And another thing…


Remember former FEMA fat cat Michael Brown ranting to legislators earlier this week? Remember how he claimed that FEMA’s post-Katrina efforts went smoothly in Mississippi but tanked in Louisiana because of the state’s “dysfunction”? Well, not only does Brown conveniently overlook the fact many Mississippians expressed anger at FEMA in the days following the storm, but Brown’s critique also fails to take into account the fact that the two states suffered in very different ways.

It’s like comparing mangoes and papayas: Mississippi, like parts of St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes in Louisiana, saw storm surge, which receded fairly quickly. New Orleans, however, experienced floodwaters that took weeks to pump out, forcing evacuations that otherwise might have been unnecessary. Clearly, neither FEMA nor the city nor the state were ready for that. For Brown to say that his minimal efforts should have worked under the extreme conditions in New Orleans when they barely worked in Mississippi and on the Northshore is disingenuous to the point of absurdity.

Instead of comparing states, Brown should be comparing situations. FEMA seems to rank in the C to C+ range for its response in most parts of the region, but he gets a D- or an F for New Orleans. Not that Nagin and Blanco don’t share some of the blame, mind you, but for Brownie to lay it entirely at their feet is ridiculous.

13 Comments so far

  1. Craig (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 10:46 am

    I was struck by the same things, so I turned off the televised hearing.

    There will be a series of good things come from this experience. Since so many people from all walks of life have been put on the road by this storm, I think (hope) some of them will find their way into FEMA jobs to bring Real World Experience. Flying into an area with rolled-up sleeves is one thing. But it’s quite another to sleep in your car, hunt for ice, deal with faceless bureaucrats on the phone (if you have a phone/power), run out of money, wonder if your house/job still exist and all the other things so many of us have been facing.

    I’m not saying such experience should be required to head up FEMA or any emergency management office. What I’m saying is it would be helpful to have some folks within such agencies who could say, “here’s how things work….” when need be.


  2. Evan Sayet (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 2:17 pm

    Let’s take a look at the FACTS:

    The Mayor of New Orleans failed to evacuate his city even though he had five days warning. Having failed to implement the long established plan he then crammed thousands into a football stadium without providing food or water.

    Meanwhile the mayor ran away to Dallas where he bought a home, enrolled his children in school and took up residency. The police department saw a good twenty percent just run away. Those that didn’t run away saw others engaging in looting.

    All the while the foul-mouthed mayor was spreading outright lies and deadly rumors about rape and murder. NONE of these things turned out to be true.

    This is the first response team. This is the Mayor Giuliani. How different would 9/11 have gone if the cops, instead of racing to the scene, fled to New Jersey? How different would the outcome have been if, instead of running up the stairs to save people the firemen had started to loot? How different would it have been if Giuliani had moved to Connecticutt?

    And after all this you blame FEMA???

  3. hyacinthe (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 3:25 pm

    your facts are almost all wrong.

    1. there weren’t 5 days to evacuate. there were three at most. nagin called for a voluntary evacuation on saturday, a day after blanco asked for federal assistance and declared a state of emergency. the legality of a mandatory evacuation was uncertain at that time, but he called for one anyway on sunday morning when the hurricane was tracking directly toward new orleans (it had been tracking towars pensacola, fl, before that).

    2. the evacuation plan was followed. the plan was to evacuate as many people by car as possible and those unwilling to leave or unable to were to be housed in the dome, and other shelters of last resort, for as long as 2-3 days. then state and federal response was expected. 80% of the city was evacuated, that’s 20% more than had ever evacuated before. and food and water were provided but all those coming to the dome were told to take enough provisions for 2-3 days.

    3. the mayor didn’t go to dallas until the week after katrina hit. he was in new orleans the entire time, more than i can say for brown, who didn’t know what the fuck was going on. he never bought a house there, only rented a condo for his wife and children. he never moved there. and what was he supposed to do with his kids? send them to warren easton?

    4. “foul-mouthed”? the “lies” that he was spreading were based on information he was receiving from his people on the ground, and compass was axed because of this. so, i’m not sure what you want him to do. the man was in a dire situation, one in which you would have probably shat your pants, and he did the best he could do after being completely overwhelmed. what was FEMA’s excuse?

    5. less than 15% of the force fled (249 out of 1700 – dp the math). only a dozen or so police officers were involved in looting. and let’s not talk about the glorious reputation of the NYPD (do i hear “amadou diallou” or “the blue wall of silence”?). the police and first responders of the city were caught in the disaster, unlike in new york, where the disaster was confined to the twin towers. if the whole city of new york had been affected, you bet your ass cops would be looting. (recall during the blackout a couple of years ago, widespread looting was feared, as it had happened in ’77).

    so, your “facts” are wrong. why don’t you try commenting on something you have a clue about?

  4. holly (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 3:56 pm

    Oh, man. I am so sick of being asked to “look at the facts” when the “facts” being presented are only so many ad hominem attacks and pathetic FEMA apologies.

    The bottom line is this: Brown effectively blamed the victims who were trapped on roof tops for the predicament they were in. To justify this outrageous claim he cited what a good job the Mayor did in evacuating people.

    To clarify, basically Michael Brown claims that Mayor Nagin did a great job evacuating people; so, the poor victims stranded on roof tops have only themselves to blame for their dire predicament. Then later, when the heat is on Mr. Brown says he doesn’t want to blame anyone and wants to get busy saving lives. Strange then that people still remained stranded for days after Browns promise to “get busy” and the Mayor and the Governor were still pleading for help.

    Okay, then even more later the story changes altogether. Seems he does want to blame someone afterall. Maybe Mayor Nagin and Gov. Blanco didn’t do such a marvelous evacuation job. Yeah, that’s it. That’s it.

    Well, Mr. Brown, which is it? You blame, then you don’t want to blame then, you want to blame again only now you want to blame someone else.

    Ooof, feeling kinda dizzy.

    It is totally unprofessional to place blame on the very victims whose lives you are in charge of saving. Do firemen question why the house is burning in the first place? Or do they just do their best to put out the fire and save lives? Do policemen, or any other emergency response personel have the luxury of an intellectual debate on who is to blame for the predicament they are suddenly faced with solving? No. I’d say they don’t. I’d say they have to get right to work I’d even say that they know better than to make these sorts of comments to the press. Somehow, though, Michael Brown didn’t know better. He proved to lack real life experience when it was needed most. He offered bureaucratic nitpicking when what was needed was logistical problem solving skills.

    When a natural disaster strikes evacuation is a large part of saving lives, however, it can not be counted on to solve all the problems that may arise. There must be a contingent plan in place for those who either could not evacuate or even chose not to. It’s not FEMA’s job to complain that people didn’t do what they were supposed to (and now, “sigh” I guess we’ll have to save their lives). It is there job to do their best to pick up the pieces of the given situation, not complain that they are broken.

  5. walrus (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 6:42 pm

    I can’t believe some people can defend Brown with a straight face. That man lost all credibility when he said on Nightline that he had just found out about the Convention Center situation “factually”, when there had been constant wall-to-wall coverage on CNN. He tried to back away from that comment during the hearing, claiming that he “mispoke” – but one only needs to view his notorious “deer-in-the-headlights” appearance on Nightline to see his apparent confusion.

    Certainly Nagin made mistakes, but to his credit he was there on the scene, fully aware of the situation. Brown (and the president, for that matter) seemed to be working in a vaccum. Their comments reflected a clear break from reality.

    As far as his comments on “things going more smoothly in Mississippi”, Mississippi Congress member Gene Taylor nipped that one in the bud with his criticism: “You can try to throw as much as you can on this on the backs of Louisianans, but I’m a witness as to what happened in Mississippi. You folks fell on your face. You get an F-minus in my book..”

    To those who defend Brown, I understand that you’re doing so to back a agenda. Nothing wrong there, that’s the dirty business of politics – but remember that you lose credibility everytime you do so. Even partisan Republicans have been ripping Brown apart. It’s impossible to defend the indefensable.

  6. BickDickDaddy (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 9:54 pm

    and nagin was not on the scene but fled to shit i cant think of the name..yea thats why you heard people on tv saying mayor why did you leave us here to die…yea he did a great job of killing people and gets a free pass. wake the hell up people this shit cant go on.

  7. richard (unregistered) on October 1st, 2005 @ 7:15 am

    Dear BickDickDaddy:

    I’m sorry, but you’ve got it wrong. Nagin remained in New Orleans for Katrina. In fact, I don’t know that he’s been outside the city limits in the past six or seven weeks. His unwillingness to leave has been seen by some as a tragic flaw: if he had relocated the city’s offices to, say, Baton Rouge, some think he would’ve been better able to communicate with police as well as state and federal officials in the aftermath of the storm. Given the immensity of the devastation, though, I think we all know that’s a load of crap. Even in Baton Rouge, communications were and still are screwy. So staying in New Orleans served Nagin just fine–in fact, I give him total props for doing it.

    As for your other comments, BDD, they’re off-target, off-base, and nearly illegible. Worst of all, you’ve dragged us back to the issue of racism, without taking into consideration ANY issues of class. I think we’re all a bit tired of that shrill, one-note argument by now.

    And sweetie, until one of us makes a post about William Bennett, that fatass’s comments aren’t going to come up for discussion here.

    So, your comment about Nagin can stay, but I’m going to keep deleting your other posts until you can stay on-topic.

  8. BickDickDaddy (unregistered) on October 1st, 2005 @ 8:55 pm

    well the press has stated nagin fled to Baton Rouge.
    the man is a failer. dont worry his time is coming along with blonca.

  9. BickDickDaddy (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2005 @ 11:29 am

    richard. it just shows that people like you dont knoe what freedom of speach is. and dude dont call me sweetie i do have a wife not a boyfriend like you.

  10. Ann (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2005 @ 12:24 pm

    Sweetie, “freedom of speech” has limits – and Richard is well within his right as the proprietor of this here forum to limit yours, just as if he could throw you out on your ass if you offended him with your “free speech” in his house or business establishment.

    I have several really good Constitutional law books you can borrow if you’d like to read up on it. Might help your arguments a bit.

    Kiss kiss.


  11. Steve (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2005 @ 2:45 pm

    Good points made all around, and ones that for some reason a small majority of the country seem to want to overlook. I think there is enough culpability to go all around in this Chinese fire drill, but any way you cut it, Brown has to take his fall, he was absolutely incompetent.

    Bick-whatever-the-hell-your-name is,
    I’d stay away from accusing people of being homosexuals just because you’ve cornered yourself in an arguement with little in the way of ammo. It just really makes you look bad. Oh, invest in a spell check program too.

  12. Giovanna (unregistered) on October 2nd, 2005 @ 7:05 pm

    BickDickDaddy, I have followed the story of Katrina from different cable/networks/blogs and Internet sources and haven’t heard/read about Naggin fleeing New Orleans so I need to ask where did you learned that? Do you believe everything the press says? Or you only read/listen/watch news that would support your, obviously biased, point of view?

  13. free pass (unregistered) on November 13th, 2005 @ 11:54 am

    Interesting blog, does this site get lots of activity or is it usually slow around here?

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