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Cube Jockey
On 9/1/2005 President Bush made the following statement - source:
QUOTE
"This is a natural disaster the likes of which our country has never seen before ... New Orleans is more devastated than New York was" after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


The Department of Homeland Security was created specifically to deal with times of national crisis after 9/11. From their Emergencies and Disasters page we have the following:
QUOTE
In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort.  The new Department will also prioritize the important issue of citizen preparedness. Educating America's families on how best to prepare their homes for a disaster and tips for citizens on how to respond in a crisis will be given special attention at DHS.


See also the National Response Plan which lists among its objectives (filtered for relevant objectives):
QUOTE
- Save lives and protect the health and safety of the public, responders, and recovery workers;
- Protect and restore critical infrastructure and key resources;
- Protect property and mitigate damages and impacts to individuals, communities, and the environment; and
- Facilitate recovery of individuals, families, businesses, governments, and the environment.


On the White House Budget page you can get more details including the budget since inception. Some interesting facts to note:
- Employees as of 2004: 183,000
- Close to a $40 Billion budget for 2005
- Approximately $147 billion spent since inception.

On Sunday, August 28th the National Weather Service sent out this alert (sorry for the caps):
QUOTE
...DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED...

AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. MANY WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A FEW POSSIBLY TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. MANY WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

POWER OUTAGES MAY LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MANY POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.


THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED.


There are of course numerous stories about what is going on in New Orleans right now but between the looting and this statement by Jack Cafferty on CNN today you can get a sense of the chaos there. You can find similar sentiments from virtually every other media personality:
QUOTE
I gotta tell you something, we got five or six hundred letters before the show actually went on the air, and no one - no one - is saying the government is doing a good job in handling one of the most atrocious and embarrassing and far-reaching and calamatous things that has come along in this country in my lifetime. I'm 62. I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earthquake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever, seen anything as bungled and as poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in the Superdome. What is going on? This is Thursday! This storm happened 5 days ago. This is a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching. This is the government that the taxpayers are paying for, and it's fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see, in the way it's handled this thing.


There have been reports that food and water might not reach the area for another 4 or 5 days. The really heinous stuff like Cholera hasn't even begun.

Questions for debate:
1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not?

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable? Why or why not?

3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?

4. If you believe there is a problem, what should be done to fix the problem?
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Amlord
I think we must look at this particular disaster as not simply a hurricane, not simply a flood.

It was a a hurricane followed the next day by a flood. The damage is not contained to one city, but is spread over three states. The damage is widespread and diverse.

The situation in New Orleans is particularly harsh. There is no communication there. There is no local dry ground in many areas. There is only one major roadway into New Orleans (at least that is my understanding) and it was washed out.

Some relief has arrived. Other supplies, although available simply cannot be delivered where it is needed because 1.) no one knows where to send it and 2.) the means of delivering it is limited.

1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not?

This is the first major "event" for the DHS. Try not to laugh as I repeat the old joke that the most terrifying words someone can ever here are "Hello, maam. We're from the government and we're here to help you." Relying on the government for promptness or relief is like hoping the buses are running on time in Cleveland.

We need to keep our expectations realistic. The supplies were ready before the storm. But when an entire city floods, it becomes extremely difficult to either get supplies in or to get people out.

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable? Why or why not?

I'm not sure I understand the question. When a hurricane is about to hit, even a non-meterorologist like myself can predict damage. The supplies were ready. FEMA was ready. The National Guard was ready. I think they were lulled into sleep by Katrina veering east and sparing New Orleans the worst. The flooding did not start until Monday. By my watch, it's been just over 3 days at this point.


3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?

I don't think anyone should expect the impossible. If New York City is attacked AND it starts to sink into the Atlantic, I have no delusions about the government's ability to perform in such a situation.

4. If you believe there is a problem, what should be done to fix the problem?
There is a problem. The government cannot and will not save you. They simply cannot be expected to. Perhaps martial law should have been declared before the disaster. Perhaps martial law should have been declared right after the first levee broke.

All I know is that the supplies were ready last Friday. I simply can't imagine that the government sat on the supplies. The logistics and the increasing ramp of events that happened here may have surprised people. THis is the largest natural disaster in US history by some accounts. The scale of this disaster, the widespread areas, is unprecedented.

I don't recall any finger pointed after Hugo hit or Ivan hit. I think the expectations that some have are a bit steep.

I'd be asking why the money FEMA (or DHS) gave Louisiana to devise an emergency evacuation plan hasn't seemed to have been well spent. Where is the local plan? Even then, I cannot fault them to much because the scale of this is so large. They did begin evacuations and I haven't heard reports of the early evacuees being subject to hardships. Only the people who decided to ignore the evacuation order are in duress. You can lead a horse to water, I guess.
Cube Jockey
I'm not responding to anything quite yet but I wanted to add this article from the NY Times with statements from some local officials.
QUOTE
Mr. Compass [Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department] said the federal government had taken too long to send in the thousands of troops - as well as the supplies, fuel, vehicles, water and food - needed to stabilize his now "very, very tenuous" city.

Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days," he said "the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security."

"We are like little birds with our mouths open and you don't have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm," Colonel Ebbert said. "It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane." FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Make of that what you will.

Edited to add: This from WaPo
QUOTE
Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr., (R-La.), said he spent the past 48 hours urging the Bush administration to send help. "I started making calls and trying to impress upon the White House and others that something needed to be done," he said. "The state resources were being overwhelmed, and we needed direct federal assistance, command and control, and security -- all three of which are lacking."


And this, also from WaPo
QUOTE
Downtown, communication was minimal, leadership distant. There was no central organizing point, no evident headquarters to which a resident could appeal for help or news. Police officers and National Guard members, along with law officers imported from around the state, rarely knew more than what they could see with their own eyes.
doomed_planet
During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland
Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis?
Why or why not?


It depends on what one's expectations are. It seems as though some people
expected the impossible. Warnings were given far enough in advance. Those
who took the warnings seriously did what they had to do to find safety.

The argument has been made that many of the people left behind were those
from the projects and other poor areas, and they had no other choice but to wait
it out. Individuals who rely upon the government for their survival
may be greatly disappointed by the level of service they are given.
Perhaps that statement sounds cold, but that's reality.

Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath
on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable?
Why or why not?


It's easy to be critical from our computers or our sofas. Unless I'm there,
really seeing what is going on, and understanding the obstacles ahead of
me, I will not pass judgment on whether or not the reaction time was appropriate.
I remember very well the weather reports urging citizens to take the storm
seriously. If they chose to take it seriously "after the fact" they bear responsibility as well.

Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the
Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?


I believe that in the coming days and weeks the relief efforts will gain momentum
and the severity of the situation will lessen.

If you believe there is a problem, what should be done to fix the problem?

I will quote Amlord on this one: There is a problem. The government cannot
and will not save you. They simply cannot be expected to.
That's the bottom
line. We come into this world alone and ultimately we are responsible for our
own survival. When we rely solely on the efforts of our government we may
be very very disappointed.

Cube Jockey
After reading through a few posts I think it is necessary to clarify my intent in posting these questions. I didn't want to include it in the opening post so as to leave the opening post as factual as possible. But here is where I'm coming from with this. I'll say right now this is NOT some partisan issue, it should be a concern everyone should share.

So almost 4 years ago exactly we were supposedly awakened by 9/11 and we learned some lessons (allegedly). The government responded by creating the Department of Homeland Security. I already stated what their objectives were in the opening post so there is no need to repeat them here, but they do include a supposedly coordinated response to disasters both man-made and natural. So one cannot say that emergency response is something they should be excelling at.

This department has existed for 4 years now, they have 183,000 employees and we've spent almost $147 billion in tax payer money on something. Part of that something is supposed to be emergency response plans.

Now I know people are going to get hung up on the fact that this was a natural disaster and a very severe one at that. I believe that is irrelevant, but let's change the scenario. Let's say that New Orleans was attacked by terrorists who decided they'd blow up the levees keeping the city above water - pretty much the same result. Does anyone really think their response would have been different because it was a terrorist attack instead of an act of God?

This was the DHS' first test and they have failed miserably. Every report coming in suggests there is no central leadership (even now), things are mass chaos, food and water still are not being taken in, etc. That doesn't speak very highly of whatever emergency response plans we have in place.

So we have this department we are spending BILLIONS of dollars on every year and increasing funding every year and I'm wondering what good it has done. If terrorists strike somewhere in the US are they going to be up to the challenge? Are we going to have something vaguely resembling leadership or will it be complete anarchy? Are they good for anything more than providing pretty color-coded terror alerts?

If we don't believe we can ever be protected (as Amlord suggested in his post) then lets spend our $40 Billion (and increasing) on something else each year that might matter.

So that is where I'm coming from.
doomed_planet
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 1 2005, 11:10 PM)
So we have this department we are spending BILLIONS of dollars on every year
and increasing funding every year and I'm wondering what good it has done. 
If terrorists strike somewhere in the US are they going to be up to the challenge?
Are we going to have something vaguely resembling leadership or will it be
complete anarchy?  Are they good for anything more than providing pretty
color-coded terror alerts?

If we don't believe we can ever be protected (as Amlord suggested in his post)
then lets spend our $40 Billion (and increasing) on something else each year
that might matter. So that is where I'm coming from.


Okay. I'm with you, now. That's a very valid question; one that deserves
some solid answers. I believe that the current administration has not had
its priorities in line. I believe that decisions they have made (i.e. Iraq)
have perhaps distracted and diverted attention away from the prime
objective HOMELAND SECURITY!

A disaster of this magnitude requires the maximum amount of resources,
man-power, energy, and attention. The money we've piled into Iraq could
have paid for levees that would sustain category 12 hurricanes. dry.gif
Artemise
QUOTE
There is a problem. The government cannot
and will not save you. They simply cannot be expected to.
We come into this world alone and ultimately we are responsible for our
own survival. When we rely solely on the efforts of our government we may
be very very disappointed.


This is very interesting. So, by compounded posts, noone is expected to loot or be criminal and shot to death, the government cannot save you even when you are half under putrid water and have had no food or clean water for 4 days, by today, in the richest country in the world? Talk about a rock and a hard place. Yes, Bill O'Reilly said today that many who stayed behind were just looking for this type of opportunity. Sick freak that he is.

So, we are big enough and powerful enough to go into Iraq and fight a raging insurgency for two years while supposedly restoring electricity, water and building schools but we dont have people inside the US brave enough to continue rescue operations after being shot at? We cannot air-drop food, water, First aid supplys and blankets in plastic bags or styrofoam packages for people who have been sleeping on the street for 3 nights? Instead we are focusing police forces on people stealing tv's and clothing. Give me a break.

There are SOME things you expect from your government, especiallyin a country you have been told since birth is the richest and most powerful in the world. You dont expect mass amounts of people to go thirsty for 4 days at least.
Then again, even if NOLA had had the prescribed batteries, visqueen and duct tape it would not have helped them in the least. Perhaps they should have just swam out and duct taped up those levies.

Where is 'survival' supposed to come from when there is nowhere to get the basics from? Perhaps they should just free-dive for foodstuffs or try to walk out of State.

In a way you are right. The government does not, or as you say cannot do anything for us, in times of crisis or on most days, so why do we even pay taxes at all? They obviously cannot protect us from terrorists or help us effectively during natural disasters, educate our children to any standard, give us affordable health care, keep activist judges from ruining our values, and keep gas affordable despite a $200 billion dollar war. I say fire them all at once and start over.
nemov
1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not?

There seems to be a lot of armchair quarterbacking going on with this disaster. I am not exactly sure what kind of expectation exists to completely evacuate an entire city in a flood after an area has been ravaged by a hurricane. Evidently, Americans that have never experienced a hurricane thought supplies would start coming to New Orleans the day after the hurricane.

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable?

I think part of the hysteria (outside of the disaster zone) going on is being caused by the idiotic news coverage. I am not sure who the woman is that was hosting for Abrams last night on MSNBC but she said “children are literally starving to death.” The woman deserves to lose her job after saying something like that. Have journalists lost perspective?

3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?

This is a bit ambiguous. I am confident Americans are capable or rising to any challenged faced. The Department of Homeland Security is basically in its infancy and it do the job.
Vladimir
There's a fair amount of what I would call White suburbanite smugness here concerning the plight of those in the disaster zone.

It is widely conceded that those in New Orleans are, for the most part, those who had no reasonable means of getting out. Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, there do seem to be a fair number of people who stayed on the false assumption that the storm could not possibly be worse than Hurricane Camille. In hindsight, that was foolish, but many at the time would have said it was reasonable.

I was in Biloxi for Camille, and it was one day, maybe two, before substantial outside help arrived. Down there right now, from what I hear, there is essentially nothing -- and it's been a week. I don't understand that, because the coast is not under water, and all you have to do is drive down Highway 49 to get there. There is a major air strip at Keesler AFB that has been fully functional since the storm. There are 10,000 airmen on Keesler, and they're doing calisthenics! The people of the Gulf Coast need water, food and medical attention, and help should have been provided days ago.

The situation in New Orleans is vastly worse, and it is absolutely, deeply appalling that there has been no substantial Federal response. The flooding of the city was easily forseen; the rupture of the levy; the breakdown of the telephone network; the lawlessness; all were easily forseen. Yet it all caught FEMA flat-footed.

One thing I hope we will all agree is that immediate and comprehensive disaster relief is the responsibility of the Federal government. Neither the localities nor the states have the resources necessary to deal with this. In any case, they are often paralized by a disaster's immediate effects. And it just beggars credulity to say that the Federal response so far has been adequate.

Parenthetically, whoever here said "government cannot help you" is a flaming fool who, obviously, has never had to live through a big, regional disaster.

Artemise
QUOTE
Evidently, Americans that have never experienced a hurricane thought supplies would start coming to New Orleans the day after the hurricane.


Many americans have experienced hurricanes and earthquakes, and supplies should and did start arriving the day after. This was predicted as a worst case scenario before it hit. Of course there is armchair quarterbacking, because most of us are feeling frustrated and impotent by the lack of coordination and leadership a disaster of this porportion requires. It is painful to watch people suffer and not be able to do a damn thing (right now) about it.
Most of us private citizens if we had a few million dollars to spare would have DRINKING WATER on the ground in 48 hrs. Where are the heros? Where are the millionaires equivalent of Ross Perot for example who have the ability and funds to DO something? Where Is Congress? Oh yeah, on vacation.

Even farther...Where is Theresa Heinz Kerry and her politico husband? Strangely silent. They have enough 'extra cash' and connections to provide a half million people with water for a few days. Not a word from Americas top multi-millionaire 'caring for the poor party' .

QUOTE
I am not sure who the woman is that was hosting for Abrams last night on MSNBC but she said “children are literally starving to death.” The woman deserves to lose her job after saying something like that. Have journalists lost perspective?


There are infants. Infants cannot go 4 days without food without beginning starvation, crying all the time. There are pregnant mothers. Small children and the elderly do not have the systems to stand lack of food and especially water for 4 days. I have no idea what you are so bent on defending? You speak several times about denial, perhaps you are experiencing some.
Google
Amlord
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 2 2005, 02:10 AM)

This department has existed for 4 years now, they have 183,000 employees and we've spent almost $147 billion in tax payer money on something.  Part of that something is supposed to be emergency response plans.


This is a valid point: where did the money get spent?

It got spent on the local level. The DHS handed it out to states to create disaster plans. Can we seriously expect the federal government to know the nuances of local life so that they can adequately prepare for this type of thing for every city in America? I certainly don't think so.

It is the governor who is in charge of the National Guard, not the President. So if you say "Where's the National Guard" you should go ask the Governor of Louisiana.

Here's what the DHS said was happening on Wednesday: United States Government Response to the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

QUOTE
FEMA FEMA deployed 39 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from all across the U.S. to staging areas in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana and is now moving them into impacted areas.

Eighteen Urban Search and Rescue task forces and two Incident Support Teams have been deployed and prepositioned in Shreveport, La., and Jackson, Miss., including teams from Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. An additional eight swift water rescue teams have been deployed.

FEMA is moving supplies and equipment into the hardest hit areas as quickly as possible, especially water, ice, meals, medical supplies, generators, tents, and tarps. There are currently over 1,700 trucks which have been mobilized to move these supplies into position.

<snip>

The HHS Secretary’s Operations Center mobile command post is en route to Baton Rouge and should arrive today. This bus provides office space along with computer and communications support for the HHS Secretary’s Emergency Response Team (SERT).

HHS is using the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to identify available hospital beds, and working with DOD, Veteran’s Administration, and others to move patients to these facilities. At last count, there were 2,600 beds available in a 12 state area around the affected area. Nationwide, the NDMS has identified 40,000 available beds in participating hospitals.

Louisiana state officials have received 27 pallets of requested medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. These pallets include basic first aid material (such as bandages, pads, ice packs, etc), blankets and patient clothing, suture kits, sterile gloves, stethoscopes, blood pressure measuring kits, and portable oxygen tanks. This equipment is being used to set up the mobile hospital at LSU in Baton Rouge.


Transcript

Lieutenant Kevin Cowan of the LA Guard says that he thinks operations are going fine.

QUOTE
MICHAEL VINCENT: How would you describe the food and water relief supplies getting into New Orleans, is it adequate at this stage?

KEVIN COWAN: I would say adequate. Thirty-six palettes of food were delivered to the superdome last night, more food is on the way and those numbers are going to continue until the evacuees are completely removed from the superdome and the convention centre areas.

MICHAEL VINCENT: How long do you expect that will take?

KEVIN COWAN: Several factors are going to determine that, determine how many more transportation assets we're able to get so that we can do it sooner.

You have to realise that some of the roadways are inundated with water, so it just takes time to get all of the evacuees moved from the superdome to a collection area and moved from that collection area forward to the shelters.

MICHAEL VINCENT: But you're talking about some 24/48 hours, possibly even 72 hours away?

KEVIN COWAN: It could be up to that far. We're shooting for the best, but we're prepared to do it until the job is done.


The relief is being hampered by the refugees' impatience. Buses won't come to the Superdome because they are being swamped. Helicopters can't land because they are being mobbed. National Guard Troops Land in New Orleans
QUOTE
A military helicopter tried to land at the convention center several times to drop off food and water. But the rushing crowd forced the choppers to back off. Troopers then tossed the supplies to the crowd from 10 feet off the ground and flew away.


I find it hard to understand some of the people still trapped in New Orleans. Such as this man (from the Guardian article, I have heard similar stories on MSNBC and other cable networks):
QUOTE
An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

``I don't treat my dog like that,'' 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the woman in the wheelchair. ``You can do everything for other countries, but you can't do nothing for your own people.''



Hello, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! I can't understand the mentality that it is someone else's job to take care of things, especially in such a time of crisis.
Jaime
QUOTE(Artemise @ Sep 2 2005, 09:24 AM)
You speak several times about denial, perhaps you are experiencing some.
*



This is a difficult issue to debate without the belittling personal commentary. Let's keep it civil.

TOPICS:
1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not?

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable? Why or why not?

3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?

4. If you believe there is a problem, what should be done to fix the problem?

Artemise
QUOTE
An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet.

Hello, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! I can't understand the mentality that it is someone else's job to take care of things, especially in such a time of crisis.


What is he supposed to DO about it Amlord, dig a few graves with his hands? Feed the children grass? I think the bodies will need to be identified. Maybe he should drag them to a mass grave? Pile them up somewhere? Where?

I dont understand the unrealistic expectations of people. They dont have a clue what is to be done and after 4 days without water must be in personal survival mode.

I saw a lot of people taking care of others. A man had taken 14 children from an apt complex in his boat and was taking care of them. The mothers were left behind because there was only room for the kids. Im sure we cannot judge what these people are doing or not doing when they are in total fear of dying, and feel abandonned.
Julian
1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not?
Yes, at this stage it appears that the DHS is certainly unprepared and has so far been less effective than citizens could reasonably have hoped.

I don't think anyone's expectations are that a city the size of New Orleans, and a land somewhat larger in area than the mainland of Great Britain (which is heard on the radio this lunchtime, and which really gives me some sense of the scale of the disaster), could have been completely evacuated in a matter of two or three days.

Apart from the people who didn't have the means or the opportunity to leave - not least the elderly, sick and infirm - (and think of the trouble NO would be in if all the healthcare workers and the police department had decided to leave too!), some people would just be too stubborn to go anywhere and try to ride out the problem.

But it occurs to me that the relief efforts of an area this size - especially the NO and Biloxi metropolitan areas - could easily have been planned in advance. After all, there is an excellent precedent for the air supply of most of resources necessary to sustain life in America's relatively recent past - The Berlin Airlift.

Admittedly, Berlin was merely blockaded, rather than mostly flooded and partially destroyed; fresh water was not really a problem; and there were serviceable airfields within the city - but food, clothing, fuel and the like were required, and the US has at it's disposal large numbers of helicopters, which do not need to land on anything in the city to freight in supplies. The broad principle is something that could have been adatped and applied by someone with vision, I think.

The logistical challenge of organising relief supplies and delivery methods on the required scale are not something that could be organised from scratch at the drop of a hat - or at the breach of a levee - but then, one of the purposes of an entity like the DHS would, I am perhaps naive to believe, be planning for such contingencies, however unlikely they might seem.

This is especially true since, unlike most of Northen Europe, large parts of the USA are prey to natural disaster that might well include ones on this scale. Not just earthquakes, but hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, avalanches, and so on.

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable? Why or why not?

I don't think it's acceptable, but I think maybe the DHS was created in and has acted within a particular context - prevention of terrorism being seen as the first and foremost responsibility. Even though events like Katrina and her consequent waves of chaos and tragedy (well, that's THAT reunion tour out the window sour.gif - please forgive the gallows humour) are within their remit, it seems pretty clear that nearly everyone's expectation until now was this narrowly defined.

3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?

I think part of the problem in the wake of Katrina is that rather more emphasis seems to have been placed on terrorism than on natural disasters, and even in this area, rather more emphasis on prevention than on mitigation of the aftermath of any attack.

Had the reverse been true, while the existence of the department would be much less politically acceptable, there would presumably have been transferable plans for evacuation and relief that would have been in place by now.

But, at it's formation, prevention of terrorism on US soil was the primary and paramount purpose (apologies for the alliteration) of the DHS - understandably so.

And - given the kind of secrecy necessary to avoid warning terror cells illustrated in this article - the DHS might well have been highly successful in this part of it's remit and we wouldn't be any the wiser.

Maybe the response to the 9-11 attacks in NYC and the wider nation gave a false sense of security that rescue and relief would largely take care of itself - the heroism evinced by the NYPD, NYFD, and many ordinary New Yorkers (and Washingtonians & Penssylvanians) was in every way commendable, but perhaps lend credence to this idea. While they were very large, only two buildings were destroyed, and less than fifty others were so much as shaken.

The sheer physcial scale was simply not comaparable to the damage following Katrina.

4. If you believe there is a problem, what should be done to fix the problem?

The first priority has to be getting on with the business of rescue and relief with a sense of purpose that seems to have been absent until now. Then the levees need to be repaired temporarily so the damage doesn't get any worse, while a more permanent solution is sought.

Then, once reconstruction is underway (which isn't, as far as I can tell, within the DHS remit), then people can concentrate on the political fall-out. No doubt those politicians perceived to be responsible will suffer at the ballot box, and rightly so, but the future form and direction of the DHS is also a political issue, if not necessarily a party political one.

Bearing in mind what I've said about the context of the creation of the DHS, I think maybe the handling of this crisis by the overall instiution is forgiveable. This time.

The context of its existence needs to be significantly broadened to focus as much on evacuation, rescue and relief as on prevention of terrorism, and they need to do a lot more thinking of the unthinkable about the possible scale of what it might be asked to cope with, up to and including - I don't know - the forced evacuation, rescue and relief of an entire state, rather than just one or a few cities.

The USA has the San Andreas fault, which could knock over some rickety buildings, but could also put most of California on the sea bed and give Sacramento a beachfront. It has Yellowstone, which could rumble enough to scare a few mountain lions, or could cover the entire midwest with red hot ash several feet deep. It has Mount St Helens, which could do what it did last time, or could turn the people of Seattle into the kind of pumice stone statues we've been digging out of the foothills of Vesuvius for two thousand years.

It has the possibility of a Canary Island volcanic eruption or landslip creating a tsunami that could wash away most Eastern Seaboard cities, not just get them a bit damp.

It also faces the unlikely but conceivable eventuality of a stolen nuclear or thermonuclear device being detonated in Central Park, Coit Tower, Fox Plaza, the Old Town Hall, or anywhere else, by some murderous lunatic in the name of their own twisted idea, which may (or may not) be inspired by Islam.

Now, such scenarios may be the stuff of nightmares. They might be the worst possible outcomes of already unlikely events. And any governmental effort to help the people affected in the aftermath of anything like these events may be the equivalent of putting a cold flannel on the forehead of a person with a fever - palliative more than curative.

Such things DO happen. We have known that forever, and are periodically reminded of it. And there ARE things that can be done, individually and collectively, so that at least some people survive them who otherwise would not have done. And, surely, if it is the job of any type of institution to consider how to optimise the survivability of such things, it is the job of governments. What else are they for?

As has been pointed out often by many of those on the political right, if government has any function at all, it is to at least attempt to ensure the safety and security of its citizenry.

So I have no sympathy at all with the view that we're all on our own and have to do as best we can without any expectation of help from governments in situations like those faced by the people left in New Orleans and other Katrina-d areas.

That attitude, far from preventing the chaos and anarchy and uncontrolled crime and roaming gangs and so on - all of which are supposedly happening inside NO (with little in the way of convincing evidence to support these assertions, I must say) - is what causes things like them to happen.
Hobbes
I'm going to preface my comments by making the following observations first, to set what I think is the proper framework to evaluate the response.

1. This is probably the largest natural disaster to ever hit this country. In terms of both scale and scope, I really can't think of anything that comes close.
2. This is the first disaster DHS has had to deal with, which is then compounded by #1 above.
3. There are several phases to disaster relief....immediate, near-term, and long-term. Currently, all we're seeing is the immediate phase.
4. This particular disaster has two aspects which make relief particularly difficult...there is no communication, and there is no access to the areas most affected, each of which compound the other.

That being said....

1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not? I think their immediate response was clearly lacking. Criminy...you see people on TV, gathered in specific areas, that desparately need some food, water, and medical attention. I could have gotten at least some water there myself...why can't the government. I think rethinking the immediate response phase is clearly needed. There seemed to be a definite lack of command and control down to the grass roots level. From what I've heard, much of the supplies were brought in...but nothing was done to tell people where they were. It's a terrible shame this happened, but this sounds very correctable.

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable? Why or why not? No it is not. There isn't anything more that really needs to be said.

3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat? I don't know. I find it difficult to envision anything short of nuclear attack that would match this in terms of scale and scope. Let's just say they have a lot they need to work on, and they'd better get it figured out.

4. If you believe there is a problem, what should be done to fix the problem?

Chertoff needs to be more personally involved, as do the other national directors. I think part of the problem is that they were overseeing things at the macro level, directing supplies to go to the affected areas, but simply weren't aware of the logistical problems preventing these supplies from getting to the people who needed them. Had they been 'down in the trenches', I think they would have seen this. At the very least, they need to have direct communication with people who are down there...was anyone in charge at the places where supplies arrived, that had communication back up the line to discuss and correct issues? In short, it seems like we had generals and soldiers, without much middle management, and that caused the system to break down.

The national guard should have been released in large scale immediately. Their presence would have prevented the looting and lawlessness. If they weren't needed, they could always be called back...we shouldn't wait until its so dire before they are sent.

A much better communication and command-and-control system at the local level is clearly needed. I think this is the single biggest contributor to the problems we have been seeing. The people were gathered in a relatively few, known areas, the supplies seem to have been available, but they weren't getting to where they needed to be.

A plan for long-term sheltering of thousands of people clearly needs to be developed. given the scope of the problem, I actually think this was handled fairly welll...but it was still inadequate. In particular for hurricanes, a plan could be developed so that people had a place to go and a way to get their when evacuation was deemed necessary. Many of those who stayed did so because they simply couldn't afford to leave, and had no where to go if they did. I'm sure there were many who would have taken them in, if a plan were in place to arrange that. Hurricanes only allow a day or two to evacuate...that is not nearly enough time to make logistical arrangements. Such planning needs to already be in place.

Finally, we as a country need to put higher emphasis on such planning and preparedness. Sure, saying the war in Iraq draws all the funding away is easy. I won't even argue that it is partially true. However, if we are going to really solve this problem, it needs to be moved higher up on the governmental priority list. Taking funding away from our troops isn't really the best place to even start...that will not only impact them directly (remember all the unarmored HumVee's? what do you think would happen if they had LESS funding?), but also impact national security. So, let's remove that from debate by stating that SOME of the needed funding could be taken from that currently go to the war. What about the rest? What programs are you willing to have cut in order to get this done? Assuming military cuts are included, that leaves the rest of the funding to come from the other programs. Cutting programs you are against is easy...but will just lead to partisan bickering. So, if you want this solved...what programs that you support do you think need to be bumped lower on the priority list. If everyone isn't willing to compromise, this will never get done. As I said in the other threads discussing this...we have always been very bad at putting priority on preventative programs. That won't change unless we're willing to take cuts somewhere else to make it happen. Pointing fingers won't do it either...leaving it up to the 'other guys' to solve it won't get it done. As the levees in New Orleans demonstrated...we have a massive infrastructure problem here in the United States. To fix it, we're going to have to make it a national priority. That means other things are going to have to be cut...including some things that you might support. What things should those be?
Julian
QUOTE(Hobbes @ with my own emphasis)
Taking funding away from our troops isn't really the best place to even start...
<snip>
So, let's remove that from debate by stating that SOME of the needed funding could be taken from that currently go to the war. What about the rest? What programs are you willing to have cut in order to get this done? Assuming military cuts are included, that leaves the rest of the funding to come from the other programs.
<snip>
Cutting programs you are against is easy...but will just lead to partisan bickering.
That won't change unless we're willing to take cuts somewhere else to make it happen.
<snip>
To fix it, we're going to have to make it a national priority. That means other things are going to have to be cut...including some things that you might support.


Hobbes, I applaud your broad logic (not least because it seems to be rather similar to my own on this occasion mrsparkle.gif thumbsup.gif ).

This illustrates a wider problem that just is not going to go away. America has a stark choice - whistle in the dark and pretend such things will never happen, or do something about it.

What I do find odd is your unspoken, but clearly expressed assumption that only the redirection of funds from other programs, with subsequent cuts, can provide the necessary resources to fund disaster relief and mitigation.

What about raising taxes?

I know it's not the done thing in America these days to think in such terms, and it's political suicide in the current mood to suggest it, but by international standards Americans are not over-taxed.

They may be taxed more than they would like to be - who isn't? I don't know anyone in high-tax, nanny-state Europe who enjoys paying tax. But the sky doesn't fall when we do so at higher rates than Americans.

Economic growth may suffer, granted, but as you've eloquently pointed out, the booming economic growth America has been able to be smug about while European and Japanese economies have stagnated haven't built any levees. The wealth generated by the "enlightened" US tax regime hasn't trickled down to bring water supplies, medication, clothing, shelter, etc to New Orleans people sitting on their rooves in sewage-soaked rags, has it? So, when it comes down to situations like this, what good is it?

Reprioritisation of government programs requires a review of spending and taxation. (If only to pay off the defecit, let alone making certain spending programs more robust.)

Stop thrashing about and admit the possible necessity of increases in taxation to fund some of the programs you talk about, or else you're trying to tie down the issues while holding only one end of the string.
Hobbes
Julian,

Adding taxes is definitely a potential solution to the problem. It might even be the best, and most politically possible one. I should have included that in my discussion. My intent was to focus on what are we prepared to do...we either have to give something up, or provide more funding for it. The point being that someone else isn't going to fix it for you, you have to be prepared to sacrifice to make it happen. If paying more taxes is the sacrifice the majority are in favor of, then by all means that should be on the table. As a fiscal conservative...I'm not even against that being the solution. Clearly, there are long term benefits to this, as the current situation shows. How much money would the government have saved now if they had improved the levees in NO before? Clearly, the prevention would have been cheaper than the cure (although that benefits from current hindsight)...thus resulting in a long-term savings in government spending.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(nemov @ Sep 2 2005, 05:32 AM)
There seems to be a lot of armchair quarterbacking going on with this disaster.  I am not exactly sure what kind of expectation exists to completely evacuate an entire city in a flood after an area has been ravaged by a hurricane.  Evidently, Americans that have never experienced a hurricane thought supplies would start coming to New Orleans the day after the hurricane.
*


I completely disagree with you, but I don't see that I'll make very much headway on that so I'll just ask a question instead. We have this nifty Department of Homeland Security which is supposed to excel in disaster response, coordinating communication and efforts, etc. We've had them for 4 years and we've paid billions of dollars for them. What have we bought exactly? What do you expect from your tax dollars?

QUOTE(nemov)
I think part of the hysteria (outside of the disaster zone) going on is being caused by the idiotic news coverage.

I haven't seen all of the news coverage out there and in fact I quit watching it after a while. But I'd say that the reporters on the ground there "get it" far more than anyone else does. In fact they were bringing critical information to the government. I ripped this from a blog, which has a loose transcription of Ted Koppel's show:
QUOTE
Brown of FEMA: Blah blah blah. 25,000.... We just learned of the convention center -- we being the federal government -- today.

Koppel: I've heard you say during the course of a number of interviews that you found out about the convention center today. Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today.

Brown of FEMA: We learned about (the convention center) FACTUALLY today that that's what existed.

(Brown responds to another question by saying troops are going to be moving in soon.)

Koppel: Here we are essentially FIVE DAYS after the storm hit and you're talking about what's going to happen in the next couple of days.... You didn't make preparations for what was going to happen in the event that [a category four storm hit]. Why didn't you?

(Brown then complains that poor people who don't own cars and can't afford hotel rooms didn't jump into their SUVs and head to the Hyatt in Atlanta. He then sidesteps Koppel by implying it was the city's fault for not having buses available for the very poor.)

Koppel: I'm not asking you why the city didn't have buses available. I'm asking you why you didn't have National Guards with trucks to get them out of there. Why you didn't have people with flatbed trailers if that's what you needed. Why you didn't simply get as many Greyhound buses from surrounding states as you could lay your hands on to get those people out of there. Why you haven't done it TO THIS DAY.


Heck even Bush admits (today) that the response has been inadequate. Too little too late Mr. Bush - story
QUOTE
Several hours later, President Bush headed to the devastated region to survey the damage. As he was leaving the White House, Bush told reporters that he believes the relief operations so far "are not acceptable."


Edited to add: If you want to read the mayor's perspective on it then I'd suggest you read a transcript from a radio interview posted over at CNN. If that doesn't convince you that the response to this has been a miserable failure then I don't know what will.
QUOTE
NAGIN: I told him [The President] we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we're outmanned in just about every respect.

You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. ... You pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they're standing in there in water up to their freaking necks.

And they don't have a clue what's going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn -- excuse my French everybody in America, but I am [really ticked off - profanity filter was set off]

WWL: Did you say to the president of the United States, "I need the military in here"?

NAGIN: I said, "I need everything."

Now, I will tell you this -- and I give the president some credit on this -- he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is [Lt.] Gen. [Russel] Honore.

And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he's getting some stuff done.

They ought to give that guy -- if they don't want to give it to me, give him full authority to get the job done, and we can save some people.

WWL: What do you need right now to get control of this situation?

NAGIN: I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain't talking about -- you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here.

I'm like, "You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their [butts - profanity filter again] moving to New Orleans."

That's -- they're thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can't emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy.

I've got 15,000 to 20,000 people over at the convention center. It's bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish. ... We don't have anything, and we're sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish.

It's awful down here, man.
doomed_planet
QUOTE(Artemise @ Sep 2 2005, 04:40 AM)

This is very interesting. So, by compounded posts, noone is expected to loot or
be criminal and shot to death, the government cannot save you even when you
are half under putrid water and have had no food or clean water for 4 days, by
today, in the richest country in the world? Talk about a rock and a hard place.


The looting and violence have only hindered recovery and relief efforts.
So, if you want to spread blame about the lack of swiftness, those individuals
partaking in the violence and looting should be held accountable.


QUOTE
So, we are big enough and powerful enough to go into Iraq and fight
a raging insurgency for two years while supposedly restoring electricity, water
and building schools but we dont have people inside the US brave enough
to continue rescue operations after being shot at?


This isn't a war, for Pete's sake! ermm.gif The national guard shouldn't have
to endure gunfire while attempting to save the lives of those who are shooting
at them. It's asinine to expect that from anyone. Comparing Iraq (a place
where we are not wanted by many Iraqis) to New Orleans (our own state
in our own country, where the presence of our troops is wanted and expected)
is like comparing apples and oranges.


QUOTE
We cannot air-drop food, water, First aid supplys and blankets in plastic
bags or styrofoam packages for people who have been sleeping on the street
for 3 nights?  Instead we are focusing police forces on people stealing tv's and
clothing. Give me a break.


From what I have seen in press releases and media, food and water has been
air-dropped since the beginning. Finding a way to do so effectively, and without
causing chaos among the crowds of people, has been the greatest challenge.

As far as the looters and criminals, the governor herself said that such behavior
won't be tolerated, yet the focus is (and has always been) on relief and recovery.
But there has to be some semblance of order for any operation to be effective,
especially one of such great magnitude.

QUOTE
In a way you are right. The government does not, or as you say cannot
do anything for us, in times of crisis or on most days, so why do we even pay
taxes at all?


If there is a lesson to be learned from this, it's that we cannot depend on our
government. When we do, we may be disappointed. A lot of the people stranded
are those who have depended on government assistance before this crisis hit,
for whatever reason. Our tax-dollars have been going to these people before
and they will continue to. We ARE paying for this crisis, and people are being
helped. Maybe this will be a learning experience, that will help us (and our
Dept. of Homland Security) be better prepared for future disasters.
popeye47
Well Folks, I have watched TV for the past 4 days and I have never seen such an inept attempt to complete a mission of taking care of our own citizens.

Even since Saturday it was known that New Orleans was going to be most likely in the direct path. If not New Orleans, some place close was going to take the full brunt of hurricane Katrina.

On Sunday, all the talk was of Katrina maybe being the most powerful hurricane to hit the US.

So according to this adminstration, and FEMA resources were put in place during the weekend.

Then why were not these resources used (efficiently or not at all in some instances)in places such as the convention center. My God it was until Friday before these 10,000 to 15,000 received as much as a drink of water. Nothing for 3 or 4 days. There is absolutely no excusefor this kind of inaction.

People have died because top management somewhere didn't care or have the mentality to do his job. Why? Hell, if I know, but they sure have failed their job description and should be sent packing.

And what dismays me is the comments from fellow AD members.

QUOTE


There seems to be a lot of armchair quarterbacking going on with this disaster. I am not exactly sure what kind of expectation exists to completely evacuate an entire city in a flood after an area has been ravaged by a hurricane. Evidently, Americans that have never experienced a hurricane thought supplies would start coming to New Orleans the day after the hurricane.


How about taking 4 days. Is that long enough, as in the Convention Center. Ony 15,000 people there.

QUOTE


I think part of the hysteria (outside of the disaster zone) going on is being caused by the idiotic news coverage. I am not sure who the woman is that was hosting for Abrams last night on MSNBC but she said “children are literally starving to death.” The woman deserves to lose her job after saying something like that. Have journalists lost perspective?



A young infant could possibly starve to death in a few days. Shame on that reporter for telling it like it is. Maybe we should look the other way and pretend like we never saw anything. How callous can you be?

QUOTE


This is a bit ambiguous. I am confident Americans are capable or rising to any challenged faced. The Department of Homeland Security is basically in its infancy and it do the job.



How long has DHS been in existence. Only 3 or 4 years and at least a $100 billion or more budget.

If DHS can't do any better than this with a disaster that we know will happen and when. How are they going to deal with a terrorist act and they don't know when or how it will happen?

Seems to me that they don't have a chance of a snowball in hell.
Aquilla
QUOTE(popeye47 @ Sep 2 2005, 12:40 PM)

And what dismays me is the comments from fellow AD members.

QUOTE


There seems to be a lot of armchair quarterbacking going on with this disaster. I am not exactly sure what kind of expectation exists to completely evacuate an entire city in a flood after an area has been ravaged by a hurricane. Evidently, Americans that have never experienced a hurricane thought supplies would start coming to New Orleans the day after the hurricane.


[/color][/b]
*




What dismays me are the misrepresentations from fellow AD members.

Comments like this.....

QUOTE
Then why were not these resources used (efficiently or not at all in some instances)in places such as the convention center. My God it was until Friday before these 10,000 to 15,000 received as much as a drink of water. Nothing for 3 or 4 days. There is absolutely no excusefor this kind of inaction.


Do you have any source for this statement, Popeye, or are you just making stuff up here to bash Bush? According to the Washington Post, this statement is inaccurate. From this article......

QUOTE
"This is a desperate SOS," Nagin said in a statement released to the media. "Currently, the Convention Center is unsanitary and unsafe and we are running out of supplies for 15,000 or 20,000 people."


"Running out of supplies" is a whole lot different than not having any in the first place as your claim would imply. I saw Coast Guard helicopters rescuing people from rooftops on the first day. Would you have let those people die so that you could use those helicopters to deliver water and food to the Convention Center instead?
Cube Jockey
This recent CNN article does an excellent job of putting the statements from Brown (chief of FEMA) and Chertoff (Homeland Security Director) against reality. Example segment:
QUOTE
Security

# Brown: I actually think the security is pretty darn good. There's some really bad people out there that are causing some problems, and it seems to me that every time a bad person wants to scream of cause a problem, there's somebody there with a camera to stick it in their face. ( See Jack Cafferty's rant on the government's 'bungled' response -- 0:57)

# Chertoff: In addition to local law enforcement, we have 2,800 National Guard in New Orleans as we speak today. One thousand four hundred additional National Guard military police trained soldiers will be arriving every day: 1,400 today, 1,400 tomorrow and 1,400 the next day.

# Nagin: I continue to hear that troops are on the way, but we are still protecting the city with only 1,500 New Orleans police officers, an additional 300 law enforcement personnel, 250 National Guard troops, and other military personnel who are primarily focused on evacuation.

# Lawrence: The police are very, very tense right now. They're literally riding around, full assault weapons, full tactical gear, in pickup trucks. Five, six, seven, eight officers. It is a very tense situation here.

popeye47
QUOTE(Aquilla @ Sep 2 2005, 03:55 PM)

QUOTE(popeye47 @ Sep 2 2005, 12:40 PM)
 
And what dismays me is the comments from fellow AD members. 
 
QUOTE
 
 
There seems to be a lot of armchair quarterbacking going on with this disaster. I am not exactly sure what kind of expectation exists to completely evacuate an entire city in a flood after an area has been ravaged by a hurricane. Evidently, Americans that have never experienced a hurricane thought supplies would start coming to New Orleans the day after the hurricane. 


[/color][/b]
*




What dismays me are the misrepresentations from fellow AD members.

Comments like this.....

QUOTE
Then why were not these resources used (efficiently or not at all in some instances)in places such as the convention center. My God it was until Friday before these 10,000 to 15,000 received as much as a drink of water. Nothing for 3 or 4 days. There is absolutely no excusefor this kind of inaction.


Do you have any source for this statement, Popeye, or are you just making stuff up here to bash Bush? According to the Washington Post, this statement is inaccurate. From this article......

QUOTE
"This is a desperate SOS," Nagin said in a statement released to the media. "Currently, the Convention Center is unsanitary and unsafe and we are running out of supplies for 15,000 or 20,000 people."


"Running out of supplies" is a whole lot different than not having any in the first place as your claim would imply. I saw Coast Guard helicopters rescuing people from rooftops on the first day. Would you have let those people die so that you could use those helicopters to deliver water and food to the Convention Center instead?
*




My point was that no local or state or federal governmental entity had given these people any water or food. Most of the few supplies they had were water they brought with them or scavenged from other buildings. If you recall, most of the people at the convention center were there because of the news that if they came there , help was on the way.

Also.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/02/katrina.impact/index.html

QUOTE


A convoy of military vehicles plowed through the flooded streets of New Orleans on Friday bringing food, water and medicine to the thousands of people trapped at a downtown convention center.

Lt. Gen. Russel Honore was directing the deployment of National Guard troops -- expected to number 1,000 -- from a New Orleans street corner. (See video of the convoy roll through floodwaters -- 3:33)

Honore said getting food and water to the people at the convention center was difficult. "If you ever have 20,000 people come to supper, you know what I'm talking about," the general said. "If it was easy, it would have been done already."



As far as General Honore knew, this was the first supplies given to the people at the convention center.

I am finally glad that someone like General Honore finally took the bull by the horns and did something beside talk. It show you that things could have been done quicker if they had got up off their lazy posterior.

BTW---I wouldn't have to make anything up to bash Bush. Every time he talks there is lots of evidence.
Mrs. Pigpen
I'll be the odd person out and say I don't think they've failed. Transcript of August 31st Defense Department Briefing on DoD Response to Hurricane Katrina.
QUOTE
Initially, we were asked to set up defense coordinating offices along with FEMA in the four affected states – Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. We have done that. These coordinating offices are staffed by a colonel along with a small coordinating element of about 15 people. In addition,  we have some staging bases set up for FEMA and they are at Barksdale, Meridian Naval Air Station, and Maxwell Air Force Base. FEMA will be staging supplies at those locations and I can tell you that the types of supplies we saw them stage during the hurricanes in Florida last year were really the commodities – the water, the ice, food, MREs, those kinds of things.

We are also in the process or providing aviation support to the FEMA assessment teams and helping them move supplies, equipment casualties. You’ve seen many of the rescue operations. We have the capability to do night search and rescue aviation operations as well as providing strategic airlift of some rescue, swift water rescue teams from California. That’s a civilian capability and we’re providing air transport for the teams along with their watercraft down to Louisiana.

(snip)

The President has asked us through the Secretary of Defense to lean forward and to anticipate the types of things that might be needed. We are in discussions with FEMA for the following types of capabilities to include field hospitals, evacuation transportation, manpower to help with both sheltering and feeding operations, aerial reconnaissance, and then again as I mentioned, the Navy ships.

(snip)

Media: Excuse me. Can I ask just briefly before you do that, and I don't know if you're going to go into this or not. Do you have any figure on how many active duty troops are committed to the situation now? Including of course those Navy.

DiRita: The total, sort of in big numbers, there's about seven ships dedicated right now. There's almost certain to be more. There's about 7,200 active duty personnel, mostly Navy but that also includes about 400 Corps of Engineer, about 800 people that have been designated to assist the American Red Cross with aid distribution and that sort of thing, but that total is about 7,200. About 60 helicopters, and that's going to change over time. You'll see different figures, but that's the working figure right now. And then General Blum will talk about this but we're at about 11,000 National Guard and that figure's going to change almost certainly as well.


The worst flooding of New Orleans occurred on the 30th. The above was the day after, and already they had 11,000 boots on the ground in the stricken areas. A disaster of this magnitude requires a bit of time to respond to. I don’t think three days is so terribly long under the circumstances. Yes, it is horrifying to watch, and if I were sitting on my roof with a house under septic water I’d be angry, too…but that doesn’t mean the criticism is justified.

From the Louisiana office of homeland security
QUOTE
If an earthquake, hurricane, winter  storm or other disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water  and electricity for days, or even weeks.

By taking some time now to store emergency food and water supplies, you can provide for  your entire family.
From the Louisiana government's mouth. No mention of "FEMA will quickly provide for you with a couple of days". It's nice to hope, but with tens of thousands in desparate need that is a lot to expect.

Next DOD transcript, September 1st:
QUOTE
By the end of the day, the boots on the ground in Louisiana, Louisiana National Guardsmen, will be approximately 7,400.  And by the end of the day in Mississippi, there will be approximately 6,000.  And by tomorrow, the boots on the ground of National Guardsmen in Louisiana will be approximately 8,600 and in Mississippi 9,500.  For our total strength over the next three days, we intend to have approximately 12,000 troops on the ground in Louisiana and 12,000 troops on the ground in Mississippi.  That capability is on the road as we speak, flowing to Mississippi and Louisiana.

Our major effort, again, in Louisiana is to focus in and around the New Orleans area and the sub-communities in continuing to flow out the people that are ambulatory and those requiring medical care.  Between 1500 (3 p.m.) yesterday afternoon and midnight last, we had flown approximately 600 patients from the Superdome area to area hospitals for onward movement and care.  We're continuing that effort this morning.  We have increased our capability with helicopters.  We have -- two battalions from Fort Hood arrived yesterday that's in that effort.  That effort is being led by the United States Coast Guard and the Louisiana National Guard, who are coordinating the effort to synchronize the helicopters and their distribution of those patients, in support of the health and human service element that's a part of the Louisiana task force.

(snip)

I met twice with the mayor yesterday, and we collaborated with the state as well as with the unified command of FEMA and the other agencies in developing the plan and the beginning of the execution of that plan last night.  And we couldn't do this too soon.  As most of you have seen, it is a trying situation, at best.  And the enormity of the task is significant in the care of, feeding and providing water, and that need is being met by the tremendous efforts of our lead federal agency, FEMA.  It takes time as you might expect, and the numbers in New Orleans are roughly around 60,000 people.  And the majority of them -- a large number of them are at the Superdome, but people are still scattered in their communities in isolated areas.  That's our basic land and helicopter operation.

(snip)

The subject to your questions, I wanted to make sure that you understand that this is a total effort to include our air elements.  The United States Air Force is decisively engaged in providing assets in terms of strategic lifts, to bring in units, as well as capability, and those are flowing as we speak.  Our primary re-supply areas into Mississippi is the Gulfport Airport and Meridian, and in Louisiana it's the Belle Chasse Airport and the New Orleans International Airport.

A significant operation by the United States Coast Guard in search and rescue as well as the Coast Guard, under Admiral Duncan, is providing the initial air command and control of the helicopters; that's doing the search and rescue and the evac of the citizens who are ill from the Superdome.

Cube Jockey
I'm not really sure how folks can continue to argue that we were really prepared for this or that the response was adequate when even the President admits it was lacking - source.
QUOTE
Scorched by criticism about sluggish federal help, President Bush acknowledged the government's failure to stop lawlessness and help desperate people in New Orleans. "The results are not enough," Bush said Friday in the face of mounting complaints from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Bush promised to crack down on crime and violence, rush food and medicine to the needy and restore electrical power within weeks to millions of customers across the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Former House Speaker newt Gingrich had this to say:
QUOTE
"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican.


From the Gov of Massachusetts:
QUOTE
Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts called the government's response "an embarrassment."


In fact I don't hear very many people trying to defend the government's performance at all. The results are pretty clear cut in my opinion.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 2 2005, 04:27 PM)
I'm not really sure how folks can continue to argue that we were really prepared for this or that the response was adequate when even the President admits it was lacking - source.
QUOTE
Scorched by criticism about sluggish federal help, President Bush acknowledged the government's failure to stop lawlessness and help desperate people in New Orleans. "The results are not enough," Bush said Friday in the face of mounting complaints from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Bush promised to crack down on crime and violence, rush food and medicine to the needy and restore electrical power within weeks to millions of customers across the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Former House Speaker newt Gingrich had this to say:
QUOTE
"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican.


From the Gov of Massachusetts:
QUOTE
Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts called the government's response "an embarrassment."


In fact I don't hear very many people trying to defend the government's performance at all. The results are pretty clear cut in my opinion.
*


Considering hundreds of people are dead and thousands are without homes, it would be completely inappropriate to praise the results at this time. Do you expect any politician to stand up and say results are groovy? They aren't. Four or five days is not enough time to assess the results of an effort to respond to this scale of a disaster. It takes time to come up with a convoy and support large enough to care for about a hundred thousand (or more?) displaced people. The convoy that just arrived in New Orleans contains a supply that should feed 60,000+ people for 10 days. They have been airlifting supplies and busy evacuating and conducting rescue operations for days now. It has only been four days since the storm passed.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Sep 2 2005, 04:56 PM)
Considering hundreds of people are dead and thousands are without homes, it would be completely inappropriate to praise the results at this time. Do you expect any politician to stand up and say results are groovy? They aren't.
*


Actually both Brown and Chertoff have been pretty complimentary about the effort. From a CNN article I have already cited in this thread. Here is what Brown and Chertoff had to say in regards to the federal response:
QUOTE
The federal response:

# Brown: Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.

# Homeland Security Director Chertoff: Now, of course, a critical element of what we're doing is the process of evacuation and securing New Orleans and other areas that are afflicted. And here the Department of Defense has performed magnificently, as has the National Guard, in bringing enormous resources and capabilities to bear in the areas that are suffering.


Sounds like they are praising the results to me Mrs P, that pretty much blows your argument out of the water.

I think the more likely explanation is that these politicians have realized the gravity of the situation and know we messed up here. As further proof, there is already talk of a bipartisan congressional investigation on the matter - article.
QUOTE
Two key U.S. senators said on Friday they will open a bipartisan investigation into what they described as an "immense failure" of the government response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record), a Maine Republican who heads the
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (news, bio, voting record) of Connecticut, the panel's top Democrat, said they plan to begin an oversight investigation next week when the full Senate returns from a summer recess.

"We intend to demand answers as to how this immense failure occurred, but our immediate focus must and will be on what Congress can do to help the rescue and emergency operations that are ongoing," the senators said in a joint statement.

"It is also our responsibility to investigate the lack of preparedness and inadequate response to this terrible storm," they said, adding that it was "increasingly clear that serious shortcomings in preparedness and response have hampered relief efforts at a critical time."


I suppose you are chalking this up as politics, I believe it is progress. If we are going to have a Department of Homeland Security and spend billions on then they better do the job they were created for.
Mustang
The Governor of MS, next door, had his National Guard mobilized before the storm. LA did not. It makes a difference.

But to the topic at hand, in order to state whether the transformation/ reform/ changes that have occured are a "failure", "success", or otherwise - you need to have something semi-equivalent to measure them by. The most recent incident for comparative analysis is the response to Hurricane Andrew in '92.

Hurricane Planning and Impact Assessment Reports

Senate Hearing: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Andrew

Humanitarian Operations in an Urban Environment: Hurricane Andrew, August-October 1992

Those links are direct to articles. For those on this board who are in the military, The Center for Army Lessons Learned Website now has a Katrina-related section with a large number of previous disaster-assistance AARs and other documents loaded up. You'll need an AKO or CAC log-in: CALL - Disaster Relief. If you have SIPR access, go to the DAIIS website, where they have set up a one-stop shop of current Katrina products and links.

Have an informed rant.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 2 2005, 05:31 PM)
 
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Sep 2 2005, 04:56 PM)
Considering hundreds of people are dead and thousands are without homes, it would be completely inappropriate to praise the results at this time. Do you expect any politician to stand up and say results are groovy? They aren't.  
*
 

Actually both Brown and Chertoff have been pretty complimentary about the effort. From a CNN article I have already cited in this thread. Here is what Brown and Chertoff had to say in regards to the federal response:
QUOTE
The federal response
 
# Brown: Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well. 
 
# Homeland Security Director Chertoff: Now, of course, a critical element of what we're doing is the process of evacuation and securing New Orleans and other areas that are afflicted. And here the Department of Defense has performed magnificently, as has the National Guard, in bringing enormous resources and capabilities to bear in the areas that are suffering.


Sounds like they are praising the results to me Mrs P, that pretty much blows your argument out of the water.


I was referring to politicians who are elected, not appointed officials. It doesn't surprise me that the head of FEMA has nice things to say about FEMA, or the Director of Homeland Security has nice things to say of the response of homeland security. huh.gif Elected officials which answer to the public don't have anything nice to say at this time. That isn't necessarily based on a rational, realistic assessment of the facts, IMO. According to one of the links Mustang provided, this isn't new. FEMA was referred to by politicians as "braindead" in its response to Andrew.
Hobbes
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 2 2005, 06:31 PM)

Sounds like they are praising the results to me Mrs P, that pretty much blows your argument out of the water.


Actually, it validates it...


QUOTE
Four or five days is not enough time to assess the results of an effort to respond to this scale of a disaster. It takes time to come up with a convoy and support large enough to care for about a hundred thousand (or more?) displaced people.


Given that, the level of response might be viewed as quite good, which is probably what Brown and Chertoff were alluding to.

BTW...those are both bureaucrats...neither is a politician.


QUOTE
I think the more likely explanation is that these politicians have realized the gravity of the situation and know we messed up here.


Messed up, or were overwhelmed? There's a big difference between the two, although the results would look the same.

QUOTE
As further proof, there is already talk of a bipartisan congressional investigation on the matter -


Proof of what? With the current political climate, I'll bet they'd start a bipartisan committee to investigate the brand of toilet paper picked for Congressional washrooms.


QUOTE
I suppose you are chalking this up as politics, I believe it is progress.  If we are going to have a Department of Homeland Security and spend billions on then they better do the job they were created for.



It's probably a mixture of both. There are clearly places where improvement can be made...but placing peoples head on a stick for failure to be adequately prepared for the largest natural disaster to ever strike the United States (especially after just a couple of days, when the total response will take years) is pure politics. Don't confuse the two, the motives are generally pretty clear. How much outcry have you heard about the woefully inadequate preparation from the mayor and governor of Louisiana, who just happen to be much more directly responsible for the well being of their citizens? Anyone discussing breakdowns and not mentioning that aspect is not trying to help, they're trying to capitalize on the situation. Which is about as low as you can get, politically.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Hobbes @ Sep 2 2005, 07:09 PM)

It's probably a mixture of both.  There are clearly places where improvement can be made...but placing peoples head on a stick for failure to be adequately prepared for the largest natural disaster to ever strike the United States (especially after just a couple of days, when the total response will take years) is pure politics.  Don't confuse the two, the motives are generally pretty clear.  How much outcry have you heard about the woefully inadequate preparation from the mayor and governor of Louisiana, who just happen to be much more directly responsible for the well being of their citizens?  Anyone discussing breakdowns and not mentioning that aspect is not trying to help, they're trying to capitalize on the situation.  Which is about as low as you can get, politically.
*


Plenty Hobbes, have you watched the news recently? Anderson Cooper laid into Landrieu recently and other media personalities have had similar criticism. I don't care what party these officials belong to, they are going to be accountable for this.

As I predicted it doesn't seem that people can get past the fact that this was a natural disaster, as if that somehow makes all this unavoidable. Would you be sitting here excusing the response if this had been an act of terrorism? The results could be equally disastrous, probably worse since no one would have been evacuated.

I think that we should be striving for a much better response than we had with Andrew or any other hurricane. Why? Because we have this nifty new department that we've spent billions of dollars on for exactly this purpose! What exactly have they been doing for the past 4 years with their 183,000 people besides drawing a salary? This was their test, they have failed.

If you are willing to accept subpar results from the government and your tax dollars I suppose that is your prerogative, but in my opinion the level of incompetence here is unforgivable and I'm never going to agree with you.

And I suppose if you aren't going to believe me when every single politician under the sun is calling the response a failure then I'm not exactly sure what kind of evidence you are looking for here.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 2 2005, 07:42 PM)
As I predicted it doesn't seem that people can get past the fact that this was a natural disaster, as if that somehow makes all this unavoidable.  Would you be sitting here excusing the response if this had been an act of terrorism?  The results could be equally disastrous, probably worse since no one would have been evacuated.
Yes, the results might be disastrous. That doesn't mean that a response like this within a four day timeframe is inadequate or incompetent. It depends on the circumstances. There is only so much of a response money can buy mere mortals without the gift of precognition.

QUOTE
I think that we should be striving for a much better response than we had with Andrew or any other hurricane.  Why?  Because we have this nifty new department that we've spent billions of dollars on for exactly this purpose!  What exactly have they been doing for the past 4 years with their 183,000 people besides drawing a salary?  This was their test, they have failed.
Did you read any of Mustang's links? It looks like the results (on the federal side) were better this time to me. However, I didn't read all of them in their entirety. Andrew was nothing near the scale of this one either.
doomed_planet
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Sep 2 2005, 07:47 PM)
the results would be disastrous. That doesn't mean that a response like this
within a four day timeframe is inadequate or incompetent. It depends on the
circumstances. There is only so much of a response money can buy mere
mortals without the gift of precognition.


Indeed. Today I was watching an interview with the director of the Red Cross.
He said that teams of Red Cross workers are standing by. They are ready to
go and help, but are not being let in because of the volatility of the situation.
The Red Cross organization cannot justify putting its people in harm's way.
Frankly, had there been less looting and violence things would have gone
better from the get-go. That, on top of all the other unknowns that have
made this disaster unlike any other, have contributed to the difficulty in
expediting the relief effort.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 2 2005, 07:42 PM)
If you are willing to accept subpar results from the government and your tax
dollars I suppose that is your prerogative, but in my opinion the level of
incompetence here is unforgivable and I'm never going to agree with you.


I understand where you are coming from. But, I don't think this is the right
disaster (or at the very least, the right moment) to criticize the level of
competency and proficiency with the DHS.


Hobbes
Of course I want it better. But I also realize that this was a monumental disaster, and the first one the new department had had to deal with. Further, I realize that we've seen 3 days of a multi-year project here...and probably three of the worst possible. Are you that quick to judge on your own efforts?

The fact that this is a natural disaster vs. a terrorist attack is irrelevant. I only bring it up to indicate scale and scope, which is very relevant.

As for politicians, I place no credence in anything most of them say. But definition, everything they say is politically motivated. Given the images on TV...how many of them would come out and say things were going as well as could be expected, even if that were true? They're going to say whatever they think they need to say for their own self-interest. Using quotes from any of them to validate anything that's really going on is completely pointless, (particularly if its opinion, which it almost always is), since you have no way of knowing what they really think, and what's being said for political reasons. How many of them are taking any responsibility, or doing anything besides criticize (no, an investigation at this time doesn't count)? I really don't get this from you, CJ...they're Congress critters one moment, and eloquent speakers of pure truth the next. Here's a little secret...they're still critters, even when they agree with you...maybe even especially then, since that's how they get your votes.
psyclist
I guess I'm still up in air on this and I don't want to turn this into a Bush bashing session but here's the deal. If government really did do a good job of getting help on the ground as fast as possible and their was a good plan that was executed quickly and efficiently (you can have the most detailed plan in the world, all the helicopters, medics, and rescue crews ready but if you dork up the execution, then you failed) then Bush and others need to be honest. Give the people the facts, tell them their was a plan, tell them how many people were rescued, tell them what makes this operation "successful" instead of telling them what is going to bump your poll numbers up. That way we don't feel like we're wasting our money on a bloated and bureaucratic program. Given Bush's "I'm doing and saying what I want" attitude in Iraq, I'm inclined to believe that he's not just saying they did a poor job because it's what the people want to hear. Which, if that is the case, and he really does believe the job was "unacceptable" then what are we arguing about?

bigfish
1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not?


Either there was no plan, an ineffective plan or no execution. Clearly it cannot be a surprise that the initial response must be swift in order to save those in immediate jeopardy. Had this been a terrorst attack the pandemonium would have been worse. At least people knew the hurricane was gone and wasn't coming back.

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable? Why or why not?
This can be trcky because you know you may need a massive response but where? how close do you put it? Get it too close and you risk damaging the equipment or rescuers. However in this case it was clear that a launching place like Texas was a very good scenario. There should have been a few thousand ready to go. Unfortunately there are too many National Guardsmen in Iraq. They are supposed to be for the protection of the homeland (hence the term National Guard )

3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?

No chance. Add the fear of secondary attacks into this quagmire and the pandemonium would be raised exponentinally.

4. If you believe there is a problem, what should be done to fix the problem?

There needs to be a quick-strike force ready to go immediately. USe helicopters, hovercrafts, jet skis...whatever it takes. get there fast, get people out and save lives.
There also needs to be a mass evacuation plan. This will happen again.
overlandsailor

I avoided the multitude of "who's fault is it" topics because I personally felt they were inappropriate and definitely too early to call. However, the shear number of topics, seemingly devoted to determining where we should place blame has convinced me to speak up.

The thing to remember is, response takes time, and the closer the responders are the faster they will get on scene. The ultimate responsibility here, is hard to call. But there was definitely an immediate lack of LOCAL leadership, coordination and planning.

When it comes to outside responses, everyone has to realize that it takes time to get assets to the scene. Naval vessels are there, with more on the way, but they had to get there, which takes time.

When the Guard or Reserves are called up, it takes time to get them in, get their equipment issued, review the mission, formulate a plan, transport the personnel, etc. They are not the minutemen of George Washington's time.

When Urban Search and Rescue teams are called, it takes time to get there, as it does with the Red Cross, CERT, and all other organizations. They have to mobilize, pack, and travel.

Add to that the fact that the city was all but completely inaccessible and the delays escalate.

C-130s flew in swift boats for water rescues. But the closest they could land was 150 miles away. Getting the transport trucks there that could make the trip and then making the trip, all took time.

When some in the city moved from looting to violence, the Red Cross and many other volunteer organizations could not / would not send their people in there until the situation was more secure. Securing those who would take advantage of this tragedy takes time.

There are so many professional Rescue personnel in the area, that I was told there was no need for volunteer divers or rescuers at this time. The issue of having to get them in and out of the city safely, between the limited access, floodwater, debrise, snipers, etc has resulted in a bottleneck that cannot be avoided.

At this point I have alot of questions. But theree is on major issue I have here so far. The Mayor of New Orleans told the people of New Orleans, if you can't get out, go to the stadium where you will be safe. Despite millions in grants from FEMA to develop an emergency plans they still did not have food and water for the people there. And they did a HORRIBLE job of keeping people safe (I dread the final count of the number of rapes, assaults and murders committed inside that stadium). The failure of the city to maintain control, and get supplies into the stadium (especially when it seems that they handled these jobs just fine for the Hyatt and the French Quarter) is the real issue for me right now. You cannot possibly expect the state or federal government to have supplies there in less the 48 hours, with 72 being more realistic. Though the response still took longer then that, the city was not even prepared to handle 24 hours. It was a failure of planning and leadership in my opinion.

In the end, we will likely analyze this and determine that various things could be done differently, and new plans will be put in place to address those issues, as has been done with every tragedy that has ever brought destruction and death to Americans. Until then, I'll wait before I pass judgement. For now, it is simply to early to know.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Sep 2 2005, 07:47 PM)
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 2 2005, 07:42 PM)
As I predicted it doesn't seem that people can get past the fact that this was a natural disaster, as if that somehow makes all this unavoidable.  Would you be sitting here excusing the response if this had been an act of terrorism?  The results could be equally disastrous, probably worse since no one would have been evacuated.
Yes, the results might be disastrous. That doesn't mean that a response like this within a four day timeframe is inadequate or incompetent. It depends on the circumstances. There is only so much of a response money can buy mere mortals without the gift of precognition.
*


Let me ask this yet again another way. If after 9/11 happened how would you feel if for a full 2 days the President was doing things like attending McCain's birthday, staging some medicare talks, learning how to play country music and posing for photo ops.

Furthermore, would you accept a 4 day response time to a terrorist attack? The terrorists aren't necessarily going to strike New York if and when they strike again where we already have thousands of capable people and equipment in place, they might just strike somewhere we don't expect (Imagine that!).

QUOTE(Hobbes)
I really don't get this from you, CJ...they're Congress critters one moment, and eloquent speakers of pure truth the next. Here's a little secret...they're still critters, even when they agree with you...maybe even especially then, since that's how they get your votes.

I didn't say that, but as far as presenting evidence from people who know far more than we do - there you go. As much as I distrust them in general they do have a security clearance and they just might know things we don't.

I'm also showing the fact that this is not only bipartisan criticism but it is also coming most heavily from Republicans showing that this isn't a Bush bashing situation and that we have a real problem.

QUOTE(overlandsailor)
At this point I have alot of questions. But theree is on major issue I have here so far. The Mayor of New Orleans told the people of New Orleans, if you can't get out, go to the stadium where you will be safe. Despite millions in grants from FEMA to develop an emergency plans they still did not have food and water for the people there. And they did a HORRIBLE job of keeping people safe (I dread the final count of the number of rapes, assaults and murders committed inside that stadium). The failure of the city to maintain control, and get supplies into the stadium (especially when it seems that they handled these jobs just fine for the Hyatt and the French Quarter) is the real issue for me right now. You cannot possibly expect the state or federal government to have supplies there in less the 48 hours, with 72 being more realistic. Though the response still took longer then that, the city was not even prepared to handle 24 hours. It was a failure of planning and leadership in my opinion.

That is a very elaborate way of passing the buck OS. Think you'll have a lot of luck going on national TV and telling the American people "Well it wasn't us that screwed up, it was your local government!"

The Department of Homeland Security holds the ultimate responsibility here. I'm starting to wonder if anyone has actually read the links I supplied in my opening post from their site stating what they claim to be responsible for:
QUOTE
In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation.

Primary responsibility does not mean "oh we'll throw some money at the state of Lousiana and hope they'll figure it out." It means that you call the shots, you make sure things in place, people know the plan, they are drilled on the plan, and it is executed (communication).

The city of New Orleans didn't have adequate food and water stored? Ok. Who at the DHS was responsible for making sure that plan was executed? The people weren't safe? Ok then why was the plan for that not executed? Why didn't the governor mobilize the national guard on saturday/sunday/monday (which should have been part of some plan). If it only takes Bush 2 hours to get there from Washington you can't tell me it takes 4 days for significant national guard response. Troops from Texas and several other states could drive there faster than that.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 3 2005, 01:36 PM)
QUOTE(overlandsailor)
At this point I have alot of questions. But there is one major issue I have here so far. The Mayor of New Orleans told the people of New Orleans, if you can't get out, go to the stadium where you will be safe. Despite millions in grants from FEMA to develop an emergency plans they still did not have food and water for the people there. And they did a HORRIBLE job of keeping people safe....

That is a very elaborate way of passing the buck OS. Think you'll have a lot of luck going on national TV and telling the American people "Well it wasn't us that screwed up, it was your local government!"


Passing the buck? The Mayor of New Orleans had a plan (the development of which was partially funded by FEMA) for evacuation. A plan HE MADE THE DECISION NOT TO FOLLOW. Would you suggest that the Federal Government, should have declared martial law and seized control of New Orleans before the storm in order to ensure that the proper actions were taken?

QUOTE(Cube Jockey)
...
QUOTE
In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation.

Primary responsibility does not mean "oh we'll throw some money at the state of Louisiana and hope they'll figure it out." It means that you call the shots, you make sure things in place, people know the plan, they are drilled on the plan, and it is executed (communication).


That would be primary responsibility ONCE a state of emergency is declared because before that, the federal government does not have the authority to act (we have this piece of paper called the Constitution that limits what the Federal Government can impose on the states). The responsiblity for the actions before the storm rests with the city, as it was their job, as the leaders of the city to take charge and address the issue and lead.

Unless you are willing to abandon the concepts of local and state government and give all control of all functions to the federal government then you have to determine when it is the federal governments role to act, and when the role belongs to the state and/or local government. The standard in this country, is that local control remains until a state of emergency is declared.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey)
The city of New Orleans didn't have adequate food and water stored?  Ok.  Who at the DHS was responsible for making sure that plan was executed? The people weren't safe?  Ok then why was the plan for that not executed?  Why didn't the governor mobilize the national guard on saturday/sunday/monday (which should have been part of some plan).  If it only takes Bush 2 hours to get there from Washington you can't tell me it takes 4 days for significant national guard response.  Troops from Texas and several other states could drive there faster than that.
*



No One at DHS was responsible for this because they did not have the authority to act other then in an advisory capacity before the storm. I suggest you consider reviewing the basic concepts of separation of powers, state authority, local authority and federal authority. You will find, that until an official declares a state of emergency, or officially requests intervention from higher levels of government, that official remains in control. Perhaps you feel that should change, I do not. I do know, that this is how it has always been handled.

Who's responsibility was it? Well, perhaps you should consider reviewing the New Orleans Emergency Evacuation Plan that was linked earlier. The plan covers what New Orleans should do in time of emergency like this. A major portion of this plan was NOT followed by local authorities.

You accuse me of passing the buck because I expect local authorities to address the needs of their citizens, and when they direct their citizens to act in a certain way I expect them to have a plan in regards to the protection of those citizens who follow their direction. All I see for you Cube Jockey, is an apparent ideologically blind analysis of the situation. How can you possibly, put the issue of no food, water, security at the stadium on FEMA what it was the Mayor of New Orleans who told people to go there and then did nothing to ensure they were cared for. To me, that is the ultimate form of passing the buck, and frankly, it is disappointing.

I also noticed that you choose not to respond to the fact that civil defense has ALWAYS been the responsiblity of FEMA. IMHO, that FACT makes the first question in this topic invalid. Yet for some reason, you choose to ignore that. I would certainly be curious to hear a response from you on that matter.
Paladin Elspeth
I think it is important to keep in mind the reason the levees broke in three places, because it does have direct bearing on the plight of the poor of New Orleans:

BBC news coverage of New Orleans
QUOTE
The famous levees that were breached could have been strengthened and raised at what now seems like a trifling cost of a few billion dollars.

The Bush administration, together with Congress, cut the budgets for flood protection and army engineers, while local politicians failed to generate any enthusiasm for local tax increases.
 
New Orleans partied-on just hoping for the best, abandoned by anyone in national authority who could have put the money into really protecting the city.

In retrospect, I am suggesting that it would have been cheaper to build taller, beefed-up levees than to try to find some way to ensure that all the poor had some kind of transportation out of there before the storm and flood hit. So who decided that it was just too expensive to go for that extra measure of safety for New Orleans? Somebody in the Office of Management and Budget? I hope the appropriate people are losing sleep over this.

And what of the famous FEMA black helicopters, which can seem to fill the sky when called upon? Could there not have been more airdrops on higher areas the day after the storm surge?

The truth is that the emergency planners on the federal level weren't planning for the worst case scenario. (Perhaps Homeland Security should not have optimists on their staff.)

As far as the lawlessness goes, yes, there are a bunch of bad apples in New Orleans looting. I also saw, though, people coming out of stores with supplies such as diapers and water. I cannot personally fault those who took provisions in order to survive.

So is the governor of the state the one who decides whether his/her National Guard troops are going to Iraq? I think Amlord was talking about the governor having control over the ones stateside, but I wouldn't mind clarification on this. Obviously, with a diminished force at her disposal, Louisiana's governor could only work with what she had.

And I'm wondering: If Airforce One could land at New Orlean's airport (whatever its name is) and the President could come for his photo op replete with Secret Service, reporters and the like; and if CNN and the other network reporters could make it into the areas hit hard by the storm surge, why couldn't the help?

As the BBC World article put it, "The truth was simple and apparent to all. If journalists were there with cameras beaming the suffering live across America, where were the officers and troops?"

Syfir
Questions for debate:
1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not?

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable? Why or why not?

3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?



Let me just put it this way. I think this would be just as important a question to ask at this point in time "Given that the aliens that have visited Earth are taking specimens, what should be done about that?"

Okay maybe I am being a little facetious here but seriously folks. This is not the time to be asking these questions. In fact this is the stupidest time to be asking them. Well maybe not the stupidest time but the stupidest reasons. These questions should be asked. But they should not be asked yet.

Oh yeah. No one on this board is qualified to be answering them. These are the type of questions that will need to be asked in the follow up to this disaster. These will need to be answered very specifically and at a length. But not by you and me who can only make the disaster worse by bickering about it here.

Until the experts have had a chance to examine the response and determine what, if anything, could have been done to improve the response anything we say is just a bunch of monkeys screaming at each other.

Watching the "coverage" (hah!) by the media has done nothing for me but raise my blood pressure. This is the impression I have received from the media coverage:

"Golly that was a bad storm"
"Whoa baby that did a lot of damage"
"Ye Gads those people are suffering"
"Oh my gosh the government sucks because not enough was done. Let's check with our highly paid "expert" who will say what we want him to in order to keep his highly paid job"
"Golly Gee those other media outlets are clueless. They don't know what they are talking about as our highly paid "expert" can show (if he wants to keep his job anyway)"

Time was when the media was a respected source of information. Now I use the media sites as a source to get ideas that I might not have thought of on my own or known about as a starting point when I want to find out the facts. Note that I said a starting point. They are basically an idea generator. Let's say they quoted an official on something. That lets me know that the official said something so that I can then search for what it was he actually said.

All we know right now is that there was a disaster. Period. We don't know anything about what the response was. Sure we have quotes from here and there saying this was done and that was done. But we also have counter quotes saying this wasn't done nor was that.

"But wait!" you say. I have seen pictures on the news that proves that people are starving!

So what? That's the media is for. They aren't going to send their multi-million dollar staff down there to take pictures of people who are doing fine. CNN isn't going to show you pictures of the National Guard doing their job when MSNBC is showing people dieing in the streets. It's all about the ratings. Suffering gets ratings and wins awards.

For you to sit there and say Bush failed. Homeland security is a bust, or even Bush did what he could, HS is a success is nothing more than pure and utter grandstanding. Sure we all have opinions. Could more have been done? It sure looks like it. Was anything done? Sure looks like it. Was it the best that could be done? Who knows? Not you, no matter what you may think.

This is not a war. Some people say well if we could prepare for war in Iraq we should have been able to prepare for this. Bull Pucky. We did prepare for this. We just didn't prepare well enough obviously.

But wait. FEMA said this could happen! Yet we did not prepare!

Not so says the one side we did prepare. It just wasn't enough. But wait says the other side we knew ahead of time. No we didn't. Yes we did.

Enough already! Finding out what was known and who knew it is a job for the investigators...and I don't mean Senator Lieberman.

Congressional hearings!! Immediately!! Find out what went wrong!!

Wrong.

That's like saying "We have a murder, quick have a trial" "But sir, while we suspect this person we don't have the evidence or proof yet." "Who cares you can find that out at the trial or by watching CNN or FOX"

Anyone else see the problem with this?

Let's hold off the retoric until we have some information provided by someone else besides a person hired for their ability to talk and look good on television.

America was founded with the idea that someone is innocent until proven guilty. Let's wait for the facts to come out before we make our judgement. Then let's fix what ever was wrong, praise what ever was right and ignore all the yapping from the fanatics.

(fanatic one who either believes A+Bush=evil or A+Bush=good regardless of what A is)
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Sep 3 2005, 12:26 PM)
Passing the buck?  The Mayor of New Orleans had a plan (the development of which was partially funded by FEMA) for evacuation.  A plan HE MADE THE DECISION NOT TO FOLLOW.  Would you suggest that the Federal Government, should have declared martial law and seized control of New Orleans before the storm in order to ensure that the proper actions were taken?
*


Really? Do you have documentation of the plan so we can determine where the mayor goofed up? Let's get a few things straight about the timeline.

- At 5pm on 8/27/2005 Mayor Nagin called for a voluntary evacuation using Greyhound and Amtrak bus service. At the time the storm was a category 4 and predicted only to graze New Orleans - source.

- Also that day (8/27/2005) Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana putting FEMA (and by extension the DHS) into action for aid and coordination of disaster relief efforts - source.

- The mayor didn't know if he could legally order a mandatory evacuation of the city and it would be the first one in the city's history. This was discussed late saturday night - source.

- On Sunday 8/28/2005 the mayor ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city and listed several last resort shelters for those unable to leave - source.

- On Wednesday August 31st Nagin declared Martial Law in the city and LA Gov Kathleen Blanco asked the White House to send more troops - source

- If you want to read more on the mayor's perspective on things I'll again post this interview from CNN.

Now let's stop right there OS, please tell me where the mayor didn't follow this plan you claim exists. The mere fact that he didn't know if he was empowered to order a mandatory evacuation speaks volumes. I also see in there plenty of requests for help and a declaration of martial law. And despite your assertion that I don't know anything about the separation of powers Bush activated FEMA two days before the hurricane hit so they should have been in there helping out, providing advice, coordinating, etc. They may very well have been doing some of that, it is pretty clear they weren't doing it effectively.

QUOTE(overlandsailor)
No One at DHS was responsible for this because they did not have the authority to act other then in an advisory capacity before the storm.

You sure have an odd definition of "primary responsibility". To me primary responsibility means exactly what it suggests. The DHS is responsible for making sure plans are in place, funded, and have been tested. At the time of an emergency it is their job to coordinate a response.

You are also completely wrong, as I cited above Bush activated FEMA two days before the storm so they absolutely had the ability to control the situation from day 1.

QUOTE(overlandsailor)
Who's responsibility was it? Well, perhaps you should consider reviewing the New Orleans Emergency Evacuation Plan that was linked earlier. The plan covers what New Orleans should do in time of emergency like this. A major portion of this plan was NOT followed by local authorities.

I have reviewed the entire topic and I find no such link - what are you referring to?

QUOTE(overlandsailor)
All I see for you Cube Jockey, is an apparent ideologically blind analysis of the situation.

If holding your elected and appointed representatives accountable for their action and inaction, and demanding to know what our tax dollars have been spent on when an agency fails to respond adequately for something explicitly part of their mission is a liberal value then I'm proud to claim it. Aside from that I have no idea what you are talking about.

QUOTE(overlandsailor)
I also noticed that you choose not to respond to the fact that civil defense has ALWAYS been the responsiblity of FEMA. IMHO, that FACT makes the first question in this topic invalid. Yet for some reason, you choose to ignore that. I would certainly be curious to hear a response from you on that matter.

I don't see that, are you sure you didn't mean to respond to this topic?
Dontreadonme
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 3 2005, 05:45 PM)
QUOTE(overlandsailor)
Who's responsibility was it? Well, perhaps you should consider reviewing the New Orleans Emergency Evacuation Plan that was linked earlier. The plan covers what New Orleans should do in time of emergency like this. A major portion of this plan was NOT followed by local authorities.

I have reviewed the entire topic and I find no such link - what are you referring to?

I believe OS may have been referring to the link I posted in the Accountability for New Orleans thread.
The plan calls in part for the following:
QUOTE
The extent and methods of warnings issued will be determined by the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and are based upon the geographic area impacted. When events necessitate the immediate evacuation of threatened individuals, these decisions may be made by the on scene Incident Commander. Decisions affecting larger geographic areas will be made by the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness in conjunction with the Superintendent of Fire and Superintendent of Police.

General evacuations that may result from an approaching hurricane will be ordered by the Mayor of the City, upon the recommendation of the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness. The area affected by the warning may range from blocks and portions of neighborhoods, to the entire city.

Link

I don't believe, based on what I have read, that anyone other than the Mayor of New Orleans, had the authority to order a mandatory evacuation of the city. In fact, DHS isn't mentioned anywhere that I could find in the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

On the whole, I give DHS about a C- for the Katrina effort. The list of things that could have been done better or sooner is long. But Katrina was also an unbelieveable event, and this was truly the first test of this magnatude. I wouldn't expect any other solid, tested organization to perform much better.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Sep 3 2005, 05:45 PM)
Really?  Do you have documentation of the plan so we can determine where the mayor goofed up?  Let's get a few things straight about the timeline.


QUOTE(Cube Jockey)
Now let's stop right there OS, please tell me where the mayor didn't follow this plan you claim exists.


QUOTE(overlandsailor)
Who's responsibility was it? Well, perhaps you should consider reviewing the New Orleans Emergency Evacuation Plan that was linked earlier. The plan covers what New Orleans should do in time of emergency like this. A major portion of this plan was NOT followed by local authorities.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey)
I have reviewed the entire topic and I find no such link - what are you referring to?


QUOTE(overlandsailor)
I also noticed that you choose not to respond to the fact that civil defense has ALWAYS been the responsiblity of FEMA. IMHO, that FACT makes the first question in this topic invalid. Yet for some reason, you choose to ignore that. I would certainly be curious to hear a response from you on that matter.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey)
I don't see that, are you sure you didn't mean to respond to this topic?
*



Thankfully, DTOM provided the link to the plan in question again. I apologize for getting confused. But for whatever reason you choose to start a multitude of topics all seemingly geared at laying the blame of the hurricane and resulting loss of life at the feet of the President and the federal government. It is rather hard to keep straight which rhetoric belongs to which topic when trying to respond to it.

I knew I should have stayed away from these topics. The blind ideology I refer to has NOTHING to do with being Liberal. It is the hatred of the current President that is so intense it causes some to look at everything happening everywhere and finding ways to pin it on President Bush.

I in no way like the man. However, if we are going to determine what went wrong, and how to prevent it in the future we have to look at the entire situation and not limit analysis to one entity and specifically one elected official simply because we do not like him.

I have pointed out several times, that the timeline of the response concerns me (though I am a tad more realistic about it). No, hearing that the President did enact FEMA prior to the storm, and hearing about the confusion of the chain of command and communication failures that all concerns me a great deal. I just choose to be open to all possible answers and do not limit my blame to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey)
The mere fact that he didn't know if he was empowered to order a mandatory evacuation speaks volumes.  I also see in there plenty of requests for help and a declaration of martial law.  And despite your assertion that I don't know anything about the separation of powers Bush activated FEMA two days before the hurricane hit so they should have been in there helping out, providing advice, coordinating, etc.  They may very well have been doing some of that, it is pretty clear they weren't doing it effectively.


Communication problems are a two-way street. I agree that this is an issue that can be the fault of FEMA, but the Mayor is not blameless here. I am waiting for more details and facts, before trying to make a determination of blame in regard to the tragedy as a whole.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey)
You sure have an odd definition of "primary responsibility".  To me primary responsibility means exactly what it suggests.  The DHS is responsible for making sure plans are in place, funded, and have been tested.  At the time of an emergency it is their job to coordinate a response.

You are also completely wrong, as I cited above Bush activated FEMA two days before the storm so they absolutely had the ability to control the situation from day 1.


It is not an odd definition at all. Unless of course, as I said you would like to toss states rights, local control, etc out the window. However, I was not aware of a State of Emergency being declared prior to the storm. If that is the case, then it bares looking into. Not that I ever suggested FEMA was blameless, but it does call into question their role in the mistakes and confusion.

QUOTE(Cube Jockey)
If holding your elected and appointed representatives accountable for their action and inaction, and demanding to know what our tax dollars have been spent on when an agency fails to respond adequately for something explicitly part of their mission is a liberal value then I'm proud to claim it.  Aside from that I have no idea what you are talking about.


But where are your calls for holding the Mayor or the Governor responsible for their issues in this as well. The Mayor DID tell people to goto the stadium and then failed to ensure that they were properly supplied and protected.

Then later, the Mayor DID choose to allow tourists who were riding the storm out at the Hyatt to cut the evacuation line in front of those who had survived the dehydration, murders, assaults, and rapes of his proposed "shelter".

Why is he not responsible for anything here? He KNEW those people were without supplies and security and yet did nothing.
NiteGuy
QUOTE(nemov @ Sep 2 2005, 06:32 AM)
There seems to be a lot of armchair quarterbacking going on with this disaster.  I am not exactly sure what kind of expectation exists to completely evacuate an entire city in a flood after an area has been ravaged by a hurricane.  Evidently, Americans that have never experienced a hurricane thought supplies would start coming to New Orleans the day after the hurricane.

Well, gee, maybe they thought that's what would happen, because it's happened before? After many other hurricanes (of an admittedly lesser nature), supplies, equipment and people have started arriving the day after a hurricane has passed. Additionally, Amlord stated that personnel and supplies were supposedly in place and ready to go last friday, three days before the storm hit. That was something I hadn't seen before, so maybe he could provide a link. In any case, if supplies were ready to go on Friday, why did it take until the next thursday or Friday to begin distributing them?

QUOTE
I think part of the hysteria (outside of the disaster zone) going on is being caused by the idiotic news coverage.  I am not sure who the woman is that was hosting for Abrams last night on MSNBC but she said “children are literally starving to death.”  The woman deserves to lose her job after saying something like that.  Have journalists lost perspective?
Well, considering that there have been numerous reports of babies and older people "literally" dying of dehydration or lack of food and medicine, what exactly should she be fired for? Telling the truth? There were two different reporters - one on CNN, one on FOX, who have both reported having people die of illness and or dehydration/starvation right in front of them. Should they be fired too? If it's happening, Ace, it's not a matter of "losing perspective", it's called telling the unvarnished truth.

QUOTE
3.  Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?

This is a bit ambiguous.  I am confident Americans are capable or rising to any challenged faced.  The Department of Homeland Security is basically in its infancy and it do the job.

What's exactly ambiguous about it? Either they can come up with, and impliment a plan after four years of thinking about it, or they can't. I say it's time for some new leadership in DHS. Someone maybe with some actual experience in disaster preparedness and national safety concerns, and not another political crony.

Cube Jockey
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Sep 3 2005, 04:38 PM)
Thankfully, DTOM provided the link to the plan in question again.  I apologize for getting confused.  But for whatever reason you choose to start a multitude of topics all seemingly geared at laying the blame of the hurricane and resulting loss of life at the feet of the President and the federal government.  It is rather hard to keep straight which rhetoric belongs to which topic when trying to respond to it.
*


Since when is two topics a multitude of topics? I also think they are pretty darn clear. The one in current events and headline news has to do with policy decisions that could have minimized the damage and this one has to do with the response to the tragedy which the DHS is primarily responsible for. I really have a hard time seeing how that is confusing.

QUOTE(overlandsailor)
I knew I should have stayed away from these topics. The blind ideology I refer to has NOTHING to do with being Liberal. It is the hatred of the current President that is so intense it causes some to look at everything happening everywhere and finding ways to pin it on President Bush.

This topic is about the department of homeland security, what on earth does that have to do with Bush? I believe it was pretty close to unanimous agreement when that department was formed from both political parties.

QUOTE(overlandsailor)
But where are your calls for holding the Mayor or the Governor responsible for their issues in this as well. The Mayor DID tell people to goto the stadium and then failed to ensure that they were properly supplied and protected.

Then later, the Mayor DID choose to allow tourists who were riding the storm out at the Hyatt to cut the evacuation line in front of those who had survived the dehydration, murders, assaults, and rapes of his proposed "shelter".

Why is he not responsible for anything here? He KNEW those people were without supplies and security and yet did nothing.

Valid arguments OS but I still don't really know why you are trying to pin the lack of presentation here on me. If you want to present them that is fine. My position has been and will continue to be (unless new information is brought to light) that the DHS holds primary responsibility for not only ensuring that disaster plans are in place but that cities and states are prepared and assisting with communication and coordination during a time of crisis. That is why they were created. Your initial claim was that they didn't have jurisdiction for the coordination part of it and I have proved you wrong by showing you that FEMA was activated 2 days before the storm.

This has absolutely nothing to do with state's rights. During times when no disaster was in progress during the past 4 years the DHS, according to their mission, should have been working with state and local governments to assess threats and plan for them. That includes New Orleans preparing for a severe hurricane.
rebel73
Questions for debate:
1. During a moment of real and severe crisis has the Department of Homeland Security proved that it is ineffective and unprepared to deal with a national crisis? Why or why not?
Yes it was proven as such. Given 4 years since 9/11 and all the rhetoric, restructuring, rebudgeting, etc. during that time there definitely should be a response team and response plan that can go into action within a very few hours ...especially in a natural disaster such as this, which can be quite accurately predicted days in advance.

2. Considering the National Weather Service stated the severity of the aftermath on Sunday before the hurricane hit, is the response 5 days later acceptable? Why or why not?
Absolutely not. What would the situation be without advance warning...such as a severe earthquake of terrorist attack? WEEKS?

3. Given the performance demonstrated so far do you have confidence that the Department of Homeland Security is equipped to deal with a terrorist threat?
Absolutely no confidence.

4. If you believe there is a problem, what should be done to fix the problem?

Thge Dept. of Homeland Security needs to carefully re-evaluated and the head of FEMA should be fired and replaced with a person who has appropriate training and experience. Also, voters should remember all the arrogance and ineptitude of the current administration during future elections....Bush may not be a ble to run again, but his cronies can. us.gif wacko.gif

Cube Jockey
I linked the National Response Plan in the opening post and posted the high level objectives. I thought it might be worth going over some specific things within the plan to clear up where responsibility lies.

On August 26, 2005 President Bush declared State of Emergency in Lousiana and did the same in Mississippi a day later.

From page 43 of the NRP:
QUOTE
The NRP establishes policies, procedures, and mechanisms for proactive Federal response to catastrophic events. A catastrophic event is any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions. A catastrophic event could result in sustained national impacts over a prolonged period of time; almost immediately exceeds resources normally available to State, local, tribal, and\ private-sector authorities in the impacted area; and significantly interrupts governmental operations and emergency services to such an extent that national security could be threatened. All catastrophic events are Incidents of National Significance.


That desigantion is important because the NRP defines an incident of national significance as (page 67):
QUOTE
Incident of National Significance. Based on criteria established in HSPD-5 (paragraph 4), an actual or potential high-impact event that requires a coordinated and effective response by and appropriate combination of Federal, State, local, tribal, nongovernmental, and/or private-sector entities in order to save lives and minimize damage, and provide the basis for long-term community recovery and mitigation activities.


Page 15 of the NRP reads:
QUOTE
A basic premise of the NRP is that incidents are generally handled at the lowest jurisdictional level possible.

In an Incident of National Significance, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with other Federal departments and agencies, initiates actions to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the incident. These actions are taken in conjunction with State, local, tribal, nongovernmental, and private-sector entities.

In other words the plan clearly recognizes that things should generally be handled by the lowest level possible except in cases of an Incident of National Significance.

Also pg page 15:
QUOTE
The President leads the Nation in responding effectively and ensuring the necessary resources are applied quickly and efficiently to all Incidents of National Significance.

The president has primary responsibility for leading the nation during an Incident of National Significance.

On page 44:
QUOTE
Standard procedures regarding requests for assistance may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances, suspended in the immediate aftermath of an event of catastrophic magnitude.

All this talk about waiting for formal requests and such from the state and local authorities is complete bunk and the NRP even says so. The federal government doesn't need it in an Incident of National Significance.

This whole thing is quite a document and it would be great if we actually followed it. This is the document that the DHS in conjunction with other agencies has put together it is their bible and their law. The document makes them responsible.
Hobbes
QUOTE
This whole thing is quite a document and it would be great if we actually followed it.  This is the document that the DHS in conjunction with other agencies has put together it is their bible and their law.  The document makes them responsible.


No, it doesn't, which further reading of the same document would indicate.

QUOTE
Emphasis on Local Response

All incidents are handled at the lowest possible organizational and jurisdictional level. Police, fire, public health and medical, emergency management, and other personnel are responsible for incident management at the local level. For those events that rise to the level of an Incident of National Significance, the Department of Homeland Security provides operational and/or resource coordination for Federal support to on-scene incident command structures.


It seemed quite obvious that there were no on-scene incident command structures. This is what caused the delay. The NRP clearly places the responsibility for this at the local level. I suspect that one of the things that will come out of this is an improved plan for providing that, whether it is left to local officials or taken over by federal agencies. The finger pointing here could go on forever, with no real conclusion. Does it really take action from FEMA or DHSC to take some friggin' water to evacuees on the bridge or over to the convention center or the Superdome? I doubt it. Why didn't they, then? Because they were overwhelmed. The scope of this disaster seems to get short shrift in this discussion. 9-11 only took out an area of a few blocks. The city itself still had power, communications, and the affected area was easily accessible. This disaster was FAR greater in scope than that. That overwhelmed the initial response systems. When the initial response systems are overwhelmed, there will be delays in initial response. That is what needs to be corrected.

QUOTE
This has absolutely nothing to do with state's rights. During times when no disaster was in progress during the past 4 years the DHS, according to their mission, should have been working with state and local governments to assess threats and plan for them. That includes New Orleans preparing for a severe hurricane.


Hurray! Something we can agree on! As I have stated elsewhere, we as a nation are horribly unprepared for a real catastrophe. This is as much a problem with us as individuals as it is with all levels of government. We are much more focused on day-to-day issues that we are with long-term disaster preparedness. That is something we need to correct. How many people in New Orleans do you think were even aware of the evacuation plan (not the order itself, but the actual plan?). I wager a handful, at most, all in government. How many times do you think the plan was ever gone through in an exercise? None, I'll bet. This is what I am talking about when I say that disaster preparedness and response needs to be given a much higher level of priority, at all levels.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Hobbes @ Sep 5 2005, 11:22 PM)
The scope of this disaster seems to get short shrift in this discussion.  9-11 only took out an area of a few blocks.  The city itself still had power, communications, and the affected area was easily accessible.  This disaster was FAR greater in scope than that. 
*


No it doesn't Hobbes, that is exactly my point. What is the biggest thing we are afraid of in regards to terrorism? It isn't some amateur setting off a bomb in a backpack it is a coordinated attack that involves biologicals or nuclear weapons. I'd say that the scope of that is roughly equivalent or greater than this.

It is that doomsday scenario this department was created to respond to and they have proven that they aren't up to the task.

Furthermore, even under the best of circumstances NY is going to be far better equipped to deal with anything due to the sheer number of skilled people there, the amount of equipment, the communications infrastructure and the amount of money they get. The rest of the country will probably fare a lot like New Orleans when put to the test.

QUOTE(Hobbes)
It seemed quite obvious that there were no on-scene incident command structures. This is what caused the delay. The NRP clearly places the responsibility for this at the local level. I suspect that one of the things that will come out of this is an improved plan for providing that, whether it is left to local officials or taken over by federal agencies.

Well first of all I disagree with you, the local and state levels were responding to the best of their abilities, it just wasn't enough. Further, the federal agencies should have been mobilized days before they were and someone should have come in to take charge. But even if I did agree with you, it is still (per this document) the responsibility of the DHS to make sure that local governments have on-scene incident command structures as part of their preparedness role.

QUOTE(Hobbes)
How many times do you think the plan was ever gone through in an exercise? None, I'll bet. This is what I am talking about when I say that disaster preparedness and response needs to be given a much higher level of priority, at all levels.

You are probably right, which leaves me wondering again what our billions of dollars are paying for and what these 183,000 people are doing.
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