A Post-Katrina Public Flaying

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ghostrider, Feb 19, 2006.

  1. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    A Post-Katrina Public Flaying By Angie C. Marek
    Sat Feb 18, 5:46 PM ET

    On Wednesday morning, August 31, roughly 48 hours after Hurricane Katrina had pasted New Orleans, Federal Emergency Management Agency official Philip Parr and the Louisiana National Guard were prepared to evacuate the wretched men, women, and children huddling in the Superdome, using Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters. They had worked through the night finalizing the plan, but just hours before they were set to begin, they were told to stop. The Guard had learned that active-duty troops, under the command of Gen. Russel Honore, were planning to airlift the evacuees out of the dome. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco had requested Honore's help; neither thought to tell FEMA about the plan. The result: The miserable people in the dome would have to wait an additional 24 hours before the evacuation began.

    This was just one of many accounts of mishaps and mangled communications that emerged last week from the Republican-dominated House committee that's been examining Washington's star-crossed response to Katrina. The report was entitled "A Failure of Initiative." And how. It called the response a "litany of mistakes, misjudgments, lapses, and absurdities."

    And that's just the start of it. More tough reviews are in the offing. Two major reports on Katrina failures--one from a Senate committee and another from White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend--are due out in the next few weeks. And the Government Accountability Office, which issued a critical salvo of "preliminary observations"earlier this month, has promised its own assessment. The atmosphere has many in Washington wondering whether Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff--who was savaged last week on Capitol Hill--can save his job. But the larger question is how the government's disaster response might be improved and whether the Bush administration--or any administration--can tame the hydra-headed bureaucracy and make it function more smoothly.

    Clearly, there's much work to be done. One of the most perplexing failures was Washington's utter lack of preparedness--especially galling because the threat to New Orleans was so well understood. "This crisis was not only predictable," said the House report, "it was predicted." The report lambastes Blanco for not issuing a mandatory evacuation order earlier. Once the order was issued, much of the evacuation proceeded smoothly, the report says, but evacuation plans fell short for the poor and the sick. The failure to completely evacuate those who couldn't do so themselves, said the report, "led to preventable deaths."

    Consequences. The report also cites multiple communications breakdowns that "paralyzed" effective response. Chertoff was getting his information from the Homeland Security Operations Center, a sprawling emergency communications hub in Washington. By 2 p.m. the day Katrina made landfall, reports from the Coast Guard described breaches in New Orleans's 17th Street levee. By 6 that evening, a FEMA official confirmed the report. Homeland Security's operations center didn't declare the reports "confirmed," however, until the next morning. Faster DHS and White House awareness, the House report said, "could have spurred earlier evacuation." The report went on to document how Homeland Security officials failed to get trucks with communications equipment into the city because some weren't effectively waterproofed, and National Guardsmen had to literally run messages to each other because they lacked proper equipment. "Catastrophic disasters may have many unpredictable consequences," the report concluded, "but losing power and the dependent communications systems ... should not be one of them."

    Another problem was confusion over who was in charge of what and how the lines of authority should operate. Testimony from the GAO concluded that "there were multiple chains of command," as well as "confusion about ... what resources would be provided within specific time frames." The GAO and the House chastised Chertoff for not declaring Katrina a "catastrophic disaster," a designation that would have let federal officials push supplies down to state and local officials before they formally asked for it. What's worse, key DHS officials didn't seem to understand their agency's own National Response Plan, which outlines the roles different federal agencies are supposed to play in responding to a disaster. The sour relationship between Chertoff and FEMA chief Michael Brown tangled things even further. It was revealed in Senate hearings that Brown was calling the White House directly during the crisis--and ignoring Chertoff, his boss--because Brown thought calling Chertoff would have "wasted my time."

    No one at the top, critics say, effectively took charge. A symptom of the problem, said Republican Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record) of Maine, was that Chertoff chose to travel to Atlanta for a meeting on avian flu the day after Katrina hit. And Brown, the GAO concluded, lacked the "clear and decisive leadership" that was needed to respond to Katrina.

    Marginalized. Behind the stinging rebukes is a more systemic problem: FEMA. The root of the dysfunctional Brown-Chertoff relationship was Brown's feeling that FEMA had been marginalized within the massive DHS bureaucracy--and that natural disaster response had been ignored as the parent agency focus turned increasingly on terrorism. For years, FEMA has been, by government standards, a modest agency, but the House report gave a window into just how modest it had become. When Katrina hit, investigators found that 500 of FEMA's 2,500 positions were unfilled. Acting employees, essentially temporary placeholders, held the top job in eight out of 10 of FEMA's regional offices.

    After his trip to the woodshed, several members of Congress called for Chertoff to step down, but the White House expressed support for the former federal prosecutor and appeals court judge, and he is now scrambling to fix things at FEMA. Among his plans: linking the department's operation centers; creating teams of self-sustaining, first-in FEMA personnel who can quickly assess the situation on the ground; and adding 1,500 new FEMA employees.

    The changes, Chertoff says, are just the beginning, but he may already be hitting the wall. A source close to Chertoff's review says he and Townsend, the White House adviser, disagree on some fundamental aspects of her upcoming report. Paul Light, a New York University professor who studies homeland security and government management, says Chertoff could turn FEMA around if he found someone with "instant credibility" to lead the agency. But FEMA has an acting director now, and U.S. News has learned that at least four prominent state emergency managers have refused to even be interviewed for the job. Given all the finger-pointing in Washington these days, who could blame them?

  2. meyah

    meyah Monkey+++

    The entire thing was a war-game experiment.

    You guys must BELIEVE the bs Big Brother is always spouting.
  3. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Why don't you enlighten us?
  4. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    :lol: :lol: :lol: [ROFL] [LMAO] [LMAO]

    Stop it, please....please......your killing me!
  5. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    Hey, Meyah, why don't you ask Sniper-66 the significane of the Blackhawk Avatar? Perhaps you should ask a question like, "Does anyone here have firsthand knowledge of what happened after Katrina?" I be the only person who could answer that question is Sniper. You should do a little more research through the various threads on this site put up....especially pages 24-27 of all of sniper's posts....you might learn something.

    The problem with your posts, and we have been quite patient, is they are too all knowing. In fact, most believe you are all talk and no walk simply because you are past the stage of being able to learn something from others who may have more experience than yourself.

    If you had the ability to form a group, with your all knowing wisdom, it would rapidly become a fast reaction force of 1.

    Read the book Washington's Crossing and learn about the difference between the Generaling styles of Howe & Cornwallis and General Washington. I would much prefer the operate within a group like Washington. You, Sir, are a Cornwallis. But you have time to learn and change.
  6. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Thanks Clyde! That got me all misty eyed! I would like to buy you a beer sometime! [beer]
  7. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Are you sure it wasn't from all of the toxins being blown up from the rotor wash down at NO? Thanks again for your service to our country, and for helping out the locals down there. Without you guys there is no telling how many would not have made it out of "The Big Easy". [applaud]
  8. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    No prob, that's what I get paid to do. Can you believe they pay me to fly? Correction, you pay me to fly!
  9. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Hey, good point! I want to start charging rent on the choppers for the time you all get to spend flying around and definatly start chargeing for going out playing with some of the other cool toys....I dont get to play with most of those cool toys. [LMAO] [troll] [LMAO] [beer]
  10. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Well, you see, the reason you pay me to play with the cool toys and fly all over the place is that the gubment don't trust you with them, so they highly train me to do the playing for you. By the way, you probably won't get a response from me tomorrow as I will be going to Ft. Campbell to pick up our two new toys and fly them home. If you are real lucky, I might give you a fly over tomorrow! Give you a quick see at the toys I get paid to play with. [touchdown]

    Oh ya, the .gov told me to tell you to send your bill for equipment rent directly to them via the IRS, they would be glad to come out and get that from you directly!
  11. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    [LMAO] Well they could at least let me play with a couple of the toys that stay on the ground like the M60s and M16s maybe a few of the things that make big booms and crators, a couple of the LAWs and so on...I even have a junk car so could bring my own target to blow back into orr. [LMAO] I'll just accept my rental payments in the form of ammo and left over toys, next time they get ready to burry a few at sea they can just drop them off here instead.
    Well hell if you come by my way got plenty of room to set down behind the house so set down for a bit, we can blow up some stuff in the yard and you can just tell them you ran into a bit of headwind. [beer]
  12. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Well, if I could sit down, would like to take a bite out of that hog hanging there. By the time we get by that way, it will probably be dark and we will be goggling back home. PM me with directions to your house again and I will see if I can't orchastrate a fly by.
    As for the other stuff, the .gov said to just send that address directly to the IRS and they will bring the ATF and you will get to see all kinds of toys you would like to play with [boozingbuddies]
  13. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    PM will be there in a few. Yeah but see theres the little problem with that one that I want to play with the fune end of the toys, not the painful end. [LMAO]
  14. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Oh and as far as the hog, let me know a time frame for when to expect you and can pick between the hog or the sheep or cow that got their pics in the butchering threads, got both freezers full so not a problem. [beer]
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