September 10, 2005

The Mailbag

Eric Martin, who writes at this thoughtful lefty blog, sends the below in:

Greg, you wrote: "Ditto Governor Kathleen Blanco--who was simply too slow to declare a national emergency..." I'm not sure what partisan site you got that misinformation from, but it is misinformation. Blanco declared a State of Emergency for Louisiana on August 26. Link She made a formal request to President Bush for the area to be declared a National Emergency on August 27. Link On August 27, responding to Blanco's request, the White House issued a National Emergency: Link You owe it to your readers to correct this mis-statement of fact. How can you characterize an effort as "too slow" when in fact she called for a national emergency the day BEFORE the hurricane hit.

You're better than this Greg.

In an E-mail back to Eric, I took his criticism but queried whether Blanco may still have waited a tad too long--perhaps she might have requested a state of national emergency be declared before August 26th, as many already feared the hurricane might score a direct hit on New Orleans (and other parts of Louisiana) even before then.

To which Eric replied:

The claim that Blanco was too slow to act was predicated on a piece of misinformation from an "undisclosed White House source" quoted in the Washington Post. Given the track record, probably Rove. Here is the offending quote from the WaPo:

"As of Saturday, [Louisiana governor Kathleen] Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, [a] senior Bush official said."

That would be Saturday September 3. Which is approximately eight days after Blanco actually declared a state of emergency and one week after she made the request nationally - which was granted by the way on the same day. The Washington Post had to retract this statement because they were so off base.

In answer to your question, no I don't think she waited too long. The National Weather Center was only forecasting a Cat 2 up until August 27. On the 27, the day after she declared a state of emergency in the State of Louisiana, and the day on which she asked for national emergency, Katrina was upgraded to a Cat 3. She acted exactly when it was appropriate.

As for the timeline, I think we were both off on the day Katrina made landfall. It was actually the 29th so Blanco declared a statewide state of emergency three days prior to landfall. Two days prior to landfall she asked and received the national emergency status.

Someone in the White House tried to claim she waited five days. That would have been too long. Two days before the hurricane hit was reasonable given it was considered a Cat 2 up until that point.

This sounds like a pretty fair appraisal. Anyone have a different view on this particular Katrina narrative?


Posted by Gregory at September 10, 2005 02:47 AM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

Yeah. There's an extremely lengthy discussion, including discussion of Posse Commitatus and what the real declarations of the various sorts wqere, several places on the web. I like the one at http://www.proteinwisdom.com .

There are several problems with this argument, not the least of them being that Blanco's 26 August "state of emergency" did not permit Federal troops entry, and didn't release control of the National Guard. It is merely a request for funding and support. in fact, s of 5 Sept, the AP was reporting that Blanco still wasn't allowing the Federal authorities to have control, even while repeatedly announcing on TV that the Feds weren't acting.

Basically, the argument here is under-informed.

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) at September 10, 2005 03:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The question I have that hasn't been answered by any right-wing sites I've visited is this. Why the spin? Why does this administration only do business via "anonymous Senior Bush officials" and "leaks" to the press. The WaPo article is just another instance of this. This administration has a daily press briefing almost daily where no answers are given to valid questions by the press. Instead of answering question in the light of day, they answer acqusations with "look forward to answering at a later time" and "stop with the blame game." Then they turn around and leak falsehoods and lay "blame" with anybody else but themselves via the press as "anonymous" sources. What a chickenshit way to run a government. That alone leads me to believe all these points are just spin to cover up what they clearly understand as their failings.

Posted by: JoeTx at September 10, 2005 03:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

When the state of emergency was declared on August 26th, Katrina was a category 2 with an expected landfall from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle. Since this declaration of emergency was issued so soon before it was known where the hurricane would land and how serious it would be, it doesn't seem the declaration has much significance in itself. These declarations seem to be routine things that are done whenever there is a chance of a hurricane affecting a state.

Posted by: cm at September 10, 2005 03:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JoeTx has a point.

Posted by: just me at September 10, 2005 06:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Re: Charlie (Colorado)'s comments....

the far right is make a huge deal because Blanco did not declare martial law/give the military "law enforcement" powers.

This is another one of those "red herrings"---the implication of their argument is that the military could not provide security without "law enforcement" powers. Of course that is nonsense, as demonstrated by the fact that the Louisiana National Guard was providing security services at the Superdome before Katrina hit, including checking those who entered for weapons, etc.

Indeed, despite the fact that martial law has never been declared in New Orleans, National Guardsman from throughout the nation AND federal troops are now deployed in New Orleans, patrolling the streets.....

(The question of whether or not martial law should have been declared is another matter entirely. As a recent article in the NY Times demonstrated, there was a complete breakdown in the "justice" system in New Orleans, which provides a very strong argument for imposition of martial law. The counter-argument, of course, is that if federal troops had been provided in a timely fashion to provide order and security in New Orleans, the complete breakdown in civil society could have been averted, eliminating the necessity for "martial law" to be imposed. But neither argument is relevant to the question of whether it was necessary to impose martial law to allow federal troops to be used in New Orleans.)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at September 10, 2005 01:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We are all mm quarterbacking, but Governor Blanco should have acted as if there were an emergency, if she had declared one. It seems more actions could have been taken: assuring routes out of NO were clear, using all available public transportation (maybe the mayor's job), communicating the seriousness of the situation...

And JoeTx has the "business via anonymous Senior Bush officials and leaks to the press" backwards. The press does business that way.

Posted by: nybd at September 10, 2005 01:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

All thoughtful answers that I will consider further.

nybd,

officials ask to be anonymous and reporters allegedly respect their wishes. It seems a bit odd to blame the press here for reporting "facts" from government officials when the alternative would be to not print any information absent a source willing to be "outed". Chicken / egg issue I suppose.

Posted by: tre at September 10, 2005 03:58 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It would be fair to conclude that Gov. Blanco neither comprehended the scope of the disaster (did anyone?) nor the requirements of her office in calling for military assistance. The controlling issue was the difference between the Louisiana National Guard and active-duty troops, which would have required Louisiana to surrender control to the Federal Government. That is why, for instance, the LNG was available for humanitarian assistance at the Superdome, but was not deployed militarily.

Granted, a very tough call, but it seems clear Gov. Blanco was ill-prepared to make the decision. She has subsequently acknowledged that she did not specify what sorts of soldiers she was requesting, which would seem to indicate she did not understand clearly the legal issues involved at the time she made the request. Hence, the delay.

Posted by: Eracus at September 10, 2005 04:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Who is the "undisclosed White House source", and why the hell is he/she still unidentified?

Posted by: caveman at September 10, 2005 05:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

That is why, for instance, the LNG was available for humanitarian assistance at the Superdome, but was not deployed militarily.

The LNG was deployed "militarily"---and was providing "security and order" services from the very beginning. There was absolutely NO legal impediment to either the NG or active duty military to providing "security and order" services. They are doing so today....without any change in status.

Granted, a very tough call, but it seems clear Gov. Blanco was ill-prepared to make the decision. She has subsequently acknowledged that she did not specify what sorts of soldiers she was requesting, which would seem to indicate she did not understand clearly the legal issues involved at the time she made the request. Hence, the delay.

she asked for EVERYTHING. That, of course, would include the use of federal troops to maintain order and security. (please note that there is a distinction between "law enforcement" and "security and order".)

It should also be noted that active duty military (from the Bataan(?)) were involved in rescue missions and other duties from the moment Katrina passed. The 82nd Airborne was on standby to provide WHATEVER assistance was needed, but the federal government did not order them into action until the "crisis" had become a full-blown catastrophe.

What happened in the aftermath of Katrina was primarily a communications and co-ordination problem --- and because primary responsibility for the co-ordination of relief efforts in a national disaster lies with FEMA, primary blame for the catastrophe that occurred AFTER Katrina had passed lies with FEMA.

Posted by: p.lukasiak at September 10, 2005 08:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

tre,

You sort of backed my point when you enclosed facts in quotes. When it comes from anonymous source is it a fact? Is it government spin? Is it press spin?

Posted by: nybd at September 10, 2005 09:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

nybd writes: "And JoeTx has the "business via anonymous Senior Bush officials and leaks to the press" backwards. The press does business that way."

Not usually when it involves trivially confirmable public information, such as the date Blanco declared an emergency.

That's like a paper writing "An administration official who requested anonymity today said that the name of the FEMA had is Michael Brown."

There's no need for anonymity. Anonymity would only be called for if the source were providing information that would otherwise be unavailable.

The only need for anonymity in the Blanco thing was created by the fact the source was lying his ass off.

I'm not sure why the Washington Post allowed the quote to run without attribution. There's no need for it.

Posted by: Jon H at September 10, 2005 09:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gregory,

The archive over at the http://www.weatherunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/archive.html?tstamp=200508
confirms Eric´s opinion.

7:37 AM EDT on August 26, 2005
Although Katrina is currently moving just south of due west, the computer track models unanimously agree that a trough moving across the central U.S. this weekend will "pick up" Katrina and force it on a northward path towards the Florida Panhandle. These model predictions are high-confidence predictions, as the upper air environment around the hurricane is well-characterized thanks to the NOAA jet dropsonde mission flown last night. The NOAA jet is scheduled to fly another mission tonight. While New Orleans centainly needs to keep a wary eye on Katrina, it seems that the Florida Panhandle has its usual hurricane magnet in place, and the same piece of coast punished by Ivan and Dennis is destined for another strike by a major hurricane.

11:31 AM EDT on August 26, 2005
The forecast track has not changed significantly, with a landfall Monday morning still expected along the end of the Gulf of Mexico's bowling alley, the Florida Panhandle between Pensacola and Panama City. However, two key computer models--the NOGAPS and GFDN--have made a large jump to the west, bringing Katrina over Louisiana. New Orleans can definitely not breathe easy until Katrina makes its turn north and we have a better idea where she is going.

5:23 PM EDT on August 26, 2005
Latest compter model runs have shifted significantly west in the past six hours, and the threat of a strike on New Orleans by Katrina as a major hurricane has grown. The official NHC forecast is now 170 miles west of where it was at 11am, and still is to the east of the consensus model guidance. It would be no surprise if later advisories shift the forecast track even further west and put Katrina over New Orleans. Until Katrina makes its northward turn, I would cast a very doubtful eye on the model predictions of Katrina's track. So much for the model prediction being high confidence, as I was surmising at 8am this morning! Recurvature is a difficult situation to forecast correctly.

Posted by: Detlef at September 10, 2005 11:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree with JoeTx, Scott McClellan is the most over-his-head Washington public official since dapper Dan Quail. Look for Karen Hughes to be moved from the State Dept to trying to communicate to the American people in the future.

Speaking of over their head public officials, the information coming out on, and conduct of, Ms Blanco in the last few days has given me a different perspective on the fed response. I agree incompetence was foreseeable, even gross incompetence should have been factored into the planning. But I think its unfair to hold the feds responsible for the petulant, adolescent food fight between her and the Mayor almost amounting to sabotage. Turning back the Red Cross bottled water trucks or their recent dispute over evacuation are examples.

Posted by: wayne at September 10, 2005 11:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nice try. Sure she asked, but she also clearly didn't know what was coming and was asking for $9M for debris removal and such - not even close to what she'd have us believe now.

Read the 8/27 Press Release which contains Gov Blanco's request to the President for federal assistance. She advises him that she has declared a state of emergency, activated the state emergency response plan, and requests he declare a federal state of emergency for LA IAW the Stafford Act to get federal money and resources flowing. The problem is she wasn't asking for anything other than the typical stuff. Page 2 spells it out - $9M for shelter support, generators, transportation and state police costs for EVACUATION support, etc.

No one is covered in glory here, but I've read the city and state Emergency Operation Plans and they knew what they needed to do and had the capability to most, if not all of it. They simply didn't do it. Their own plans clearly state the cavalry can not be expected to arrive for 72 to 96 hours. There will be plenty of time to argue how to shrink the response time in the future, but individuals and local officials have to step up to their responsibilities unless we want to live in federal police state.

source: http://www.gov.state.la.us/Press_Release_detail.asp?id=976

Posted by: bemused at September 10, 2005 11:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Humanitarian assistance at the Superdome is a far cry from using military force in the streets of New Orleans. The use of military force for the purpose of restoring law and order would have required Gov. Blanco to relinquish her powers under the Insurrection Act to Federal authority. She did not do so.
--------------------
"Can you imagine how it would have been perceived if a president of the United States of one party had pre-emptively taken from the female governor of another party the command and control of her forces, unless the security situation made it completely clear that she was unable to effectively execute her command authority and that lawlessness was the inevitable result?" asked one senior administration official, who spoke anonymously because the talks were confidential.

Officials in Louisiana agree that the governor would not have given up control over National Guard troops in her state as would have been required to send large numbers of active-duty soldiers into the area. But they also say they were desperate and would have welcomed assistance by active-duty soldiers.

"I need everything you have got," Ms. Blanco said she told Mr. Bush last Monday, after the storm hit.

In an interview, she acknowledged that she did not specify what sorts of soldiers. "Nobody told me that I had to request that," Ms. Blanco said.

The New York Times, 9/9/05

Posted by: Eracus at September 11, 2005 01:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Response time is one thing (and I do think the Bush admin. was typically sleazy with the anon. lie - er...leak - pertaining to Blanco).

An equally important story is how the Bush admin. and Republican majority congress shot down appropriations to improve the structural integrity of the Levees.

While the admin has US forces and hundreds of billions of US dollars committed to a bizarre gamble of an adventure in Iraq, very real, very tangible, very predictable threats to domestic security, economic stability and life and limb are passed over.

Posted by: AVEDIS at September 11, 2005 01:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I believe that although Gov. Blanco activated the La. Nat. Guard, she delayed in requesting Guard units from other states until Wed. It was also on Wed, she signed an order to sieze control of all available busses to evacuate citizens.
She assumed ( and we all know what happens with assumptions) that Mayor Nagin was following his own emergency disaster plan. We now know he did not and belatedly ordered a mandatory evacuation of N.O. on Sun. night. He didn't use the busses he had and most of them are now water logged.
Ms. Blanco's Dept of Homeland Security would not allow the Red Cross andthe Salvation Army to deliver supplies the N.O. during the entire week. Hopeing to starve the victims into leaving N.O? How? The busses couldn't be brought to town until late in the week. It was finally Thurs. when the Army entered N.O. They got the Superdome evacuated on Thurs. and the Convention center evacuated on Fri. Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin were still feuding during the weekend on who had ultimate authority in N.O. to pursue a mandatory evac.
Remember, Gov. Blanco had to be begged by the Pres. to order a mandatory Evac on Sun. Without his call, would she had done so? There is still no clear chain of command. The Pres. controls FEMA and the military. GOv. Blanco controls the National Guard. Is that the way to run the releif effort of the worst disaster in state history?

Posted by: Meatss at September 11, 2005 01:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

AVEDIS, The levee that broke was one that was recently built. Go to some of the other blogs and read the reports on how La. got $1.9 billion in Corps of Eng. funds during the last 5 years. More than any other state. Read how much of this went to pork barrel projects that had nothing to do with flood control. The Pres. doesn't pick where the funding goes, Congress does. The Engineers admit that the levees had received all the funds committed by Congress, but that they were built to withstand Cat. 3 storms. This was a Cat. 4 storm and the new levee couldn't hold the water back. The Corps states that the funds used for Iraq had no bearing on their funding for flood control projects. It's a matter of what Congress appropriates. So Go as Gov. Blanco and Sen. Landreux. Why were they not fighting for more levee protection? Sen. Landreux's family has been involded in La. politics for decades. Her brother is Lt. Gov. Ask them where the money is.

Posted by: Meatss at September 11, 2005 01:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just one of many links that says, per usual, Meatss is materially wrong.

http://www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001054510

The levy project was never completed because the money dried up.

I remember Meatss from back when he was a troll on Kevin Drum's site.

Meatss has long lived in a strange quasi-parellel universe where events generally happen the as here on earth, but differ in important details enough to consequently not be the same event afterall.

That or Meatss simply prevaricates to protect dear leader and dear leader's political party.

Posted by: avedis at September 11, 2005 02:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

and speaking of spin, I like the "New Orleans dodged a bullet" talking point being brought up by the rep. from California, Chertoff and Myers. Interesting there is only one online newsite with that headline and a paper from Granada! Every OTHER news source on the PLANET had quite different headlines considering the levies had already failed by Tuesday morning...

Posted by: JoeTx at September 11, 2005 02:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Humanitarian assistance at the Superdome is a far cry from using military force in the streets of New Orleans. The use of military force for the purpose of restoring law and order would have required Gov. Blanco to relinquish her powers under the Insurrection Act to Federal authority. She did not do so.

and she still hasn't done so....nevertheless, the 82nd Airborne is doing "security and order" work in New Orleans.

again, please learn the difference between "law enforcement" and "security and order".

Posted by: p.lukasiak at September 11, 2005 06:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Avedis, You need to actually read what the Corps of engineers said about the leeves before you make inaccurate statements. And if you want to find out where the money did go to, over $700 million went to install a new lock in a canal for increasing barge traffic. But in fact the barge traffic was DECREASING. The Corps said several of the projects didn't pass the cost affordability tests, yet Sen. Landreuax and other members of Congress got them forced through.
The levee that broke may have been hit by a barge, but it was made of cocrete several feet thick, not just an earthen levee.
So tell me, if so many of these projects were shot down, why was more money spent in La. than in any other state on the Corps of Engineers in the last 5 years than in the previous 5 years under the Clinton Admin.?
One levee failed, the 17th street. Another was intentionally breached to let water out into a canal.
Avedis uses a lot of flowery words to expound upon me, but just like on Drum's site, he avoids the use of facts. Maybe he should try some for once.
Face it, Blanco had to be coaxed into calling for an evacuation, then Nagin couldn't follow his own emergency plan and use the city's busses to get people to safe ground. The N.Y Times has some detail on the confusion that reigned in Baton Rouge and how federal forces were on the ground soon after the floods hit
Read up on Federal/state law on how and when federal authorities can enter a state to provide disaster relief. Blanco would not allow Nat. Guard to be federalized to simplify chain of command. SHe delayed asking for Guard troops from other states till after the levees broke.
FEMA's initial actions were on the slow side, but their response was still faster than that of hurricanes Andrew and Floyd.
One thing most people don't take into account is that the storm devastated an area the size of England. Hundreds of miles of coastline was swept clean. The emphasis is on New Orleans, but look at the picture sof the coastlines of Miss. and Ala. Mud from the seafloor went as far inland as 2 to 3 miles. The storm surge topped 20 feet. The sheer amgnitude of the destruction has never been seen before in this country, and still many on the left whine about a days delay.

Posted by: Meatsss at September 11, 2005 07:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

and she still hasn't done so....nevertheless, the 82nd Airborne is doing "security and order" work in New Orleans.
-------------------
Only after "security and order" was restored so that the Army would not be confronted with the requirements of law enforcement, i.e., returning fire on civilians. Gov. Blanco did not call for the 82nd, nor did she allow the LNG to be Federalized.

On this particular issue, hers was a judgement call which resulted in delay and understandably a raging storm of criticism. It does not follow, however, that the decision was "wrong." So far as is known, the military hasn't shot any civilians, which is a very good thing, and Lousiana has not been "occupied" by the Federal Government, which is another very good thing.

Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that State and local authorities failed to activate and execute their own evacuation plan. They will answer for their failure at the polls, which is as it should be.

Posted by: Eracus at September 11, 2005 02:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

and she still hasn't done so....nevertheless, the 82nd Airborne is doing "security and order" work in New Orleans.
-------------------
Only after "security and order" was restored so that the Army would not be confronted with the requirements of law enforcement, i.e., returning fire on civilians. Gov. Blanco did not call for the 82nd, nor did she allow the LNG to be Federalized.

On this particular issue, hers was a judgement call which resulted in delay and understandably a raging storm of criticism. It does not follow, however, that her decision was "wrong." So far as is known, the military hasn't shot any civilians, which is a very good thing, and Lousiana has not been "occupied" by the Federal Government, which is another very good thing.

Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that State and local authorities failed to activate and execute their own evacuation plan. They will answer for their failure at the polls, which is as it should be.

Posted by: Eracus at September 11, 2005 02:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You don't read the comments here, right? Your readers already corrected you on Sept. 7:
http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/archives/004742.html#comments

3 days for responding? Ok, that's better than FEMA, but can't you do better?

Posted by: Gray at September 11, 2005 08:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"I believe that although Gov. Blanco activated the La. Nat. Guard, she delayed in requesting Guard units from other states until Wed."
meatss, I guess you're not well informed.
In fact, Blanco successfully negotiated with New Mexs Richardson on Sunday before the hurricane for additional guards. Washington did fumble the paperwork, delaying allocation until Thursday!
http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20050903024609990001

Posted by: Gray at September 11, 2005 08:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"in fact, s of 5 Sept, the AP was reporting that Blanco still wasn't allowing the Federal authorities to have control, even while repeatedly announcing on TV that the Feds weren't acting."

It was the idea of the Bush administration that the national govs should head the emergency efforts. That's part of their emergency response plan! Nobody should blame Blanco for refusing to abandon control to the feds after she had experienced their total lack of coordination and dedication. Really, what would have been won if drownie brownie had tried to direct all forces???
In reality, this request was just part of the republican blame game to smear Blanco.

Posted by: Gray at September 11, 2005 08:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Warning - Long post, but factual information.

To set the context, primary pre-event, during-event, and immediate and ongoing post-event operations are the responsibility of state and local authorities in accordance with the Louisiana State Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) the governing document for handling disasters in Louisiana specifying responsibility at the highest level (page i):

==========
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Governor of the State of Louisiana,
by virtue of the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana, do
hereby order and direct as follows:

SECTION 1:
A. The Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Military Department, State of Louisiana, (hereafter “director”), shall direct the state of Louisiana’s emergency and/or disaster operations.

B. The director, or the director’s designee, shall also coordinate the activities of all non-state agencies, departments, and/or organizations involved in emergency management within the state of Louisiana.

==========


From the same document (page 8):

=====

V. DIRECTION AND CONTROL

A. The Governor is responsible for the coordinated delivery of all emergency services, public, quasi volunteer, and private, during a natural, technological and/or national security emergency/disaster situation. The Governor has delegated the LOHSEP Director the authority to implement this plan, and to direct State level emergency operations through the regularly constituted governmental structure.

B. In the event of an emergency/disaster, the needed elements of State government will be in the State EOC located at 7667 Independence Boulevard in Baton Rouge. Should the primary EOC become inoperative, isolated, and/or unusable, the LOHSEP Director shall issue relocation instructions to deployment teams for the preparation of the alternate State EOC at Camp Beauregard or at another location to be determined at the time.

C. Each State department or agency shall be under the general control of its respective Secretary/Director, etc., through his or her designated emergency representative. The emergency representative shall be empowered to make decisions, and expend resources (personnel, materials, supplies, equipment, facilities and funds) in providing operational and technical support to State and Local governments during any emergency/disaster incident.

D. Local governments are responsible under all applicable laws, executive orders, proclamations, rules, regulations, and ordinances for emergency management within their respective jurisdiction. Local emergency management organizations shall function from designated EOC's and are subject to the direction and control of the executive heads of government, in coordination with the Governor and the LOHSEP Director.

E. Upon activation of the State EOC, the operations staff and state agencies shall insure that the necessary personnel and resources are available. Those agency representatives should bring or have pre positioned plans, procedures, resource inventories, supplies, and notification lists needed to facilitate emergency/disaster operations.

======

The order of utilization of the three tiers of available resources in an emergency is specified in the LA EOP as follows (page 14-15):

======

I. The State of Louisiana is a signatory to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), as stated in the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993 as amended. If an emergency becomes too widespread or serious for parish and state resources, the Director LOHSEP will process a request for assistance through EMAC.

J. If an emergency or disaster becomes too widespread or serious for parish, state and EMAC resources, the Director LOHSEP will process a request for supplemental federal assistance from the Governor’s office, through DHS/FEMA, for Presidential approval.

=====

Here, the plane addresses the use of buses to be used for evacuations (Supliment 1A (Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plan) :
=====

"The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in
evacuating."

======

=======
From Supliment 1A (Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation and Sheltering Plan) :

C. CONCEPT OF OPERATIONS
1. When a hurricane enters or takes form in the Gulf of Mexico, it is
perceived as a potential catastrophic threat to the Southeast Louisiana
Region. As the danger from the hurricane requires the initiation of
emergency actions, the State Office of Emergency Preparedness and
each parish will activate Emergency Operating Centers (EOCs) and
declare a state of emergency. The State and parishes will commence
planned emergency operations and coordinate their actions including
activating and maintaining all means of communications.
The State, risk area and host area parishes will cooperate to evacuate
and shelter as many people as possible in accordance with the Dept. of
Social Services (DSS) / American Red Cross (ARC) Shelter Plan.
2. Evacuation will be carried out in three phases, as follows:
a. Precautionary / Voluntary:
This phase will concentrate on people who are most vulnerable to
a hurricane and the effects of both water and wind. It is directed
at offshore workers, persons on coastal islands or in wetlands
areas and persons aboard boats. No special traffic control,
transportation, or sheltering measures will be taken.
b. Recommended Evacuation:
This phase is enacted when a storm has a high probability of
causing a significant threat to people living in the areas at risk.
Parish and State government authorities will recommend that
persons at risk evacuate. The parishes will designate staging
areas for persons needing transportation, if necessary.
c. Mandatory:
This is the final, most serious phase of evacuation. Authorities
will put maximum emphasis on encouraging evacuation and
limiting ingress. Designated State evacuation routes maybe
augmented by turning additional lanes into one-way outbound
traffic and the State Police with Local law enforcement assistance
will assume responsibility for traffic control on those routes. As
the storm gets close to the Southeast Region, evacuation routes
will be closed and the people remaining will be directed to last
01/94
resort refuges.

============

So, it is pretty clear who is supposed to handle the bulk of pre-disaster, during-disaster, and immediate post-disaster emergency operations - state and local authorities. There is good reason for this as they are the ones with the knowledge, people in sufficient numbers, and local presence to do so. FEMA's 2500 employees can not, and are not intended to, perform in place of state and local authorities and resources. Even when they do as stated above, they are coordinated by state authorities.

I am not defending FEMA. They have a share of responsibility and if they did not uphold that responsibility, the leaders and appropriate others must be held responsible. But, first in line to be asked the hard questions must be the state and local authorities that seemingly did not properly execute their own plan as they have primary responsibility for saving lives in this and any other disaster.

Posted by: F15C at September 12, 2005 12:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Eric got a little ahead of himself with the WaPo quote:

The claim that Blanco was too slow to act was predicated on a piece of misinformation from an "undisclosed White House source" quoted in the Washington Post. Given the track record, probably Rove. Here is the offending quote from the WaPo:
"As of Saturday, [Louisiana governor Kathleen] Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, [a] senior Bush official said."

That would be Saturday September 3.

Or, you know, Saturday August 27th. Depending on when the quote was given to the WaPo...

Blanco wasn't slow at declaring a state of emergency. They just didn't get everyone evacuated using the resources they already had, and didn't request for enough help from the feds. When the feds showed up, Blanco stood in their way. No wonder a pro-Blanco Democrat snapped up impeachblanco.com only 2 days after the storm hit.......

Posted by: Seixon at September 12, 2005 01:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

F15C, your overlong quotation isn't only unnecessary (ever heard of hyperlinks?), it's irrelevant. The Bush administration did put the responsibility on state governments, that hasn't been Blanco's idea. And, among other blatancy, their national response plan promises "The Plan ensures the seamless integration of the federal government when an incident exceeds local or state capabilities."

Do you think they delivered on that promise?
http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/press_release/press_release_0581.xml

Posted by: Gray at September 12, 2005 02:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Seixon, state of emergency was declared in La on 08/26/05:
http://www.gov.state.la.us/Press_Release_detail.asp?id=973

And where did u get this from: "They just didn't get everyone evacuated using the resources they already had, and didn't request for enough help from the feds."
I don't dispute the first part (though it has been a new evacuation record for La), but the second. How do you know what Blanco requested? I haven't found anything on that. You're using some guesstimate from powerline or do you have a reliable source?

Posted by: Gray at September 12, 2005 02:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't really care who signed what. The problem was no one followed up to see that the appropriate action was taken. That is the basic responsiblity of any manager.

What shocked my most about the New York Times article was that she could not put together a fleet of buses to get people out. Jesus, she's a governor and in three days she could not get a few dozen buses down to New Orleans. Eventually, the Federal gov't got GREYHOUND to send in buses. Why couldn't she have asked Greyhound?

None of this excuses the FEMA or Bush's inaction. However, Blanco seems to have been completely incompetent.

Posted by: Steve at September 12, 2005 05:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gray - Why yes, I've heard of hyperlinks, but it seems you haven't heard that they do not point to particular locations within microsoft word or pdf files. So now you know - no, no, don't thank me, that's ok.

And please help me with this - you are telling us all that the
"State of Louisiana, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Operations Plan"
signed by Governor Blanco, and dated April 2005 is "irrelevant".... Because it wasn't Governor Blanco's idea.. and worse yet, it was.... Bush's idea??? Please tell me you don't really believe that is true?

Remember, DHS was not Bush's idea - it was Senator Leahy's idea. Bush apparently didn't even like the idea and was soundly thrashed by the left for apparently not liking the idea. Kerry even used Bush's dislike of the idea in his presidential campaign. (Personally, I dislike the DHS and would prefer an MI-5 like structure, but no one asked me) Bush did tell the Governors (in 2001 I believe) to make sure their plans (which were already required) were complete, effective, and compliant with federal regulations.

I cited specific and relevant sections that show who is responsible for disaster response and management in LA, and that directly address the 'buses' issue. The information I provided and the documents from which it came are legal and binding on the Governor and her staff, and are most certainly relevant. If Blanco had serious issues with the documents and the duties and responsiblities they entail, then she should not have signed the documents for to do so would be at least irresponsible on her part and could be illegal. She signed them and she and her staff are responsbile and accountable for what the documents stipulate. Period.

Your statement indicates you believe that prior to Bush, primary responsibility for emergency operations belonged to the federal government. That simply is ridiculous. States and their subdivisions of government have always had primary responsibility for natural disaster planning, management, coordination, and response in their respective domains. Why? Because it is the only thing that makes sense. Why is that so hard to understand? Or the relevant question really is - why is that so hard to accept? I suspect you understand the structure to a degree, but do not like it and so refuse to accept the reality. It follows from your logic that you think FEMA is responsible for responding to automobile accidents and getting cats out of trees too. In reality, being first responder resources in times of disasters is every bit as much a state and local responsibility as is responding to automobile accidents and getting cats out of trees.

Posted by: F15C at September 12, 2005 08:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Gray - Why yes, I've heard of hyperlinks, but it seems you haven't heard that they do not point to particular locations within microsoft word or pdf files.

And please help me with this - you are telling us all that the
"State of Louisiana, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Operations Plan"
signed by Governor Blanco, and dated April 2005 is "irrelevant".... Because it wasn't Governor Blanco's idea.. and worse yet, it was.... Bush's idea?

Your comment indicates you believe that prior to Bush, primary responsibility for emergency operations belonged to the federal government. That simply is ridiculous. States and their subdivisions of government have always had primary responsibility for natural disaster planning, management, coordination, and response in their respective domains. Why? Because it is the only thing that makes sense. Why is that so hard to understand and/or accept? It follows from your logic that you think FEMA is responsible for responding to automobile accidents and getting cats out of trees too. In reality, being first responder resources in times of disasters is every bit as much a state and local responsibility as is responding to automobile accidents and getting cats out of trees.

Posted by: F15C at September 12, 2005 04:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I apologize for the double post. Lots of work, little sleep, message saying unable to post reply due to bad security code....

Posted by: F15C at September 12, 2005 05:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, it is pretty clear who is supposed to handle the bulk of pre-disaster, during-disaster, and immediate post-disaster emergency operations - state and local authorities.

in fact, although "pre-disaster" errors primarily fall under the purview of state/local government, "post-disaster" responsibilities fall under FEMA when the disaster is HUGE --- as this one was.

And the fact is that FEMA had more than sufficient time to avert the post-Katrina disaster that occurred in New Orleans. Immediately after Katrina had passed, overflights of New Orleans were done from the Navy ship Bataan to assess the damage (and begin search and rescue missions.) FEMA had to have known soon after Katrina had passed that 20% of New Orleans was already flooded, and that there were serious levee breeches that would result in the eventual flooding of 80% of the city.

(it should be noted that the search and rescue missions done from the Bataan were done by active duty military personnel WITHOUT the governmor of Louisiana having to "federalize" the disaster effort. The idea that it was necessary for Blanco to issue some kind of proclamation before the 82nd Airborne, or other active duty military, participated in the relief effort is thus demonstrably FALSE, and just another red herring from the right-wing designed to obfuscate the real issues here.)

FEMA was the only agency capable of dealing with the "big picture" of Katrina ---- a disaster spread over three states. FEMA had to determine needs, and set priorities, for the entire affected area, not just New Orleans---and it did so. (One of the most infamous cases is the story about the Walmart trucks full of water that got to New Orleans and were "turned away" by FEMA --- but were in fact diverted elsewhere. FEMA has given relief in NO a lower priority than that of other states, and it should come as no surprise that Bush's decision to fill FEMA with political hacks and cronies resulted in an agency that virtually ignored a developing catastrophe in a state with a Democratic governor and two Democratic Senators, while Alabama and Mississippi -- both with Republican governors and two Republican Senators, were given far more attention by FEMA.)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at September 12, 2005 10:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

test

Posted by: greg at September 13, 2005 04:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bataan 's involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is an effort led by the Department of Defense in conjunction with FEMA. It began reconnaissance on Tuesday and search and rescue operations on Wednesday, consistent with its official mission. It does not and cannot deploy armed troops for law enforcement in local municipalities without there being a transfer from State to Federal authority, the way, say, the Marines invaded Somalia.

FEMA has nothing to do with managing "post-disaster" responsibilities other than to assist State and local authorities execute their priorities in managing the crisis, which, particularly in New Orleans, were incapacitated by a combination of administrative incompetence and mass devastation.

The difference between Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama relief efforts is not political but topographical. Mississippi and Alabama did not have a metropolitan port city and dense population center below sea level and completely underwater. Their flood waters receded; of course they were afforded "far more attention." Should FEMA have waited for Louisiana to drain? They'd still be waiting....

The only inarguable fact here is that in Louisiana, Federal, State, and local authorities were misaligned allowing the MSM to produce yet another bonanza of false, misleading, and sensationalized reporting designed to assess blame. If New Orleans was in Mississippi, the story would probably be the "massive breakdown" in the GOP and the "political betrayal" of Haley Barbour, along with the usual "racist" petards.

One would have to agree, however, that the bi-partisan tradition of staffing government agencies with political hacks and cronies has got to stop. But first, we must kill all the lawyers.




Posted by: Eracus at September 13, 2005 05:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Whether or not a state of emergency was declared is going to come down to semantics and conflicting claims. The reality is the evacuation plan existed on paper only, and there was no practical way to implement it.

As a Police officer, I have participated in several evacuations. We did not call FEMA, we called our school department, our public works department, and our Public Safety officials. WE got it done, not FEMA.

FEMA does not have buses, FEMA does not control the schools, the police, the firefighters, or anyone else.

Senator Leandrue (sic) said on Fox News Sunday that the city has a hard time getting employees to work on a sunny day, never mind during a storm (paraphrase). I hope that is not their defenseof the local situation.

Yes, the Feds dropped the ball, but only after the local and state officials funbled several times prior.

Where was the mobile command post that every city has.? I bet a city the size of N.O. has several. Those should have been moved to high ground before and moved back in after. That would have given them radio com and other command and control infastructure. This is one of the top convention desitinations as well as a frequent Superbowl host. Remember the Superbowl, the one right after 9/11. I assume there was a plan in place for that too?

The long term effects of this debacle will be felt due to the ineptitude of the local officials, not the Feds. Hopefully lessons will be learned.

Posted by: Mike Mac at September 13, 2005 05:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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