Skip to comments.Louisiana Democrat Governor Kathleen Blanco Blamed for Slow Removal of Bodies
Posted on 10/27/2005 6:24:47 PM PDT by Libloather
La. Gov. Blamed for Slow Removal of Bodies
By LARA JAKES JORDAN
Associated Press Writer
Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, left, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, background center, and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco leave a meeting where they addressed the immediate, post-hurricane priorities for the New Orleans hospitality industry, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2005, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Cheryl Gerber)
WASHINGTON Bodies of people killed by Hurricane Katrina went uncollected for more than a week in the New Orleans area as the federal government waited for Louisiana's governor to decide what to do with them, according to memos released Thursday by a Republican-led House committee.
The 38 pages of e-mail between FEMA representatives and Pentagon officials contradict the contention by Louisiana's Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco, two weeks after Katrina hit on Aug. 29, that the federal government was moving too slowly to recover the bodies.
They also underscore ongoing political tensions between the Republican Bush administration and Democratic state and local officials over the botched response to Katrina, which killed more than 1,000 people in Louisiana. They were released by a House panel that many Democrats have shunned, chaired by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., that is investigating the government's sluggish preparations and reaction to the storm.
The memos indicate that morgues were not ready to receive bodies until Sept. 7 two days after the first memo complaining about Blanco's inaction, and nine days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast.
"Number 1 issue is body collection," Army Col. John J. Jordan, the military assistant to former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, wrote in a Sept. 5 e-mail to various Pentagon officials.
"This issue must be addressed, and frankly, there is operations paralysis at this point," Jordan wrote. "FEMA is pushing state to see what they want to do, and indications are that governor is involved in some of the decisions," especially regarding burial.
"Believe organized collection must begin today once morgue is operational or it will become evident to media that plan for collection is not in place," Jordan wrote in the e-mail, which was sent to Brown and Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, the military coordinator for the disaster.
But the morgue did not open until two days later, according to the Sept. 7 e-mail from Jordan.
"First morgue site is fully operational," Jordan wrote to the Pentagon officials. "...Believe media and family member interest will continue to cause security concerns."
Nearly a week later, on Sept. 13, Blanco lashed out at the federal government, accusing it of moving too slowly in recovering the bodies and saying it was disrespectful to wait so long.
Blanco spokesman Bob Mann said Thursday it was FEMA's responsibility for removing bodies, which was delayed because the agency failed to sign a contract with Houston-based Kenyon International Emergency Services to do so.
Blanco "was almost literally jumping up and down and screaming about FEMA's failure to execute the contract with Kenyon," Mann said. "There were few things during that period that were more important and more urgent to the governor than doing something about this body removal. It was important to her that these people be treated with dignity, that these bodies not be allowed to lay out in the street."
"Yes, there was paralysis, but it was on the part of FEMA," Mann said.
Kenyon International's president Robert Jensen said in a telephone interview Thursday night that it was his company's decision not to sign a contract with FEMA. He declined to give reasons, other than to say that money was not the issue. Kenyon later accepted a contract with the state.
Officials have said they were more focused on rescuing Katrina's survivors immediately after the storm hit than in picking up bodies.
"For that first week following the storm ... all efforts were focused almost exclusively on rescuing the victims who were still alive," said Bob Johannesen, a spokesman for Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals.
Davis spokesman David Marin said the issue "offers further evidence that state and local officials were utterly overwhelmed."
Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the federal government must be better prepared to quickly step in disasters of Katrina's size.
"Finger pointing does not provide answers to grieving relatives," said Thompson, D-Miss.
The memos describe what federal officials called a decision by Blanco to not enforce a mandatory evacuation order in New Orleans. They also note that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin "is not prohibiting residents from returning."
"Since FEMA did not anticipate reversal of decision for mandatory evacuation, crisis-action planning is now underway to provide this support," Jordan wrote in the Sept. 5 e-mail.
Mann said more than 1 million people evacuated New Orleans by the eve of Katrina's arrival, and that Blanco encouraged people to lave town through a major public information effort.
Forcibly removing people or threatening arrest for those who chose to stay behind were not realistic options, Mann said. "I don't know how you enforce a mandatory evacuation order," he said.
Associated Press Writer Kevin McGill in New Orleans contributed to this report.
October 27, 2005 - 4:23 p.m. PDT
Whoa! Halloween witch pictures need to come with a warning.
Blanco is blamed for the slow removal of bidies? That's it? What about criminal neglect, gross maleficence, incompetence, failure to properly exercise her responsibility as Governor, manslaughter, stupidity, ignorance..... to name a few??
You gotta admit, Sheenan has mastered that 'mopey dopey' face!
Governor Blanco is sickening and useless as all Democrats are, but the real guilty folks are the voters of Louisiana that elected her and have not removed her from office. They deserve what they get!!!
Relax. The recriminations and findings of negligence against Blanco and Nagin are just beginning.
Bingo! You nailed it. I was thinking the same thing. Can't these morons get their collective heads out of their a$$es and THINK. OTOH, I guess that is why they are so friggin depressed, and fugly.
Why you lying puke, that's all the democrats did and your claims were false.
I agree but we have to pay for their mistakes. Talk about voting their way into my pocket!
That's Louisiana. I'm not expecting anything to happen. As a matter of fact, this is America, Democrats can get away with murder....with the help of many Republicans.
[music cue: "Three Blind Mice" (the Three Stooges theme)]
If any of my senators or congressman sends one cent to Louisiana, they will lose my vote. My feeling is, if you voted for that idiot, you deserve to live with her mistakes. Let the voters of Louisiana pay for their great choice out of their own pockets. Let the Feds pay for roads, airports, levees, etc., but not one cent to help the Democrat Party that has destroyed southeast Louisana. The citizens and voters of Louisiana should be ashamed of themselves.
She must be tuckered out after all of her EXPRESS evacuation and cleanup efforts...
When this boob was elected did anyone tell her the job comes with be responsible? Did she not get a copy of "Governing for Dummies"? I really try to care about the people there but they keep voting for these idiots....
So Blanco let the bodies rot for more than a week and then went ballistic because FEMA didn't sign with Kenyon.
Kenyon refused to sign with FEMA, but signed with Blanco.
Clearly it wasn't the corpses Blanco was worried about, or she wouldn't have waited so long.
Clearly she wanted Kenyon to have the contract, otherwise she wouldn't have hit the ceiling when FEMA didn't sign and wouldn't have made the deal with Kenyon herself if not.
Clearly Blanco wanted Kenyon to sign with FEMA, or else she wouldn't have waited.
Clearly Kenyon did not want to sign with FEMA and refuses to talk about it.
We already have a good idea of how Kenyon does business, from the lawsuits that they settled for dumping corpses in the woods where animals ate them instead of burying them as the company was paid to do.
Something is obviously very wrong here, but just as obviously, we are missing a key piece or key pieces of the puzzle.
Stay tuned, Blanco's too dumb to get away with covering up the truth for very long, and I have a feeling that the rest of this story is going to be a whopper.
She only got in by about 5% and that was more than likely from democrat vote fraud in NOLA. If Jindal had won it would not have been the fiasco you saw.
In a perfect republic, you would be correct. However, in our "activist" democracy, we are being "gamed" by the politicians in NO and LA. The people vote for the politicians who can get them someting for nothing and yet, with the able efforts of the MSM scream racism, George Bush's fault, the rich, etc. when they fail to get what they want. In the end, they complain they don't get enough. What a country!!