post-ABC survey found that the president is not seen as the villain the nutcake left is trying to make him out to be. Americans, skeptical as ever, are believing their own eyes.
    Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  5. #50
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    AFTER THE STORM

    Blame Amid the Tragedy
    Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin failed their constituents.

    BY BOB WILLIAMS
    Wednesday, September 7, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

    As the devastation of Hurricane Katrina continues to shock and sadden the nation, the question on many lips is, Who is to blame for the inadequate response?

    As a former state legislator who represented the legislative district most impacted by the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, I can fully understand and empathize with the people and public officials over the loss of life and property.

    Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal government, rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. I am fully aware of the challenges of having a quick and responsive emergency response to a major disaster. And there is definitely a time for accountability; but what isn't fair is to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible--local and state officials who failed to do their job as the first responders. The plain fact is, lives were needlessly lost in New Orleans due to the failure of Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the city's mayor, Ray Nagin.

    The primary responsibility for dealing with emergencies does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to local and state officials who are charged by law with the management of the crucial first response to disasters. First response should be carried out by local and state emergency personnel under the supervision of the state governor and his emergency operations center.

    The actions and inactions of Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin are a national disgrace due to their failure to implement the previously established evacuation plans of the state and city. Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin cannot claim that they were surprised by the extent of the damage and the need to evacuate so many people. Detailed written plans were already in place to evacuate more than a million people. The plans projected that 300,000 people would need transportation in the event of a hurricane like Katrina. If the plans had been implemented, thousands of lives would likely have been saved.

    In addition to the plans, local, state and federal officials held a simulated hurricane drill 13 months ago, in which widespread flooding supposedly trapped 300,000 people inside New Orleans. The exercise simulated the evacuation of more than a million residents. The problems identified in the simulation apparently were not solved.

    A year ago, as Hurricane Ivan approached, New Orleans ordered an evacuation but did not use city or school buses to help people evacuate. As a result many of the poorest citizens were unable to evacuate. Fortunately, the hurricane changed course and did not hit New Orleans, but both Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin acknowledged the need for a better evacuation plan. Again, they did not take corrective actions. In 1998, during a threat by Hurricane George, 14,000 people were sent to the Superdome and theft and vandalism were rampant due to inadequate security. Again, these problems were not corrected.
    The New Orleans contingency plan is still, as of this writing, on the city's Web site, and states: "The safe evacuation of threatened populations is one of the principle [sic] reasons for developing a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan." But the plan was apparently ignored.

    Mayor Nagin was responsible for giving the order for mandatory evacuation and supervising the actual evacuation: His Office of Emergency Preparedness (not the federal government) must coordinate with the state on elements of evacuation and assist in directing the transportation of evacuees to staging areas. Mayor Nagin had to be encouraged by the governor to contact the National Hurricane Center before he finally, belatedly, issued the order for mandatory evacuation. And sadly, it apparently took a personal call from the president to urge the governor to order the mandatory evacuation.

    The city's evacuation plan states: "The city of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas." But even though the city has enough school and transit buses to evacuate 12,000 citizens per fleet run, the mayor did not use them. To compound the problem, the buses were not moved to high ground and were flooded. The plan also states that "special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific lifesaving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed." This was not done.

    The evacuation plan warned that "if an evacuation order is issued without the mechanisms needed to disseminate the information to the affected persons, then we face the possibility of having large numbers of people either stranded and left to the mercy of a storm, or left in an area impacted by toxic materials." That is precisely what happened because of the mayor's failure.

    Instead of evacuating the people, the mayor ordered the refugees to the Superdome and Convention Center without adequate security and no provisions for food, water and sanitary conditions. As a result people died, and there was even rape committed, in these facilities. Mayor Nagin failed in his responsibility to provide public safety and to manage the orderly evacuation of the citizens of New Orleans. Now he wants to blame Gov. Blanco and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In an emergency the first requirement is for the city's emergency center to be linked to the state emergency operations center. This was not done.

    The federal government does not have the authority to intervene in a state emergency without the request of a governor. President Bush declared an emergency prior to Katrina hitting New Orleans, so the only action needed for federal assistance was for Gov. Blanco to request the specific type of assistance she needed. She failed to send a timely request for specific aid.
    In addition, unlike the governors of New York, Oklahoma and California in past disasters, Gov. Blanco failed to take charge of the situation and ensure that the state emergency operation facility was in constant contact with Mayor Nagin and FEMA. It is likely that thousands of people died because of the failure of Gov. Blanco to implement the state plan, which mentions the possible need to evacuate up to one million people. The plan clearly gives the governor the authority for declaring an emergency, sending in state resources to the disaster area and requesting necessary federal assistance.

    State legislators and governors nationwide need to update their contingency plans and the operation procedures for state emergency centers. Hurricane Katrina had been forecast for days, but that will not always be the case with a disaster (think of terrorist attacks). It must be made clear that the governor and locally elected officials are in charge of the "first response."

    I am not attempting to excuse some of the delays in FEMA's response. Congress and the president need to take corrective action there, also. However, if citizens expect FEMA to be a first responder to terrorist attacks or other local emergencies (earthquakes, forest fires, volcanoes), they will be disappointed. The federal government's role is to offer aid upon request.

    The Louisiana Legislature should conduct an immediate investigation into the failures of state and local officials to implement the written emergency plans. The tragedy is not over, and real leadership in the state and local government are essential in the months to come. More importantly, the hurricane season is still upon us, and local and state officials must stay focused on the jobs for which they were elected--and not on the deadly game of passing the emergency buck.

    Mr. Williams is president of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a free market public policy research organization in Olympia, Wash.

  6. #51
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Europe's response: An odd mixture

    By Richard Bernstein The New York Times

    SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2005


    BERLIN They were perhaps a bit slow, but the expressions of sympathyand offers of aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina did materialize in Europe through the week.

    Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany declared, "Our American friends should know that we are standing by them." The French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, offered to send supplies, 2 airplanes and about 35 French civil security troops from the Caribbean, presumably to help maintain order in New Orleans.

    Still, Europe's response to the calamity of Katrina is a complicated mixture. To be sure, there was plenty of normal empathy and willingness to help a longtime ally and former savior, but much of it, like Villepin's offer of troops, seemed rather formulaic, a going through the motions without being motivated by any genuine surge of affection for an afflicted nation.

    Why? For one thing, there are other disasters occupying the minds of many Europeans - the famine in Niger, the deaths of Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad, the killings in Darfur, Sudan - are taking place in poor countries less able to take care of themselves than the most powerful and the richest country on earth.

    It is hard to measure this, but judging from the commentary and the blogs, the collective European sorrow for the victims of the tsunami, and certainly for Sept. 11, seems to have been more immediate and deeply felt than for the victims of Katrina, and this is not only because the tsunami was far vaster in its destructiveness. It is also because the tsunami victims were, by and large, poor. But there are other factors at work here, notably that the spectacle of the hurricane causing a disaster of third world proportions in the United States seems to have provoked a sort of dismay among Europeans mingling with the sorrow.

    As a reporter on BBC Television said on Friday, not able to keep the anger from his voice, the looting, the armed gangs, the gunplay, and, especially, the arrogance, in his view, that mostly white police displayed toward mostly black residents, represented "the dark underbelly of life in this country."

    There is something shameful about the way a natural disaster has produced behavior that, for example, the tsunami did not produce in the third world countries it hit, and it is painful to be a witness to somebody else's shame.

    "Why should hundreds die, mostly African-Americans, in a predicted disaster in the richest nation on earth," was one expression of a widespread feeling in Europe, this one appearing Friday in a letter in the Guardian, the British paper.

    There were many comments to the effect that earlier predictions of the disaster did not lead public officials to make sure the levees would withstand any possible onslaught, and there was the unspoken opinion that such would not have been the case, say, with the likes of the Netherlands, or in any of the rich European countries.

    "These are incredible scenes from the richest and the biggest country in the world," an anchorman, Jean-Pierre Pernaut, said on one of the main midday French news program on Friday. On the competing channel, the news program had an interview with a specialist on the United States, Nicole Bacharan, who said, "These images reveal to the world the reality in the southern states: the poverty of 37 million Americans."

    A few environmentalists in Europe clearly seized on the situation to express one of their greatest irritations: namely the unwillingness of the Bush administration to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

    Exhibit number one in this regard would seem to be Jürgen Trittin, the German environment minister, though others in Europe echoed this sentiment. "The American president has closed his eyes to the economic and human damage that natural catastrophes such as Katrina - in other words, disasters caused by a lack of climate protection measures - can visit on his country," Trittin said.

    But Trittin's comment, while headline grabbing in Germany, provoked as much outrage as approval.

    "Instead of standing by the Americans as they try to get to grips with the hurricane catastrophe, our environment minister Trittin shows the world the face of the ugly German," the mass circulation Bild Zeitung wrote Friday. A British commentator, Gerard Baker, called comments like that of Trittin and a few others examples of "intellectual looting"; it was, he said, "the predictable exploitation of tragedy for political purposes."

    But Baker also went on to make the point that the real problem was the inherent inequality of suffering. "The tragedy has been visited disproportionately, indeed almost exclusively, on the city's African-Americans," he wrote.

    In other words, no doubt most Europeans feel sorry over what happened, and many will no doubt contribute to the funds that will be set up to help the victims.

    At the same time, the particular circumstances of New Orleans and Biloxi have tended to confirm many of the worst visions of America that prevail in Europe, the vision of a country of staggering inequalities, of a kind of political indifference to the general welfare (especially in the Bush administration), and an absence of what the Europeans call "solidarity."

    As that BBC reporter put it, there were no scenes of armed gangs of looters in gun battles with police in Sri Lanka after the tsunami.

    That things have gone so badly so quickly after the storm in New Orleans has produced something beyond sympathy in Europe: disappointment, distress, fear that a major city in the world's most powerful nation could have fallen into something that looks, from this side of the Atlantic, like anarchy.
    Last edited by adarian_too; -09-08-2005 at 04:12 PM.

  7. #52
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    From ABC News
    NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 6, 2005 In New Orleans, those in peril and those in power have pointed the finger squarely at the federal government for the delayed relief effort.

    But experts say when natural disasters strike, it is the primary responsibility of state and local governments not the federal government to respond.

    New Orleans' own comprehensive emergency plan raises the specter of "having large numbers of people stranded" and promises "the city will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas."

    "Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves," the plan states.

    When Hurricane Katrina hit, however, that plan was not followed completely.

    Instead of sending city buses to evacuate those who could not make it out on their own, people in New Orleans were told to go to the Superdome and the Convention Center, where no one provided sufficient sustenance or security.


    'Lives Would Have Been Saved'

    New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said "80 percent" of the city was evacuated before the storm hit, but Bob Williams says that's not good enough.

    Williams dealt with emergency response issues as a state representative in Washington when his district was forced to deal with the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

    "If the plan were implemented, lives would have been saved," Williams said.

    There's no question the federal government plays a major role in disaster relief. But federal officials say in order to get involved, they must first be asked to do so by state officials.

    As one FEMA official told ABC News, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco failed to submit a request for help in a timely manner.

    Shortly before Katrina hit, she sent President Bush a request asking for shelter and provisions, but didn't specifically ask for help with evacuations. One aide to the governor told ABC News today Blanco thought city officials were taking care of the evacuation.

    Nonetheless, some experts argue that the federal government should have been more proactive.

    "If the city and the state are stumbling or in over their head, then it's FEMA's [Federal Emergency Management Agency's] responsibility to show some leadership," said Jerry Hauer, director of public health preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Both the president and Congress have vowed to investigate questions of blame. It may already be safe to conclude that there will be plenty of it to go around.

    ABC News' Dan Harris filed this report for "World News Tonight."
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  8. #53
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Louisiana Officials Could Lose the Katrina Blame Game
    By Jeff Johnson
    CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
    September 07, 2005

    (1st Add: Includes information about restoration of Mardi Gras fountain)

    (CNSNews.com) - The Bush administration is being widely criticized for the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina and the allegedly inadequate protection for "the big one" that residents had long feared would hit New Orleans. But research into more than ten years of reporting on hurricane and flood damage mitigation efforts in and around New Orleans indicates that local and state officials did not use federal money that was available for levee improvements or coastal reinforcement and often did not secure local matching funds that would have generated even more federal funding.

    In December of 1995, the Orleans Levee Board, the local government entity that oversees the levees and floodgates designed to protect New Orleans and the surrounding areas from rising waters, bragged in a supplement to the Times-Picayune newspaper about federal money received to protect the region from hurricanes.

    "In the past four years, the Orleans Levee Board has built up its arsenal. The additional defenses are so critical that Levee Commissioners marched into Congress and brought back almost $60 million to help pay for protection," the pamphlet declared. "The most ambitious flood-fighting plan in generations was drafted. An unprecedented $140 million building campaign launched 41 projects."

    The levee board promised Times-Picayune readers that the "few manageable gaps" in the walls protecting the city from Mother Nature's waters "will be sealed within four years (1999) completing our circle of protection."

    But less than a year later, that same levee board was denied the authority to refinance its debts. Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle "repeatedly faulted the Levee Board for the way it awards contracts, spends money and ignores public bid laws," according to the Times-Picayune. The newspaper quoted Kyle as saying that the board was near bankruptcy and should not be allowed to refinance any bonds, or issue new ones, until it submitted an acceptable plan to achieve solvency.

    Blocked from financing the local portion of the flood fighting efforts, the levee board was unable to spend the federal matching funds that had been designated for the project.

    By 1998, Louisiana's state government had a $2 billion construction budget, but less than one tenth of one percent of that -- $1.98 million -- was dedicated to levee improvements in the New Orleans area. State appropriators were able to find $22 million that year to renovate a new home for the Louisiana Supreme Court and $35 million for one phase of an expansion to the New Orleans convention center.

    The following year, the state legislature did appropriate $49.5 million for levee improvements, but the proposed spending had to be allocated by the State Bond Commission before the projects could receive financing. The commission placed the levee improvements in the "Priority 5" category, among the projects least likely to receive full or immediate funding.

    The Orleans Levee Board was also forced to defer $3.7 million in capital improvement projects in its 2001 budget after residents of the area rejected a proposed tax increase to fund its expanding operations. Long term deferments to nearly 60 projects, based on the revenue shortfall, totaled $47 million worth of work, including projects to shore up the floodwalls.

    No new state money had been allocated to the area's hurricane protection projects as of October of 2002, leaving the available 65 percent federal matching funds for such construction untouched.

    "The problem is money is real tight in Baton Rouge right now," state Sen. Francis Heitmeier (D-Algiers) told the Times-Picayune. "We have to do with what we can get."

    Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Mark Drennen told local officials that, if they reduced their requests for state funding in other, less critical areas, they would have a better chance of getting the requested funds for levee improvements. The newspaper reported that in 2000 and 2001, "the Bond Commission has approved or pledged millions of dollars for projects in Jefferson Parish, including construction of the Tournament Players Club golf course near Westwego, the relocation of Hickory Avenue in Jefferson (Parish) and historic district development in Westwego."

    There is no record of such discretionary funding requests being reduced or withdrawn, but in October of 2003, nearby St. Charles Parish did receive a federal grant for $475,000 to build bike paths on top of its levees.

    Earlier this year, the levee board did complete a $2.5 million restoration project. After months of delays, officials rolled away fencing to reveal the restored 1962 Mardi Gras fountain in a four-acre park featuring a new 600-foot plaza between famous Lakeshore Drive and the sea wall.

    Financing for the renovation came from a property tax passed by New Orleans voters in 1983. The tax, which generates more than $6 million each year for the levee board, is dedicated to capital projects. Levee board officials defended more than $600,000 in cost overruns for the Mardi Gras fountain project, according to the Times-Picayune, "citing their responsibility to maintain the vast green space they have jurisdiction over along the lakefront."

    Democrats blame Bush administration

    Congressional Democrats have been quick to blame the White House for poor preparation and then a weak response related to Hurricane Katrina. U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, joined two of his colleagues from the Transportation and Infrastructure and Homeland Security committees Tuesday in a letter requesting hearings into what the trio called a "woefully inadequate" federal response.

    "Hurricane Katrina was an unstoppable force of nature," Waxman wrote along with Reps. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). "But it is plain that the federal government could have done more, sooner, to respond to the immediate survival needs of the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi.

    "In fact, different choices for funding and planning to protect New Orleans may even have mitigated the flooding of the city," the Democrats added.

    But Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) suggested that Waxman "overlooks many other questions that need to be asked, and prematurely faults the federal government for all governmental shortcomings; in fact, local and state government failures are not mentioned at all in [Waxman's] letter."

    Davis wrote that Waxman's questions about issues such as the lack of federal plans for evacuating residents without access to vehicles and the alleged failure of the Department of Homeland Security to ensure basic communications capacity for first responders might "prematurely paint the picture that these are solely, or even primarily, federal government responsibilities.

    "This is not the time to attack or defend government entities for political purposes. Rather, this is a time to do the oversight we're charged with doing," Davis continued. "Our Committee will aggressively investigate what went wrong and what went right. We'll do it by the book, and let the chips fall where they may."

    The House Government Reform Committee will begin hearings on federal disaster preparations and the response to Hurricane Katrina the week of Sept. 12. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is schedule to hold hearings on the economic recovery from Katrina beginning Wednesday morning.
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  9. #54
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Instead of blaming federal authorities, the country ought to be giving thanks

    by Linda Chavez

    http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com

    "You and your family (yes, your children, too) should be dropped right in the middle of New Orleans and be forced to live there for three days, and maybe then your tight grip on the GOP might be loosened and you'll be awakened to the failures of the incompetent man sitting in the White House." Such is the vitriol spewing forth in the aftermath of Katrina from those who believe George W. Bush is responsible for all of life's misfortunes. I received this hateful e-mail after commenting on television that while the federal response to the crisis has shouldered most of the criticism, state and local officials bore major responsibility for the chaos that enveloped New Orleans in the immediate wake of the hurricane.

    As it happened, my youngest son, Rudy, was in New Orleans as the storm approached the Gulf Coast, so I was acutely focused on what actions were being taken to evacuate the city. On Aug. 27, with the hurricane gaining force in the Gulf, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin called for a voluntary evacuation of the city. But even after he ordered a mandatory evacuation the next day, he made no plans to transport the elderly, the infirm, or those too poor to get themselves out, much less thousands of tourists stranded without cars. On the afternoon of Aug. 27, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco held a press briefing in which she answered a question about what could be done to avert disaster: "We can pray very hard that the intensity will weaken. We don't know what it's going to be yet, but we're all watching the weather service. I believe that's the best we can do right now." It was at that point that I knew my son was in real trouble.

    The governor had the power to call out the National Guard in advance of the storm. Indeed, it was imperative that she do so if troops were to be available in the immediate hours after the hurricane hit since it takes 72 hours to fully mobilize. Gov. Blanco delayed taking crucial actions in fact, it was the president who called her to plead that she declare an emergency. "Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding," the Associated Press reported Aug. 28.

    The city had hundreds of vehicles at its disposal: school buses, city buses, garbage trucks, and city cars. But the mayor failed to mobilize these or to set up procedures for all city employees to be available to assist in keeping order and organizing evacuation. For those unlucky enough to end up at the Superdome, no plans were in place to get thousands of desperate people out of there once the winds died down. My son was able to get out on Sunday before the storm hit. Thanks to quick thinking, lots of determination and a measure of good fortune, he managed to get a rental car at New Orleans airport and drove to Baton Rouge with four friends. But others were not so lucky.

    In our federal system of government, the national government does not step in even in dire emergency until state officials request that help. But what do you do when those officials are dysfunctional, as they clearly were in Louisiana? According to The Washington Post, federal officials have asked the governor for "unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law." And, the Post reported, "Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said."

    No doubt, the federal response to this crisis was far from flawless, but at the end of the day, it was federal troops that restored order, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that plugged breaches in the levees, and federal forces that ultimately evacuated thousands of those trapped. Instead of blaming federal authorities, the country ought to be giving thanks.

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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    EDT
    Gov. Kathleen Blanco's Bureaucrats Blocked Food and Water
    The Red Cross was reportedly ready to deliver food, water and other supplies to flood-ravaged refugees who were sweltering inside New Orleans' Superdome last week - but the relief was blocked by bureaucrats who worked for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.


    Fox News Channel's Major Garrett reported Wednesday that the Red Cross had "trucks with water, food, hygiene equipment, all sorts of things ready to go ... to the Superdome and Convention Center."

    Story Continues Below But the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, Garrett said, "told them they could not go."
    "The Red Cross tells me that Louisiana's Department of Homeland Security said, 'Look, we do not want to create a magnet for more people to come to the Superdome or Convention Center, we want to get them out,'" he explained.
    "So at the same time local officials were screaming where is the food, where is the water, the Red Cross was standing by ready [and] the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security said you can't go."
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    That's interesting, because I've been hearing reports that FEMA was doing the exact same thing.
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Ok, this is how tx's views this.

    1. We weren't ready for a category 4 hurricane. The levees and all other evacuation scenarios were based on a category 3.

    2. Both political parties are to blame. The reason I say that is I do believe that people were talking about New Orleans and it's potential for a hurricane disaster long before Labor Day weekend.

    3. 25% of New Orleans population lived below the poverty level. These people have no way of evacuating their neighborhood much less the city itself. Why weren't buses deployed to these areas to pick people up prior to the hurricane coming inland? Weren't most of the TV stations predicting a category 4 or 5 coming across the Gulf? Didn't the local officials know that the levee construction was only a category 3 scenario?

    4. The Federal Government has to step back and give some control back to state and local agencies. The red tape that is entwined around this scenario couldn't be cut with a blow torch.

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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Tx, some of my thoughts...

    1. So why do you think we weren't ready for anything over a category three? If we weren't ready for a category four or five hurricane on any level, that's a severe lack of planning, especially considering the number of tests and studies that have been done to suggest that damage from such a storm would be devastating.

    2. I agree, there's a lot of blame to go around on all levels. People on the local, state, and federal level need to answer for the poor planning, preparation, and response that occurred, some of which probably cost people their lives, regardless of political party, because I think fault stretches on both sides.

    3. I completely agree that the evacuation plan seemed to completely ignore the sick, elderly, poor, and prisoned criminals. Having to rescue these people in the aftermath utilized vehicles and personnel that could have been delivering supplies or trying to transport personnel to maintain order. That said, I think it falls on more than just local officials to have prepared or thought of this, which is a point I'll get to next.

    4. Perhaps in this situation, that might help. Because of classes I haven't been able to follow what's been going on as closely as I did last week. But I think what bothers me the most is that FEMA stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That means they're responsible for coordinating with all levels of government in response to these types of events.

    According to Wikipedia.org, FEMA has responsibilities in what it defines as four domains of emergency management:

    -Mitigation: Reducing the severity or likelihood of the hazard.
    -Preparedness: Ensuring you have the capability to respond to the hazard.
    -Response: Immediate actions taken to save lives, property, the environment, and the economy.
    -Recovery: Subsequent actions taken to restore property, jobs, and services.

    Can anyone tell me FEMA met its responsibilities in these domains? It's stuff like this that makes me scratch my head whenever some people (not speaking about people here but in general) try to pass the buck to state and local officials only. There have been problems on ALL levels, IMO.
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  14. #59
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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Quote Originally Posted by NickSeiler
    I've said my peace on the issue.
    I felt the same way, but with all the new information emerging from everywhere and everyone, it's tough to stay away from isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by NickSeiler
    I completely agree that the evacuation plan seemed to completely ignore the sick, elderly, poor, and prisoned criminals.
    The most disturbing thing to me about all of this is that City and State officials were aware of this critical problem, yet failed to follow THEIR own evacuation plan, starting the tragic series of events, including FEMA's gross misjudgments.

    The city's evacuation plan states: "The city of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas." But even though the city has enough school and transit buses to evacuate 12,000 citizens per fleet run, the mayor did not use them. To compound the problem, the buses were not moved to high ground and were flooded. The plan also states that "special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific lifesaving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed." This was not done.
    The evacuation plan warned that "if an evacuation order is issued without the mechanisms needed to disseminate the information to the affected persons, then we face the possibility of having large numbers of people either stranded and left to the mercy of a storm, or left in an area impacted by toxic materials." That is precisely what happened because of the mayor's failure.

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    Re: Anyone notice the Eerie silence of the International Community to Hurricane Katrina?

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    4. The Federal Government has to step back and give some control back to state and local agencies. The red tape that is entwined around this scenario couldn't be cut with a blow torch.
    Complete state and local control is, and has always been the case. Red tape was created by Louisiana's refusal to let the Feds step in and take control.

    In our federal system of government, the national government does not step in even in dire emergency until state officials request that help. But what do you do when those officials are dysfunctional, as they clearly were in Louisiana? According to The Washington Post, federal officials have asked the governor for "unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law." And, the Post reported, "Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said."

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