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  1. #1
    Forum Member tbonetrexler's Avatar
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    Default Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina

    By MARGARET EBRAHIM and JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writers 22 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON - In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned
    President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.


    Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."

    The footage — along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press — show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.

    Linked by secure video, Bush's confidence on Aug. 28 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

    A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and then-
    Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and
    Homeland Security Secretary
    Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.

    "I'm concerned about ... their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe," Brown told his bosses the afternoon before Katrina made landfall.

    Some of the footage and transcripts from briefings Aug. 25-31 conflicts with the defenses that federal, state and local officials have made in trying to deflect blame and minimize the political fallout from the failed Katrina response:

    _Homeland Security officials have said the "fog of war" blinded them early on to the magnitude of the disaster. But the video and transcripts show federal and local officials discussed threats clearly, reviewed long-made plans and understood Katrina would wreak devastation of historic proportions. "I'm sure it will be the top 10 or 15 when all is said and done,"
    National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield warned the day Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast.

    "I don't buy the `fog of war' defense," Brown told the AP in an interview Wednesday. "It was a fog of bureaucracy."

    _Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility — and Bush was worried too.

    White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Brown discussed fears of a levee breach the day the storm hit.

    "I talked to the president twice today, once in Crawford and then again on Air Force One," Brown said. "He's obviously watching the television a lot, and he had some questions about the Dome, he's asking questions about reports of breaches."

    _Louisiana officials angrily blamed the federal government for not being prepared but the transcripts shows they were still praising FEMA as the storm roared toward the Gulf Coast and even two days afterward. "I think a lot of the planning FEMA has done with us the past year has really paid off," Col. Jeff Smith, Louisiana's emergency preparedness deputy director, said during the Aug. 28 briefing.

    It wasn't long before Smith and other state officials sounded overwhelmed.

    "We appreciate everything that you all are doing for us, and all I would ask is that you realize that what's going on and the sense of urgency needs to be ratcheted up," Smith said Aug. 30.

    Mississippi begged for more attention in that same briefing.

    "We know that there are tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana that need to be rescued, but we would just ask you, we desperately need to get our share of assets because we'll have people dying — not because of water coming up, but because we can't get them medical treatment in our affected counties," said a Mississippi state official whose name was not mentioned on the tape.

    Video footage of the Aug. 28 briefing, the final one before Katrina struck, showed an intense Brown voicing concerns from the government's disaster operation center and imploring colleagues to do whatever was necessary to help victims.

    "We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Brown warned. He called the storm "a bad one, a big one" and implored federal agencies to cut through red tape to help people, bending rules if necessary.

    "Go ahead and do it," Brown said. "I'll figure out some way to justify it. ... Just let them yell at me."

    Bush appeared from a narrow, windowless room at his vacation ranch in Texas, with his elbows on a table. Hagin was sitting alongside him. Neither asked questions in the Aug. 28 briefing.

    "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," the president said.

    A relaxed Chertoff, sporting a polo shirt, weighed in from Washington at Homeland Security's operations center. He would later fly to Atlanta, outside of Katrina's reach, for a bird flu event.

    One snippet captures a missed opportunity on Aug. 28 for the government to have dispatched active-duty military troops to the region to augment the National Guard.

    Chertoff: "Are there any DOD assets that might be available? Have we reached out to them?"

    Brown: "We have DOD assets over here at EOC (emergency operations center). They are fully engaged. And we are having those discussions with them now."

    Chertoff: "Good job."

    In fact, active duty troops weren't dispatched until days after the storm. And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region despite offers of assistance, and it took days before the
    Pentagon deployed active-duty personnel to help overwhelmed Guardsmen.

    The National Hurricane Center's Mayfield told the final briefing before Katrina struck that storm models predicted minimal flooding inside New Orleans during the hurricane but he expressed concerns that counterclockwise winds and storm surges afterward could cause the levees at Lake Pontchartrain to be overrun.

    "I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern," Mayfield told the briefing.

    Other officials expressed concerns about the large number of New Orleans residents who had not evacuated.

    "They're not taking patients out of hospitals, taking prisoners out of prisons and they're leaving hotels open in downtown New Orleans. So I'm very concerned about that," Brown said.

    Despite the concerns, it ultimately took days for search and rescue teams to reach some hospitals and nursing homes.

    Brown also told colleagues one of his top concerns was whether evacuees who went to the New Orleans Superdome — which became a symbol of the failed Katrina response — would be safe and have adequate medical care.

    "The Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level.... I don't know whether the roof is designed to stand, withstand a Category Five hurricane," he said.

    Brown also wanted to know whether there were enough federal medical teams in place to treat evacuees and the dead in the Superdome.

    "Not to be (missing) kind of gross here," Brown interjected, "but I'm concerned" about the medical and mortuary resources "and their ability to respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe."

    ___

    Associated Press writers Ron Fournier and Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this story.
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  2. #2
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    The thing that I take away from this is that, it is true, the federal response was inadequate at first. But this whole situation was a house of cards that collapsed from the bottom. The response at the local level failed completely. The people calling the shots were unprepared and incompetent. As a result, the local assets were not deployed properly. That caused every other level of the system to fall apart as well.

    You will all now jump on President Bush. And he does shoulder some blame. But history will show that Mayor Nagin is directly responsible for the majority of the loss of life and property.

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    Forum Member Tillerman17's Avatar
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    While I believe that the President apears to be a reactive instead of proactive kinda guy, the full blame should rest on the local governments who knew the severity of the situation and failed to act in a decisive manner. What most people fail to realize is that the federal Govt. shouldn't have to be involved in an incident of this type at he onset. Only when the local municipalities become overwhelmed should the Fed be called to intercede. I shudder to think what will happen in the case of another Terrorist attack, because this time it's bound to be worse.
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    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    Yes we know the local governmnet failed. But this is about the FAILURE of the FEDERAL government in the first week of Katrina. The government that is supposed to pull out all the stops when our nation is in trouble. Well this disaster was a doozy. It wasnt like they didnt know almost every one of these things was going to happen. It was not a surprise. They could have and should have prepared for the worst. Because they had the resources to do so and they freakin KNEW it was going to be bad. This administration has had a dismal 2nd term. I would like to see any American President do a great job whether I voted for him or not. It is time to start thinking as Americans instead of "Democrats and Republicans" (there is no difference) .... The President blew it. We all know this. We knew it as the streets of New Orleans were flooding. We had it reconfirmed after these hearings and as the information has been released. I am not some kind of left wing nut. I am an AMERICAN TAXPAYER who is very disapointed in the way the government I help pay for dropped the ball so miserably.
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    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    Yes we know the local governmnet failed. But this is about the FAILURE of the FEDERAL government in the first week of Katrina. The government that is supposed to pull out all the stops when our nation is in trouble. Well this disaster was a doozy. It wasnt like they didnt know almost every one of these things was going to happen. It was not a surprise. They could have and should have prepared for the worst. Because they had the resources to do so and they freakin KNEW it was going to be bad. This administration has had a dismal 2nd term. I would like to see any American President do a great job whether I voted for him or not. It is time to start thinking as Americans instead of "Democrats and Republicans" (there is no difference) .... The President blew it. We all know this. We knew it as the streets of New Orleans were flooding. We had it reconfirmed after these hearings and as the information has been released. I am not some kind of left wing nut. I am an AMERICAN TAXPAYER who is very disapointed in the way the government I help pay for dropped the ball so miserably.
    This was blown at all levels... period.

    The question is.. will we learn from the errors of Katrina or are we condemned to repeat them?
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    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    I sure hope so Ron. Hard to beleive in 2006 we would have to "learn" from a disaster.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    Yes we know the local governmnet failed. But this is about the FAILURE of the FEDERAL government in the first week of Katrina. The government that is supposed to pull out all the stops when our nation is in trouble. Well this disaster was a doozy. It wasnt like they didnt know almost every one of these things was going to happen. It was not a surprise. They could have and should have prepared for the worst. Because they had the resources to do so and they freakin KNEW it was going to be bad. This administration has had a dismal 2nd term. I would like to see any American President do a great job whether I voted for him or not. It is time to start thinking as Americans instead of "Democrats and Republicans" (there is no difference) .... The President blew it. We all know this. We knew it as the streets of New Orleans were flooding. We had it reconfirmed after these hearings and as the information has been released. I am not some kind of left wing nut. I am an AMERICAN TAXPAYER who is very disapointed in the way the government I help pay for dropped the ball so miserably.
    Nice rant.

    So that would mean if your FD has a major fire you would have no problem with the USFA or FEMA or DHS coming in to take over from the por local agencies?

    Local agencies are completely responsible for first response. The federal assets and resources are the last line of defense. The very last.

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    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    Thanks for the compliment. Whenever anyone else posts an opinion its a "rant" ....But I diigress. If a major fire etc. occurs and it is a threat to national security and the locals are overwhelmed, ABSOLUTELY. I am not afraid of the federal governmnet. You are skirting the issue. This had nothing to do with stepping on toes. This had to do with palying big-time "catch up". What did the Feds do in the week AFTER Katrina that they couldnt do within a few days? This thread is about federal failure. Not the local lack of a plan/clue The '"last line of defense" did just as rotten a job. Do you remember the post fromthe helicopter guy from Ft. Campbell? The troops were ready, the leaders of the country werent. (Or didn't want to be). ONE NATION under God.
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    With all due respect, it will be a very sad day in my life when I depend on government on any level to do anything for me.

    If you want to place political blame I would drill down a little further. N.O. has been a Democratic run city for generations. It should be the poster child of how liberal government, politics and policies shine above all others.

    It’s a shame how the most vulnerable were failed.

    RR
    Last edited by RoughRider; 03-02-2006 at 03:37 PM.
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    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    With all due respect... I would like think my government would be there for those U.S. citizens who are in desperate emergency need. Once again we can type pages going over how screwed-up New Orleans is on a good day. That is not the subject of this thread.
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    MembersZone Subscriber RoughRider's Avatar
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    Mikey,

    As a last resort I would like to think that as well. I just don't see what the Feds were going to be able to do on such short notice. Does Dubya have an easy button that would zap the Army Engineers there with bricks and mortor?

    If the President asks the question "are we ready for this?" or "Is NO ready for this?" and the answer coming through the channels from NO says "yes it is" is it Dubya's fault?
    Last edited by RoughRider; 03-02-2006 at 03:21 PM.
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    With due respect to all the emergency workers who had to stick it out.............The people of New Orleans were warned to leave and some very blantently chose to stay. I remember an interview with one woman with 2 kids who said there was no way she would leave and she had no intentions to do so. I wonder where she is today? If these people claim that THEIR city needs help, then maybe they should start by helping themselves rebuild or at least clean up. Those that are physically able need to get off thier A@#E%S and pitch in.

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Don't build a city below water level...next to the water. If you depend on dirt/rock/cement walls to keep the water from flooding you out......MOVE.

    And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region
    It mentions state's National Guard's not being mobilized quickly...is that a Fed Gov't responsibility or the State's itself?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    Thanks for the compliment. Whenever anyone else posts an opinion its a "rant" ....But I diigress. If a major fire etc. occurs and it is a threat to national security and the locals are overwhelmed, ABSOLUTELY. I am not afraid of the federal governmnet. You are skirting the issue. This had nothing to do with stepping on toes. This had to do with palying big-time "catch up". What did the Feds do in the week AFTER Katrina that they couldnt do within a few days? This thread is about federal failure. Not the local lack of a plan/clue The '"last line of defense" did just as rotten a job. Do you remember the post fromthe helicopter guy from Ft. Campbell? The troops were ready, the leaders of the country werent. (Or didn't want to be). ONE NATION under God.
    There are protocols that state and local politicians demanded be in place before federal involvement can begin. It was the Mayor of No and the governor of LA who failed to abide by those protocols. It was the mayor of NO who rfused to evacuate his city when he was asked to by the Pres.

    The federal government is able to take over in a situation that is, clearly, a local emergency first. It's called martial law.

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    BTW...

    Are you telling us that yuor city and your union would WELCOME the federal government to take over an incident that is first and foremost a local emergency response? That is laughable-regardless of the target.

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    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Nice rant.

    So that would mean if your FD has a major fire you would have no problem with the USFA or FEMA or DHS coming in to take over from the por local agencies?

    Local agencies are completely responsible for first response. The federal assets and resources are the last line of defense. The very last.
    We are not talking a 5 alarm fire, we are talking huricane. A large scale, natural disaster that will overwhelm the best prepared local resources. The feds should know that, and should have been better prepared to deal with the aftermath. They were not. Regardless the failings of the city & state officials, the feds dropped the ball. And if this new information is true in regards to how much the administration knew ahead of time, thier in-action is unexculsable.

    As for the comment about the people staying. Im not sure what its like where you live, but around here we have plenty of people who have no means to evacuate. Im not talking the ones who can but wont. Im taliking a poor, single mother with no car or an elderly woman who hasnt driven in years, let alone the homeless. These people needed help, and didnt get it. For that I blame the city, as they should have known. We know we have a problem with it, and are trying to find answers. NO should have done the same, considering their risk is much greater then ours.
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  17. #17
    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    Default Argue with this

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1983
    We are not talking a 5 alarm fire, we are talking huricane. A large scale, natural disaster that will overwhelm the best prepared local resources. The feds should know that, and should have been better prepared to deal with the aftermath. They were not. Regardless the failings of the city & state officials, the feds dropped the ball. And if this new information is true in regards to how much the administration knew ahead of time, thier in-action is unexculsable.

    As for the comment about the people staying. Im not sure what its like where you live, but around here we have plenty of people who have no means to evacuate. Im not talking the ones who can but wont. Im taliking a poor, single mother with no car or an elderly woman who hasnt driven in years, let alone the homeless. These people needed help, and didnt get it. For that I blame the city, as they should have known. We know we have a problem with it, and are trying to find answers. NO should have done the same, considering their risk is much greater then ours.
    A disaster is a disaster...

    The feds didn't drop the ball. They just couldn't recover the fumble of the local and state governments. If this hurricane was so certain to overwhelm local resources, WHY THE HELL DIDN'T THEY REQUEST THE FEDERAL RESOURCES EARLIER OR HEED THE ADVICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND EVACUATE THEIR CITIES?

    That poor single mother is not Pres. Bush's problem. That poor single mother was the problem of the Mayor and the Governor. They have the responsibility of getting her out. No car, no money, no whatever. The state and local officials failed those people first-irreparably.

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    Hmmmm, Brownie seemed to have a good handle on what was coming, including the Superdome being 12' below sea level and even called the roof damage.

    Was he really as inept as he was made out to be?

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