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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Michael Brown and Bennett Landreneau Wildfire 

A lot of activity on the Landreaneau front. Let's start with portions of the New York Times interview with ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown, as quoted by Right Wing News, obviously an aviation news source. Emphasis mine:

When he arrived in Baton Rouge on Sunday evening, Mr. Brown said, he was concerned about the lack of coordinated response from Governor Blanco and Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard.

"What do you need? Help me help you," Mr. Brown said he asked them. "The response was like, 'Let us find out,' and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing."

The most responsive person he could find, Mr. Brown said, was Governor Blanco's husband, Raymond. "He would try to go find stuff out for me," Mr. Brown said.

Governor Blanco's communications director, Mr. Mann, said that she was frustrated that Mr. Brown and others at FEMA wanted itemized requests before acting. "It was like walking into an emergency room bleeding profusely and being expected to instruct the doctors how to treat you," he said.

On Monday night, Mr. Brown said, he reported his growing worries to Mr. Chertoff and the White House. He said he did not ask for federal active-duty troops to be deployed because he assumed his superiors in Washington were doing all they could. Instead, he said, he repeated a dozen times, "I cannot get a unified command established."

The next morning, Mr. Brown said, he and Governor Blanco decided to take a helicopter into New Orleans to see the mayor and assess the situation. But before the helicopter took off, his field coordinating officer, or F.C.O., called from the city on a satellite phone. "It is getting out of control down here; the levee has broken," the staff member told him, he said.

The crowd in the Superdome, the city's shelter of last resort, was already larger than expected. But Mr. Brown said he was relieved to see that the mayor had a detailed list of priorities, starting with help to evacuate the Superdome.

Mr. Brown passed the list on to the state emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, but when he returned that evening he was surprised to find that nothing had been done.

"I am just screaming at my F.C.O., 'Where are the helicopters?' " he recalled. " 'Where is the National Guard? Where is all the stuff that the mayor wanted?' "

FEMA, he said, had no helicopters and only a few communications trucks. The agency typically depends on state resources, a system he said worked well in the other Gulf Coast states and in Florida last year....

So Major General Bennett C. Landreneau presided over a situation in which he didn't even know what help he needed.

Right Wing News goes on to say:

How pathetic is it that Brown is having to try to pump Blanco's husband for information about what's going on? Furthermore, it's hard to believe Blanco's communications director is complaining that FEMA wanted "itemized requests." The locals are supposed to be on the point after a disaster and instead, you have the governor's office complaining that they had to give answers more specific than "Fix it!" and "We need stuff!" when FEMA asked how they could help.

Also note that FEMA had medical staff at the Superdome, but they had to leave on Tuesday because the security situation got so out of hand. Who should have been in charge of the security? Two groups controlled by the locals: the police and the national guard.

And again, Landreneau did nothing.

Prairie Pundit talks about the Times' attempted spin, which contradicted the facts in their own article:

The Times keeps trying to redirect responsibility upward, but it is clear the main problem in Louiana was incompetent state officials at all levels. Brown gives the impression that the Mayor was more organized than the governor and her staff.

Can the Times, or anyone else, provide one example of Landreneau taking positive, decisive action? So far I haven't seen any such example.

From Horatio's Land of Joy:

As I have said before, it is clear that Blanco's office failed to help FEMA organize a relief effort. At the same time, Mississippi and Alabama were taking care of business. You will notice we don't hear much about Mississippi and Alabama on the news anymore. Why? Because they have been successful at getting people out, and the Media doesn't like success....

From these chain of events, does it sound like Bush is to blame? Brown was to the point where he called the President of the United States asking him to tell a Mayor to evacuate his city. Shouldn't that be the Governor's job? Shouldn't Blanco's office be there telling her mayor to evacuate the city?

Brown's biggest mistake was waiting too long to call in the cavalry. But, he was overwhelmed. I agree that Brown was the wrong man for this job, but he is being crucified by media sadducees.

Overall, I continue with my assertion that Blanco needs to take some heat for this one. Everyone is blaming the failure on Bush and Brown... clearly Blanco's failure and incompetence eclipses the failures of either.

After all, she is responsibile for the state of Louisiana.

Just One Minute notes:

Did it occur to anyone on Blanco's staff that hurricane response was a responsibility of the governor? Or was it their belief that FEMA would position their own officials around the state with their own secure communications in order to accommodate a collapse in the governor's office?

An Opposing View

However, A Political Misery believes that the states shouldn't have to do anything, and that the Feds should do everything:

I must say however that I found Particularly humorous your statement that "Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and her staff were proving incapable of organizing a coherent state effort and that his field officers in the city were reporting an 'out of control' situation."

Hmmmm. So lemme get this straight, mikey--yer asking one of the poorest states in our nation to organize a response from a devastated and incapacitated city that even YOU couldn't get together with the vast array of federal resources at your immediate beck and call?

So, in the world of political misery, here's how FEMA should have responded?

BROWN: So, what do you guys need?

BIANCO: I don't know. I'm just a poor state governor. Even though I'm responsible for the state, I'm certainly off the hook in this disaster response. You've come from hundreds of miles away - YOU tell ME what I need.

LANDRENEAUX: I don't know either. I'm supposed to be responsible for state disaster operations, but that just means that I get to complain about what the Federal Government isn't doing.

Unfortunately, the Louisiana Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness mission page states that they are supposed to do more than sit on their hands and wait for Washington. Emphasis mine:

Agency Mission Statement


The Louisiana Office of Homeland Security And Emergency Preparedness leads, coordinates, and supports the emergency management system, in order to protect lives and prevent the loss of property from all hazards.

"The Louisiana Office of Homeland Security And Emergency Preparedness will ensure that the State is prepared to respond to, and recover from, all natural and man-made emergencies. This office will provide the leadership and support to reduce the loss of life and property through a all-hazards emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery."

Our Vision

"is for governmental, volunteer and private organizations, with effective plans, necessary resources, and training for variable and efficient disaster response. To maintain and improve the capability to successfully Mitigate against, Prepare for, Respond to, and Recover from all-hazards related emergencies and disasters."

As Bill Cosby would say, "Riiiiiiiight."

From the Ontario Empoblog

Thanks for the Plug! Good points.
holy fuck dude...i'm drinking corona there's no way i can read all of that right now, but i'm sure it's damn good....i'll have to check back when i'm more focused!
Thanks for visiting. I'm linking to ya.
Hmmmm, let’s see. By using the tactic you did on my post; you know, taking a small quote out of context, then wildly twisting it and adding your own “analysis” to it, I suspect the conversation with Brown, Bianco and Landreneaux would go something like this:

Bianco: Hey! Where’s that disaster response I requested on the 26th of August? We’re absolutely incapacitated here and 10 feet under water?

Landreneaux: Yeah Mr. Brown—a LARGE part of my operation is to assist in the coordination of state and federal mass casualty management and disaster planning, per ALL of our well made plans—including the disaster scenario of the mock disaster hurricane Pam done here in 2004—you remember that because your agency both participated and helped draw up the critique and protocols to respond in the event we actually had something like happen.

Brown—huh? Disaster? There’s a disaster occurring somewhere? Oh wait a second—I ain’t no disaster specialist—I can barely hold a job. And frankly, no one that I’m associated with gives a shit about a bunch of dirty, smelly niggers—unless of course we’re looking for a little good time away from our frigid but oh-so proper wives. Nope—you poor bastards down in Louisiana suck enough federal dollars from my businesses…errr, the federal government—why dontcha just fix it on yer own, ya stupid hicks.

I would hope that the next time you decide to pull a quote, ya actually use it correctly instead of pulling some pseudo analysis outta yer ass—but from the looks of things around here, that would be asking an awful lot from you.
Don't worry about me, 'cause I can't spell. I spelled the last name of the esteemed head of Louisiana's emergency preparedness efforts three different ways in this post alone - count 'em (Landreneau, Landreaneau, Landreneaux). Misery shouldn't be blamed for her misspelling, since she copied mine, but you gotta wonder about someone who takes their spelling cues from someone who pulls pseudo analysis out of his ass.

And who posts spelling flames against himself.

I still argue that Brown at least tried to do something. Still haven't seen any evidence that Landreneau, or Landreaneau, or Landreneaux, has made a positive contribution.
The real story is this. Our National Guard is not political and cares more about helping people and getting their job done then stopping to tell people who aren't in need of assistance how wonderful they are!!! Our Guardsmans are the heroes of this disaster and so is their commander General Landreneau! I daresay you naysayers haven't done a patriotic or heroic act in your life. Read some of the real story here http://www.louisianalife.com/news/news/8220-what-we-signed-up-for-8221-1052.html
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