Saturday, September 17, 2005

Incompetence And Intent

John Doe II has compiled a jaw-droppingly exhaustive list of mainstream media stories showing how FEMA, Homeland Security and other federal agencies bungled the Katrina rescue and relief effort.

It's one of the more mind-boggling collection of articles I've seen on the internets. What follows is a short sample:
"Virtually everything that has happened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck was predicted by experts and in computer models, so emergency management specialists wonder why authorities were so unprepared."

"Government disaster officials had an action plan if a major hurricane hit New Orleans. They simply didn't execute it when Hurricane Katrina struck."

Another list of sources on that action plan -- and how it has been fine-tuned -- is here.

The Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war. ... Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans City Business.

"Dr. Ross Judice, chief medical officer for a large ambulance company, recounted how on Tuesday, unable to find out when helicopters would land to pick up critically ill patients at the Superdome, he walked outside and discovered that two helicopters, donated by an oil services company, had been waiting in the parking lot."

"Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck."

A navy "ship rode out Katrina in the Gulf and was available with amphibious vehicles, hospital beds, and sailors who could come ashore to help. Waiting for orders that have yet to arrive."

The U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.

"Shortly before they were set to leave for Hurricane Katrina-battered states, a group of about 100 law enforcement officers from across Nevada was told to stay put by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA officials put the contingent on hold on Sunday afternoon for between one and three days ..."

"Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush's visit to New Orleans, officials said."

Mary Landrieu, the Democratic US senator from Louisiana: "I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims - far more efficiently than buses - FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency."

"A visibly angry Mayor Daley said the city had offered emergency, medical and technical help to the federal government as early as Sunday to assist people in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina, but as of Friday, the only things the feds said they wanted was a single tank truck."

Airboaters stand ready to go help hurricane victims but have not been allowed to do so.

"When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away ... Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday they cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Mr. Broussard said."

Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food.

A group of firefighter from Houston, some with special expertise in oil rig repairs, and plenty of post-hurricane clean-up experience were stopped by FEMA from entering New Orleans and not allowed to go anywhere else, either.

Canadian plane and search and rescue teams stopped by Dept. of Homeland Security.

Various aid from Russia, Canada, Cuba, Sweden, Germany, and more than 20 European countries was all refused.
Looking at the wealth of evidence -- and the mindset of the people in charge -- these actions have to be deliberate.

2 comments:

stankyfish said...

As much as I would love to call the complete failure of the federal response deliberate, I still think that it was more a combination of utter incompetence and political power games.

GWB refusing aid from other countries is an example of stubborness so extreme that it should be considered criminal.

The day long FEMA training in Atlanta of the firefighters (that included a sexual harrassment component) before sending them on a their primary mission of FEMA public relations instead of rescuing people is bureaucracy at it finest.

The rushing of a group of those same firefighters to stand next to the president during his tour of the city for photo ops is disgusting politicking -- again, almost criminal.

The White House memo asking Blanco for a request for the Feds to take over is more political power games to shift blame away from GWB.

Politics came first, people came second. It's the reason FEMA was transformed from a reasonably effective organization to a useless, bloated, chaotic bureaucracy full of incompetent, excuse-filled assholes.

G said...

Yeah, I'm with stankyfish on this one also.

Deliberate? Why? This gov't is dumb, but not THAT dumb.

It's just stubbornness, ignorance, and incompetence rolled into one. And a current approval rating in the thirties is proof that the American public is finally waking up to that.

Great link, thanks - what a compilation!