10/22/2005: An Initial Assessment of Hurricane Katrina Response...
...from the White House's own appointed *investigator* - Frances Townsend:
"White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend acknowledged yesterday that the government failed to prepare adequately for the consequences of Hurricane Katrina, noting studies of New Orleans's vulnerability to flooding and lessons from flawed U.S. responses to past natural and terrorist disasters.
"It turned out we were all wrong," Townsend said. "We had not adequately anticipated."
Even before she spoke yesterday, however, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff responded to Senate testimony this week that ousted FEMA director Michael D. Brown and other top officials ignored a staffer's eyewitness report about the collapse of the 17th Avenue Canal levee on the Monday the storm hit. The dismissal of accounts of catastrophic flooding by FEMA's only person in New Orleans, Marty Bahamonde, delayed federal supplies and efforts to move 50,000 people out of harm's way for nearly a day, senators said.
The admission came after weeks of embarrassing disclosures of confusion of roles within the Federal Emergency Management Agency under a new national disaster plan.
-- Bush Adviser Acknowledges Lack of Preparation for Katrina (WaPo)
This is on top of the revelations from Fema's Marty Bahamonde and the shamefully outrageous responses to his Urgent e-mails to Michael Brown about the situation in NOLA.
"For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, including former director Michael D. Brown, dismissed urgent eyewitness accounts by FEMA's only staffer in New Orleans that Hurricane Katrina had broken the city's levee system the morning of Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding, the staffer told the Senate yesterday.
Five FEMA aides were e-mailed Bahamonde's report of "water flow 'bad' " from the broken levees designed to hold back Lake Pontchartrain. Bahamonde said he called Brown personally after 7 p.m. to warn that 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater and that he had photographed a 200-foot-wide breach.
Bahamonde contradicted accounts by Brown that FEMA had positioned 12 staffers in the Superdome before the storm, that Bahamonde's reports Monday were "routine" and that FEMA medical personnel were on hand before Tuesday.
At 11:20 a.m. Aug. 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown, "Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical . . . thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water . . . estimates are many will die within hours."
At 2:27 p.m., however, Brown press secretary Sharon Worthy wrote colleagues to schedule an interview for Brown on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" and to give him more time to eat dinner because Baton Rouge restaurants were getting busy: "He needs much more that 20 or 30 minutes."
Bahamonde e-mailed a friend to "just tell [Worthy] that I just ate an MRE . . . along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern."
-- Aide Says FEMA Ignored Warnings: Testimony Covers Communication as Levees Breached
Karen on 10.22.05 @ 06:42 AM CST