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GUEST,woody BS: KatrinaGate (932* d) RE: BS: KatrinaGate... 22 Jun 06

.....Wednesday, August 31

"We Should Have Asked Sooner"

Gov. Blanco announces New Orleans must be evacuated because of the still- rising water and uninhabitable conditions. Mayor Nagin estimates 50,000 to 100,000 people remain in the city. Rescue efforts are delayed because of the inability of rescuers to communicate with each other. Virtually all communication systems are out.

City officials say 80 percent of New Orleans is flooded. FEMA organizes 475 buses to be sent in to transport many of the estimated 23,000 people from the Superdome to the Houston Astrodome. Newly rescued people are still being brought to the Superdome. Widespread looting continues. Evacuating hospitals is a top priority: Patients and staff are stranded and supplies and power are dwindling.

By midday, water levels between the city and Lake Ponchartrain have equalized. The Army Corps of Engineers renews work to fix the breach in the 17th St. Canal. President Bush flies over the area on his way back to Washington. He announces FEMA is moving supplies and equipment into the hardest hit areas.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco:
"All I know is on Wednesday night I was convinced that there were no FEMA buses. I began to believe that no buses had been ordered. We were moving school buses in. But they're designed for short hauls."

Walter Maestri, Jefferson Parish emergency manager:
"What we did -- under Louisiana law the parish presidents, the head of the counties, have the authority to use private resources. In all honesty, we begin looting. We go to Sam's and Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie and gather up food and water and start distributing it because we had 60 hours' worth of resources that we had stored, but now we're out of it.

When we didn't get any assistance from the state or from FEMA in the time period that we thought was appropriate, I got someone in an automobile and said, 'Go to Baton Rouge, go find out. I've got to know. Go up there, face to face and say, "What is happening here? Where is water? Where is food? Where is all the things that we need to get out of here?"' And he passes, literally, hundreds of school buses lined up to come and get these folks. But the problem was that because of the fear that resulted from the civil unrest, the bus drivers said, 'We're not going in there to pick these people up unless you put a law enforcement official on every one of the buses, because we're afraid.'"

Michael Brown, FEMA director:
"As I have said, I think that one of the biggest mistakes that I made as the FEMA director during Katrina was not immediately turning to the military and saying: 'We have been overwhelmed. We need you to take over logistics, distribution of commodities, etc.'
We immediately did turn to the military and mission-assigned them to start doing airlifts, start bringing things in. The mistake that I made was not doing that sooner and not giving them the orders that we needed them to do all of that immediately. Governor Blanco probably should have asked sooner. I probably should have asked sooner. I think we both should have asked sooner."...

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