Dec 04 2005

While New Orleans Burned, Blanco Fiddled

Published by at 11:18 am under All General Discussions,Katrina

Blanco plotted with the Senate Democrats to win partisan points. My posts on Katrina have consistently pointed out that Governor Blanco, who is the lead in emergency response and relief efforts for Louisiana, was a unmitigated disaster. She and Mayor Nagin delayed evacuation prior to Katrina’s landfall, and then delayed evacuation and the infusion of relief supplies after the levies breached and they had time to act and save lives. They had an evacuation plan in place which they did not follow – the one they practice with the feds so they could respond efficiently. Buses were left unused while time flittered away to get seniors out of harms way.

Today we have two stories out highlighting the culpability of Governor Blanco, while Mayor Nagin begs people to come back into a city unable to sustain life normally.

The NY Times runs a stunning article on how poorly Blanco’s office responded. Remember, Louisiana is the lead for relief because all the emergency responders work for the state, they know were the supplies and relief centers are, they have the eyes on the ground and the communications infrastructure. The state directs FEMA, the Red Cross and their National Guard were to go, with what supplies, and what to do when they get there. So keep this in your mind as you read through these emails from the clueless.

Number one item on the minds of Blanco’s team the Thursday after the storm while thousands were stranded:

“Bush’s numbers are low, and they are getting pummeled by the media for their inept response to Katrina and are actively working to make us the scapegoats,” Bob Mann, Ms. Blanco’s communications director, wrote in an e-mail message that afternoon, outlining plans by Washington Democrats to help turn the blame back onto President Bush.

Partisan survival. Yep. That was priority number one it seems. Why? Well let’s look at the emails on the response effort:

“This is absolutely the worst-case situation we have long feared,” Andy Kopplin, the governor’s chief of staff, wrote in an e-mail message to the Blanco administration’s top aides the day before the storm hit New Orleans. “Pray for Louisiana citizens as this storm nears.”

And so one has to ask, why did the state not head the pleas from the Feds and others to order the evacuation?

“Whoever is in charge needs to get control of the situation regarding the thousands of people (including elderly, babies, infirmed, etc.) up on I-10 in New Orleans,” according to one e-mail message a Blanco aide received from his cousin on Aug. 31, two days after the storm hit. “They need food and water to start with. They seem to be in need of specific direction from the ‘powers that be,’ at the very least.”

The response of another Blanco aide to this plea was similarly exasperated. “I am getting these calls too, and I have buses and water but can’t get word on where and how to send,” wrote Kim Hunter Reed, director of policy and planning.

Blanco’s government was paralyzed – sort of . They knew how to respond politically:

“We need to keep working to get our national surrogates to explain the facts – that the federal response was anemic and had been shortchanged by budget cuts and avoiding responsibilities like protecting Louisiana levees and wetlands,” Mr. Kopplin wrote in one e-mail message a week after the storm hit.

“The governor needs to stay on message, and that is getting people out of New Orleans, provide stability for them and rebuild,” Mr. Anderson wrote on Sept. 1. “The governor must look like the leader at all times.”

Leadership was simple to demonstrate. All they had to do was execute an emergency response plan and direct resources to those in need.

Here is the stunner. When things are dire and resources must be moved and people must be saved, this is what the democrats wasted time on:

The struggle with Washington and questions of who was in charge – the state or federal government – emerge frequently in the correspondence. It is also clear that Democrats in Washington recognized that the federal response to the storm provided an opportunity to win some political points.

Aides to Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, called Mr. Mann to discuss strategy, a conversation that indirectly included Mike McCurry, the former press secretary to President Clinton, according to one e-mail message.

“By the weekend, the Bush administration will have a full blown PR disaster/scandal on their hands because of the late response to needs in New Orleans,” Mr. Mann wrote on Sept. 1, the Thursday after the storm, attributing that observation to Mr. McCurry. The same day, Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans gave an emotional radio interview in which he criticized Mr. Bush for having merely flown over the city in Air Force One.

In the documents, Ms. Blanco and her advisers, as well as some outside allies, defended her decision to reject a request by the Bush administration to take control of the National Guard.

“If Bush and FEMA couldn’t deliver meals after 5 days how could LA expect them to take over our Natl Guard and do better job????” John B. Breaux, a former Democratic senator from Louisiana who is now a Washington lawyer, wrote in an e-mail message to Mr. Mann.

Simple, remove Blanco as the head of indecision. FEMA acts on orders from Blanco. It makes one wonder how much of the delay became a political opportunity verses an emergency challenge to tackle? Either way it is clear who was in charge of the response – Louisiana. And they need to answer for this:

And there were many calls from New Orleans residents trapped in attics or on rooftops, after floodwaters rose around their homes.

“We have got to get there,” Ms. Reed wrote about St. Bernard, the flooded parish east of New Orleans. “My hubby just came in and said they are getting calls that half the people on the courthouse roof may have died. They have been calling for two days for help, and I personally have taken these calls.”

Blanco and the Federal level democrats were wasting precious time and energy plotting their political gains while New Orleans flooded and people died. People died! When is the cold, calculating, inhuman liberal media going to wake up and see the carnage? Is it only visible when Republicans are in positions of responsibility? Are the people only worth saving and protecting when Republicans are in office?

If so, then I have never heard a better argument for voting republican since the war on terror.

For more Louisiana idiocy, check out this Washington Post story about Nagin pleading for people to come back to a battered, and unlivable, New Orleans. He needs minions to be Mayor over it seems. [hat tip Mac Ranger]

Barbara Bonseigneur looked to her hometown mayor Saturday for a reason to return to New Orleans and help rebuild the battered city and home she fled ahead of Hurricane Katrina. She didn’t get one.

“There is nowhere to buy food or get gas. It’s chaotic,” said Bonseigneur, 50. “Bringing us back to living in poverty is not a new beginning. How can a city that’s broke help New Orleans rebuild?”

“The Big Easy is not very easy right now,” he said, predicting that citizens who return would be in for six months of hard work before the city experiences a five or 10 year construction boom.

To James Anthony, New Orleans has looked like a ghost town the three times he has gone back to visit his home in New Orleans East. Splitting two rooms with his wife, two children and two grandchildren in Atlanta is better than going back, he said.

“I feel like he’s coming down here to say he’s doing something,” he said of Nagin, “but this is more of a ploy to get the workers to come back.”

UPDATE:

Adding this to the Carnival of The Insanities. Drop by and read all the insanities – they are insane.

More here at Washington Post

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “While New Orleans Burned, Blanco Fiddled”

  1. [...] Think the Hurricane Katrina fallout is over? Think again. AJ @ Strata-Sphere rips Gov. Blanco: Blanco plotted with the Senate Democrats to win partisan points. My posts on Katrina have consistently pointed out that Governor Blanco, who is the lead in emergency response and relief efforts for Louisiana, was a unmitigated disaster. She and Mayor Nagin delayed evacuation prior to Katrina’s landfall, and then delayed evacuation and the infusion of relief supplies after the levies breached and they had time to act and save lives. They had an evacuation plan in place which they did not follow – the one they practice with the feds so they could respond efficiently. Buses were left unused while time flittered away to get seniors out of harms way. [...]

  2. Learning Lessons

    All the while, the spectre of delayed elections hangs over Louisiana and New Orleans. How is it even remotely possible that Mardi Gras can be held over eight days, and that elections could be delayed for up to eight months.