1. #1
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    Exclamation FEMA Outlines Louisiana Failtures

    FEMA outlines La. failures

    Agency testifies local officials failed to follow plans

    By GERARD SHIELDS

    Advocate Washington bureau

    WASHINGTON -- Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinators
    acknowledged before a congressional committee Thursday that they were overwhelmed by Hurricane Katrina but blamed New Orleans and Louisiana officials for failing to implement an emergency response plan.
    The situation was so haphazard that New Orleans failed to identify
    shelters in advance where hurricane victims could go.

    "It's the responsibility of the local authority to evacuate their people
    and set up shelters," said Philip Parr, who coordinated FEMA's response
    at
    the Superdome. "I found that there was little preparation."

    Parr was one of three FEMA officials who testified Thursday before the
    Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

    Scott Wells, FEMA's federal coordinating officer in Baton Rouge, agreed
    with Parr's assessment. The initial emergency responsibility lies with
    the
    local government, followed by the state government, then federal
    agencies,
    he said.

    At one point, Louisiana State Police turned away two FEMA trucks with
    water, ice and meals from the Superdome, Wells said.

    "The system works well for small disasters," Wells said. "It falls apart
    for catastrophic disasters."

    Part of the problem was the city's and state's lack of knowledge about
    the
    national response plan and FEMA's role, Parr said. Requests the city
    made
    to the agency included patrol cars, guns and bullets, an air conditioner
    for a city office, and a taxi to transport a resident to the hospital.

    "We got hundreds and hundreds of requests in addition to valid
    requests,"
    Parr said. "This is just a lack of understanding of what FEMA does."

    Parr contrasted Texas' emergency plan to that of Louisiana's. Before
    Hurricane Rita, Texas implemented its emergency plan, moving 13,000
    patients at one point.

    "In the state of Texas, they had plans," Parr said. "We didn't have that
    in
    Louisiana."

    New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin could not be reached for comment on
    Thursday.
    Messages left at his office were not returned.

    Denise Bottcher, spokeswoman for Gov. Kathleen Blanco, disputed FEMA's
    claims that the state was unprepared.

    "We were at the ready with boats and helicopters, but we didn't have
    enough," Bottcher said. "And we asked early and often for resources."

    Blanco hopes to set the record straight next week when she appears
    before
    Congress to discuss the state's emergency preparedness plan, Bottcher
    said.

    "I think it's well established that Katrina outgunned the system,"
    Bottcher
    said. She said the state was able to evacuate 1 million people and
    rescue
    tens of thousands.

    The Louisiana operation turned frustrating, Wells said, when
    communication
    between the Baton Rouge emergency operations center and New Orleans
    broke
    down.

    "We were told the lines were saturated," Wells said. "Nobody could call
    into Baton Rouge and we couldn't call out."

    E-mails released by the committee show a panicked Blanco staff. At one
    point, FEMA officials told the staff it couldn't perform functions
    unless
    officially asked by the governor.

    "The (Louisiana federal) delegation is calling FEMA because they are
    getting (calls) from constituents," Stephanie Leger, the state's
    Washington
    lobbyist, wrote to Blanco's then chief of staff, Andy Kopplin, four days
    after the storm hit. "They are being told that (FEMA) can't do a thing
    until the governor asks them to do it."

    Leger said Thursday that the e-mail resulted from confusion between FEMA
    ground workers issuing the response and the agency's leadership.

    Another e-mail indicates that Blanco was taking a nap the day before the
    hurricane hit when U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff
    was
    trying to reach her.

    "I think she's asleep now," wrote Roderick Hawkins, Blanco's deputy
    press
    secretary.

    Bottcher said on Thursday that Blanco worked throughout the day, which
    began at 4 a.m. She said that Hawkins made a wrong assumption because
    she
    couldn't be located by Louisiana State Police.

    "She didn't nap," Bottcher said. "It's not uncommon for State Police to
    not
    be able to find her."

    Parr also told the panel that he had plans to airlift evacuees out of
    the
    Superdome that were delayed a day because Lt. Gen. Russel Honore took
    command.

    Honore ordered previous plans be put on hold until he could get a handle
    on
    the situation, Parr said.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, committee chairwoman, pointed out the
    change
    in command caused evacuees to spend at least one more night in the
    Superdome.

    "Thousands of people in the general population of the Superdome had to
    spend another hot, dangerous night?" Collins asked.

    "That's correct," Parr said.

    U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., suggested that the federal
    government
    have more of a role in emergency response plan oversight in the states.

    "In Katrina, this system broke down," Collins said. "And the result was
    the
    very deprivation and suffering this structure was designed to avoid.

    "The system must be fixed, from the bottom to the very top."
    OUTSTANDING

    Make It Happen

    Never forget 9-11-2001
    343 Brothers Who Were MURDERED!!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by allineedisu
    FEMA outlines La. failures

    ."
    Is it OK if Louisiana outlines the FEMA failures as well?
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  3. #3
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    FEMA is the last group to be pointing fingers at anyone.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    No kidding. This is damage control. Nothing more.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Or finally, after much finger pointing, all relevant parties can testify before the Congressional Committee of their actions and corrective measures can be made and implemented.
    Fortune does not change men; it unmasks them.

    The grass ain't greener, the wine ain't sweeter!! Either side of the hill.


    IACOJ PROUD

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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    FEMA is the last group to be pointing fingers at anyone.
    The Mayor of NO screwed up big time. The Gov of LA screwed up big time. FEMA is the federal equivalient to OEM. They help out, but it's still the responsibility of the IC and local government to have a plan as to what they are going to do.

    The local screwed up and are blaming FEMA. FEMA might not be perfect, but it's the locals who deserve to be crucified for their incompetance.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    Thanks for your opinion Parasite. You are right. FEMA did and continues to do a fine job in the Gulf Coast





    Hurricane-Ravaged Rescue Stations Still Struggling





    SUSAN NICOL KYLE
    Firehouse.Com News






    "A FEMA official who can make a decision - that's what we want in our Christmas stocking."

    That's what the Harrison County, Miss. fire marshal said is at the top of Gulf coast firefighters' Christmas list.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    P.S. Parasite. I certainly didnt applaud the local Louisiana response. However, if you dont think that FEMA screwed up their big chance to do what they were supposed to, you are seriously delusional.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    P.S. Parasite. I certainly didnt applaud the local Louisiana response. However, if you dont think that FEMA screwed up their big chance to do what they were supposed to, you are seriously delusional.
    Mikey, your not joe citizen. your are supposed to know what FEMA does. You know as well as I do that FEMA isn't supposed to run big incidents. They support the IC. If the IC screws up, or has no clue what he is doing, it isn't FEMA's job to jump in and take over. and when that is what they are asked to do, when they were put behind the 8-ball due to the screw ups of the local government, well that's even harder.

    Did FEMA do some stupid things? like the whole FF teams that were acting like PR guys? yeah. But most of the crap that keeps getting blamed on FEMA is actually caused by the stupidity of the local government.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    Wrongo Parasite. I AM "Joe Citizen" ...who also happens to be a firefighter. I stand by my assertation that FEMA dosen't need to be pointing fingers at anyone.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    Wrongo Parasite. I AM "Joe Citizen" ...who also happens to be a firefighter. I stand by my assertation that FEMA dosen't need to be pointing fingers at anyone.
    I think what he meant was that your not an "average" joe citizen. You are more informed than "joe citizen".

    FEMA should be pointing fingers - as some finger pointing should be directed at FEMA. The problem FEMA faced is that they had to pick up operations they were expecting be taken care of already or at least expecting a plan to drafted on how some of those emergency opertaions were going to be handled.

    We need to know where the system failed - it just wasnt FEMA. We cant expect to not repeat this mistake unless some finger pointing takes place.

    If you arrive at a Fireground as 2nd or 3rd due to expect certain things to have happened already - if they havent and you are expected to do those tasks also - things may not go so smoothly.
    Warm Regards,
    Shawn Stoner
    EMT-B

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