Skip to comments.FEMA is not a first responder - Don't be so quick to pillory the federal response in New Orleans
Posted on 09/06/2005 5:35:09 AM PDT by pittsburgh gop guy
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
As one who has received training by FEMA in emergency management and also training by the Department of Defense in consequence management, I believe that the federal response in New Orleans needs clarification.
|Craig Martelle, retired as a major in the U.S. Marine Corps, lives in North Huntingdon. He recently launched the Strategic Outlook Institute, a public-policy organization.|
The key to emergency management starts at the local level and expands to the state level. Emergency planning generally does not include any federal guarantees, as there can only be limited ones from the federal level for any local plan. FEMA provides free training, education, assistance and respond in case of an emergency, but the local and state officials run their own emergency management program.
Prior development of an emergency plan, addressing all foreseeable contingencies, is the absolute requirement of the local government --and then they share that plan with the state emergency managers to ensure that the state authorities can provide necessary assets not available at the local level. Additionally, good planning will include applicable elements of the federal government (those located in the local area). These processes are well established, but are contingent upon the personal drive of both hired and elected officials at the local level.
I've reviewed the New Orleans emergency management plan. Here is an important section in the first paragraph.
"We coordinate all city departments and allied state and federal agencies which respond to citywide disasters and emergencies through the development and constant updating of an integrated multi-hazard plan. All requests for federal disaster assistance and federal funding subsequent to disaster declarations are also made through this office. Our authority is defined by the Louisiana Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993, Chapter 6 Section 709, Paragraph B, 'Each parish shall maintain a Disaster Agency which, except as otherwise provided under this act, has jurisdiction over and serves the entire parish.' "
|Phil Coale, Associated Press
Flooded school buses in a lot, New Orleans, Sept. 1.
Click photo for larger image.
Check the plan -- the "we" in this case is the office of the mayor, Ray Nagin who was very quick and vocal about blaming everyone but his own office. A telling picture, at left, taken by The Associated Press on Sept. 1 and widely circulated on the Internet shows a school bus park, apparently filled to capacity with buses, under about four feet of water. If a mandatory evacuation was ordered, why weren't all the taxpayer-purchased buses used in the effort?
Who could have predicted the anarchy resulting as a consequence? The individuals who devolved into lawless animals embarrass the entirety of America. (I worked in a U.S. Embassy overseas for a couple years and I can imagine what foreign diplomats are thinking.) What societal factors would ever lead people to believe that this behavior was even remotely acceptable?
The folks in New Orleans who are perpetrating the violence and lawlessness are not that way because of low income or of race, but because they personally do not have any honor or commitment to higher ideals. The civil-rights leaders should be ashamed at playing the blame game.
The blame is on the individuals. The blame is on the society that allowed these individuals to develop the ideal that the individual is greater than the national pride he is destroying. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was very clear in her comments that she was offended at those who suggested the suffering in New Orleans was prolonged because of race.
As a retired Marine, I hang my head in shame to see my fellow Americans degenerate so far. I spent so many years in the Corps helping the citizens of other countries rise to a higher level of personal responsibility to ensure that in case of emergency, anarchy did not necessarily follow. When people are held to a higher standard of personal responsibility and they accept that, then they will do the right thing when the time comes.
It seems that the mayor of New Orleans is leading the effort in not taking responsibility for his actions. The emergency managers for the state of Louisiana do not have much to say either. The failure in the first 48 hours to provide direction for survivors is theirs to live with. When FEMA was able to take over, it started out behind and had to develop its plan on the fly. Now the federal government has established priorities -- rescue the stranded, evacuate the city, flow in resources and fix the levee. It appears that now there is a plan and it is being systematically executed.
Hurricane Katrina was a national tragedy -- not just in the number of lives lost or the amount of physical damage, but also in the failure of people to do what is right when no one is looking.
Well, probably not in this circumstance, but in general, it is possible and desireable to have the Feds assert their superior authority in some cases.
It's happened before, when governors flouted Federal court orders.
I agree that the relationship, red tape and other aspects need to be looked at. I am not hopeful that a review will produce results in the next disaster. Politicians act in self interest, and bureacrats act in self interest - with both holding that principle above the interests of their constituents.
The truth is like a flood, it may start coming out as a trickle, but eventually the level rises to where it cannot be ignored. I believe the deluge is imminent.
In the next election, we should elect a dictator. Then we won't have to be bogged down by an ineffective president who honors state's rights, federal laws, etc. The feds can step in ahead of all hurricanes, and arrest everyone in the predicted landfall area. We'll need permanent posts set up around the country for disasters that come with no warning. Any other suggestions?
Yep. She said tha Nagin had the busses roaming neighborhoods and evacuating people. She didn't say to where (destination - ThunderDome).
You said: To paraphrase LTGEN Honore, "Let's not get stuck on Stupid." You can quote all the legalisms, reuglations, annexes, you want, but that doesn't save lives. Eventually, commonsense has to take over. This is the greatest natural disaster ever to hit this country. The hell with process and the rules. Address the needs of the victims, tend to the paperwork later.
What would you have thought if FEMA didn't act, and Bush didn't give the order, but Honore had simply taken the initiative on his own to go to NOLA and act? That is analogous to what you are saying FEMA should have done. And don't forget, this is something that could and should have been EASILY resolved. Bush asked Blanco for the authority and she declined.
The governor was insisting that they used buses to pick people up and help them evacuate.
It was bizarre!
So we should continue becoming more and more dependent on the federal government to make all of our decisions for us because the federal government already makes some of our decisions for us?
That sounds like Blanco blaming the federal government for not coming in 24 hours before the 24 hours she demanded to decide whether the federal government should come in.
Elect a dictator? I guess that gives him legitimacy. What I am talking about is taking executive action (cutting through the red tape) during the greatest natural disaster ever to hit this country. In a crisis of this proportion, you want action not someone spouting states rights and rules, etc. as an excuse for why something is not being done to save people's lives.
We've got aerial photos galore of the parked, flooded NO city and school buses. She's completely lost it. Sanity, scruples.....completely gone.
Saddam did after every referendum. How do you think he would have responded to a major natural catastrophe (that he didn't cause)? Would the trains and buses have run on time?
Rush is on - making the point you just did - wait for a Hellary solution "MORE BIGGER GOMINT"
We are a nation of almost 300 million. When a Katrina strikes or some other natural or man-made disaster of similar magnitude strikes, only the federal government (including the military) has the resources to respond. That is not going to change. Allowing the incompetency of Blanco and Nagin to cost lives in the interest of local automomy is not an acceptable response.
OK, so where are the evacuees who were bussed from the city before the storm hit?
You don't "elect" a dictator repeatedly. Those aren't real elections unless you want to change the meaning of the word.
only the federal government (including the military) has the resources to respond.
I believe you mean "ONLY THE MILITARY" has the resources to respond....
How many trucks, planes and buses does the Department of Transportation have? How many battalions does the Department of the Interior have?
What "something" are you claiming is not being done? A hell of lot is being done, just not by you.
Okay, but it would be nice if PRESIDENT BUSH was given the opportunity to finish the term he was duly elected to serve.
As you have already been told, if PRESIDENT BUSH had done as you suggest, there would exist, for the first time, legitimate grounds for impeachment.
If PRESIDENT BUSH sneezes, our "friends" from across the aisle, want to impeach him for spreading germs and endangering millions.
I understand your frustration, however, something you will not hear often, it is ...
NOT PRESIDENT BUSH'S FAULT!!!
If, if, if. Let's deal with the actual situation. Generally, the federal response has been magnificent. However, they were a day late and a dollar short in their initial response to the conditions in NO. It is something that should not be replicated in the next disaster.
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