Sunday, September 04, 2005

Broussard On FEMA's Unexplainable Actions in LA

The following is taken from the official transcript of MSNBC's "Meet The Press" with Tim Russert. It can be found in full here:

The big question now is why on earth would FEMA reject aid and cut communications within Louisiana during times of unbelievable crisis? The people of Louisiana deserve answers.

Video can be found here: Right click, save as.

MR. RUSSERT: And we are back.

Jefferson Parish President Broussard, let me start with you. You just heard the director of Homeland Security's explanation of what has happened this last week. What is your reaction?

MR. AARON 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. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed 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. It's so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support. It needs to be a Cabinet-level director. It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America. FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives. Forget about the property. We can rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in and save lives.

We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Broussard, let me ask--I want to ask--should...

MR. BROUSSARD: You know, just some quick examples...

MR. RUSSERT: Hold on. Hold on, sir. Shouldn't the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility? Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized in evacuating the area?

MR. BROUSSARD: Sir, they were told like me, every single day, "The cavalry's coming," on a federal level, "The cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming." I have just begun to hear the hoofs of the cavalry. The cavalry's still not here yet, but I've begun to hear the hoofs, and we're almost a week out.

Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer 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. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "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 on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.

But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she's done and all her leadership. She sent in the National Guard. I just repaired a breach on my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't foresee, a 300-foot breach. I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard and local parish workers and levee board people. It took us two and a half days working 24/7. I just closed it.

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: I'm telling you most importantly I want to thank my public employees...

MR. RUSSERT: All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: ...that have worked 24/7. They're burned out, the doctors, the nurses. And 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.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President...

MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody.


At 9:15 AM, September 10, 2005, Anonymous Anne said...

Attempts to sidestep federal accountability for needless deaths of American citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by calling it "the blame game" and pretending it's politics as usual totally miss the point. Roughly 50 percent of Americans did not vote; however, nearly 100 percent of Americans have seen the photos and crying reporters describing the scores of dead elderly and children on the street. They are outraged, and their outrage grows daily at an administration whose only expeditious action takes place when it's for political reasons, not to save citizens' lives.

Take a look at the Department of Homeland Security's National Response Plan (NRP). Here lie the legal grounds for President Bush's accountability. It could be useful to spread the word around.

The NRP, signed by President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Porter Goss, dictates the following:

(NRP, 7)

At such point a disaster or emergency is declared, according to the NRP, the federal government can and has a duty to supercede protocol when it means preservation of life and assets: "Federal departments and agencies are EXPECTED to provide initial and/or ongoing response, when warranted, under their own authority and funding; alert, notification, pre-positioning and timely delivery of resources; proactive support for catastrophic or potentially catastrophic incidents using protocols for expedited delivery of resources. (NRP, 6)

Notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources."

None of this was followed. Not a bit of it. As of Monday September 6, Mississippi mayors were calling CNN to state that they'd still received no help from FEMA because FEMA alleged paperwork wasn't turned it. Ludicrous!

Furthermore, the NRP covers responsibility for troop deployment, stating "The Secretary of Defense authorizes Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) for domestic incidents as directed by the President or when consistent with military readiness operations and appropriate under the circumstances and the law."

And authorizes immediate action: " Imminently serious conditions resulting from any civil emergency may require immediate action to save lives, prevent human suffering, or to mitigate property damage."

Finally, the NRP gives the President a fiduciary duty during said times of crisis:"The President leads the Nation in responding efficiently and ensuring the necessary resources are applied quickly and effectively to all Incidents of National Significance."(NRP, 15)

This is not some archaic law, or theory. This was their written and signed Plan. What exactly do people not understand about the federal government's Constitutional obligation to promote the general welfare and provide for the common defense?


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