Sunday, September 04, 2005

It goes on...

This is from today.
“One of the Worst Abandonments of Americans on American Soil Ever”
Crooks and Liars has the video.
Part of the transcript follows:
"The president of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans, Aaron Broussard, just issued an emotional appeal on NBC’s Meet the Press. By the end, he was completely broken down, sobbing uncontrollably:
RUSSERT: You just heard the director of homeland security’s explanation of what has happened this last week. What is your reaction?
BROUSSARD: 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.

Broussard then discussed the difficulties local authorities had with FEMA, including one case where they actually posted armed guards to keep FEMA from cutting their communications lines (*MacNote--but don't miss the way that Russert tries to shift the blame onto Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco):
'Three quick examples. 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…

Finally, Broussard told the tragic personal story of a colleague, and broke down:

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...'"

We are surely damned, if we continue to attempt to rationalize or countenance this behavior on the part of our elected officials.

NOLA View Weblog


Dawno said...

I read the entire show's transcript on (I think, I've been to so many sites via links from so many others today). I kept thinking, did Russert really have to be so abrupt with him?

Truly heartwrenching what Broussard went through.

Unique said...

The more news stories I read, the more I wonder what we did as a country to deserve the un-leadership we are stuck with. Are 50% of the American people really so in love with their SUV's and their 401K's that they believe we're headed in the right direction? I shake my head in wonder. Even my own family sometimes gives me the feeling that they believe it's poor people's fault for being poor. Am I the last person in America who believes there are things in life more valuable than money? It's really lonely out here.

jason evans said...

Mac and Dawno,

Do you think the actions of the Federal agencies are intentional or a sign of profound incompetence? I tend toward the later. Although I should accept it by now, I'm still astounded by the heights that human incompetence can reach. I'd like to know who the genius is who decided we need to starve the people out of the ravaged areas (for example, the stories about the Red Cross being kept out of New Orleans because giving them supplies will encourage people to stay). The story about the sheriff fortifying his phone lines against Federal authorities is sickening.

Dawno said...

I personally would hesitate to paint the entire government as well as all of FEMA with the brush of profound incompetence. I believe that for the most part the guys and gals "in the trenches" are dedicated and passionate about their work -- why would they do it otherwise? It doesn't pay that well and the work is dirty and dangerous. I would bet dollars to donuts that every 'regular' FEMA employee would have rushed to the scene as soon as it was practical, even if not safe, to help. The problem is they need leadership to be effective. So I blame the leadership. At the local level it's the ones who didn't just go do what was necessary regardless of lack of orders from above. At the highest levels it's your profound incompentence in action. We all know by now Mr. Brown's credentials. I'm apalled that nobody around him was able, or had the courage, to get him to do the right thing at the right time.

Mac said...

PNH at Making Light pointed out that when the results are this disastrous, the difference between incompetence and malice is indiscernable.

What I fear is that this situation is a glimpse at a dark future, where corporations and the government (functioning more and more LIKE a large corporation--and the property they've "claimed"--automatically receive priority over the lives of the public. I fear America's citizens are on the verge of being perceived not only as dispensable--but, on a deeply disturbing level, as probable enemies of the state.

We got a terrible vision last week of a government (on the local, state, and federal level) that concerned itself much more with preserving property. Did you know that private mercs were brought in to secure buildings--by some counts, before the hurricane made landfall?

While citizens were drowning in nursing homes, and sitting on their roofs waving white flags at passing choppers and huddling together in the Superdome with no supplies,no WATER for fuck's sake--The mayor is diverting resources to stop "looters"--FEMA is cutting local emergency communication lines and turning back truckloads of water...

This is a Hobbsian future where our government feels it owes us nothing, and the fabric of society unravels.

Now, a week late, help arrived. But the snapshot of the future we were treated to during that interminable week of waiting...

I'll never forget.

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Mac, you have a wonderful blog here. I posted this same story on my blog with the video after seeing it on the news. After watching day after day of lack of response and hearing Broussard break down during his interview was heartbreaking. His story of the woman calling her son day after day, being told help was coming, then drowning when no help came was unconscionable. This woman's death, the death of what will be thousands,the lack of immediate response, cutting of emergency communication lines, lack of direction, and total disarray was undeniable incompetence at its highest level. These victims will be displaced for months, possibly years. My heart goes out to them and those they lost. We can only pray that those being blamed for lackluster performance will learn from their mistakes and make sure they put into place a more effective and immediate emergency plan for the future of our United States.