Anyone still defending FEMA?

Ben Morris is the Republican mayor of Slidell, Louisiana, just northeast of New Orleans. Slidell is the largest town in St. Tammany Parish, which in 2004 voted for George W. Bush over John Kerry by a convincing margin of 75 percent to 25 percent.

Here is what Mayor Morris had to say on Monday:

“We are still hampered by some of the most stupid, idiotic regulations by FEMA. They have turned away generators, we’ve heard that they’ve gone around seizing equipment from our contractors. If they do so, they’d better be armed because I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them deprive our citizens. I’m pissed off, and tired of this horse$#@@.”

There seems to be something about trying to deal with FEMA that causes usually mild-mannered officials to use words like “horse$#@@.”

And outside of Louisiana, the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, newspaper (The American) editorializes:

Why did it take six days for representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to arrive in Hattiesburg?

Then – if you can believe this – when they finally got here Saturday, their first question to local officials gathered at the Forrest County Emergency Operations Center was: Do you need help?

Do you need help?

The inquiry would be laughable if the situation weren’t so deathly serious.

Is FEMA – the federal agency charged with emergency response in times of disaster – so obtuse that it still hasn’t grasped the full extent of the damage and devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina?

It’s not just a matter of failing to provide timely assistance; it’s sometimes a matter of actively preventing others from providing aid.

Aside from the issue of state and local failures: Is a detectable pattern starting to emerge yet?