Jan 30 2006
09:11 am

According to documents turned over to investigators, FEMA had emergency rescue resources available from other federal agencies but did not use them:

As Hurricane Katrina victims waited for help in flooded houses or in looted neighborhoods, hundreds of trucks, boats, planes and federal security officers sat unused because FEMA failed to give them missions, newly released documents show.


Responding to a questionnaire posed by investigators, Assistant Interior Secretary P. Lynn Scarlett said her agency offered to supply FEMA with 300 dump trucks and other vehicles, 300 boats, 11 aircraft and 400 law enforcement officers to help search and rescue efforts.


At one point, Scarlett's letter noted, FEMA asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help with search and rescue in New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish and St. Tammany Parish "but never received task assignments."

The agency, part of the Interior Department, apparently went ahead anyway, according to the letter, which said that Fish and Wildlife helped rescue 4,500 people in the first week after Katrina.

Other Interior resources that were offered, but unused, included flat-bottom boats for shallow-water rescues. "Clearly these assets and skills were precisely relevant in the post-Katrina environment," Scarlett wrote.

Imagine that St. Louis or Phoenix or Cincinnati had been the target of a chemical weapons attack by terrorists. Or that terrorists had blown up the Tennessee River dam system, flooding the Tennessee Valley.

Now, imagine that while all this is going on, the President is on vacation, taking time out for a day trip to California for a photo-op to promote a war and stump his Social Security agenda. Imagine the director of FEMA e-mailing subordinates to complain about restaurants and ask about his wardrobe.

Imagine that later you learn they knew the disasters were imminent, and that they had resources available to help hundreds and thousands of people who were suffering and dying but didn't deploy them.

Now imagine how you would feel. Would you feel safe? Would you feel that your government was prepared and capable of responding to a large scale disaster resulting from a terrorist attack?

Now imagine that the President is a Democrat, and his FEMA director is an incompetent, unqualified patronage appointee. Let's go so far as to imagine that the president is Bill Clinton.

Now, what do you suppose a Republican controlled Congress would be doing about it? And what do you think the right-wing pundits and bloviators would be saying right about now?


(With apologies to John Grisham...)

Andy Axel's picture

I'm seriously surprised that

I'm seriously surprised that this entry isn't getting freeped.

But, then again, Katrina is the friggin' third rail as far as the GOP goes.


If we heard mortar shells, we'd cuss more in our songs and cut down on guitar solos

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