Wade's World

Just leave it where Jesus flang it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Blame Vane

In the aftermath of Katrina, as was probably expected by many, finger-pointing continues unabated and seemingly without much hinderance from reality. For example, while it may have been prudent for President Bush to have returned to Washington much earlier, not to mention symbolically powerful, the logistics of the relief effort are no better coordinated from D.C. than they are from Crawford, TX or San Diego, CA. In the same vein, even though Gov. Blanco inspires something significantly less than confidence based upon her efforts thusfar, and despite Mayor Nagin's "Kate Hale Moment", how much preparation could there possibly have been for a once in several lifetimes event?

My own view is that (a) at least some of the more nefarious element has hampered what ever preparations and plans were in place to the point that mass evacuation became impossible, and (b) the Mayor and, more importantly, the Governor were terribly slow to put any sort of plan in place. The federal response thusfar appears to be lightning quick when compared to previous natural disasters, according to this commentor at Donald Sensing's site:

Disclosure: I’m a volunteer coordinator for MEMA (The Missouri Emergency Management Agency), I’ve been through three major floods and a few big storms that generated enough tornado damage to get the affected counties disaster relief – believe me when I tell you what we are seeing from FEMA now is lightyears ahead of what I’ve seen from them in the past. Typically it took two to three days just to get the disaster declaration, then another two to three to get FEMA deployed – of course by then the local guys had been on the ground working around the clock for five or six days and we were more than happy to dump everything in FEMA’s lap. That’s the way the system is designed. Bush saw that and tried to skip a few steps to speed things up, he pre-declared the areas disaster areas.
Moreover, the feds simply don't have the power to just start sending troops into a disaster area. The State has to request such help first. Gov. Blanco made the requisite request for Pres. Bush to declare a state of emergency for Louisiana on Saturday, August 27, 2005, but no military or federal law enforcement supports were requested:

Estimated requirements for other Federal agency programs:
• Department of Social Services (DSS): Opening (3) Special Need Shelters (SNS) and establishing (3) on Standby. Costs estimated at $500,000 per week for each in operation.
• Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH): Opening (3) Shelters and establishing (3) on Standby. Costs estimated at $500,000 per week for each in operation.
• Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP): Providing generators and support staff for SNS and Public Shelters. Costs estimated to range from $250,000-$500,000 to support (6) Shelter generator operations.
• Louisiana State Police (LSP): Costs to support evacuations - $300,000 for a non-direct landfall.
• Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (WLF): Costs to support evacuations - $200,000 for a non-direct landfall.
• Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD): Costs to support evacuations - $2,000,000 for a non-direct landfall.

Totals: $ 9,000,000

Estimated Requirements for assistance under the Stafford Act:

Coordination: $0
Technical and advisory assistance: $0
Debris removal: $0
Emergency protective measures: $ 9,000,000
Individuals and Households Program (IHP): $0
Distribution of emergency supplies: $0
Other (specify): $0

Totals: $ 9,000,000
Grand Total: $ 9,000,000

So, while it is tempting to blame the deepest, most visible pockets here, I'm not so sure that's very accurate.

Further to what I've written above, Bruce McQuain provides an excellent roundup of the various places where blame my properly lie.


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