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Hurricane Katrina
If we can't agree on bigger government vs. smaller government,
why not opt for COMPETENT government?
rev12Sept05, 22Aug06

 "Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area.  So I'm asking Congress, please investigate this now. Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."  
--Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, on CBS's Early Show,  6Sept05

"The President said an hour ago that the Gulf Coast looks like it has been
obliterated by a weapon. It has.
Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction."
--Dennis Kucinich, U.S. Congressman

The New Orleans levees were designed, funded, built and maintained for Category 3 storms,  as the head of the Army Corp of Engineers will gladly tell you. 


Our society made a decision to protect New Orleans from a Category 3 storm.   A more powerful hurricane would -- by our design and choice -- send water over the levees and, in doing so, possibly breach them.  A breach inundates a city that sits below sea level. You can call it a pact with the Devil or shrewd cost-benefit analysis, but either way, going for Level 3  is the decision by which we live or die.

Here is the plan:
The United States was once a great country.  All that we need to be a great country again is a government that can count to five. 

Start counting, and when you get to four or five, you have lost your bet.

Our leaders do not pay their bets.  They weasel out of the them.


Both President Bush and Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff have said that the scope of the New Orleans disaster, caused by the levee breach and city-wide flooding, could not be foreseen.

On the September 1 broadcast of ABC's Good Morning America, President Bush acted as though the breach of the levees was an unforeseeable fluke occurrence: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."
He added, "Now we're having to deal with it, and will."

Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff called Katrina an "ultra-catastrophe" that exceeded the worst expectations of disaster experts. Chertoff said he couldn't think "of another incident, even the tsunami, that presented this combination of events ... And that perfect storm combination of catastrophe exceeded the foresight of planners, and probably everyone's foresight." 

This man is the leader of the Cabinet-Level Department of Homeland Security.  He shares responsibility for the deaths of thousands of American citizens.  Something is wrong in the Department of Homeland Security if an outfit designed to protect citizens places them in harm's way and they die.   Something seems to be  wrong with FEMA also  (the Federal Emergency  Management Agency).


Hey, remember this?  Seems to me, we've been here before.


"I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile - a hijacked airplane as a missile."
National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, May 16th, 2002.

"David, look, let me just say it again: Had I known there was going to be an attack on America, I would have moved mountains to stop the attack. I would have done everything I can. My job is to protect the American people."
President George W. Bush
White House news release available here.


The Phoenix Memo
On July 10, 2001, an FBI agent in Phoenix sent a memorandum to FBI headquarters in New York listing evidence that Osama bin Laden was helping his operatives in the U.S. attend flight training schools.

Presidential Daily Briefing
Title line: bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US
August 6, 2001 Page 1 of 2
(Declassified and Approved for Release: April 10, 2004)

The Whistle Blower
Coleen Rowley was FBI Special Agent and Minneapolis Chief Division Counsel in Minnesota.
In a 13-page memo to FBI Director Mueller in May, 2002, Rowley documents that, before 9.11, higher-ups at the agency wantonly disregarded intelligence about suspected high-jacker Zacarias Moussaoui and missed a real opportunity to prevent the attacks. Rowley is running for Congress in 2006.

Civilizations that can't face their problems could teach us a lot, except that they aren't here any more.


Congress in 1999 authorized the corps to conduct a $12 million study to determine how much it would cost to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane, but the study isn't scheduled to get under way until 2006. It was not clear why the study has taken so long to begin, though Congress has only provided in the range of $100,000 or $200,000 a year so far.

Al Naomi, senior project manager in the corps' New Orleans District, said it would cost as much as $2.5 billion to build such a system, which would likely include gates to block the Gulf of Mexico from Lake Pontchartrain and additional levees. If the project were fully funded and started immediately, Naomi said it could be completed in three to five years.
--Chicago Tribune, 1 Sept 2005

You and I should make the big decision now -- Category 5 for New Orleans.

Yes, we -- the Bush White House, really -- took away money that others wanted to spend on levee and pump maintenance, and on wetland renewal (let the Mississippi River raise the ground level).  But it really doesn't matter -- let the politicians back-stab over it. 

Let's you and I make the Big One now:  New Orleans gets Category 5 protection.  That's the decision we have to make and the rest is chicken feed.   Cat 5 for the Big Easy. 

Actually, even the Big One is chicken feed. too

When we made our pact with Devil and went for Category 3 in 1965,  the Devil won and thousands died.  Category 3 protection was chosen because Cat 5 would have been too expensive compared to the very slight chance of ever having a Cat 5 storm. 

The week after a Cat 5 storm hit New Orleans, Congress approved 52 billion dollars in relief aid.  ($51.8B was approved on Thursday, 8 Sept05;   an additional $10.5B had already been approved the week of the storm.)

The Army Corp of Engineers did not choose to build Cat 5 protection because the cost was too high.  They estimated Cat 5 would take $2.5 billion.   Just reverse the digits and multiply by 10.  One cost is 2.5, the other is 52, and that's just the down payment. 
Adjusting for inflation for a more apples-to-apples comparison, it still looks penny wise and pound foolish to me.  The $2.5B saved in 1968 is $15B or so today, when we have paid $10.5+$51.8 = $62.3B so far for our "savings" back then.  

The week after Katrina hit New Orleans (Cat 5 at landfall, 5 AM; Cat 4 over the city), the Federal Emergency Management Agency was spending two billion dollars a day.  It was $500 million a day for food, water and evacuations, but, as contracts for temporary housing construction were let, the run rate climbed to $2B/day.

Let's build Cat 5 now.  These idiots can't count to five, they can't remember what level of protection they chose and then act surprised later, and you could just die waiting for them to help you. 

Let's build Cat 5 now.  Besides,  it's cheaper.                                 
INTRO  & initial impact  Landfall: Monday, 29 Aug 2005 5AM
INTRO cont'd 
Rooftop Rescues begun
Rooftop Rescues 2 - helicopters grounded
Rooftop Rescues 3 - foreign aid offers      
Superdome in New Orleans          
Astrodome in Houston 

Water recedes   
Water recedes, cont'd -- corpses
(Politics HOME -- you are here)
A Category 5 storm approaches Category 3 levees,  nobody evacuates.
We built for Category 3.  Katrina was Category 5.
And then they say,  We couldn't see it coming.  
Nobody warned us.  

After they utterly failed to protect the nation on 9/11,
our leaders said the same thing.
How could we know?  Nobody tried to warn us.
The nation built only Category 3 levees
They knew the levees were level  3 and the storm was level 5.
You can take it from there.  
Repairs postponed, evacuation planning canceled.       
Before Katrina, the Federal government neglected repairs, killed a group engaged in evacuation planning for the city, and fired anyone who pointed out that those with power were hurting the nation's strength and security.  Such actions by  leaders protect the leaders.  
Turmoil at FEMA, outside contractors in New Orleans
In Washington, DC, turmoil at FEMA costs Michael Brown ("Brownie") his job.  In New Orleans, public money is converted into private wealth by giving big contracts to big corporations.   This is not the same as rebuilding families, businesses and communities.  This is not the same as giving people control over their own destiny.  We barged into Iraq the same way -- we knew best, do it our way -- and their electric power grid still doesn't work.
FEMA suffered because it was demoted and its achievements denigrated
Downgrade FEMA, then act surprised.
FEMA was downgraded in 2003 from a cabinet level position, where it reported directly to the President.  The Republicans created the largest government bureaucracy in my lifetime (DHS, the Department of Homeland Security) and put FEMA into it.  People were put in charge of FEMA who described its work as handing out entitlements -- helping poor people who did not deserve any help, handing out entitlements like other entitlements that need to be curtailed, like Medicare, Social Security, veteran's pensions.  Somehow the logic escapes me, but the message was clear -- this agency is on the outs.  If you work here, quit now. They did. 

In the lead-up to Katrina (2003 - 2005),  experts quit FEMA, experts  on emergency power, water purification, setting up emergency telecom networking,  logistics planning, setting up field medicine surgical teams.   These are people all over the country, on retainer, who do similar work "in civilian life," prepared to hop a plane to anywhere on a moment's notice, and put rehearsed response plans into action using pre-positioned emergency gear.  They were not appreciated, not wanted, not paid, not dumb -- they got the message and quit.  I was proud of these people.  I was proud of my government.  I was proud of my country.  

Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana  
"Give me a better idiot.
Give me a caring idiot.
Give me a sensitive idiot.
Just don't give me the same idiot."  
For Peat's Sake!  The levees slid sideways without tipping over.  
Security Theater from the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS).
The new Republican bureaucracy at the new Dept. of Homeland Security brings you National Preparedness Month, Sept. 2005.  

Homeland Security theater makes you think we're all doing something about our problems, when in fact it is a show, it is  "security theater" for the masses.  

After hoots of ridicule, the Department of Homeland Security took down this Webpage, but the silly messages that once were on it are repeated to this day by civic, municipal and state government entities on Webpages across the country.  
Another photoessay:  9/11
home for this Website       

Rev 19Oct06, 14Aug2011 better links  7Oct11 clarify $52B aid figures