Sunday, September 04, 2005

Questions

Before rational people, as opposed to the news media, for example, start assigning blame for the response to Hurricane Katrina, here are a few questions that need to be answered:

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin postponed ordering a mandatory evacuation until August 28th. Why? And why did he require this chiding from the Governor?

Nagin said he may call for the first-ever mandatory evacuation in city history after talking with the head of the National Hurricane Center who said a storm surge of 20-25 feet could be expected with major hurricane Katrina.

Nagin said he would consider ordering evacuations by Sunday morning and may employ buses and trains to help get people out of the city.

In an interview on Eyewitness News, Nagin said his Saturday night dinner was interrupted by an urgent call from Governor Kathleen Blanco who asked Nagin to call the National Hurricane Center.



From the looks of this picture, Nagin did not, in fact, deploy buses to evacuate the city. Why not?



The National Hurricane Center issued this nearly apocalyptic warning a day before Katrina made landfall. To what degree was it heeded and, based upon the warning, why was the initial response so inadequate?

Hurricane Katrina is a most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength, rivaling the intensity of hurricane Camille in 1969. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer. 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. All wood framed low rising apartment buildings will be destroyed. Concrete block low rise apartments will sustain major damage. High rise office buildings will sway dangerously, a few to the point of total collapse. Airborne debris will be widespread and may include heavy items such as household appliances and even light vehicles. Power outages will last for weeks. Water shortages will make human suffering incredible by modern standards. The vast majority of native trees will be snapped or uprooted. Livestock left exposed to the winds will be killed.

As part of on-going operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, up to a quarter of the troops currently stationed in the Southwest Asia are National Guard troops. To what degree did the Pentagon consider how this would impact deployment of Guard troops during a natural disaster?

What qualifications did Mike Brown have to be named head of FEMA? From what I have seen his resume is rather lacking in emergency response experience.

Will the Congress consider making the Director of FEMA a "non-political" appointee, like a Federal Reserve Governor? (By "non-political" I mean not subject to replacement with a new presidential administration.)

The Bush Administration has been accused of cutting funding for levee repairs in Louisiana. Is this true? Was it a executive decision or a legislative one? If it passed through Congress, was the decision part of an omnibus bill?

Louisiana has a rather unfortunate, and deserved, reputation for political corruption; did this in any way have an impact on the funding previous to the disaster and the response subsequent to it?

The devastation on the Gulf Coast was so severe and widespread was a coordinated, multi-agency response even possible?

In light of the fact that the Crescent City is built below sea level, surrounded by water, and subject to the type of storm it just experienced, what will be done to prevent such a disaster from happening again? Will there be flood control provisions tied to the billions of dollars in disaster aid provided by taxpayers through the government?

More questions will undoubtedly arise in the coming days, but this might be a good start.

UPDATE: (Thank you, Drudge)

The Times-Picayune called for every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be fired. In an open letter to President Bush, the paper said: "Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame."

But the newspaper published a story on July 24, 2005 stating: City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give a historically blunt message: "In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own." Staff writer Bruce Nolan reported some 7 weeks before Katrina: "In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm's way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation."

It is fast approacing the time Mayor Nagin shut his yap and start accepting some responsibility.

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