Wednesday, September 07, 2005


What did the governor do, and when did she do it?

Excerpts from the State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan, which includes the “Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plan”:

"The Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plan is intended to provide a framework within which the parishes can coordinate their actions with State government in order to deal with a catastrophic hurricane."

So, these state and local officials actually did have a plan. The document clearly recognizes the possibility of a category 3 or higher hurricane causing exactly what happened… huge numbers of refugees, stranded people, flooding on a monumental scale. Yet if you review the plan it is obvious that state and local officials failed completely to implement any of the steps in anything like a timely fashion:

"Local transportation resources should be marshaled and public transportation plans implemented as needed. Announce the location of staging areas for people who need transportation. Public transportation will concentrate on moving people from the staging areas to safety in host parishes with priority given to people with special needs."

Hey, Mayor Nagin, what about all those school buses? Wouldn’t they be considered “local transportation resources?" Is it true that someone actually suggested using them, but the idea was rejected because they weren't insured for that use?

And state officials? The plan calls for the State to

"Mobilize State transportation resources to aid in the evacuation of people who have mobility and/or health problems. Deploy to support risk area parishes."

Yeah. The state managed to mobilize nothing. And please note, nowhere do the official plans call for the Federal Government to handle an evacuation.

The state government, starting from Governor Blanco on down, apparently did nothing, absolutely nothing, either, depending on which reports you accept, out of an inability to comprehend and react (i.e. they “froze” at the moment of truth) or because of partisan or personal political reasons. Did the Governor really need 24 hours to make a decision on accepting Federal help after it was offered because they (meaning the Bush administration) would “get the credit”? Or was this perhaps an effort to discredit FEMA, part of an on-going fight between that agency and the State of Louisiana, which allegedly misspent $30 million in homeland security money, and which the federal government has demanded be re-paid?

Did the governor really withhold 7,000 Louisiana National Guard troops and abandon the city of New Orleans out of fear that without “overwhelming force” there might be someone shot?

What the hell did she think was going on the city as it was? And quite frankly, 7,000 armed and equipped National Guardsmen would have looked pretty freakin’ overwhelming to a bunch of thugs roaming around the city with guns looted from Wal-Mart. You wanna use a .22 from Wal-Mart to take pot shots at an armored personnel carrier with a .50 cal machine gun?

Why did the state police turn back technicians summoned to repair the New Orleans emergency radio system after it collapsed?

No political officials, federal, state or local, caused the hurricane. But much of the disastrous aftermath appears to be clearly the result of state and local ineptitude.

By the way…at what point did the Governor actually get around to asking for federal help? Because quite frankly, the federal government has to be invited into a state. At what point did she ask for help from other states? That’s how the national guard works, you know. States control the national guard, and can ask the federal government to coordinate, and can “lend” their guard units to the Federal government. But the Federal Government, on its own, can not deploy guard units from one state into another. Governors, however, can. So when did Blanco ask anybody for help? According to Mayor Nagan, she rebuffed Bush’s initial offer to get things moving because she “needed 24 hours to make a decision”.

What did the governor do and when did she do it? Not much of anything, and way too late.

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