Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Constructive Interference: Local failure caused by FEMA

A couple of bloggers have cataloged the FEMA outrages:

Constructive Interference has a damning list.

And an entire blog has been devoted to the snafu-ness of it all: look at FEMA Failures.

Ed Naha relates the story of how the exact Katrina scenario was predicted and gamed for FEMA a year ago:
In July, 2004, Hurricane Pam brought sustained winds of 120 mph, 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana and a storm surge that topped levees in the New Orleans area. A million people were evacuated. The Big Easy was under water. 500,000-600,000 buildings were destroyed. 50,000 citizens were dead. The reason you’ve never heard of this disaster is that Pam was an artificial hurricane created during a ten-day exercise held at the State Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge.

More than 50 federal, state and local agencies were part of the drill, spear-headed by Louisiana State University’s Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes and FEMA. Also in attendance, an unnamed White House staffer.

So much for king of compassion Bush, Homeland Security’s professional mourner-in-chief Michael Chertoff and FEMA’s Mike “Brownie” Brown insisting nobody saw this kind of storm coming and Chertoff dead-panning that Katrina was “breathtaking in its surprise.”

Now that Katrina has come and gone, a very frustrated Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of LSU’s Hurricane Center is making the rounds on the airwaves, telling anyone who will listen: The Federal government didn’t take the exercise seriously.

“What bothers me the most is all the people who’ve died unnecessarily,” he says.

“Those FEMA officials wouldn’t listen to me. Those Corps of Engineers people giggled in the back of the room when we tried to present information.”

One recommendation from the exercise: Tent cities should be prepared for the homeless. “Their response to me was: ‘Americans don’t live in tents,’ and that was about it,” he recalls.

In an interview on MSNBC, Saturday, van Heerden said he personally gave a CD version of the study as well as the report itself to the White House representative. In fact, every participant got that package. Presumably, they are all sitting at the bottom of Chertoff’s or Brown’s sock drawer.

Read the whole thing ... if you have a strong stomach.


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