Sunday, September 04, 2005
Good Sunday folks. I hope that you are all well and having a fine holiday weekend, and that you all remember to stop wearing white after Monday, lest the fashion police ticket you. I was off to a great start this morning, until i turned on the TV for my usual sunday morning news. At which point... well, my mood changed dramatically.
Here is a highlight from this morning's conversation between Tim Russert and Michael Chertoff, director of Homeland Security, on NBC's Meeting the Press. (all text decorations are mine).
MR. RUSSERT: People were stunned by a comment the president of the United States made on Wednesday, Mr. Secretary. He said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." How could the president be so wrong, be so misinformed? (well, i'm sure they inform him, he is just either too stupid to comprehend, of too disinterested to listen. - tomkitty)
SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet," because if you recall the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse. It was on Tuesday that the levee--may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday--that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city. I think that second catastrophe really caught everybody by surprise. In fact, I think that's one of the reasons people didn't continue to leave after the hurricane had passed initially. So this was clearly an unprecedented catastrophe. And I think it caused a tremendous dislocation in the response effort and, in fact, in our ability to get materials to people.
And one last point I'd make is this, Tim. We had actually prestaged a tremendous number of supplies, meals, shelter, water. We had prestaged, even before the hurricane, dozens of Coast Guard helicopters, which were obviously nearby but not in the area. (I'm guessing that 'prestaged' does not mean 'prepared'. - tomkitty) So the difficulty wasn't lack of supplies. The difficulty was that when the levee broke, it was very, very hard to get the supplies to the people. I-10 was submerged. There was only one significant road going all the way the way around. Much of the city was flooded. The only way to get to people and to get supplies was to have airdrops and helicopters. And frankly, it is very--and their first priority was rescuing people from rooftops. So we really had a tremendous strain on the capacity of--to be able to both rescue people and also to be able to get them supplies. (Chris, did you ever think you might have had helicopters drop supplies, then rescue people and drop them off, then refuel and load up more supplies and repeat that process? just asking. - tomkitty)
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, you say prestaged. People were sent to the Convention Center. There was no water, no food, no beds, no authorities there. There was no planning.
SEC'Y CHERTOFF: My understanding is, and again this is something that's going to go back--we're going to go back over after the fact is--the plan that the New Orleans officials and the state officials put together called for the Superdome to be the refuge of last resort. We became aware of the fact at some point that people began to go to the Convention Center on their own, spontaneously, in order to shelter there. And I think it's for that reason that people found themselves without food and water and supplies. The challenge then became...
MR. RUSSERT: Well, Mr. Secretary, you said--hold on. Mr. Secretary, there was no food or water at the Superdome, either. And I want to stay on this because...
SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Well, my understanding--well...
MR. RUSSERT (read this and tell your friends. - tomkitty): I want to stay on this because this is very important. You said you were surprised by the levee being broken. In 2002, The Times-Picayune did story after story--and this is eerie; this is what they wrote and how they predicted what was going to happen. It said, and I'll read it very carefully: "...A major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It's just a matter of time. ... The scene's been played out for years in computer models or emergency operations simulations... New Orleans has hurricane levees that create a bowl with the bottom dipping lower than the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain. ...the levees would trap any water that gets inside-- by breach, overtopping or torrential downpour--catastrophic storm. ... The estimated 200,000 or more people left behind in an evacuation will be struggling to survive. Some will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter for people too sick or inform to leave the city. ...But many will simply be on their own, in homes or looking for high ground. Thousands will drown while trapped in homes or cars by rising water. Other will be washed away or crushed by debris. Survivors will end up trapped on roofs, in buildings or on high ground surrounded by water, with no means of escape and little food or fresh water, perhaps for several days."
That was four years ago. And last summer FEMA, who reports to you, and the LSU Hurricane Center, and local and state officials did a simulated Hurricane Pam in which the levees broke. The levees broke, Mr. Secretary, and people--thousands...
SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Actually, Tim, that...
MR. RUSSERT: Thousands drowned.
SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Tim, I had...
MR. RUSSERT: There's a CD which is in your department and the White House has it and the president, and you are saying, "We were surprised that the levees may not hold." How could this be?
You know bush is going to give Chertoff a medal, right?
Before I really start ranting, I would like to post a quote I found on the blog Left End of The Dial:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. - National Geographic, October, 2004
Look, lets be honest with ourselves, and i'm sure at this point i won't have been the first person to have said it, but America is not safe with these people in charge. It would be bad enough that another terrorist act could be commited in this country, but think of the aftermath. These people can't manage these kinds of events, not before, not during, and certainly not after. While they could not have stopped the storm, (though they are making the hurricanes worse by ignoring the environment, i won't get into that now) they could have prevented thousands of deaths, and i will wager that even now there are people still dying from their inaction. Read the rest of the Meet the Press interview with the other guests, and you will see what i mean. We are are at the point where we have to admit that the deaths are being caused by total incompetence. Bush and his appointees are idiotic over privilaged robber-barons, who wouldn't know their asses from holes in the ground. I mean, didn't George Bush run an oil company into the gound, IN TEXAS?!? In what way could anyone have ever thought that he would be an ideal choice to run this country? Always judge a manager by the people he hires. Just take John Bolton for example. He put Yosemite Sam, A foul tempered 'kiss-up-kick-down' 6 gun guy, in place at the UN as the face of America for the rest of the world. This is George Bush's idea of a diplomat.
All these neo-cons in power want is power in their hand alone, and as much money as they can get their hands on. Half of us knew this during the past 2 presidential elections, the other half thought that a bunch of over-privelaged rich morons who have never known a hard days work in their lives would look out for the county's best interests.
We are all in danger. And i don't say that lightly either. these men and women in charge of our futures are solely concerned with speading their ideology, not about your safety, unless it comes to getting your vote in which case they will say they are. Don't let anyone tell you different. These people are asleep at the switch, and it could cost us more than the lives lost in this past hurricane and it's aftermath, more than the lives of the good men and women who have died fighting in Iraq, more than the lives of the good men and women who died on 9-11-01. And don't fool yourself, the blood of those who died when the twin towers collapsed is on the hands of the bush administration.
It was so important for them to give the rich their tax money back, so important to them to attack Iraq for oil, that they have put America in a position where thousands have died from their actions.
Damn the neo-cons and their mouth-pieces. Damn them for not acting when they could to prevent tragedy after tragedy when they were warned. Damn them for starting a war with lies while cutting benefits for our veterans. Damn them for cutting funding that could have prevented the aftermath of hurricane Katrina that has cost thousands of lives. Damn them for being as stupid and as greedy as they are.
And lastly, Damn the democrats for not having the balls to combat them. I don't say that lightly either. The democrats have lost their balls, and aren't likely to get them back ant time soon.
Well, that is enough blustering and ranting for one Sunday afternoon. Again, i hope you all have a good holiday weekend, especialy Lizardbreath. She sounds like she needs it. And remember to give to the Red Cross, just in case the neo-cons feel like letting them help.