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RE: Katrina emergency response

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Now, you should be fair...

While there can be legitimate arguements about what was done to FEMA,
tossing all the blame of lack of funding for the leeve and other flood
projects in the NO area by the Corps of Engineers on the Republicans is
ignoring history.  Such projects also suffered while Clinton was in office
and also while Dems controlled Congress.  The plain simple truth is that
upgrading the leeves (as has been proposed by the Corps of Engineers and
others) is not "sexy" and as a result lacks political support within
Congress.  Those that advocate such infrastructure projects that actually
ARE needed and good usually don't hold the power positions in Congress
(i.e. committee chairs, etc).  As a result, we get wonder pork projects in
the recent Transportation Bill such as the $231 million or so for a bridge
to no where in Alaska (while Bill P and I disagree on a lot and he frankly
provides me with the comic relief that he accuses others of, I agree with
him that there are some down right shameful pork in the recent
Transporation Bill) rather than funding upgrading of leeves that might
have mitigated some of the recent hurricane damage and flooding to NO.

My point is that there is plenty of blame to go around.  While I am not a
fan of Bush, I do agree that now is not yet the time to play the blame
game.  There will be plenty of time in the near future to do finger
pointing (aka Congressional hearings) that (ALL) politicians love so much.

My other point is that if you are not willing to acknowledge the whole
truth, then you basically undermine yourself in making your own arguement.
In this case, the whole truth is that Dems have been just as guilty in not
funding upgrades of the leeves (assuming you consider that a necessary and
important task...some don't).  In addition, contrary to Bill's comical
attacks on local NO and LA officials and seeming defense of the federal
response, the feds dropped the ball.  But I don't say this to let others
off the hook...there appears to be a lot of mistakes/blame to go around at
all levels (public, local government, state government, federal
government, Dems, Republicans).

But, to me, now is not the time to be doing the whole blame game and
pointing fingers unless someone is actively "dropping the ball" and needs
to be called to account right now to get an immediate change.  Of course,
being the cynic, even when it is time to "play the blame" game, I believe
that nothing will really happen that really changes things.  It will just
be a bunch of politicians that point of fingers and none that take
responsibility for anything.

Sorry for the soap box.

Adrian, MI

On Tue, 6 Sep 2005, Sharon Robertson wrote:

> CHRONOLOGY.... Here's a timeline that outlines the
> fate of both FEMA and flood control projects in New
> Orleans under the Bush administration. Read it and
> weep:
> January 2001: Bush appoints Joe Allbaugh, a crony from
> Texas, as head of FEMA. Allbaugh has no previous
> experience in disaster management.
> April 2001: Budget Director Mitch Daniels announces
> the Bush administration's goal of privatizing much of
> FEMA's work. In May, Allbaugh confirms that FEMA will
> be downsized: "Many are concerned that federal
> disaster assistance may have evolved into both an
> oversized entitlement program...." he said.
> "Expectations of when the federal government should be
> involved and the degree of involvement may have
> ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level."
> 2001: FEMA designates a major hurricane hitting New
> Orleans as one of the three "likeliest, most
> catastrophic disasters facing this country."
> December 2002: After less than two years at FEMA,
> Allbaugh announces he is leaving to start up a
> consulting firm that advises companies seeking to do
> business in Iraq. He is succeeded by his deputy,
> Michael Brown, who, like Allbaugh, has no previous
> experience in disaster management.
> March 2003: FEMA is downgraded from a cabinet level
> position and folded into the Department of Homeland
> Security. Its mission is refocused on fighting acts
> of terrorism.
> 2003: Under its new organization chart within DHS,
> FEMA's preparation and planning functions are
> reassigned to a new Office of Preparedness and
> Response. FEMA will henceforth focus only on response
> and recovery.
> Summer 2004: FEMA denies Louisiana's pre-disaster
> mitigation funding requests. Says Jefferson Parish
> flood zone manager Tom Rodrigue: "You would think we
> would get maximum consideration....This is what the
> grant program called for. We were more than qualified
> for it."
> June 2004: The Army Corps of Engineers budget for
> levee construction in New Orleans is slashed.
> Jefferson Parish emergency management chiefs Walter
> Maestri comments: "It appears that the money has been
> moved in the president's budget to handle homeland
> security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the
> price we pay."
> June 2005: Funding for the New Orleans district of the
> U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cut by a record $71.2
> million. One of the hardest-hit areas is the
> Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which
> was created after the May 1995 flood to improve
> drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany
> parishes.
> August 2005: While New Orleans is undergoing a slow
> motion catastrophe, Bush mugs for the cameras, cuts a
> cake for John McCain, plays the guitar for Mark Wills,
> delivers an address about V-J day, and continues with
> his vacation. When he finally gets around to
> acknowledging the scope of the unfolding disaster, he
> delivers only a photo op on Air Force One and a flat,
> defensive, laundry list speech in the Rose Garden.
> A crony with no relevant experience was installed as
> head of FEMA. Mitigation budgets for New Orleans were
> slashed even though it was known to be one of the top
> three risks in the country. FEMA was deliberately
> downsized as part of the Bush administration's
> conservative agenda to reduce the role of government.
> After DHS was created, FEMA's preparation and
> planning functions were taken away.
> Actions have consequences. No one could predict that
> a hurricane the size of Katrina would hit this year,
> but the slow federal response when it did happen was
> no accident. It was the result of four years of
> deliberate Republican policy and budget choices that
> favor ideology and partisan loyalty at the expense of
> operational competence. It's the Bush administration
> in a nutshell.
> --
> Henry Breitrose
> Professor of Communication
> Department of Communication
> Stanford University
> Stanford, California USA 94305-2050
> +650-723-4700
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Harold Sprague [mailto:spraguehope(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 11:29 AM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Katrina emergency response
> There are a few things that should be considered in gauging the response to
> date.
> 1.  FEMA Urban Search and Rescue are considered first responders.  As such
> they have extensive training, and deploy to be self sufficient.  Their
> training includes all aspects that you could consider including HAZMAT,
> safety, emergency medicine, rescue, logistics, structural assessment and
> shoring.  They deploy with dogs and remote sensing equipment.  They train as
> teams, and they cross train in other areas such as water rescue.  They have
> procedures.  Untrained volunteers have often caused dangerous situations for
> themselves and interfere with rescue efforts.  The searches are set up on
> gridded maps and are coordinated with other teams.  They DO NOT routinely
> report to the media.  They just do the work in a professional, organized
> manner.  Sometimes volunteers are essential and are critical to recovery.
> Sometimes they get in the way, create hazards, and consume TF resources.
> 2.  The career FEMA people take the lead.  The senior politically appointed
> FEMA people do the press conferences and just let the professional career
> FEMA people do their work.  During the Clinton administration, there was no
> FEMA head for almost 4 months.  FEMA's ability was not compromised.  It made
> no difference.  They know what to do in the trenches.
> 3.  The FEMA TAC contracts will be next and will help the area re-construct.
> 4.  Any emergency training at all tells people that the locals will have to
> be capable of taking care of themselves on a local basis for several days
> following a disaster.  All Federal resources take time to set up and deploy.
>   You can't deploy a force from a remote location instantly.
> 5.  Keep in mind that this is the biggest disaster that anyone has ever
> attempted to manage.  There will be lessons learned.
> 6.  FEMA USAR Missouri Task Force 1 deployed early last July for a
> hurricane.  They sat around Georgia for a while, and when it petered out and
> did not cause any damage they came home.  It cost money, but we were
> positioned to respond if it did.  There was no media documenting us sitting
> around a hotel.
> Could Katrina have been managed better?  Yes, with the aid of hind site.  I
> don't recall any outcry to bolster FEMA emergency forces PRIOR to the
> arrival of Katrina.  There is enough blame for everyone.  But let's get NO
> back on line first.  We will just do the work and let Congress tell us what
> we did wrong after we are done.
> For the professionals there will be de-briefings to correct problems for
> future deployments.  For the amateurs and politicians there will be
> Congressional hearings.
> Regards,
> Harold Sprague
> _________________________________________________________________
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