Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana

Just in case you are tempted to believe stories, rumors, or talking heads on TV or radio who want to blame the Mayor of New Orleans or the Governor of Louisiana for the lack of preparation and suitable execution of emergency measures before and during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, here's a press release, straight from the whitehouse.gov. (Louisiana Governor Blanco declared a state of emergency Friday, August 26, a day before this White House press release.)

Note that this was posted on the Saturday before the hurricane hit. (I've colored certain parts myself.)

Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana: "For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 27, 2005

Statement on Federal Emergency Assistance for Louisiana

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.


For completely mind-blowing stories from New Orleans itself, check out the Daily Kos.
Some folk there tell of armed "rioters and looters" at the Convention Center who actually kept order and tried to find food and water for the poor folk stuck there. There are tales of people being repeatedly lied to by authorities, and police who just wanted them to go away. Lots of very intriguing stories.

This picture was posted there:

and apparently shows the (pink-colorized so it stands out in the picture) Convention Center in a pre-flood picture. See that orange off ramp to the bridge? the one that comes right from the Center? This was the ramp that crowds of refugees tried to take to safety, over the river, only to be turned back at gunpoint -- not by rampaging looters, but by the authorities at a checkpoint on the bridge. So they say.

This would also be the bridge from which (I read somewhere) water bottles were dumped to help resupply the folks at the Center, only to have them crash uselessly to the pavement.

A group of Airboaters from Florida wanted to help out were stopped cold by FEMA.

And yesterday I heard this guy on the radio -- an excerpt from Meet the Press, Sunday, September 4, 2005. President of Jefferson Parish, Aaron Broussard. He was crying.

She_drowned_friday_night_she_drowned_friSir, they were told like me. Every single day, the cavalry is coming. On the federal level -- the cavalry is coming. The cavalry is coming. The cavalry is coming. I have just begun to hear the hooves of the cavalry. The cavalry is still not here yet, but I have begun to hear the hooves and we're almost a week out.

Three quick examples. We had Wal-mart deliver three trucks of water. Trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back, said we didn't need them. This was a week go. We had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a coast guard vessel docked in my parish. The coast guard said come get the fuel right way. When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, FEMA says don't give you the fuel. Yesterday, yesterday, fema comes in and cuts all our emergency communications lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in. He reconnects the line. He posts armed guards -- said no one is getting near these lines.

The guy who runs this building I'm in -- emergency management. He's responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said," Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said yeah, Mama. Somebody's coming to get you.. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday. And she drowned Friday night. And she drowned Friday night. Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For god's sakes, just shut up and send us somebody.

Also on Meet the Press was an apparently quite energetic discussion between Tim Russert and Michael Chertoff, head of Homeland Security.


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