Guest Blog: New Orleans Rescue . . ."Where Was the Plan?"



Katrina, August 29

Winds at 160mph

While I’m sitting through panels at the APSA convention, my Brilliant Brother has some thoughts on New Orleans with which I concur heartily.

* * *

We’ve all been shocked by the events unfolding this week along the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, but the situation in New Orleans has been particularly horrifying. TV crews have repeatedly focused on the messes in the Superdome, convention center, and area hospitals. Images of people screaming for help, many elderly, or holding babies in obvious distress along with stories of no food or water and no sanitary facilities have just boggled our minds.

Could this really be happening right here in the United States?

Along with these news stories has been blame and recriminations pointed particularly at the federal government for a perceived lack of response to the disaster.

The question that hasn’t been adequately addressed however, is: “Where was the plan?”

It is clear that this disaster was not unanticipated. The potential for rampant flooding in New Orleans as a result of a major hurricane was apparently well understood. With that knowledge, the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana should have had a clear plan for trying to cope with the aftermath of this catastrophe. That plan should have anticipated that all the infrastructure including water, phone, electricity, and sewer would be disrupted throughout much of the city including the Superdome and convention center.


Ray Nagin

Mayor, New Orleans

The mayor of New Orleans has repeatedly called (and yelled and whined) for aid, but where was the plan and the leadership implementing the plan that should have been in place? The responsibility for the initial response to this disaster should have been at the local level NOT at the federal level.

A favorite cartoon of mine shows someone at a blackboard deriving a bunch of hairy equations. In the midst of the complex math, right at a critical point in the derivation, there is a blank area with just the text “then a miracle occurs.”

A wise professor looking on, points at the “then a miracle occurs” section and says: “I think you need a little more work here.”

Apparently, somewhere in the middle of the New Orleans disaster plan there was a blank area where someone just wrote in “then a miracle occurs” — or the equivalent “then FEMA steps in and bails us out” — and no one spoke up and said “I think we need a little more work here.”

That’s not the way to make a plan.

* * *


Pundit Guy gives us this picture: 205 New Orleans buses, under the command — or not, as the case may be — of one Ray Nagin. Via Ace who asks “Bush’s Fault?”

Greyhawk at Mudville has details on New Orleans’ actual disaster plan. “Then a miracle occurs” is about right. By the way, the document begins: “Under the direction of the Mayor. . .”


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4 Responses

  1. Guest Blog: New Orleans Rescue . . .”Where W…

    Guest Blog: New Orleans Rescue . . .”Where W…

  2. Eric Jaffa says:

    Federal govt kept out drinking water delivery.

    ThinkProgress has the transcript of Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard’s appearance on Meet the Press this morning. C&L has the video. The poor man broke down on camera, and who can blame him? Alligators feast on bloated corpses in the streets where so many revelers have enjoyed cocktails during Mardi Gras. A beautiful, romantic, mysterious, utterly unique American city has been drowned and is now ruled by armed junkies. And the federal government continues to lie and obfuscate and try to apportion blame while the world watches OUR AMERICAN CITIZENS die on camera.

    (Aaron Broussard said:)

    “We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. … Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.

    We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. This was a week ago. FEMA, we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. When we got there with our trucks, FEMA says don’t give you the fuel. Yesterday — yesterday — FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards and said no one is getting near these lines…

    I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” and he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you.” Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us. The Secretary has promised. Everybody’s promised. They’ve had press conferences. I’m sick of the press conferences. ”


    No one in the Bush Administration will be held accountable for these failures.

    If Bush locates the person who stopped a delivery of drinking water, he would sooner give him a medal like he did George Tenet than hold him accountable.

  3. File under ‘You have GOT to be kidding me’

    I’m reading Katrina headlines from around the net and it’s rather amazing that any of the finger-pointing displayed would even merit somebody’s time. Folks, we’re in the middle of a disaster that will have profound cultural and economic implications fo…

  4. Jack Yoest says:

    Y2K and The Management of Hurricane Katrina’s Aftermath

    Leadership is setting the strategic direction; Management is getting things done. Katrina’s havoc shows us that government bureaucracies do not perform well in large scale emergencies where people are dying. From Reasoned Audacity,Pundit Guy gives us t…

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