07 September 2005

The more I think about the mess in New Orleans, the more I compare it to disasters that we’ve had here. When I think about the way Governor Bush has managed hurricanes over the past 5 years and compare it to Governor Blanco, She seems very inept. And the mayor of New Orleans seems even more inept.

New Orleans created a city evacuation guide and the mayor just completely didn’t follow it. Nursing homes were scheduled to be evacuated first using city and school busses… that didn’t happen…. those people died. There’s one instance where fifty plus people died at one home. They were supposed to evac the elderly and disabled… that didn’t happen. Many of those people died in their homes. The mayor told everyone to come to the superdome and they would be taken care of. All the while, he knew the superdome had no long term food supply and no long-term water supply leaving the people that followed the mayor’s advice helpless. And here’s the kicker… nowhere in the hurricane preparedness literature above does the word “SuperDome” appear. You can’t find it… do a search… it ain’t there. Did the mayor pull this plan out of his ass?

Sunday night, 12 hours before the storm was scheduled to hit, Governor Blanco STILL hadn’t declared a state of emergency… the president had to do it. That would have never happened in Florida. Jeb declares a State of Emergency 24-48 hours before the storm hits so price-gouging laws go into effect. And as for the looting, Jeb wouldn’t have put with half the crap that went on in that city. The National Guard would have been there before the storm ended.

Anne Rice, an author I dearly love, wrote an op/ed piece in the New York Times sunday… Do you know what it means to loose New Orleans in which she talks about Gover Blanco’s pleading for help on Television. What she doesn’t mention is Goerge W. Bush’s offer to send in troops tuesday morning and her asking president Bush “…For 24 hours to think it over.” WTF???

The President cannot unilaterally send troops into a state. The troops have to be INVITED in by the Governor of the state. Do you think for a second that THIS president would have hesitated sending in troops if asked? But the media is accusing him of just that. And because he didn’t federalize the city, he’s accused of “Not caring about black people.” As if he looked at the situation and said “oh, they’re black… let them rot.” Come on!

I remember during our hurricanes last year in the hours leading up to the storm’s approach, you saw camouflage humvees full of Florida National Guard troops on the streets ready for action. Does anyone remember ANY show of force of the national guard in New Orleans? The Louisiana National guard is completely at the command of the governor. She alone has the power to send it anywhere she chooses. Where were they?

Here’s another interesting factoid… The press has made a big deal of the fact that the EVIL Bush Administration (cue the darth vader theme) cut the funds to shore up the levee system in 2004. Here’s what they don’t tell you… The money to make the levees “cat 5-proof” was allocated DURING THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION… that’s right kids, 1992… during the Clinton Administration… and get this… It wasn’t used!!. The budget monies lapsed.

“Why?” you ask. Good question.

Well, currently each parish manages it’s own levee. In addition, each levee has it’s own board of governance. The federal funding called for all the levee governance boards to be united into the Army Corps of Engineers, thus irrelevating the individual boards. The individual boards didn’t want to cede control to a third party …and incidentally, loose their jobs which are appointed salaried positions (appointed by… anyone? anyone? …THE GOVERNOR OF LOUSIANA )…. so the money wasn’t used and ended up being cut out of the army corps of engineer’s budget in 2004. And the Levee Boards were part of the Mayor’s intial frustration… the Levee boards were tasked intially with repairing the breaks on Tuesday and the board assured the mayor that the levees would be shorn up. That didn’t happen. Wednesday and Thursday when the boards finally admitted their inability to do their job, the project was assumed by the Army Corps of Engineers, which, again, could have happend in 1992 possibly avoiding the flooding entirely but certainly managing it better… but for the gordian knot of graft that is Lousiana state politics.

This whole situation was mismanaged by incompetent government officials at the state and local level.

Thank God for Jeb and the guys at the Pinellas County EOC. And thank God for the Creole John Wayne, who, 48 hours after he got there had everone evac-d and order restored.

… and may God bless Texas :-)… have you heard about Operation Compassion… you need to. It’s a plan to move displaced evacuees trapped in institutional poverty to self- sustainability… Apparently The Astrodome will soon be empty

Harris County Judge Robert Eckles, coordinating the relief effort at the Astrodome, said Wednesday morning he expects the facility to be emptied in a couple of weeks.

“This is a shelter, not a home,” he said. He said officials have been moving about 1,500 a day to permanent housing.

Eckles and other Houston officials said the city can handle the estimated 150,000 to 200,000 residents from Louisiana who evacuated from Katrina.

“We’re a big city - about 5 million - and that’s about the size of the entire state of Louisiana,” he said. “We’ll deal with it if they stay.”

Eckles said officials continue the work of finding family members who have been separated from their loved ones, saying hundreds have already been reunited so far.

He also said the business community in Houston and throughout Texas has embraced the effort to help out in the aftermath of Katrina, working to provide job placement opportunities.

“They come here broken,” he said of the flow of displaced residents, which includes 15,000 at the Astrodome. “Our community has embraced these folks.”

…Looking back on it from the future, this could be Texas’ finest hour. Big- upps to all you lone-stars “deep in the heart.”