In this CNN interview, Mayor Culpa, er, Nagin himself first defends his and his city government's actions with,
"Look, I'll take whatever responsibility that I have to take. But let me ask you this question: When you have a city of 500,000 people, and you have a category 5 storm bearing down on you, and you have the best you've ever done is evacuate 60 percent of the people out of the city, and you have never issued a mandatory evacuation in the city's history, a city that is a couple of hundred years old, I did that. I elevated the level of distress to the citizens.Ok, that's easy, a big easy.
And I don't know what else I could do, other than to tell them that it's a mandatory evacuation. And if they stayed, make sure you have a frigging ax in your home, where you can bust out the roof just in case the water starts flowing.
And as a last resort, once this thing is above a category 3, there are no buildings in this city to withstand a category 3, a category 4 or a category 5 storm, other than the Superdome. That's where we sent people as a shelter of last resort. When that filled up, we sent them to the Convention Center. Now, you tell me what else we could have done."
You start by starting months or years before the hurricane strikes.
You start by having an approved Emergency Response Plan (approved by FEMA).
You start by conducting training sessions for all members of that Emergency Response Plan (offered free by FEMA).
You start by conducting drills to measure that Emergency Response Plan's emergency response and then correcting deficiencies.
You start by thinking just a little about the term "evacuation". How do the elderly, the infirm, the mentally ill, the poor with no money, no transportation and nowhere to go, the prisoners in the jails, and the children with no male head-of-household or maybe no mother, either, evacuate themselves?
Then you start by taking appropriate action to resolve those questions.
FEMA doesn't arrive in force for at least 72 hours, depending on the type and location and size of the disaster. FEMA doesn't have hundreds of helicopters, planes, troops, pilots, trucks, SUV's, doctors, nurses, field hospitals, field kitchens, cooks, warehouses bulging with hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, millions of gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, thousands of tons of food, clothing and medicines, hundreds or thousands of policemen armed to the teeth, hundreds of boats, buses, and thousands of hotel rooms available and sitting around the nation empty or on their asses in various strategic locations just waiting for some natural or man-made disaster to occur every 10 or 20 years or so. FEMA can, eventually, make all of those thing available. If FEMA can, in fact supply all of that in 72 hours, that's a miracle of American ingenuity, resolve and money.
It is clearly, CLEARLY the responsibility of local and state officials to react to a disaster situation and keep their citizens as safe as humanly possible until FEMA can arrive. That did not happen in Louisiana and is still not happening, at least in New Orleans and the Louisiana Mississippi Delta area. The Louisiana governor, Kathleen Blanco, who can be seen daily on CNN sobbing over the disaster, said she needed 24 hours to make a decision about allowing federal troops into her sovereign state to save the lives of her own people, and that was on September 3, two days ago.
What a monumental series of blunders by local and state officials, and it continues. Was FEMA late? Maybe. That remains to be seen. Is it the federal government's responsibility to take control of a situation like this? No. In fact, it's against the law. The president has no authority to come in and take control over a state's internal affairs except under the provisions of the Insurrection Act. It hasn't been done since the Civil War. The federal government may send in troops to enforce federal law. That has happened a few times. Guess where? In the South, of course. Eisenhower did it to get black kids into schools. Johnson did it for the same reason. General Honore probably put it best when he said that his troops had to remain in a support mode for the New Orleans police, even if there was only one single policeman left. His troops had to take orders from that last remaining New Orleans policeman because federal authorities have no jurisdiction except that granted to them by local and state officials.
Jesus, what a nightmare. And the long term ramifications of this disaster are going to be just as nightmarish. If, and it's a big if, the whole sordid story is laid out for the American people to see; the pork, the politics, the bureaucratic turf wars, the years of diverting money to every imaginable project except where the money really needed to go, the American people should sit back and accept their responsibility for allowing this catastrophe to occur. Allowing it and encouraging it.
Mayor Culpa, er, Nagin misspoke, but in so doing he inadvertently admitted his culpability.
I elevated the level of distress to the citizens.The understatement of the year, so far.
Other comments and opinions by:
John Hawkins @ Right Wing News
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Lorie Byrd @ PoliPundit
McQ @ QandO
Betsy Newmark @ Betsy's Page
TAGS: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Mississippi Delta, catastrophe, politics, pork