Senate Democrats investigating FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina say they have documented nearly 30 instances in which federal and local government officials gave early reports on Aug. 29 that levees had broken and that New Orleans was flooding, including one report at 8:30 a.m. the day of the storm.
That information is likely to raise fresh questions about why President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff were evidently unaware of the flooding until the day after the storm.
Maybe the Feds ought to replace their emergency management system with a couple of bloggers with CNN and web access.
"The first communication came at 8:30 a.m. (Monday). So, it is inexplicable to me how those responsible for the federal response could have woken up Tuesday morning unaware of this obviously catastrophic situation," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Connecticut, said.
The Democrats released the analysis and a new batch of FEMA e-mails Thursday in advance of a Senate hearing Friday featuring former FEMA Director Mike Brown. Brown resigned after coming under relentless criticism about FEMA's response to Katrina.
According to the records compiled by the Senate investigators, New Orleans Homeland Security Director Col. Terry Ebbert said in an 8:30 a.m. conference calls that the levees had broken.
"We're faced with major flooding both in the east, East New Orleans, and then out on the lakefront," Ebbert is reported to have said. FEMA and National Weather Service personnel participated in the call, the analysis says.
At 9:36 a.m., a FEMA employee stationed at the National Hurricane Center e-mailed FEMA official Michael Lowder that a report had been received that a levee in Arabi, next to the Industrial Canal, had failed.
And at 10 a.m., a DHS official e-mailed DHS headquarters in Washington: "It is getting bad. Major flooding in some parts of the city. People are calling in for rescue saying they are trapped in attics, etc. That means water is 10 feet high there already."
A White House Homeland Security Council report at 11:13 a.m. takes note of the dire reports. It reads in part: "Flooding is significant throughout the region and a levee in New Orleans has reportedly been breached sending 6-8 feet of water throughout the 9th Ward area of the city."
So it's not that the Administration wasn't getting the information, it's that they didn't give a damn! (And they still don't, except to the extent that it might cause them political damage.)
Evil is the absence of empathy.
Update: It's even worse than the CNN story made it appear -- they actually knew about the levee breach the night before, according to the New York Times:
Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight. [Emphasis added -- Ed]
The Federal Emergency Management Agency official, Marty Bahamonde, first heard of a major levee breach Monday morning. By late Monday afternoon, Mr. Bahamonde had hitched a ride on a Coast Guard helicopter over the breach at the 17th Street Canal to confirm the extensive flooding. He then telephoned his report to FEMA headquarters in Washington, which notified the Homeland Security Department.
"FYI from FEMA," said an e-mail message from the agency's public affairs staff describing the helicopter flight, sent Monday night at 9:27 to the chief of staff of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and recently unearthed by investigators. Conditions, the message said, "are far more serious than media reports are currently reflecting. Finding extensive flooding and more stranded people than they had thought — also a number of fires."
Michael D. Brown, who was the director of FEMA until he resigned under pressure on Sept. 12, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he personally notified the White House of this news that night, though he declined to identify the official he spoke to.
White House officials have confirmed to Congressional investigators that the report of the levee break arrived there at midnight, and Trent Duffy, the White House spokesman, acknowledged as much in an interview this week, though he said it was surrounded with conflicting reports.
But the alert did not seem to register.
Of course not, to register, someone would have to care.
Somebody high up in the Bush Administration would have to understand that there really is a serious and solemn purpose to governance, that the awesome machinery of the Federal bureaucracy doesn't exist to line the pockets of the people in power, or to help out your political backers by crushing any restriction that inhibits them doing anything they want, or to push through your pet ideological fancies, or to reward the prejudices of the people who voted for you. No, there really are people who understand, who feel it in their gut and know it in their bones, that the government is there to do some good, to contribute to the common welfare of the country, to help out whenever it can, to keep the poor and defenseless and the average guy from being picked on by the stronger and more powerful, and to keep us all safe.
But there was no one like that around to notice when the word came in that New Orleans was drowning, and badly needed help.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.