Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Former FEMA director still being paid

Brown told congressional investigators Monday that he is being paid as a consultant to help FEMA assess what went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to a senior official familiar with the meeting.

Brown also said he wished he had pushed more forcefully -- and earlier -- for federal troops to be brought in to restore order in New Orleans, the official told CNN.

Link to CNN.com

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Police confiscate firearms from New Orleans residents, but not from private security guards

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 8 - Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.

No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.

But that order apparently does not apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property. The guards, employees of private security companies like Blackwater, openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.

Link to nytimes (requires free registration)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Navy Pilots Who Rescued Victims Are Reprimanded

...
"We're not technically a search-and-rescue unit, but we're trained to do search and rescue," said Lieutenant Shand, a 17-year Navy veteran.

Flying over Biloxi and Gulfport and other areas of Mississippi, they could see rescue personnel on the ground, Lieutenant Udkow said, but he noticed that there were few rescue units around the flooded city of New Orleans, on the ground or in the air. "It was shocking," he said.

Seeing people on the roofs of houses waving to him, Lieutenant Udkow headed in their direction. Hovering over power lines, his crew dropped a basket to pick up two residents at a time. He took them to Lakefront Airport, where local emergency medical teams had established a makeshift medical center.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Shand landed his helicopter on the roof of an apartment building, where more than a dozen people were marooned. Women and children were loaded first aboard the helicopter and ferried to the airport, he said.

Returning to pick up the rest, the crew learned that two blind residents had not been able to climb up through the attic to the roof and were still in the building. Two crew members entered the darkened building to find the men, and led them to the roof and into the helicopter, Lieutenant Shand said.

Recalling the rescues in an interview, he became so emotional that he had to stop and compose himself. At one point, he said, he executed a tricky landing at a highway overpass, where more than 35 people were marooned.

Lieutenant Udkow said that he saw few other rescue helicopters in New Orleans that day. The toughest part, he said, was seeing so many people imploring him to pick them up and having to leave some.

"I would be looking at a family of two on one roof and maybe a family of six on another roof, and I would have to make a decision who to rescue," he said. "It wasn't easy."
...

Link to nytimes (requires free registration)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

FEMA delayed sending aid

The top U.S. disaster official waited hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast before he proposed to his boss sending at least 1,000 Homeland Security workers into the region to support rescuers, internal documents show.

Part of the mission, according to the documents obtained by the Associated Press, was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims.

Link to AP story at Contra-Costa Times

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

U.S. agency blocks photos of New Orleans dead

NEW ORLEANS, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. government agency leading the rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina said on Tuesday it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from the flooded New Orleans area.

Link to Reuters.

Barbara Bush:

"....image that's sort of scary is, they all want to stay in Texas....and so many of the people in the arenas here, you know were, uh, were underpriveledged anyway. This is, this is working very well for them."

Link to NPRs MarketPlace.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

New Orleans' Times-Picayune: an open letter to the president

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.


Link to Times-Picayune

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Falluja Floods the Superdome by Frank Rich

AS the levees cracked open and ushered hell into New Orleans on Tuesday, President Bush once again chose to fly away from Washington, not toward it, while disaster struck. We can all enumerate the many differences between a natural catastrophe and a terrorist attack. But character doesn't change: it is immutable, and it is destiny.

As always, the president's first priority, the one that sped him from Crawford toward California, was saving himself: he had to combat the flood of record-low poll numbers that was as uncontrollable as the surging of Lake Pontchartrain. It was time, therefore, for another disingenuous pep talk, in which he would exploit the cataclysm that defined his first term, 9/11, even at the price of failing to recognize the emerging fiasco likely to engulf Term 2.

Link to NYTime (free registration required).

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Chief Justice Rehnquist dies

Link to Reuters.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans' mayor to feds: 'Get off your asses'

The following is a transcript of WWL correspondent Garland Robinette's interview with Nagin on Thursday night. Robinette asked the mayor about his conversation with President Bush:

NAGIN: I told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we're outmanned in just about every respect.

Link to CNN.com