View Full Version : Government Underestimated Katrina

03-02-2006, 03:44 AM
WASHINGTON -- Six months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, a newly released video transcript from the day the hurricane struck seems to reinforce stinging criticism that governments at all levels were ill-prepared for the storm that flooded most of the city and killed more than 1,000 people in three states.

Michael Brown, then-director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which held the briefing that was videotaped at noon on Aug. 29, was confident the emergency response was well in hand.

He praised Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and others for "doing a good job" and assured officials that President Bush, who was vacationing at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, was in close touch.

Bush has been accused of showing poor leadership in the disaster, and for indicating, along with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, that no one could have anticipated the immense destruction or that the levees surrounding New Orleans would be breached.

However, the Aug. 29 transcript -- and one from the previous day -- show that National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield was worried Katrina might push water over the levees.

"I don't think anyone can tell you with confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that's obviously a very, very great concern," Mayfield said.

After the storm, Bush said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," and Chertoff agreed.

In an apparent effort to deflect criticism from the Bush administration, Homeland Security officials highlighted in yellow parts of the transcript that showed any weakness by local officials.

For instance, although the levees had failed by early in the morning on Aug. 29, Blanco was unaware of this during the briefing.

"We keep getting reports in some places that maybe water is coming over the levees. We heard a report unconfirmed. I think we have not breached the levee," she told the group.

Brown stresses that Bush was heavily involved.

"I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One," Brown tells those at the briefing. "He remains very, very interested in this situation.

"He's obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome (Superdome), he's asking questions about reports of breaches. He's asking about hospitals. He's very engaged, and he's asking a lot of really good questions I would expect him to ask," Brown added.

Bush, who participated in the FEMA briefing on Aug. 28, assured other officials that everything was under control.

"I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm to help you deal with the loss of property. And we pray for no loss of life, of course," he said.

Bush did not participate in the next day's briefing. By that time, 11 inches of rain had fallen in New Orleans, and about 15,000 people were in the Superdome. That number of people eventually doubled, leading to days of intolerable conditions before they could be bused elsewhere.

The Aug. 29 video was requested by the Senate Homeland Security Committee in its investigation of where the response to the storm fell short.

Brown resigned in September after a barrage of criticism of his handling of the hurricane, prompting him to accuse the administration of using him as a scapegoat.

In response to the Aug. 28-29 videotapes, the White House said the briefings represented only a snapshot of what went on behind the scenes before the storm struck. Bush, the White House said, was fully engaged in emergency preparations.

At the Aug. 28 briefing, Brown told Bush he was concerned that the roof of the Superdome -- the shelter of last resort for New Orleans -- would be unable to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Katrina was a Category 3 at landfall.

And he voiced concern about the ability of national response teams "to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe." He said he had heard that there had been no mandatory evacuations of patients from hospitals and inmates from prisons.

On Wednesday, Brown's attorney, Andy Lester, said the most recently released tape "shows that Michael Brown was sounding the alarm" with the White House and the DHS.

"He was repeatedly saying move things forward, push the envelope, jump over the envelope!" Lester said in a written statement.

"Michael Brown was on the job, was doing his job, and was making sure people above him at the White House and DHS were fully aware of everything that was going on in an extremely timely and urgent manner," Lester said. "It paints a different picture than what we have seen painted thus far."

More than 1,300 people were killed by Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. A special House committee concluded last month that the response to Katrina at all levels of government was "dismal," poorly planned and badly coordinated, showing that "America is still not ready for prime time" more than four years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the tape "demonstrates for all to see what our committee discovered during its investigation of the preparations for and response to Hurricane Katrina."

"Government at all levels was forewarned of the catastrophic nature of the approaching storm and did painfully little to be ready to evacuate, search, rescue, and relieve," said Lieberman, D-Connecticut, who had accused the White House of stonewalling the committee.

03-02-2006, 08:58 AM
^yeah I just saw this on the Today show

having gone through this- I have no respect for our Government anymore. On the other hand, I have much more respect for our miltary- since they came in a got things rolling

03-02-2006, 10:05 AM
I think george bush is the antichrist!

03-02-2006, 01:20 PM
could be xasphan, good thought, i fuckin hate bush are gov iz goin to shit

03-02-2006, 04:48 PM
I think george bush is the antichrist!

I would not say that, lol. But he has no bizness being in Politics- only reason Bush is where he is now- because of his dad= and all of their rich buddies.

03-02-2006, 06:51 PM
ah an he was a coke head an him an jeb bush stole money from the U.S in the 70s......but none of that shit can be brought up now

03-02-2006, 07:29 PM
^it has...watch Michael Moores Documentry

03-02-2006, 10:21 PM
How much longer do ya'll think bush is gon' stay in the white house?

03-03-2006, 01:34 AM
rest of his term...which sucks. At least he can not run again.

03-03-2006, 03:00 AM
yeah but jeb bush wants to run an im shure hell proble get in cuz of the FUCKIN RIGIN OF THE ELECTION

03-03-2006, 03:00 AM
its fuckin bull shit if u ask me

03-03-2006, 03:01 AM
^it has...watch Michael Moores Documentry

yeah but they tryed to make him look like a fool

03-03-2006, 07:44 PM
yeah but they tryed to make him look like a fool
no...he already looks and acts like one.