Reader David Terron– AKA dave the mad jock (NOT David T)— offers a different take on the Bush administration’s response to Katrina:
Think of an area the size of Great Britain devastated by a natural disaster. Add a federal system of government that guards state rights and limits the ability of the federal government and the joint military to intervene. Add the fact that most of the state administration is from a different political party to the federal administration and they treat each other accordingly; with suspicion and in some cases hostility. Into the whole horrible mix throw a media intent on apportioning blame in one direction only– towards the federal administration, a populace who are needing help but stuck in a place where is it difficult to get aid in because the roads and bridges that are left cannot bear the weight of most big trucks and therefore needs the aid to be offloaded onto smaller trucks or helicopters (who cannot land in many places either due to the built up area).
President Bush appealed directly by phone to the state governor to evacuate New Orleans before the hurricane hit and it was not until he did that things got moving. Bush did something unprecedented with this disaster in declaring a Federal State of Emergency in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana before Katrina even landed. But President Bush does not have the power to order a US city to evacuate unless he declares martial law for every single state in the United States.
The state government failed in many ways to plan and then implement a plan resulting in hundreds of buses becoming flooded and large groups of people becoming cut off as they remained behind despite being told to leave.
I saw a lot of ambulances, police cars, and fire equipment flooded in the Katrina footage. It will be interesting to see what the New Orleans preplanning was, since their director of emergency response is all over the TV blaming Bush.
It’s up to local and state people to tell the feds what they need and to run the emergency command centers, not just throw their arms up in the air and start blaming everyone else.
The media and some opposition politicians claim that funding was cut to protective walls but forget to mention these cuts were made by the previous administration lead by President Clinton. The Corps of Engineers say that there were no cuts and that in any event all their walls were suitable for a Cat 3 storm not a once in a lifetime Cat 5 like Katrina was. The main failure occurred at an upgraded section.
President Clinton himself has gone on TV saying that the current administration and President Bush are doing a good job– as well as can be expected under the circumstances.
Rather than everyone trying to slant things would it not be better to look at both sides and then decide? I for one gave up on the BBC after Matt Frei’s rants this afternoon. Back to the blogsphere (left and right) for me!
I’ll have some more thoughts (and reopen the comments box) soon.