STUDY REVEALS FEMA ANTICIPATED KATRINA’S DESTRUCTION OF NEW ORLEANS AND DID NOTHING TO PREVENT IT
When the definitive history of the present administration is written, and the many moral and operational failings of the Bush administration analyzed, it’s a pretty sure bet that the gross incompetence, cronyism and poor strategic planning that were the hallmark of the Bush administration’s response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, will be considered this administrations defining moment.
As George Bush vacationed, and a concerned world watched on television, hundreds of thousands of innocent people were displaced from their homes and forced to endure subhuman conditions, while back in the nation’s capitol, federal disaster managers struggled to figure out what steps to take, and then fought among themselves over who had what authority.
But the good news, if anything related to this tragic mess can be considered good, is that we will not have to wait for the historians of the future to find out what really happened in the wake of the hurricane and why years later, New Orleans and the surrounding areas are still in ruins.
The source of this information, the dedicated men and women of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a D.C.-based, nonprofit, dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting politicians who sacrifice the common good to special interests.
In a report (The Best Laid Plans: The Story of How the Government Ignored Its Own Gulf Coast Hurricane Plans) issued this past Thursday, CREW, not surprisingly, revealed that FEMA had anticipated the level of destruction that a significant hurricane would cause to the area, and issued a confidential report detailing specific steps that the agency should take to mitigate the damage and potential loss of life that could result.
Through documents obtained from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security via the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) and subsequent lawsuits forcing FEMA to comply, CREW obtained a copy of the FEMA plan, known as the “Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan” (SLCHP).
In it FEMA forecasted a range of consequences, including:
New Orleans would be flooded with 14-17 feet of water.
The levee system would be inundated with at least 10 feet of water.
The hurricane would move into Mississippi.
More that one million people would be forced to evacuate the region
Flooding would trap at least 250-350,000 people.
The report also outlined the emergency supplies that would be needed on a daily basis per hurricane victim, including:
A minimum of two Ready to Eat Meals
One gallon of water.
Eight pounds of ice.
As to ways to lessen the potential loss of life, FEMA included plans to:
Evacuate residents and position resources pre-hurricane.
Provide power, water and ice to hurricane victims.
Provide short-term shelter and longer-term temporary housing.
So in light of all this well thought out and relatively comprehensive plan, what happened?
Was this just another example of administration bungling, the result of George Bush’s foolhardy policy of replacing industry professionals, in this case disaster specialists, with partisan political hacks?
Or was it the result of something far more ominious?
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Lending creedence to the bungling theory is CREW’s revelation that with less than 24 hours remaining before Katrina was scheduled to touch down in the gulf region, FEMA management could not even FIND a copy of the disater plan, much less take any action that would have impacted on the impending disaster.
But what can one expect from men and women in that position as a reward for services rendered to Bush and the GOP in the 2000 election and not for any skills relevant to the task?
Sadly, Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans did not have to happen. It did largely because of George Bush’s unrealistic policies, specifically his welfare-for-the-wealthy tax cuts.
To finance this insane handout to the top ten percent of the economic spectrum, money was drained from virtually all existing federal programs, including the one earmarked for flood control. Also redirected were funds that had been specifically requested by the Army Corps of Engineers to reinforce and upgrade the levies in the Lake Pontchartrain region, of which New Orleans was a part.
But the insanity does not end there.
Thanks to the folks at CREW we now also know that what little relief efforts there were immediately following Katrina’s landfall were further hindered by an outdated communication system, one that should have been replace years earlier, making it near impossible for first responders to coordinate rescue efforts.
In hindsight, one can only wonder if the situation would have been as badly mismanaged had the city involved been in Florida or Texas, and the people displaced middle and upper class white’s rather than the lower income black men and women who make up the majority of the population of New Orleans?
From our current perspective, six and one half years into the reign of King George, is it really all that hard to believe that Mr. Bush and his enablers would be above playing this dirty and willingly standing by as nature took its course and devastated this unprotected, city?
I think not.
Located below sea level, it was only a matter of time until a disaster of this magnitude would occur. This is particularly so in this the era of the Global Warming-enhanced Superstorm.
Government engineers were well aware of this and planned to rebuild the city’s levies to protect against such an eventuality. In denying the money necessary for this work, the administration sealed New Orleans’s fate.
Taken in this context, the bungled rescue efforts were just another nail in New Orleans coffin, as was the foot-dragging ever since in earmarking the funds necessary to rebuild the city.
But why kill this beautiful, historic city? Two words: Profit and Votes.
New Orleans and the gulf coast are choice real estate destinations, or at least they could be. once the population currently residing in the area was dealt with. Hurricane Katrina was an easy solution to this problem.
The profit to be earned rebuilding the area as a Mecca for tourists and well-to-do retirees should not be underestimated, nor should the willingness of the Bush administration to facilitate this development.
George Bush is after all, corporate America’s go-to-guy. They selected him, elected him and have enabled him ever since. For his part, Mr. Bush is a good lackey, faithfully paying back his benefactors by removing virtually all of the nasty little laws that stood in the way of their profit. The fact that this comes at the expense of human life and livelihood is immaterial to him.
If there is any doubt in your mind as to the validity of this statement, consider that the administration lied our country into an immoral and illegitimate war in the Middle East just to protect his oil patch buddies access to Iraqi oil.
The fact that this little escapade has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children and devastated their country for generations to come, means little.
Ironic, isn’t it, that a man who cannot go a day without telling the world how devoted a Christian he is, has this much blood on his hands?
What is not ironic is the potential for political gain that the destruction of New Orleans brings. In recent months, Republican party operatives have been unable to restrain their glee at their party’s chances of moving control of Louisiana into the Red (Republican) Column in the upcoming election.
This is a very real possibility given the fact that much of the State’s black population disappeared with Hurricane Katrina, and in the absence of a significant government commitment to rebuild the area, have not returned.
When you get right down to it, isn’t a natural disaster, albeit one helped along by a corrupt administration, far less easier than caging the vote?
I, for one, do not believe in coincidences.