Thursday, September 08, 2005
Fatal incompetence: Fox News' Major Garrett reported Wednesday that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco refused the Red Cross permission to bring food, water and other supplies to victims of Hurricane Katrina at the Superdome and New Orleans convention center.
From an interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, courtesy Radioblogger:
MG: Well, the Red Cross, Hugh, had pre-positioned a literal vanguard of trucks with water, food, blankets and hygiene items. They're not really big into medical response items, but those are the three biggies that we saw people at the New Orleans Superdome, and the convention center, needing most accutely. And all of us in America, I think, reasonably asked ourselves, geez. You know, I watch hurricanes all the time. And I see correspondents standing among rubble and refugees and evacuaees. But I always either see that Red Cross or Salvation Army truck nearby. Why don't I see that?
HH: And the answer is?
MG: The answer is the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, that is the state agency responsible for that state's homeland security, told the Red Cross explicitly, you cannot come.
HH: Now Major Garrett, on what day did they block the delivery? Do you know specifically?
MG: I am told by the Red Cross, immediately after the storm passed.
HH: Okay, so that would be on Monday afternoon.
MG: That would have been Monday or Tuesday. The exact time, the hour, I don't have. But clearly, they had an evacuee situation at the Superdome, and of course, people gravitated to the convention center on an ad hoc basis. They sort of invented that as another place to go, because they couldn't stand the conditions at the Superdome.
What was the "logic" behind this decision?
But the state told us A) it's not safe, because the water is dangerous. And we're now learning how toxic the water is. B) there's a security situation, because they didn't have a handle on the violence on the ground. And C) and I think this is most importantly, they wanted to evacuate out. They didn't want people to stay.
People suffered unnecessarily and some (the very young and the very old) probably even died because of this insanity. Gov. Blanco should resign immediately. This is fatal stupidity.
President Bush did make a mistake in this matter -- as Chris Regan over at the Junkyard Blog put it:
President Bush failed now in one way. He failed to ascertain that he was dealing with a governor who was a clear and present danger to the people of Louisiana. That's a tough nut to crack in a crisis, so I don't blame him.
I'll say it again. When all is said and done, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's shortcomings -- and there are many -- are going to pale in comparison to the failures of the local and state officials. First responders to a natural disaster are state and local -- not federal -- and that's where the biggest mistakes were made.