The Librarian's Tale

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Commenter "Dead Elvis" points to this interesting first-person account by UC San Diego librarian Paul Harris of what it was like to be in the Superdome before, during, and after the hurricane, and then what it was like to be quietly smuggled out with a group of mostly white international tourists. Read the whole thing; here's one selection:

Fortunately, a soldier, Staff Sgt. Ogden, saved our group of 100. I am thankful beyond words for the work he did in arranging to get us out. I don't know if he did this because he liked us, or he knew we were in danger, or if it was racism, or if he realized that if one of the international students was raped or murdered that would be a huge embarrassment for President Bush. I may never know the motivation, but I was happy to find out that we would be somewhat-secretly escorted out by armed guards to a different location.

My mind filled with so many different thoughts. What right did we have to leave when many of these people had families with them? What right did we have to leave when we weren't even New Orleanians? What right did we have to leave? I felt pain for the people left behind. I knew they were living in hell. But I was jubilant to be leaving. We were told not to talk to anyone, not to smile and to just walk in a single line. We were told that a riot could break out once others left behind caught wind of this favoritism.

The group was eventually moved to the Hyatt, and then bussed out of town.

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134 responses to “The Librarian's Tale

  1. What right did we have to leave when many of these people had families with them?

    Talk about liberal guilt.

    And maybe I’m getting a little cynical in the wake of the cannibalism report et. al., but something about this story stinks like last month’s Spam.

    Our anger toward FEMA and the Bush administration grew. We truly believed that we might die. Spoken or unspoken, most of us knew that if our resources and soldiers were not in Iraq, we would have had more than enough troops and support.

    There’s enough “generic” material in here that anyone who has read accounts or interviews with evacuees could make up a story like this. However, the FEMA and Bush lines read like pure propaganda. I’m going to have to call bullshit on this guy.

  2. “It would be politically inconvenient if this man’s story is true, therefore I choose not to believe it.”

    “compassion” != “liberal guilt”

  3. And surprise surprise, Paul Harris is a member and fundraiser for the University of California, San Diego Lesbian Gay Transgender Resource Center. That in no way makes him a liar, but it does kinda indicate that he’s not a supporter of Bush, of even neutral regarding the President.

  4. What does feeling bad about those less fortunate have to do with political leanings?

    Oh, but he’s a fag. Well, you’re an asshole. 🙂

  5. Geek Shudder Moment: It was only twenty years ago that Jake Stonebender in Callahan’s Place said that librarians were the secret rulers of the world because they controlled all the information.

  6. I’m not calling BS on this guy, but I think the story has been embeliished. But, of course he feels guilty & sees his release as racist, he works for UCSD. With the exception of (Stephen Chapman?) everyone who works there is slightly to the left of Che.

  7. You really think it’s a stretch for someone trapped in New Orleans to get mad at FEMA and, by extension, Bush?

  8. I guess I was more interested in his eyewitness observations than whether his reactions to them passed political muster.

  9. Interesting, jf, that the only part of this (rather mild) account that really gets you angry is the criticism of Big Daddy.

    Ergo, it must be suspect. Do you just scan any reports for the word “Bush” and take it from there?

  10. Ah, Jeff P., who cares about secret rulers when you’ve got God’s Blessing?

  11. I kept my wallet and camera, my most valuable possessions, in my front pockets at all times.

    He writes and posts and article in which he admits to carrying a camera, yet no pics.

    WTF?

  12. “You really think it’s a stretch for someone trapped in New Orleans to get mad at FEMA and, by extension, Bush?”

    No, but it is suspect when there is no critisism of State and local officials.

  13. I guess I was more interested in his eyewitness observations than whether his reactions to them passed political muster.

    I’m with Matt on this one.
    Given his writing style, it seems fairly easy to seperate the bits of fact from his political grandstanding.

  14. Paul Harris is a member and fundraiser for the University of California, San Diego Lesbian Gay Transgender Resource Center

    In other words, “He’s a queer and not worth trusting any more than the jigaboos,” right JF?

    Cripes, you Bush apologists are feckless bastards.

  15. Rick H.

    Wow, you found me out.

    No, sir, what shocked me is that he had nothing AT ALL to say about the preparations taken by New Orleans, the fact that he and his group were herder into the Superdome with no food, sanitation, water, etc., but the only anger he could muster up was for FEMA and Bush and the fact that we have troops in Iraq? And I’m the only one who finds his anger suspect?

    And in case I’ve never made it clear, Bush is a FUCKING IDIOT and I hate myself for being in Ohio and only voting for Bush because I thought Kerry would be worse.

  16. Hey Mark, you sure do jump to conclusions, but that’s what I’d expect from a fascist bastard like yourself*.

    *See, because you assumed I’m a Bush apologist (which you’ll note above, I most definitely am not), I assumed you’re a fascist bastard. Funny how that works, eh?

  17. I, too, find the account very interesting, but the political slant is obnoxious.

    He mentions the staff sgt. by name, and credits him for possibly saving his life. Then he entertains the notion that the guy was “racist”. Gee, thanks for nothing.

    He also slams the federal government, but says nothing about the failure of the locals.

    Typical modern liberal twat.

  18. I guess I was more interested in his eyewitness observations than whether his reactions to them passed political muster.

    Yes, Matt, and it was a good story, definitely worth posting (I read the entire story). First hand stuff always is always fascinating.

    My particular response was not to take issue with political muster but instead was a response to jf’s take on the story. In context, I don’t find it odd that Paul Harris would feel the way he does.

  19. Well, given that his interaction was with a federal employee (soldier) and he was in the midst of people whose fates could have diplomatic implications (foreigners), it’s not terribly shocking that he talked about federal officials.

    I figure that over time we’ll learn that some details of some stories were embellished, other details were either quite accurate or understated, and still other things will never be verifiable or falsifiable, as is always the case in times of crisis.

    But the general impression that conditions were absolutely hellish will almost certainly remain true.

  20. “No, but it is suspect when there is no critisism of State and local officials.”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!

    Yes, with a category 4 storm hitting the city, the levees broken, and the place taking on the crowded squalor of a Sudanese refugee camp, the people were obviously sitting around wondering where the Fire Department was. Or the DPW.

  21. Yeah! Everyone in the World Trade Center was thinking “Where the fuck is FEMA?”

  22. I don’t distrust his account so much that I doubt many in the Superdome were angry only at FEMA and Bush. I have to guess a few were were a little pissed that the mayor told them to go to the Superdome without adequate food, water, security. I’m guessing they were probably pissed at the government in general, and that includes local, state, federal. Some were probably bitching about the U.N. I’m just guessing.

    The writer is just trying to get in a partisan dig where he can. It doesn’t necessarily negate the rest of the story.

  23. Yeah! Everyone in the World Trade Center was thinking “Where the fuck is FEMA?”

  24. By the way, who said Mr. Harris was gay? None of us have any idea what his sexual orientation is, so why all the jumping to conclusions? All I said was that he was part of a group which would be obviously at odds with Bush, which would probably taint his feelings. I’ve known plenty of straight people who are family members of homosexuals who belong to organizations like this. Your assumption of my bigotry says more about yourself than it does about me.

  25. And in case I’ve never made it clear, Bush is a FUCKING IDIOT and I hate myself for being in Ohio and only voting for Bush because I thought Kerry would be worse.

    …as long as you hate yourself, jf. That’s all that we weak-willed liberals ask of anybody.

  26. Well, that, and some bottles of water.

  27. Rick H.

    I neither know nor care what your political affiliation is. Just don’t pretend to read my mind and tell me what offended me and what didn’t. I find (for my own reasons) almost as offensive Mr. Harris’ assertions that the National Guard forces were toting AK-47s, as well as the following gratuitous lines:

    We heard that a little girl had been raped?word was that a black man raped a white girl. Was this merely a reflection of the general racism existing in America, or was it fact?

    Fortunately, a soldier, Staff Sgt. Ogden, saved our group of 100. I am thankful beyond words for the work he did in arranging to get us out. I don?t know if he did this because he liked us, or he knew we were in danger, or if it was racism, or if he realized that if one of the international students was raped or murdered that would be a huge embarrassment for President Bush.

    Oh, but it’s ok for Mr. Harris to question everyone else’s motives, because his shit smells like fresh cinnamon danishes.

  28. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!

    Yes, with a category 4 storm hitting the city, the levees broken, and the place taking on the crowded squalor of a Sudanese refugee camp, the people were obviously sitting around wondering where the Fire Department was. Or the DPW.”

    Actually, I would be wondering where the Fire Department or Police were. How much contact do you think most people in the Superdome have had with FEMA. I think that when it comes to emergency response, their first thought would be that the local law enforcement and emergency personnel would help them out.

  29. joe:

    I’m pretty sure they were wondering where the National Guard was, though. You know, that thing the *governor* controls and refused to turn over control to the feds? And maybe they might be wondering why the mayor didn’t help evacuate those poor that couldn’t afford it, especially WHEN THE CITY HAD A PLAN FOR PRECISELY THIS SITUATION. He just chose to ignore it.

    Oh, but you’re right. It’s all Bush’s fault.

  30. Well, according to Kos, the 17th street levee didn’t break – it was bombed by the Army Corps of Engineers, in order to save the FQ; the 9th ward was purposely sacrificed, etc. etc. etc.

    It doesn’t surprise me to read something like this on Kos, but it would surprise me to find it on Boing Boing, which is where the Kos poster says it came from, but when you go to Boing Boing, it’s not there…

    Point being, I’m taking all information coming out of NOLA with a grain of salt for now. I think Joe’s right – horrible things happened, but a lot of rumors are being hyped as well.

  31. he admits to carrying a camera, yet no pics. WTF?

    Perhaps he didn’t want to be robbed of it.

  32. I guess I was more interested in his eyewitness observations than whether his reactions to them passed political muster.

    lol, mr welch — invert those priorities, and you have the basic mental triage of the party in power: first, how can we discredit them? second, is it true?

    and often times now, we never get any further down the list than #1.

  33. “And in case I’ve never made it clear, Bush is a FUCKING IDIOT and I hate myself for being in Ohio and only voting for Bush because I thought Kerry would be worse.”

    Don’t hate yourself to much…I would have voted for Bush if I had lived in Ohio.

    “Cripes, you Bush apologists are feckless bastards.”

    Nah…I only give Bush a pass becouse focusing crititism on him gets in the way of lambasting democrats…namely Louisiana democrats…sort of like why make fun of the mostly idiotic Swartzinager when you can make fun of criminally idiotic Grey Davis. 🙂

  34. Well, that, and some bottles of water.

    Exploded or non-exploded?

  35. For those of us observigng libertarianism from the outside, jf’s huffiness at the mis-identification of the Guardsmen’s rifles is pure gold.

  36. In other words, “He’s a queer and not worth trusting any more than the jigaboos,” right JF?

    Come on Mark, that’s absurd. My nephew is the only gay guy in the entire state that voted for Bush.

    There isn’t any question the piece was tainted with anti-Bush musings and if it were flipped the other way there’d be plenty of people pointing it out.

    Disclaimer: Unlike jf, I’ve never voted for anyone named Bush in my life.

  37. again, the bush apologists are prattling on and on about how others are responsible too. does anyone disagree? does anyone think local and state authorities were not also negligent?

    that does not pull the administration and fema off the hook.

  38. lol, mr welch — invert those priorities, and you have the basic mental triage of the party in power: first, how can we discredit them? second, is it true?

    That is so very true. Particularly if your are using the phrase “the party in power” in the general sense, and not just referring to the present situation in the United States.

    Anyway, I only questioned his motivations because the story seemed so “boilerplate” to me, with the notable exception of being in that situation, with no police, fire department, paramedics, or National Guard, and only being angry at FEMA and Bush. I’d wager that 99% of the inhabitants of the Superdome would not mention FEMA as the first group they would be expecting help from, and I think that most of us would agree with them.

  39. For those of us observigng libertarianism from the outside, jf’s huffiness at the mis-identification of the Guardsmen’s rifles is pure gold.

    Macvs writes, “I’m pretty sure they were wondering where the National Guard was, though.”

    From the second fucking paragraph of the story: “Prior to our entry, there were National Guardsmen present in the building, frisking people and checking our belongings before we entered, as well as passing out food and water (two or three times a day). I don?t think it was till Monday afternoon that I saw any military with their AK-47s. Their appearance was a bit unsettling to many of us, but they would later prove helpful.”

    Blah blah blah, governor, blah blah blah, Bush.

  40. Stubby — just in case you’re a moron, and not a liar, I thought I’d point out that your “Kos says” link is to a diary on Kos’ website — and not one written by Kos.

    In short, Kos said no such thing — a poster on Kos’ site said it, which isn’t even remotely the same thing.

    In general: As for not blaming the state and local governments — actually, I can see it. Once devestation hits a certain scale, people tend to bump the problem up the chain o’ command. The sheer size of the problem makes it, emotionally at least, a “federal one”.

    Tens of thousands of people trapped in the Superdome, surrounded by flood waters, seems more than enough to overwhelm local resources — and when the rest of the state isn’t much better, state ones as well. Someone trapped there isn’t going to write up a white paper on whether state and local resources were actually sufficient — they’re going to be screaming and wondering why the big guns aren’t coming in.

  41. I find —- >(for my own reasons) almost as offensive Mr. Harris’ assertions that the National Guard forces were toting AK-47s . . .

    Is there some part of the bolded section that you failed to understand, joe? And if not, can you explain what it has to do with libertarianism qua libertarianism?

    It’s amusing to me, too, in the way that anyone taking the time to try to include explicit details about things that they clearly don’t know anything about is amusing. It would be like me trying to discuss car engines and misidentifying a Toyoya hybrid as a 351 Cleveland or something.

  42. I agree with Flyover Country. I would be wondering where the Fire Department and other local law enforcement officials were and when they would be arriving to help.

  43. Hey joe

    As I clearly stated in my post, my “huffiness” regarding the statement that the National Guardsmen were carrying AK-47s was “for my own reasons”. If you can use that to smear all of libertarianism, go for it. I doubt you’ll get too far.

  44. I find —- >(for my own reasons) almost as offensive Mr. Harris’ assertions that the National Guard forces were toting AK-47s . . .

    Is there some part of the bolded section that you failed to understand, joe? And if not, can you explain what it has to do with libertarianism qua libertarianism?

    It’s amusing to me, too, in the way that anyone taking the time to try to include explicit details about things that they clearly don’t know anything about is amusing. It would be like me trying to discuss car engines and misidentifying a Toyoya hybrid as a 351 Cleveland or something. And the kind of mistake it is can reveal some of the author’s prejudices.

  45. I find —- >(for my own reasons) almost as offensive Mr. Harris’ assertions that the National Guard forces were toting AK-47s . . .

    Is there some part of the bolded section that you failed to understand, joe? And if not, can you explain what it has to do with libertarianism qua libertarianism?

    It’s amusing to me, too, in the way that anyone taking the time to try to include explicit details about things that they clearly don’t know anything about is amusing. It would be like me trying to discuss car engines and misidentifying a Toyoya hybrid as a 351 Cleveland or something. And the kind of mistake it is can reveal some of the author’s prejudices.

  46. Joe,

    “Yes, with a category 4 storm hitting the city, the levees broken, and the place taking on the crowded squalor of a Sudanese refugee camp, the people were obviously sitting around wondering where the Fire Department was. Or the DPW.”

    Well I guess if you lived under democrats for 60 years then I guess you would not expect much compitance from your state and local government…You are right joe, Bush should have known that a democrat dominated state and city were far to incompitant to fullfill thier duty as first responders. A resposibility somehow fullfilled in states like Missippippi, and Texas or in other hurricane disastors Florida. Bush is such an idiot.

  47. Joe,

    “Yes, with a category 4 storm hitting the city, the levees broken, and the place taking on the crowded squalor of a Sudanese refugee camp, the people were obviously sitting around wondering where the Fire Department was. Or the DPW.”

    Well I guess if you lived under democrats for 60 years then I guess you would not expect much compitance from your state and local government…You are right joe, Bush should have known that a democrat dominated state and city were far to incompitant to fullfill thier duty as first responders. A resposibility somehow fullfilled in states like Missippippi, and Texas or in other hurricane disastors Florida. Bush is such an idiot.

  48. “can you explain what it has to do with libertarianism qua libertarianism?”

    No, nothing. It has to do with libertarianism qua libertarians. It would be as if a peacenik took exception to the misidentification of a popular 60s antiwar song in an NRO article. It’s a joke. Take the pole out of your ass.

    joshua, then how do you explain the extremely similar (though, for obvious reasons, less widespread) reactions by people in Florida during the last two hurricaines? Oh, I know, they all grew up under Democrats.

  49. Joe,

    “For those of us observigng libertarianism from the outside, jf’s huffiness at the mis-identification of the Guardsmen’s rifles is pure gold.”

    Ah reason.com…the place where democrats come proclaim all libertarians as republicans in desguise..but hey how about instead of defending Bush i’ll try soemthing different.

    How about big centrilized government is by its very nature inefficiant and incompetant when it comes to unexpected situations…that local government and individuals are in a far better situation for meeting the local needs.

    And here is a good one by creating a centralzed relief orginization you also create the potential for the moral hazard of individuals not makeing preperations for potential disastors.

    People are illprepared and ill equiped becouse why should they take the time to do so when the nanny state will just come and save them. exept when big momma doesn’t coem to save them…they instead die.

    The problem is not that Bush is incompetent…the problem is that the federal government is inharently incompetent and it doesn’t matter who is in power.

  50. joe,

    You keep confusing your philosophical belief that the Federal government should be completely in control of a disaster area with the reality of how the responsibilities are actually organized. Just because you personally believe that the Feds should run everything doesn’t mean that is the division of responsibilities that were actually in place when Katrina struck.

    The decision not to evacuate ANY of the poor and infirm with State and local resources was a purely local decision that the Feds had no authority to override.

    The decision to use the Superdome as shelter was a local decision that the Feds had no authority to override. FEMA officials repeatedly advised against it.

    Security was the responsibility of State via the National Guard and the NOPD. The President could in theory Federalize the state National Guard but this has never been done in a natural disaster. Even at this hour, the Feds have no legal police powers. Federal troops can provide logistical assistance only.

    It was the State and Local officials who stopped the Red Cross from resupplying the Superdome on Monday afternoon immediately after the Katrina had passed.

    Federal assistance did arrive almost exactly 72 hours after the storm just as planned.

    If you think that the Feds should run the entire show, the time to complain about that would have been months ago when actual real-world changes could be made.

    Your ignorance about disaster organization does not constitute a failure on the part of the institutions you criticize.

  51. Clearly the essential difference between how the emergency relief efforts played out in New Orleans vs. how they played out in Texas (Texas? Nevermind) was the party identification of the mayor.

    Yup, that’s pretty much the only difference. Two very similar jobs, on roughly similar scales, and they ended up completely differently.

    I blame the welfare state, rap music, and gay marriage.

  52. Mediageek brings up a good point, with the pevalence of cameras and cameraphones nowadays you’d think you’d be seeing some photos of the conditions inside the building by some of the evacuees stuck inside by now. But all I’ve seen are pictures of the playing field and the roof. Surely a couple dozen people out of 10,000 had cameras.

  53. again, the bush apologists are prattling on and on about how others are responsible too. does anyone disagree? does anyone think local and state authorities were not also negligent?

    that does not pull the administration and fema off the hook.

    This has been my great frustration. I think all levels screwed up, which is why the buck keeps getting passed. I’ve yet to come across an argument telling me what Bush, or the governor, or the mayor did right. I’ve seen no leadership out of the mayor, the governor, and certainly not out of Bush.

    Now the latest effort to deflect criticism I’m hearing is focusing on the people who didn’t get out, because they’re…

    unemployed.. all of them
    stupid… all of them
    fat…. all of them
    lazy… all of them
    on the dole… all of them
    illiterate… all of them
    To stupid to live above sea level… all of them

    It’s amazing how a natural disaster that doesn’t provide a common enemy divides us all. N.O. would have been better off it were hit by a dirty bomb. The, “all of them” would be Americans too.

  54. i’m laughing at you, ms love. your devotion to your king and his crony-ridden neglected fema is truly humorous.

  55. It’s amazing how a natural disaster that doesn’t provide a common enemy divides us all.

    it shows you just how little really holds together this society in its progressing dissolution, mr deron. once a critical mass of americans finally decide that their common enemies aren’t very threatening, i wonder how long we are for civil war.

    i lampoon the american hysterical mass paranoia over terrorism and the managerial propaganda that feeds it all the time — but i wonder if i wouldn’t ultimately regret most americans coming to their senses about the capacity of their enemy du jour.

  56. joshua,

    “How about big centrilized government is by its very nature inefficiant and incompetant when it comes to unexpected situations…that local government and individuals are in a far better situation for meeting the local needs.” New Orleans’ municipal government is more efficient and competant?

    Actually, I’m quite sympathetic to this argument, being a big supporter of local government myself. However, what local governments have in terms of closeness and local knowledge, they lack in capacity, resources, and manpower. When a crisis gets too big, as in this case, and even in the case of much smaller disasters, they will quickly be overwhelmed. That’s what seems to have happened in New Orleans.

    As for the “moral hazard” – are you under the impression that New Orleans has the resources to make the necessary flood control upgrades, and just chose not to? Once again, sometimes you need the big guns.

    Shannon, “The decision to use the Superdome as shelter was a local decision that the Feds had no authority to override. FEMA officials repeatedly advised against it.” Yes, the FEMA officials both refused to provide any evacuation assistance, AND recommended against providing shelter from a Level 4 hurricaine for the people who remained in the city.

    “Security was the responsibility of State via the National Guard and the NOPD. The President could in theory Federalize the state National Guard but this has never been done in a natural disaster. Even at this hour, the Feds have no legal police powers.” That simply isn’t true. The military can be authorized to provide security at the President’s direction. This isn’t a police power, it’s a common defense/civil order power, which is inherent in the president’s power. That’s why there are federal troops there now.

    “If you think that the Feds should run the entire show, the time to complain about that would have been months ago when actual real-world changes could be made.” Actually, smart ass, the change had already been made. As of March, FEMA was the primary agency with responsibility during disasters. It was their mission, and they failed. Miserably.

    That’s not to say there weren’t failures at other levels as well – but then, I’ve never made the argument that any level didn’t fail. That would be you.

  57. gaius:

    Shannon may indeed be a Bush-disciple (although using that to discredit a person’s argument, isn’t there a name for that), but what are the factual mistakes in her post? I ask not because I believe everything, but because I’ve heard much of what she said and wonder how much is factual and how much is spin.

  58. Here’s more on the tourists in the Superdome during Katrina.

    If three separate reports (albeit one from a tabloid) are to be believed, the whites in the Superdome were racially harassed. In that situation, moving them out of there was the best solution.

    Look! There’s Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Howard Dean! Oh, wait, they’re headed the other way.

  59. Why does everyone instantly label FEMA’s reaction a failure? Isn’t it somewhere between and A and an F. What are the real expectations? How fast are they expected to show up in 12 hours with food, water, security for 100,000 people in a flooded city at the tip of a state that has been devastated by a major hurricane. How fast has FEMA reacted to disasters in the past? Why would they be expected to react any quicker this time.

    It’s fun to make snarky comments about bureaucratic screwups. It’s easy in any situation to find bungling in any situation of any magnitude.

  60. are you under the impression that New Orleans has the resources to make the necessary flood control upgrades, and just chose not to?

    They managed to get a couple sports arenas and a convention center built on the public dime. So my answer is “probably yes”.

  61. Ok. I read the article. Other that some pushing, shoving and line cutting Mr. Harris only offers second hand anecdotal evidence that murder, rape and other violent acts were occuring inside the Superdome. He never once mentions seeing a body or witnessing a serious violent act.

  62. I’m not saying that rape and murder did not occur but it does seem to cast some doubt on it if some one who was actually there saw no direct evidence of it and has only rumors to report.

  63. Why does everyone instantly label FEMA’s reaction a failure?

    On Saturday Aug. 26, two days before the storm made landfall, the governor of Louisiana asked the federal government to declare a state of emergency in Louisiana.

    On Sunday the 27th, President Bush signed that declaration, in which Gov. Blanco specifically stated that local and state officials were not equipped to handle the situation without federal assistance: “Pursuant to 44 CFR ? 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.”

    On Sunday, Aug. 27, President Bush signed the disaster declaration, directing FEMA “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts” and “provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.”

    The Stafford Act empowers agencies of the federal government — under the direction of the President — to “provide assistance essential to meeting immediate threats to life and property resulting from a major disaster.”

    These include “search and rescue, emergency medical care, emergency mass care, emergency shelter, and provision of food, water, medicine, and other essential needs, including movement of supplies or persons.”

    FEMA not only failed to provide any of those essential services — it prevented others from doing so by turning them away at the edge of the disaster area.

    The locals were poorly prepared and poorly equipped to handle the disaster. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

    But make no mistake: FEMA failed. State and local authorities asked for federal help before and after the storm’s arrival.

    They placed themselves under FEMA’s authority via the federal disaster declaration on Sunday, before the storm hit.

    They pleaded for assistance on Monday… and Tuesday… and Wednesday… and Thursday…

    Even grading on the curve, FEMA’s performance isn’t “somewhere between an A and an F.” It was an F — and an “F You” to a lot of people in dire need.

  64. Joe,

    “As for the “moral hazard” – are you under the impression that New Orleans has the resources to make the necessary flood control upgrades, and just chose not to? Once again, sometimes you need the big guns.”

    actually i was refering to the moral hazard of government intervention vs individual responsibility. ie get the fuck out of the place with your own two feet…and have enough water food etc on hand to do it.
    I mentioned nothing about flood control upgrades…but since you brought it up I think it was the responsibility of NO to get this done… it is no more my responsibility living in washington state to identify, precure funds and fix the problem then anyone else who lives outside of NO. Do you honestly think that the federal government would be better at running around the country finding deficiancies in infrastructer then local authorities would be???

    I think Shannan Love may have underestimated his assesment.

    “You keep confusing your philosophical belief that the Federal government should be completely in control of a disaster area with the reality of how the responsibilities are actually organized.”

  65. “New Orleans should have evacuated everyone” — um, to where? I keep hearing this as a serious criticism. Does the city of New Orleans own property outside of New Orleans? Do they have a top-secret emergency shelter program in Idaho I’ve never heard about?

    What was the mayor supposed to do? Where was he supposed to send them? He’ll just commandeer every bus in the city, use his mighty military power to force Amtrak and the airlines to help out, and ship everyone….where? Drop 25,000 people off in downtown Houston?

    I hate to break this to you, but the Mayor of New Orleans doesn’t OWN shelters outside of New Orleans — so he put people in the ones he had. I sincerly doubt Blanco had the resources to handle almost 100,000 refugees either — so was she supposed to bus them out of New Orleans to shelters she pulled out of her own ass, or what?

    The only people with the resources to house all these refugees — even to just give them food, water, and tents — is the federal government.

  66. I have to agree with Russ about the city not doing anything about flood control. If they really wanted to they could have done something. After all it is their city. Waiting around for someone else to solve your problems is generally not a good idea.

  67. Morat:
    Perhaps he could have used the school buses that got flooded to move some of the people to the 100,000 square foot convention center in Baton Rouge. Or perhaps some of the convention facilities in Shreveport. There was space available within the state. Heck they could have even used hanagers at some of the airports farther from the coast.

  68. Mark,

    joe linked to a Louisiana governmment-run website where Blanco’s letter was shown. It clearly had August 28, 2005 as the date typed at the top of it. Either you have a different source for your dates or there are several different bureaucratic procedures a governor must follow in order to get specific services from the feds.

    Morat,

    Your post is baloney. New Orleans only needs a plan and to execute that plan. They don’t need to won property, all they need is deals – usually reciprocal agreements with other local governments. Also, the state government owns properties and can make reciprocal agreements, too. This is all rather common stuff in the gulf area, and all pretty much required to be in place (on paper procedures anyway) by federal agencies.

    By no means and I trying to let feds off the hook here. I think fed agencies showed up within a reasonable time frame from the date/time they were asked and proceeded to make the situation even worse for a while.

  69. Zero: You mean Baton Rouge had authorized the use of their Convention center? Or did you just expect Nagin to show up there with 300 busses containing 25,000 people and demand entrance — and food and water.

    I live in Houston — we’ve got 25,000 people spread between the Astrodome and our Convention center, and you can bet your ass we wouldn’t have let Nagin ship them here BEFORE the streets flooded.

    I’m pretty sure Blanco lacks the authority to simply comandeer such buildings, but I don’t doubt you’d have been howling about jackbooted thugs if she had.

    Not to mention, of course, that we’re talking something like 100,000 people — even if you cram in 75 people in each bus you’re talking over a thousand busloads (I sincerly doubt Nagin has the resources for that).

    Try living in the real world — and in the real world, the only solution Nagin had the resources for was the one he used. Opened up the buildings the city had emergency agreements with and would be above even the worst flood waters, and pack them with people unable to leave town.

  70. “own” as opposed to “won”. Even preview won’t help if you’re occasionally dyslexic and a lazy proofreader.

  71. It’s fun to make snarky comments about bureaucratic screwups. It’s easy in any situation to find bungling in any situation of any magnitude.

    I’m willing to give FEMA a pass on their initial reaction time. Stuff like this usually takes the feds between 2-4 days to respond, during which people and state/local leadership are pretty much on their own.

    However, given some of the stuff that’s been reported in the aftermath- turning firemen into glorified paperboys, turning away private charity, and rejecting cargo planes that could take people out of the area, I’d have to say that FEMA has been engaging in canine copulation throughout.

  72. Your post is baloney. New Orleans only needs a plan and to execute that plan. They don’t need to won property, all they need is deals – usually reciprocal agreements with other local governments. Also, the state government owns properties and can make reciprocal agreements, too. This is all rather common stuff in the gulf area, and all pretty much required to be in place (on paper procedures anyway) by federal agencies.

    Uh-huh. Which lands? Which centers? How many busses of people? Which cities would take them? You’re living in a fantasy world if you think Nagin, Blanco, or anyone short of Jesus himself was going to get Baton Rouge to open itself up to 25,000 poor blacks from New Orleans before Katrina even landed.

    Houston wouldn’t. Shreveport wasn’t going to. Where the hell was he supposed to send the tens of thousands of people?

  73. mediageek: 2 to 4 days is a barely tolerably response time to an unforseen catastrophe. Like someone blowing UP one of the levees and flooding New Orleans. To a Cat 5 hurricane whose landfall was going to be AT or NEAR the biggest port in the US — and this known 36 hours in advance — saying they were “reasonable quick” is bullshit.

    Well, that’s not entirely true. Given it was led by a man with an unaccredited law degree, who was fired from his job with a horse registry, and whose sole qualification was “I knew the dude that used to run it”, and the victims were mostly not Republicans, I can understand it. Oh, and it not being an election year.

    Had it been whites in a swing state — like Florida in 2004 — FEMA would have had things well in hand.

  74. Ok. I see your point. However there are plenty of Public buildings outside of N.O. that could have been used. For example how about every National Gaurd armory in the state? How about every Public University building in the state. That’s two suggestions off the top of my head without resorting to private propery.

    It was up to the Mayor and the Governor to make those arrangements. They failed to do so. As for the busses. The figure I saw said that the Mayor had access to enough busses to move 10,000 people at a time. That would be 10 trips not thousands.

  75. Which lands? Which centers? How many busses of people? Which cities would take them?

    That’s what the disaster PLANS are all about. Every state has them. You think the feds are going to be more sensible about the local populations than the local governments?

  76. Had it been whites in a swing state — like Florida in 2004 — FEMA would have had things well in hand.

    If only the history of FEMA were such!

  77. My dates source from the following:

    1) White House press office (Aug. 27 press release announcing disaster declaration in Louisiana): http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050827-1.html

    2) Louisiana governor’s press office (Aug. 27 press release announcing request for disaster declaration in Louisiana): http://www.gov.state.la.us/Press_Release_detail.asp?id=976

    3) Numerous media reports on the 27th regarding the request from Blanco and the declaration by Bush:

    http://www.nola.com/weblogs/print.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/print074515.html

    http://www.newschannel6.tv/news/default.asp?mode=shownews&id=8601

    http://www.bayoubuzz.com/articles.aspx?aid=4843

  78. Joe: The mayor of Houston is a Democrat. And what has that to do with anything?

  79. Morat:
    Do you have any evidence to back up your assertion that the rest of the country would not accept temporary refugees from N.O.? Given what everyone knew before had it would have been from at most for a week or so. Are you saying that no would help out some from N.O. for that long? The people from N.O. must be some very scary people for the rest of the country to be that scared of them.

  80. Am I missing something, or does this account present
    *forebodings* of violent misconduct in the Superdome, but no actual evidence that any occurred, besides vending machines being torn open?

  81. Joe,

    You are simply profoundly misinformed about how disaster relief is actually organized. FEMA simply does not abrogates police and directional powers from the State. FEMA does not have the legal authority to overrule State authorities at all. The National Guard remains under the command of the state governor.

    The critical failure in NOLA was the failure by local and state authorities to evacuate those who could not evacuate themselves. The Feds had no authority to do so. Reflect that had Katrina struck NO directly then flooding could have been sudden and catastrophic. Virtually everyone left in the city would have been dead by noon on Monday Sept 1. It wouldn’t have mattered how quick or slow FEMA was off the mark because all the people FEMA could have helped would have been DEAD!

    There were sufficient physical assets within the city and state to evacuate tens of thousands. At the very least they could have evacuated the goddamn nursing homes. If for some reason they in fact needed outside help, (which their own planning documents to not reflect) they needed to request assistance from the Feds a year ago after Hugo. I have seen zero evidence that either the state or the city ever requested assistance in evacuating people before the storm struck.

    The gruesome events at the Superdome and the convention center are entirely the fault of the local authorities. They failed to evacuate the indigent, they failed to properly stock and secure the facilities, they BLOCKED aid from entering the city. End of discussion.

    If the local authorities had performed anywhere near to competent then the Federal government wouldn’t even had to show up except to write reconstruction checks.

    When the history of this tragedy is finally written we will see that 80% or more of the failure can be laid at the feat of the local and state authorities in Louisiana.

  82. I have to shake my head and think,”what a dipshit” this librarian guy is. He typifies the weak, pampered, liberal.

    He is a military hater, and a gun hater: “I don?t think it was till Monday afternoon that I saw any military with their AK-47s. Their appearance was a bit unsettling to many of us, but they would later prove helpful.” If you are going to report then get the fucking facts straight. American military do NOT carry AK47s. It is the USSR, the Chinese, the evil empire, remember them, that carry AK47s.

    Reading this demonstrates just how out of touch our soft, white, guilt-ridden, academics really are. Sgt Ogden should have left his miserable ass in the Dome.

  83. Sgt. Ogden should have followed orders, regardless of his opinions (if any) about: (1) racism inherent in his orders; and (2) the politics of the evacuees in his charge.

  84. I may not know my gun models, but at least I know what a soldier’s job is!

  85. Mark:

    Wouldn’t it be fair to say the “response clock” began ticking on August 30, when the levees broke? Yes, all the paperwork was taken care of on the 26th and 27th, but until there was an emergency to take care of, what point would there be for FEMA to start moving?

    Imagine if FEMA had moved all there resources to a staging ground to take care of New Orleans, and then everything happened as it did but the levees DIDN’T break, and instead FEMA was more needed in Mississippi. The howling would be just as bad as it is now.

    And let’s not forget that the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security refused to let FEMA or the Red Cross into the disaster area, worried that it would “encourage victims to stay”, rather than be on their own finding a way out of New Orleans.

    And yes, once FEMA did get into New Orleans, they fucked it all up. That cannot be questioned.

  86. Morat,

    With a little planning, the people of NO could have been easily evacuated to other cities in the state. Texas and Florida both have plans wherein the indigent are evacuated to schools, public venues and hospitals inland. People only have to be relocated outside the immediate danger zone, not the entire state. Its not that freaking complicated.

    If you think that only the Federal government has the “resources” to pull this off, ask yourself were the actual physical assets that the Feds would use would come from. The Feds would have to use vehicles and personal largely from the State itself. They might could pull in some from nearby states but most would have to be local.

  87. well, it’s running late, so I’m off, but I wil part with this thought.

    It’s true, as has been expressed by better writers in this and a previous thread, that we should not dismiss many of these first-(or even second-) hand reports of various horrors. It’s also true that some people, for various reasons, will never believe evidence which might disrupt their politics. BUT, a very healthy dose of skepticism is needed. Memories get distorted; people lie; urban legends are born every day.

    It also seems funny to me that some of the people I’ve heard most willing to take stories like this Librarian’s Tale at face value (and chastise others for being hard asses about hard evidence) are among the same people who insisted on hard evidence for WMD. Perhaps Mr. Blix could investigate what has really gone on in bayou country?

  88. I think we should bring back the draft if for no other reason than to ensure that liberal, racists get exposed to the military and forced to recognize that “they” are “us”.

    Why would the sight of US troops with their AK47s (hahahahahahahahhahaha…..) be unsettling? Why do the actions of the military become “racist”? Is it because the stereotypical, guilt-ridden liberal filters all events through their own racist world-view?

    Bush is a moron, I will grant that, but the responsibility for the NO debacle lies with the local (governor, mayor, congresspuke, senator). It is deliciously telling that every one of these local “leaders” is Democrat.

    Sgt Ogden should have left our weak-kneed librarian in the Dome to be stewed, and eaten.

  89. Joe is being blatantly dishonest as to what political bodies controlled the assets closest to New Orleans which would have best performed an effectice evacuation, and he is dishonest as to what political bodies had the manpower to use those assets. He doesn’t want to concentrate on evacuation, and puts forth false dichotomies between a 100% evacuation rate, and the 80% rate which was achieved, no matter that an evacuation with a substatially higher level of effectiveness is the only measure that would have slashed fatalities by a substantial percentage. He does all this because he has a different agenda other than discussing what would have slashed fatalities by a substantial percentage.

  90. If the local authorities had performed anywhere near to competent then the Federal government wouldn’t even had to show up except to write reconstruction checks.

    Which is pretty much what happened in Florida last year. Now, to be sure, none of the storms alone was as bad as Katrina (although Ivan did a lot of damage in the Panhandle), four storms in two months puts a strain on resources.

    Florida learned its lesson with Andrew. That “where’s the cavalry?” stunt got whatsername a lot of attention, but in the end the only attention she got was from the County Commission who fired her sorry ass for in competence.

    Any complaints that anyone had with FEMA was usually because of a screwup in paperwork or someone finding they were not eligible for a certain kind of aid.

    However, noone should be letting Michael Brown off the hook with his “there are no problems at the Superdome” when every fucking channel was showing nothing but problems at the Superdome. The man is either stupid or a liar (most likely both).

  91. “Sgt. Ogden should have followed orders, regardless of his opinions (if any) about: (1) racism inherent in his orders; and (2) the politics of the evacuees in his charge.”

    It is possible, likely even, that Sgt Ogden did not receive any orders on this issue. He might have been acting on his own initiative. Good soldiers in the US military do that. Most likely Sgt Ogden had no idea what “the politics of the evacuees in his charge” were. He probably just recognized the racially charged explosive situation that was developing and took action to rectify the situation.

    “(1) racism inherent in his orders…” Man, that just says it all. Everything that happens is just a racist plot… hahahahahhahaha!

  92. It is deliciously telling that every one of these local “leaders” is Democrat.

    Nagin was a longtime Republican and Bush supporter and donor who only registered Demo to have a better chance at election in NO. He endorsed Jindal for gov and has given only half-hearted support to Dem pols.

    People should not be counting on getting much mileage out of party affiliations here methinks.

  93. The critical failure in NOLA was the failure by local and state authorities to evacuate those who could not evacuate themselves. The Feds had no authority to do so.

  94. One final question about our effiminate librarian: What the fuck was he doing in NO in the first place? He flies in for a vacation as a category 5 hurricane is spiralling directly toward this below-sea-level town? hahahahahahaha.

    Man, that is what natural selection is all about.

  95. Now if we in FL could only get a few of the folks in our emergency response organizations into the Supervisor of Elections offices they might do something about the clusterfucks we fondly call elections.

  96. Where the hell was he supposed to send the tens of thousands of people?

    Thankfully, the State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan shows that at least somebody thought about it a little beforehand.

    Just to toss one paragraph out there…

    EOP Supplement 1a, Part V (A)(3)(b). As the state of readiness escalates, recommended and mandatory evacuation will be ordered. DSS will see to it that the maximum number of shelters are opened, first in the A-sector parishes, then in the B- and C-sector parishes. DSS will also coordinate with the States of Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and Texas to monitor the flow of evacuees into their states.

  97. The gun issue seems like a silly line of attack. I own a gun and a car.

    I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between different guns or rifles. I also can’t tell you which cars have more horsepower.

    Am I a gun hater, or a car hater? To me they’re both just stupid tools I use from time to time. Why should anyone be expected to know the difference between calibers and brands?

  98. “Nagin was a longtime Republican and Bush supporter and donor who only registered Demo to have a better chance at election in NO. He endorsed Jindal for gov and has given only half-hearted support to Dem pols.”

    A long-time republican pretending to be a democrat. And the moronic voters of NO fell for it? hhahahahahahaha! Delicious! Undoubtedly the Dome was packed with Nagin supporters.

  99. Mark: Wouldn’t it be fair to say the “response clock” began ticking on August 30, when the levees broke? Yes, all the paperwork was taken care of on the 26th and 27th, but until there was an emergency to take care of, what point would there be for FEMA to start moving?

    I think it was pretty clear that there was an emergency on Saturday and Sunday, when the Category 5 storm was bearing down on the Gulf Coast, evacuations had begun and the President of the United States was putting out a press release saying he’d already declared a disaster and put FEMA in charge of the federal response.

    No question the disaster magnified with the breaking of the levees. But FEMA should have been rolling before the storm hit, and assisting in the evacuation and care of people who were displaced to the Superdome and elsewhere.

    “Brownie” and his team shouldn’t be sitting on the sidelines waiting to pick up the pieces. They should have been down there assisiting with “search and rescue, emergency medical care, emergency mass care, emergency shelter, and provision of food, water, medicine, and other essential needs, including movement of supplies or persons” as called for in the Stafford Act.

    And if they didn’t know or understand that was their mission, they should be fired.

  100. “The gun issue seems like a silly line of attack. I own a gun and a car.

    I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between different guns or rifles. I also can’t tell you which cars have more horsepower.

    Am I a gun hater, or a car hater? To me they’re both just stupid tools I use from time to time. Why should anyone be expected to know the difference between calibers and brands?”

    Hahahahahahahahaha! Please spare us the bull-shit. If you really are a gun-owner, then I suggest you turn in your gun to the local authorities before you hurt yourself. Does your gun have a caliber? Just FYI here, “guns” is a generic term for handguns and long guns, hence there is no difference between guns and rifles because rifles ARE guns. Are you the librarian who wrote this weepy article?

  101. Someone help this boy before he hurts himself.

  102. You have to be nearly comatose, or a weepy liberal racist to NOT recognize an AK47. Every warlord in Afghanistan carries one. Every “freedom fighter” in Iraq carries one. In fact, nearly every fucking collectivist fascist on the planet relies on the AK47 to enforce their own vision of paradise. What you will never see though, is an American soldier carrying one.

    If you don’t recognize the weapon that is being carried, then why, pray tell, would you report it as being an AK47? Why not just say that “the presence of American soldiers carrying their RPGs, howitzers, and neutron bombs was at first unsettling…” Hahahahahahahaha… Fucking dimwits.

  103. Here is another suggestion for all you liberals, and other brain-damaged readers: When reporting the murderous actions of the US military, why not just say, “the presence of American soldiers carrying their weapons of unknown make, model, or caliber, because I am too fucking clueless to watch the news and recognize an AK47, was at first unsettling…” Hahahahahahaha.

    Hey, maybe you could report, “those murderous US soldiers were carrying Chevys, or Fords, or Yugos…” I just figured I would throw that in because you are admittedly too dumb to recognize and distinguish between cars as well. Hahahahahahaha!

  104. In fact, nearly every fucking collectivist fascist on the planet relies on the AK47 to enforce their own vision of paradise. What you will never see though, is an American soldier carrying one.

    Not quite right:

    “We just do not have enough rifles to equip all of our soldiers. So in certain circumstances we allow soldiers to have an AK-47. They have to demonstrate some proficiency with the weapon … demonstrate an ability to use it,” said Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

  105. Mark,

    Thanks for the info.

    Interesting in that neither the press release of the letter sent August 27 nor in the letter dated August 28 (which joe linked to the other day) is there any request for FEMA to assist in evacuation, in fact the boilerplate verbiage in the letters implies that the state plan to evacuate people would be followed, and that only reimbursement for the cost of the evacuation was requested.

    So far it seems like Shannon’s got the best understanding of how the systems are designed to operate. Even more than some of the people who’s job it is to operate the systems. Which still doesn’t mean that the designs are good.

  106. So, these AK47s made their way from Iraq to the hurricane site in New Orleans. Well, that settles it then. Hahahahahahaha!

  107. MikeP,

    Shame on you for not reporting the whole truth. You’re a journalist, aren’t you? Hahahahahahahaha!

    From the story at the link you provided:
    “In Humvees, on tanks – but never openly on base – U.S. soldiers are carrying the Cold War-era weapon, first developed in the Soviet Union but now mass produced around the world.”

    Question: If they “never openly on base” carry these AK47s, then how is one to see them carrying them?

  108. FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security became responsible for leading all efforts, including evacuation, the moment the state said its resources were overhwelmed — which occurred with the Disaster Declaration prior to the storm’s landfall.

    The DHS National Response Plan spells it out. Somebody should have briefed Chertoff and Brownie (and Bush, for that matter) to make sure they understood the implications of the federal disaster declaration.

    Maybe if they knew their responsibilities, they wouldn’t have sat on the sidelines with their thumb up their asses for four days while the local authorities — who admitted they were overwhelmed and needed help when they asked the President to declare a federal disaster — waited in vain for assistance.

    Nagin and Blanco are responsible for their own sins in preparing for and responding to this disaster. But they called out for federal help well before the storm hit land, and reasonably expected it to arrive when the President signed the order.

    It’s a fucking crime that nobody in the federal government realized that once the order was signed, it was their responsibility to send help.

  109. Here’s a link to the Department of Homeland Security National Response Plan: http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/NRP_FullText.pdf

  110. If they “never openly on base” carry these AK47s, then how is one to see them carrying them?

    Oh. Hmm. Let me think. One sees them carrying AK-47s off base, where people are likely to shoot at them?

    I don’t know too much about weapons. But I do know that the AK-47 is a very good one, especially for close quarters combat and dusty conditions. If US troops _aren’t_ carrying them in Iraq, it would have to be because of a hellaciously strong order from above. I hadn’t seen that article before I just now searched for it. But I did the search _expecting_ to find such an article.

  111. Sorry, Mark, you can’t call the Great White Father less than 48 hours before landfall and expect him to evacuate the City of New Orleans. This has have been prepared well ahead of time, and the peoople to do it are the ones who control the assets that are going to be used. Which political bodies controlled the five hundred or one thousand busses closest to the City of New Orleans?

    I really fear what you apparently adovcate, that the Federal Government will become the lead political body responsible for the evacuation of major American cities. That will only guarantee massive casualties down the road.

  112. The AK47 is a very good weapon. It is “loose” so it is not likely to jam.

    One more point about the article: it was written in 2003 nearly two years ago.

    Scavenging for items that are in short supply is good soldiering. The US soldiers carrying the AKs in this article were tankers, not infantry. Tankers shoot 120mm cannons, and 25mm cannons, and 50 caliber machine guns in their day to day business. They don’t usually shoot M16s or AKs. Assignment for all you liberal gun experts: figure out the difference between mm and cal, it might save you the embarassment of writing that a “gun nut was out plinking with his 22mm handgun”, as I recently read in the Washington Post.

    So, you contend that these US soldiers in NO were, in fact carrying AK47s? They were undoubtedly sent down there to terrorize all of the poor Nagin Republicans in the Dome.

  113. Mark,

    Did you even read the document you linked to? There’s a whole list of responsiblities delineated for the state and local governments. It does not start with: Declare an emergency and emergency and turn over the reigns to DHS.

  114. Mark,

    Try reading page 6: “Incidents are typically managed at the the lowest possible geographic, organizational, and jurisdictional level.”

    It seems to me that an evacuation that was in the Louisiana and New Orleans disaster plan is something that can be managed at the state level.

  115. Jebus, where did this new fuckin’ retard who fancies himself The Joker show up from? Did somebody post a link at Free Republic?

  116. Mark,

    I took a look at the Stafford Act and nothing in it says FEMA would be involved in evacuation of any kind. It only says FEMA is to review state plans to ensure that evacuation plans are in place.

    And the problem was the people were evacuated to a place that had to be evacuated.

  117. Flyover:

    Read further on Page 6 (bold is mine)…

    “The degree of federal involvement in incident operations depends largely upon specific Federal
    authority or jurisdiction. Other factors that may be considered include:

    The State, local, or tribal needs and/or requests for external support, or ability to manage the incident;
    — The economic ability of the affected entity to
    recover from the incident;
    — The type or location of the incident;
    The severity and magnitude of the incident; and
    The need to protect the public health or welfare or the environment.

    “Federal departments and agencies support the
    homeland security mission in accordance with national authorities and guidance and are expected to provide:
    Initial and/or ongoing response, when warranted, under their own authorities and funding;
    Alert, notification, pre-positioning, and timely delivery of resources to enable the management of potential and actual Incidents of National Significance; and
    Proactive support for catastrophic or potentially catastrophic incidents using protocols for expedited delivery of resources.

    “For Incidents of National Significance that are
    Presidentially declared disasters or emergencies,
    Federal support to States is delivered in accordance with relevant provisions of the Stafford Act” etc…

    I do not for a minute defend or dismiss the culpability of incompetent local and state officials.

    But the feds created the fucking Department of Homeland Security, subsumed FEMA into it, laid down a whole bunch of procedures to ensure that failures on the local level are mitigated by federal support, practiced specifically for an incident like this (the Hurrican Pam exercise), AND THEN SAT AROUND FOR DAYS AFTER THE STORM HIT, watching on CNN as the city drowned.

  118. OK. I’ll stipulate to laying the shoddy evacuation fully at the feet of Nagin and Blanco. They deserve every bit of flesh that’s stripped off their hides in the weeks ahead.

    But from Monday morning on, as the full scope of the disaster became apparent to anyone with a television, there should have been no question in anyone’s mind that this was an “Incident of National Significance” that required “proactive support” and “expedited delivery of resources” by FEMA and the feds. It’s 350 miles from Houston to New Orleans. It shouldn’t have taken four days to get food and water down there.

  119. Well, yes, Mark, and when it was attempted to move food and water to the people at the Super Dome and the Convention Center, the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security and State Police prevented it. The Red Cross and Salvation Army have both openly stated that they were prevented from moving food and water to afflicted people in New Orleans by the State of Louisiana.

    I have no doubt that FEMA has made multiple errors. The fact of the matter, however, is that this battle was lost, in terms of reducing the death rate by a large percentage, by the Saturday morning before the storm. One cannot have 100,000 or more people in the City of New Orleans when a storm like this strikes, and expect to avoid massive loss of life. What actions are taken after the storm hits, in terms of substantially reducing the death rate, are far, far, less important.

  120. Mark,

    I apologize for the tone of my previous responses. I think there are many areas we are in agreement. However, I disagree that on Monday morning it was known that this was an “Incident of National Significance” in New Orleans alone. The hurricane actually made landfall east of NO and until the second levee broke on Tuesday morning most people thought that NO had dodged the bullet and that Mississippi had taken most of the damage. Also keep in mind that there is a huge area that was affected by the hurricane. It may only be 350 miles from Houston to New Orleans, but a good part of the infrastructure in the area was heavily damaged. I honestly don’t know how bad logistically it was to get large trucks, buses, etc. into New Orleans.

    Does anybody have links or special knowledge about the logistics of launching and sustaining a larg e scale relief effort?

    Also, I read somewhere (and not on somebody’s rightwing blog) that FEMA had provided food and other supplies in the Superdome. I didn’t read anything about the Convention Center. If I can find the article I will post a link. Other assets were moved into place near where the hurricane was expected to hit. FEMA did not sit on its ass for days. It may have moved ineffectively and slowly, but it did react immediately.

    The Pam exercise was somewhat different in that the scenario was that NO would fill rapidly and the number of dead would be much higher and number of survivors requiring assistance would be much less.

  121. Hahahahahahahahaha! Please spare us the bull-shit. If you really are a gun-owner, blah, blah, blah….

    My gun ownership is irrelevent, and unprovable so it’s not worth argueing about. It does seem like a violation of my rights to require that my gun knowledge reach a certain level prior to my owning a firearm – I’d think you should defend my rights to own a gun.

    You, and others argue, that a person must be an enthusiast or they’re anti-gun. That’s silly. It’s like argueing that since I don’t differentiate between John Deere and Allis-Chambers I must be anti-tractor.

    It’s a dumb arguement. It takes a tangential piece of information and inflates it to try to cast doubt. Even though the central fact, that the N.G. were armed with some kind of firearm, is probably true.

    This all comes back to my central complaint. No level of government can point to a single thing they’ve done right, which is why all these posts are attacking LA, N.O., and now any individual who talks about how crappy the situation is.

    “Bush is blameless, and the proof is that this guy can’t recognize his firearms.” Yeah, that makes sense.

  122. “Bush is blameless, and the proof is that this guy can’t recognize his firearms.” Yeah, that makes sense…

    Who the hell said Bush is blameless? I did say that the responsibility for the debacle belonged to the local leaders. It is sickening to hear all the self-serving political hatchet jobs that are underway, mostly coming from the Dems I must add.

    Mostly though I was commenting on the article written by the weak-kneed librarian. His editorial was so clearly from the liberal perspective and so slanted that it cried out for ridicule, and I grudgingly supplied that ridicule. You (at least I think it was you) posted something along the lines of, “I can’t tell a Winchester from a Toyota”. From the context of your post it seemed evident to me that you were lying about your gun ownership. Lying to bolster a weak argument is a bad thing; I called you out on it.

    Obviously, I am a second amendment supporter. In fact, I support the whole damned constitution. It is annoying to read (or listen to) the misplaced sneers from gun-haters. The whole editorial by the limp wristed librarian was annoying. He accepts salvation from a soldier, who he detests because he is a soldier, and at the same time calls the guy a racist. I have noticed that it is ALWAYS the liberal who calls names, and makes damning statements that are unsupportable by the facts. Then the guilty, white librarian becomes a mind reader, “in all of our minds, whether spoken or unspoken was the notion that if we just weren’t in Iraq, this would all be better”. He hates the military, and everything they stand for and at the same time cries because the military is not there saving him fast enough. Rehashing it is pissing me off all over again. They should have left him in the Dome.

    The bottom line about the troubles in New Orleans comes to this: shit happens. This was a 6 sigma catastrophe. There was no way for the feds to come in and fix things the day after the storm. To cry and moan about their failure is stupid. It is the worst sort of arm-chair quarterbacking. The local leaders should have had an evacuation plan in place, and they should have executed that plan. That is THEIR JOB. They had DAYS of advance notice.

    The great thing about being a Libertarian is that I don’t have to take Bush’s side. Bush is an embarassment to leadership. He is dumb and unaccomplished, and got where he is because of nepotism. But, come on, he did not conjure up this hurricane and then bend all of those Lousianna Democrats to his will to force them to completeley fail to plan for a hurricane in New Orleans. Nope, they fucked this up on their own, and they should all pay the ultimate political price, but they won’t. They will probably be reelected because New Orleans and Lousianna are filled with empty-headed liberal Democrats like the detestable librarian.

  123. Last word from me on this topic: My guess is that Sgt Ogden will receive the most punishment here. I mean, he is a racist after all. If only Sgt Ogden could have been the mind-reader that the librarian is, then he would have known in advance what a mental basket-case the weepy librarian is and he could left his useless ass in the Dome.

  124. In that situation, moving them out of there was the best solution.

    No, the est solution is to have a sufficient law enforcement presence at the shelter so that harrassment doesn’t occur. That would have been possible if our guard weren’t trying, with mixed success, to prevent sexual harrassment in far-away lands.

  125. Wayne,

    You are clueless (on purpose?).

    Staff Sgt. Ogden will get in no trouble here.
    Even if by some freak of fate, someone got it in their head to try to prosecute the soldier (they won’t), the soldier will defend by saying he was following orders, not immediately apparent as illegal. And he (assuming it really a he, ya never know) will be correct. Staff Sergeants were not bussing people out of New Orleans on their own initiative. While staff sergeants may often act on their own initiative, bussing people out of the Dome is clearly a protocol that was controlled from higher up the command chain here.

  126. ” the soldier will defend by saying he was following orders”

    And I am clueless? 🙂

    Who said he was a staff sargent?

  127. actually, it does say that he is a staff sargent. mea culpa.

  128. Of course, the account could be wrong about the staff sgt thing. Maybe he misread or misheard the rank, just like you misread his rank. The lesson here is that a witness shouldn’t lose all her cred just because she makes a mistake on a minor collateral matter (eg, gun model numbers).

  129. I worked for a federal disaster relief agency during 9/11. When the buildings went down, we had a couple thousand people chomping at the bit to deploy (in fact, many of them just took off on their own without our orders – the paperwork we had to do after the fact was a total fucking nightmare).

    However, New York initially told us to fuck off. They had a large local force already present, and especially since they just lost a lot of excellent men, they wanted to take care of their own.

    So for people here to expect the feds to be the absolute first line of defense against terrorism and disasters, really need to get a fucking clue. Seriously. Look at your paycheck (if you get one). Notice that money being taken out for STATE taxes? What do you think that money should be spent on?

    Liberals are supposedly compassionate and enlightened people. However, they are clearly exploiting this national tragedy to seize power again, massively expand the federal government, take pot-shots against the war, and make even more tiresome global warming claims. You all are totally pathetic.

    And I’ll make this very clear since people are throwing around the term “Bush apologist”. I did not vote for the guy in either election. In some ways I admire him, in other ways he comes up very, very short.

  130. Nagin is a bullsh*tting, incompetent punk [adjective: Slang: Of poor quality; inferior] whose only qualifications for the job is that he’s as corrupt as the rest of the local government.

    Blanco is a bullsh*tting, incompetent punkess [adjective: Slang: Of poor quality; inferior] whose only qualifications for the job was the (D) next to her name on the ballot.

    I lived in the Gulfport/Biloxi area for four years from 2000-2004. I’m more then familiar with that whole area and New Orleans as well.

    New Orleans is a turd bowl reeking of sh*t, piss, vomit and decay. Oh… did I mention this was before the hurricane.

    The corruption of New Orleans local government and police force rivals the best (worst??) that Mexico has to offer (I lived on the Mexican border as well for 5 years).

    I am all for spending federal funds (our tax dollars) to help in the aftermath, whatever it takes. However, I don’t want one thin dime of my taxes going towards any rebuilding of that turd bowl city. Not one dime.

    Common sense says don’t build below sea level in hurricane prone areas. By the way, don’t forget to thank the French for New Orleans (and also thank them for the couple of tents and cots their donating now).

    I applaud House Speaker Dennis Hastert for having the gonads to say publicly what I and many others feel about rebuilding that turd bowl city.

    It would take many Billions of dollars, possibly 100’s of Billions to rebuild. It would surpass the Big Dig in Boston for the amount of corruption, scams, cost overruns, thievery and once again, incompetence.

    And after all that waste of money the following week could bring another Cat 4 or Cat 5 hurricane.
    I say NO!

    Give the Big Easy the Big “Final” Rest.

  131. Seriously, why not just let the water fill in and turn the whole thing into a goddamned lake?

    Of course, we’ll be severly deprived of future Girls Gone Wild editions. So I’m really torn here.

  132. No more Girls Gone Wild… Hadn’t thought of that! Obviously we have to rebuild. To do otherwise would be racist, and sexist now to boot. Maybe the girls gone wild producers could do a NO fundraiser video with girls dressed (initially) in Camys and toting AK47s and acting kind of butch and fascist and racist. The video could conclude with the girls all naked and happy and kissing each other and fumbling with their punch card ballots as they vote Nagin the Dem, uh Repub or whatever, back into office. Maybe one of the girls could be dressed as a sexually repressed librarian, which is always a good fantasy image.

    We need the Port of New Orleans for commercial reasons, but that does not mean that the city needs to be rebuilt where it is.

  133. No Morat, I’m not a moron…I do know that Kos is a site where many people post links and commentary, and “Kos says” was referring to the site, not the site owner, Markos Moulitsas, which I figured people would assume, cos lots of folks refer to The Daily Kos as just Kos and cos I’m verbose enough and didn’t think I needed to specify the poster, and the identity of the poster doesn’t really affect my point, and you’re a jumpy little asshole, aren’t you?

  134. One of the great thing about this argument here is that I have been exposed to some cool words:

    feckless – not a word commonly used in conversation, and not totally new to me, but a good word never the less. I urge all you to look it up if you are not familiar with it.

    jigaboo – a blast from the past. It is amusing to me that this word was used here by a weepy, whiny, liberal… of course!

    I am surprised that we have not seen the word niggardly used, as in, “George Bush is just a niggarly racist who actually bussed poor blacks into New Orleans from Baton Rouge and Houston on Saturday, September 3.

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