Skip to main content

I heard this on NPR this morning

"Morning Edition, September 23, 2005 · In the days before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, officials in local, state and federal governments held a series of telephone conference calls aimed at coordinating their responses to the storm. The sessions were recorded by Walter Maestri, emergency manager for Jefferson Parish, who shared them with NPR."

"In tapes of the disaster planning meetings, emergency managers and civic officials evinced a growing concern with the strengthening hurricane's possible effects -- and after the storm made landfall, a growing frustration with the aid effort mounted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"As emergency preparations gave way to coordinated actions and pleas for equipment, the recorded calls depict an emergency command center in Baton Rouge that became a center of frenzied activity."

It seems that Walter Maestri shared these tapes with NPR to show how the local governments were in constant contact (to no avail) with Jeff Smith, deputy director of Louisiana's Office of Emergency Preparedness, who in turn was the liaison with FEMA.

"On the morning of Monday, Sept. 5, with Katrina making its way inland from the Gulf Coast, Maestri said on the call, "Things are collapsing." And questions persisted over who was in charge: "So FEMA will coordinate emergency supplies?" Maestri asked. Soon after, communications were lost, and the next conference call took place nearly two weeks later.

"The calls could play a role in any investigation -- whether by the White House or by Congress -- into why the initial response to Katrina failed to match the scale of the hurricane's impact on the region."

While I feel there are plenty who will take the blame (and many who will continue to deny it) for how governments on all levels failed when it came to Katrina, these tapes reflect how local government was in contact in expressing their concerns and what they saw as impact issues in executing various proposed plans.

Of course - PRE-preparedness was the key here... and no one seemed to either have a plan in place or that plan was faulty or impractical considering the magnitude of this storm.

Originally posted to kishik on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 05:10 AM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  recommended! n/t (none)
    •  These are Talking point killers (none)
      Just what was broadcast over the air today does a devastating job on the Republican's "incompetent unprepared local officals" Meme.  Listen to the dedidcation and professionalism of everyone on these calls and I dare you to call them incompetent.

      For example the Republicans have made a lot of hay about why Nagin didn't order an mandatory  evacuation much sooner.   Well it turns out that he was conerned about the traffic problems caused by 1 million people all hitting the highways at the same time.  He predicted catostrophic gridlock that would slow the evacuation to a crawl.

      Boy he looks pretty goddamn smart today when you look a Houston, doesn't he?

      apparently there are multiple hours of the tapes available at hte NPR website.   Who's up for divvying them up and diving in?

      Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

      by Magorn on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 08:18:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  monday september 5th (4.00)
    that makes no sense.  the 5th was a full week after katrina made landfall and the levees breached.  but based on the situation, it sounds like they're talking about august 29th.

    we'd better decide now if we are going to be fearless men or scared boys.
    — e.d. nixon, montgomery improvement association

    by zeke L on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 05:30:33 AM PDT

    •  Not 5th, 29th (4.00)
      First error I saw as well.  Would like to share this with some people who insist on blaming locals primarily, but would like the facts to be straight.
      •  Not only that, but there's a reference to Sept 9 (none)
        that is way off - by a week.

        I assume they ( NPR ) meant to say Sept 2.

        It's under the 'Preparing for Disaster' headline in the left column, and starts off : 'As the scope of Hurricane Katrina revealed itself, officials discussed how to help. This conversation took place Friday, Sept. 9, 2005, at 9:30 a.m.'

        Sept 9 must be Sept 2, right ?

        This appears to be really, really shoddy reporting in my book. It's hard to point anyone to that web site when they are a full week off.

        •  If someone can figure out (none)
          What dates the tapes were really made -
          tell them to fix it.

          send email to

          or better yet. just ask them to please label each tape with the date of the conversation.

          I agree the web story is sloppy.

  •  Katrina vs. Chernobyl (4.00)
    In today's Washington Post there's a chart comparing the Katrina disaster to the Chernobyl disaster composed by Richard Rhodes, who won the Pulitzer for "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" and has a reputation for being a meticulously accurate historian, and Gwyneth Cravens, who's writing a book about nuclear energy misconceptions and wrote an article for the Brookings Institution Review on nuclear power and terrorism.  Doesn't seem to be in the online edition, so I can't provide a link.

    It's sobering to see how many similarities there are and how much worse the federal response to Katrina was than the Soviet response to Chernobyl.  In each case, you had an incompetent political appointee running the show, but the Soviets did a much better job of disaster management.

    The authors neglect to point out that the latent cancers caused by petrochemicals and toxic chemicals in the LA, MI, and AL water supply and flood waters may far outstrip the expected latent cancers caused by exposure to radioactivity from the Chernobyl explosion.  I am not feeling so good right now about all the Port Arthur refineries either.  That area along the Gulf Coast has long been known as the "cancer belt".

    •  As someone who breathed the air (4.00)
      in Lower Manhattan after Sept 11th, I have absolutely no faith in the EPA whatsoever.  A month after, my lung capacity was measured only at 65%!  Was given meds for asthma (which I never had before) and allergies (which I outgrew when I was a kid and hadn't suffered from them since) and it took a year an a half to get to 85% breathing capacity.

      Hopefully there will be someone (some org medical/scientific related, non-govt) who will be registering those who were in contact with the floodwaters of New Orleans.  

      Here in New York, an NYFD officer recently died - with what many believe is related to the dust he was breathing in at Ground Zero while he was doing Rescue and Recovery.  I need to find related articles on that.  This was in the news just this past summer.

      •  Air quality a shameful coverup by the EPA (none)
        I had an apartment-exchange arrangement with an NYC friend who happened to be staying with me on 9/11. (We often work in each other's cities, and have an open invite to stay in each other's spare space. Saves on all the BS of booking accommodations and we can do what we please with the expense money.)

        She stayed nearly a year after 9/11, mostly from being too devastated to return, but also because of concerns about the air. As someone who has respiratory problems, she said on the first day that the building materials and fine matter belched into the air would create massive breathing problems even for healthy lungs. (Her living space is in a relatively safe area, but even her neighbors showed reduced lung capacity.)

        I was stunned to read later that environmental reports were being tweaked to excuse the withholding of promised funds to NYC, and to flatter the administration. (Gotta protect those tax cuts for the fat cats!)

        Glad to hear your lung capacity is improving.

      •  Formatting tip (none)
        BTW, if you want to block out a quoted portion rather than italics, use the word


        within the pointy brackets instead of italics (using the / slash to end the format, of course). (Makes it easier to decipher quoted text on monitors that don't "do" italics well.)

        If it's a style-style thing rather than a style thing, please disregard. :-)

      •  absolutely (none)
        just living in nyc at the time has definitely had an effect on all who were regularly exposed to the particulate matter, even away from the disaster site.  for weeks after, black soot collected on my windowsill across the river in Brooklyn that never used to be there before.  It was thick, and resistant to being wiped away.  It was nasty stuff, and it was just in the air, for weeks.  I really, really feel for the people who volunteered to help out there and and government didn't have their back.  Its a tragedy on top of a tragedy.
    •  I'm sorry - I mis-remembered... (4.00)
      It was an EMT worker who died...

      For many rescue workers, disaster still strikes in the aftereffects of 9/11

      September 4, 2005

      "EMT Timothy Keller would have understood why two of those closest to him had to leave halfway through his funeral.

      "Hunched over a plastic tube in the back of an ambulance outside St. James Church in Seaford, emergency medical technicians Karin DeShore and Bonnie Giebfried sucked on albuterol to open up their seizing airways.

      "It wasn't the church incense that caused their asthma attacks on that rainy June day, they said: It was the loss of their friend. Timmy -- the jokester, the big guy with the big smile -- was one of them, he was part of their private support group. They suffered from the same respiratory ailments he had: They were together when the Twin Towers crumbled on Sept. 11, 2001, and they breathed the same hot, thick, black air.

      "Keller, who had been an EMT with the New York City Fire Department and a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Levittown where he lived, died at age 41. In clinical terms, the Nassau County medical examiner's office said his death was the result of "congestive heart failure due to hypertensive and atherosclerotic heart disease and associated conditions, ... chronic asthmatic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema.",0,4107305,print.story?coll=sns-ap-nationw orld-headlines

      It's going to be harder to track folks who will be suffering from the effects of the floodwaters of New Orleans... they're spread out all over the country now!

      •  Another effect (4.00)
        The Chernobyl evacuees today have many problems associated with the psychological trauma of being suddenly uprooted and having to leave behind everything.  Alcoholism and smoking-related illnesses are much higher among them than the rest of the population.  

        They are all being monitored by the World Health Organization and other international agencies.  Twenty years later, the predictions of leukemia and birth defects turned out to be wrong--there has been no increase in those rates--but researchers found that people were depressed, anxious, engaged in self-destructive behavior, etc.

        We hear the heartwarming stories of Katrina families that have been taken in by churches and individuals around the country and given a new start, but I wonder how many others --and there must be hundreds of thousands--are going to keep suffering.  And I wonder whether the government will neglect them, as is mostly the case in Ukraine and Belarus.

        •  And PTSD on a huge scale. (4.00)
          I think the impact of post traumatic stress on a scale this large is just hard to fathom.
          •  Trauma from losing people (4.00)
            Maybe some of the lost children and other relatives will be reunited with evacuated Katrina families.  I hope all of them will.  But I keep hearing reports of people wandering around in the ruins staring blankly--classic PTSD.

            Oh, and the WaPo chart points out something else.  

            Preventable deaths from Katrina: 1,069.  
            Preventable deaths from Chernobyl: 60.

            The collapse of the USSR is usually attributed to bankruptcy from the arms race, crucial oil shortages, and mismanagement of the Chernobyl disaster.


            •  More Katrina/Chernobyl comparisons from WaPo (none)
              Here's a summary of the chart:

              Katrina and Chernobyl
              --Katrina: Levees neglected despite years of warnings.
              --Chernobyl: Reactor not upgraded despite multiple previous accidents in similar plants.

              --Breach of levees: poor design, overconfidence, federal budget cuts.    
              --Reactor explosion: poor design, overconfidence, construction material shortages.

              --New Orleans submerged in contaminated water; billions in damage.    
              --Widespread radioactive fallout from burning reactor; billions in damage.

              --Katrina: No protective clothing for local rescue workers.
              --Chernobyl: No protective clothing for local rescue workers.

              --Helicopters dropping sand into levee breaches.
              --Helicopters dropping sand into burning reactor crater.

              --FEMA director's previous experience: horse shows. Résumé inflated.    
              --Chernobyl director's previous experience: party hack. Promoted after another reactor exploded on his watch.

              --Katrina: Media coverage overrides attempted political spin.
              --Chernobyl: Dispersing radiation plume overrides attempted cover-up.

              --Contractors and lobbyists roaming Washington and Baton Rouge.    
              --Wolves and feral dogs roaming exclusion zone.

              Differences between Katrina and Chernobyl
              --Katrina: National leadership response delayed by disbelief, poor coordination, vacations.    
              --Chernobyl: National leadership response immediate.

              --President Bush tours Gulf Coast 5 days after storm hits, avoiding New Orleans.    
              --Two Politburo members reach Chernobyl within 48 hours to direct rescue operations.

              --475 buses delayed two days before evacuating 30,000 flood victims from Superdome. Evacuation stretches across 4 days.    
              --1,216 buses, 300 trucks arrive overnight to evacuate 35,000 residents of Pripyat reactor community. Evacuation completed in one afternoon.

              --Katrina: Delayed and inadequate emergency response, lack of coordination, seriously hamper relief.    
              --Chernobyl: Quick decisions, good coordination, rapid response remove most of surrounding population from harm.

              --Katrina: Roving gangs of armed criminals, random violence; derelict police officers.    
              --Chernobyl: Unarmed and cooperative population, minimal disorder.

              --Toll of preventable deaths.
              Katrina: 1,069 according to the Associated Press, and still counting.    
              Chernobyl: Toll of preventable deaths 19 years later: 60.

    •  Fed response (none)
      Whenever I think of Chernobyl I think of those guys the sent in to build the cement sarcophogus, most or all of whom died from radiation sickness, some of them within days. That is the one blight on the Russians that the American example did not rival, though it seems as if we are headed for our own breakup of the government as we know it.
    •  Maybe now we can reject the old Cold War saw (none)
      ...about how the Soviet Union and a communistic or socialistic system was inferior to capitalism, primarily because of the great way we organized things. The old Stalinist bureaucracy was corrupt and therefore massively inefficient. It was also a human rights violator and totalitarian in its efforts to control opposition.

      However, given the same or at least tendencies in our own government/system, we cannot say that these issues are endemic or related to the idea of socialism or a planned economy. This is important, because socialism is the ONLY alternative to the system we have now. The current system cries out for change, based as it is on profits over the environment and human lives. It is not a matter anymore of good ideas, it is a battle for survival of the species, and the health of much of the planet.

      Most of you here believe capitalism can be reformed. I can understand that view if you are under 40 years old. But anyone older than that has seen things go to hell in a handbasket, and knows where lesser evilism leads us... into the hells of Fallujah, Abu Ghraib, and Katrina, into the mire of eternal poverty and religious fundamentalism, into ignorance, greed, and stupidity.

      Recall the words of the great poet, Milton, who rallied those who had, like him, suffered with the defeat of Cromwell and the English revolutionaries, and the return of oppression: "Arise, awake, or be forever fallen."

      Impeach Bush now!

      by Valtin on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 07:54:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm listening to it now. (none)

    "We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang seperately." - Ben Franklin

    by RandyMI on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 05:44:02 AM PDT

  •  my sister works for local government (none)
    watching what's been going on with Katrina & Rita helped me understand what she's been going through all these years: red tape. it was a huge revelation. reading this post i realized: red tape doesn't go up, it comes down. but who is closer to the ground? the locals. and it's local government that knows the names of everybody's grand kids.
    •  Oh please (4.00)
      Red tape is just a convenient excuse when people don't do their jobs, and it happens in private industry as well as government.  There's no excuse for the FEMA brass NOT DOING THEIR JOBS - it's not "red tape" - it's incompetence.  I worked in government for years, and this kind of shit is NOT inevitable, nor is it only a problem of government, local or Federal.
      •  I agree...except (none)
        I believe most of us have come across bureaucrats and clerks in both government and private businesses who are convinced their job is to make sure all the forms are filled out in triplicate. For any one who has to deal with that mindset, it's unfortunate their bosses don't make it more clear what their responsibilities are.
        •  And in an emergency, it's their bosses (none)
          responsibility to tell them to forget the paperwork (at least to some extent) and DO THEIR JOB.

          Nobody did that. And anybody who shows any initiative in this govt is canned real quick.

          Result? A bunch of paperpushers who won't do ANYTHING without somebody telling them EXACTLY what to do and how to do it.

          •  and all that paperwork (none)
            in triplicate, the dotting of the i's and the crossing of the t's, is really CYA.  I used to work in muni govts, the brass and workers were so involved in covering their asses, that not much ever got done.  Especially in a crisis or unusual occurance; by that I mean nothing that they had experienced previously..  No one wanted to make a decision, for fear of being responsible if any failure occurred.

            On a planetary scale, habitat and life are interchangeable.

            by libbys mom on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 06:32:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Red tape is an excuse (4.00)
      Anyone who's ever worked in govt at any level knows that you can cut red tape into confetti when necessary. All it takes it the right word from the right person. And believe me, that person knows who they are, and so does everybody else.

      The problem here is that the feds weren't willing to do what was needed. If they had, most other things would have fallen into line.

      You can't evacuate people without transportation (and as TX has shown, sometimes even when you HAVE transportation it doesn't help). You don't ignore a cat 4/5 hurricane, and you don't worry about paperwork and niceties when one hits.

      The feds did just that. And the locals depend on the feds for the heavy lifting.

      •  Red tape and "paper worK" (none)
        are usually excuses for people not doing their work and not keeping accurate records, which would keep track of what they actually do.

        3-D Republicans=deception, disservice and debt

        by hannah on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 07:22:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Red tape is overblown (none)
        Red tape and bureaucratic inefficiency is a reality in government.  Similar dynamics are also prevalent in large corporations.  I see it as mostly a psychological trap the incompetent people fall into.

        In my experience working in a government agency, the thing that helps to feed red tape is an irrational acceptance of it by managers.  The perception of bureaucratic inefficiency helps to create it... even if it doesn't naturally exist.  It's a viscious cycle.

        The reality is that if you want something done, you can most certainly get it done.  Like you said... you can cut right through the red tape like confetti.  But you must at least have some level of competence to recognize this.  Bush, and the political yes-men that he surrounds himself with,  don't meet this basic level of competence.  

        If Rove concealed the fact that he was a leaker from the President, why hasn't the President fired him?

        by wintersnowman on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 07:33:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  risk aversion (none)
        Also known as cowardliness, aggravated by incompetence.  I've seen this pattern over and over again in business.  The person who should be in charge is afraid to take positive action because he/she doesn't want to take the heat if it turns out he/she made a mistake.  So there's all this passive-aggressive foot-dragging and buckpassing, and the stuff that desperately needs to get done doesn't get done.  Result: clusterfuck.

        New Orleans will never die

        by hrh on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 07:50:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Regulations are the last refuge of the Coward (4.00)
          I work for the FEd Gov (contractor) And the simple truth is, For the Brave, the regulations are an excuse to act since there is ALWAYS some way to twist the interpretation of some regulation to CYA.  FOr the Timid the regulations are an excuse not to act since  you can always twist some other regulation enough  to forbid you to act.

          Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

          by Magorn on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 08:22:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Just heard it- remarkable! (4.00)
    So, Blanco predicted that if she ordered a mandatory evacuation right away, she was going to face gridlock as nearly 1 million residents clogged the highways.  Sort of like, oh, I dunno, what's happening in Houston?  You know, where thousands of motorists are sitting on an asphalt parking lot, some stranded for want of gas, no one going anywhere fast with a CAT 4 hurricane barreling down on everyone, threatening to stall and dump 2 ft of rain, causing flash floods and loss of life for people trying to evacuate.  
    She made a very sensible decision to have church leaders urge their parishioners to leave at the next morning's services.  Orderly, not panicky.  
    Ah, well, she's just a Dem.  

    "Choose something like a star to stay your mind on- and be staid"

    by goldberry on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 05:56:39 AM PDT

    •  Hurricane Ivan (4.00)
      Louisiana revised it's evacuation plan in the spring of this year after Hurricane Ivan caused the same problems that Houston is experiencing now.

      The Times-Picayune (and other local media) praised the evacuation prior to Katrina in real time, especially in comparison to Ivan last year. Louisiana also instituted a rolling evacuation schedule to allow low-lying areas like Plaquimines Parish to get out first so they were not pinned behind New Orleans traffic.

      Only after FEMA/DHS started blaming the locals for not getting out did the idea that the evacuation go poorly enter into the mainstream. The planning done by Louisiana State and Local officials after Ivan saved many lives during Katrina. I wish I could say the same for DHS after 9/11.

      "A whole lotta HOOAH and not enough DO-AH." - Lt. Gen. Russel Honore

      by joejoejoe on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 06:11:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I cannot remember where I heard this (none)
        But I did hear the FEMA nixed any idea of a rolling evacuation for Rita.

        "We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang seperately." - Ben Franklin

        by RandyMI on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 06:20:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I also think that the percentage... (4.00)
        of 80% was quoted as having evacuated from New Orleans?  Percentage-wise - this is impressive.  Everything is in hind-sight now, of course, but all in all, people survived the storm.  I feel it was the break in the levees that didn't figure more strongly into the planning.

        Still in all - why aren't we taking a page out of Cuba's evacuation plan?  Last year a portion of the island was hit with a category 5 and there were no fatalities.

      •  hmmm (none)
        Brazoria County Judge John Willy complained that Houston and Harris County jumped the gun, encouraging evacuation before people on the coast could get past the big city.

        "Everybody did a fabulous job down here until Houston-Harris County forgot that there was a plan, and they clogged up the freeways and byways where there's still traffic sitting and waiting," Willy said.

        But both White and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels said late Thursday that they never called for a complete evacuation of Houston or Harris County.

        "We're asking folks to use common sense," Eckels said. "If you're not in a storm surge area, watch events. There's no point if you're not in a flood zone to jump up and get out in traffic."

    •  Floyd caused the same problems (none)
      It was huge, and they didn't know where it was going to hit. Most of theeast coast tried to evacuate. Traffic was a mess and gas and lodging were limited. I realized then that I would probably never evacuate for a hurricane. I live so far inland that it would be more risky on the clogged roads by the time we got word to leave.
  •  Given what we now know about (3.80)
    the wealthy businessmen in New Orleans who have plans to rebuild that city sans the poor is beginning to look as if FEMA's response was exactly what the movers and shakers of New Orleans were hoping for...they are planning to rebuild the city with no consideration about what the people who lived there might want and need...
    Amy Goodman had a very good show this morning...allowing the businessmen/movers and shakers in Louisiana have the power to hire Black Hawk mercenaries and others who are operating outside the color of law is the worst thing to allow a state to do..this bodes very badly for all of our futures...
    But allowing the Republican NEOLIBERALS to use New Orleans as an experiment for their horrific schemes is unforgivable...THEY MUST BE STOPPED...The elimination of Davis-Bacon...the scheme for Urban Homesteading...that seems like a land grab scheme...and paying for the privatization of the security forces there who come from Israel or were recently in Iraq and Afghanistan..this is strange to say the least..
  •  FRAMING -- ACCOUNTABILITY not Blame (none)
    Please ... a plea ...

    Do give in to the Rethug framing.  I do not (and we should not) care about fixing "blame" but we should work to ensure ACCOUNTABILITY.  "Blame" does not represent a centerpiece of good governance, but accountability does.

    And, within the framing, we should emphasize that "accountability" is not just negative but also should work to highlight things that went right and people who performed well (or 'above and beyond').

    Prior to / during / post Katrina, a good system of accountability would identify such things like:

    •  (Tens of) Thousands of civil servants -- at all levels of government -- who did their jobs, even while their families were pressured by the storm, working long hours in hard conditions.  These include the NOAA / NWS forecasters, Coast Guard rescue teams, many police/firemen/doctors/nurses/etc ...

    • (Tens of) thousands of citizens who risked their own lives to save / help others.  "Accountability" would include figuring out how to reward many of these people (civilian service medals?) along with work to identify whether there are things we can do to foster more of this type of activity.

    There were -- such as the weather service (another reason to hate Santorum due to his attempts to privatize it) and Coast Guard -- elements of the Federal Government that seem to have performed extremely well.  We likely could / can improve their performance, but this is helping good organizations get stronger.

    There were many individuals and institutions that performed poorly but who will show an honest willingness to learn from the experience and improve.  We should help them learn ... and monitor how they learn.

    On the other hand, there clearly were many institutions and individuals that acted incompetently, often with criminal negligence, and there were too many who moved from incopetence into direct illegal activity.  Accountability should help us identify these (from as high a level as the President down to the game warden rescue workers who refused to rescue women who did not -- a la Mardi Gras -- 'show their tits') and help the nation 'deal with them' (whether out of jobs or in jail).

    ACCOUNTABILITY -- to help us learn and improve governance -- rather than "Blame".

    •  Agree (none)
      Accountability is the better word.

      It's important to remember that there are those that are further down the chain who really are doing their job (or rather trying with whatever resources they have) in all levels of government.  There will be good workers and bad ones.  And in moments like these, it brings out the best or worst in people.  You can only always hope that it brings out the best, and you have to remember not to group them in with those that are featured in the MSM as the worst.  Funny how a few bad practices make the news and the small everyday good things don't.

      •  Good news does make the news .. (none)
        That is how I know about things like people taking small boats and moving tens of people -- many they did not know -- to safety. Or, people sharing gasoline / food / diapers / their homes with others. There were news reports about police who saw their family on a roof top and did not manipulate the system, leaving them to be 'rescued' in turn several days later.  (This last one might have been a line most of us would likely have crossed because it required conscious decision-making with seeing your family in distress and having the ability to do something about it where others would likely have understood and helped you -- perhaps the officer looked and decided they were 'okay' even if uncomfortable so that they could wait while people at greater risk were resuced). And, so on ...

        But, there is a 'man bites dog' element which creates pressure for reporting when things go bad ... when there is activity that is 'outside the norm'.  Bush being so out of touch might be the norm of the WPE*, but is not what is expected from a national leader in time of crisis.  We do not expect to see Americans left in the conditions of the stadium and convention center.  And, so on ... Thus, they were reported ...

        * WPE= Worst President Ever

  •  This is exactly what's happening in Punta Gorda. (none)
    There are still several thousand poor families living in FEMA villages. There is no plan to rebuild low-income housing. It's a tough nut to crack, really, as there is no incentive for the private sector.

    I have been in the room at least three times where rich people have basically called this housing loss the silver lining to Charlie. I'm not sure where those fine citizens think their wait staff and lawn crews are going to live. Maybe they think the working poor commute in everyday from Mexico.

    •  they want it to be like 3rd world countries (none)
      where the poor live in squallor, makeshft housing and the rich isolate themselves in gated communities. The middle men will pick up the day labor a deliver them to their door for service and the wealthy never have to disturb their "beautiful minds" with the reality of the crime.
  •  Truthfully... you can only plan so much (none)
    In reality, a disaster of this scale is pretty much unprecedented in our time.  No local government has the funds available to plan for EVERY contingency, so they generally plan for the most common ones - not necessarily the most catastrophic. Neither local government nor the federal government has the ability to respond instantly or save every life.  Even now, there are people who are choosing to stay in Galveston and New Orleans, and nobody has either the time or the legal right to force them to leave.

    But a responsible government plans for the likliest contingencies and responds to problems as promptly as possible.  Providing food and water to evacuee's seems like a pretty logical issue. I can't see how the New Orleans authorities could be expected to keep more than a day or two worth of food for so many people.  It seems logical to expect the feds and charities to step in after that. They didn't.  Providing security and rescuing those who are in danger seems logical, and it's not possible to do completely on a local level.  The feds failed at that, too.  Local government does what it always does in an emergency... deal with problems the best it can and get as much outside help as possible.  The feds dropped the ball in many ways.

  •  categorization (none)

    jotter's Lists of High Impact Diaries: daily and weekly archives (bring your own bendy straws)

    by sele on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 08:06:56 AM PDT

  •  Maestri: Master of planning (none)
    You have to hand it to Maestri -- who's taken some flak in years past for saying he had 10,000 body bags ready for a major hurricane ( -- to have had the forthought (can you say "pre-planning"?) to record these conference calls.

    Those who do not learn from history are stupid. --darrelplant

    by darrelplant on Fri Sep 23, 2005 at 08:09:52 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site