I have subesequently added more evidence of incredulous unfolding events this Saturday morning; Please read through it all to have a better understanding of the boots on the ground;
If anyone should have had a plan in place, it should have been the governmental body of New Orleans. They live there! They should have understood the extent of the potential damage! They should have had a disaster preparedness plan in place that they could utilize, then use federal assistance to bolster that plan! But THE DEMOCRATS DIDN'T. The Democratic Governor of Louisiana should resign. The Mayor of New Orleans should resign. They are primarily responsible for the safety of that area. And they fucked up, big time. They clearly didn't have a plan in place for this eventuality, which was entirely foreseeable.
Why the Congress underfunded the Corps of Engineers for years is part of what I don't understand. We are losing 25 feet of Louisiana coastline for years. In other words, New Orleans is sinking. They must think about rebuilding a smaller city. The numbers of dead is incalculable until all those homes under water and the dead counted.
I fear the worst is yet to come.
Defense Tech org. takes on the catastrophe:
Organizing thousands and thousands of people, in hellish conditions and in a hurry, is tough work. Let's take that as a given. But still: We're now a work week into a natural disaster that had been forecast for years, and New Orleans "is being run by thugs," the city's emergency preparedness director tells the Times. "Some people there have not eaten or drunk water for three or four days, which is inexcusable."
How is it possible that with the fourth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, the federal government doesn't have in hand the capability to prepare for and then manage a large urban disaster, natural or man-made? In terms of the challenge to government, there is little difference between a terrorist attack that wounds many people and renders a significant portion of a city uninhabitable, and the fallout this week from the failure of one of New Orleans' major levees. Indeed, a terrorist could have chosen a levee for his target. Or a dirty-bomb attack in New Orleans could have caused the same sort of forced evacuation we are seeing and the widespread sickness that is likely to follow.
Chertoff's Department of Homeland Security demonstrated today that it could organize an impressive press conference in Washington, lining up every participating civilian or military service from the Coast Guard to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to promise its cooperation. But on the ground in Louisiana, where it counts, DHS is turning out to be the sum of its inefficient parts. The department looks like what its biggest critics predicted: a new level of bureaucracy grafted onto a collection of largely ineffectual under-agencies.
What has DHS been doing if not readying itself and its subcomponents for a likely disaster? The collapse of a New Orleans levee has long led a list of worst-case urban crisis scenarios. The dots had already been connected...
Located only three hours from New Orleans is Fort Polk, home of the 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, a light infantry unit with about 3,000 soldiers. Also at Fort Polk is the Joint Readiness Training Center, which prepares military units to respond rapidly to crises abroad. The 4th Brigade has been training for duty in Afghanistan. Why was it also not ready to take on a local disaster scenario in hurricane season? Or at the least, once the National Hurricane Center predicted that the eye of Katrina would come close to New Orleans, couldn't DHS have deployed the military to help shore up the levees?
And in the event of a WMD attack, when there would likely be no warning at all, what is DHS's contingency plan for moving into position the army or the marines to restore order and sustain life? In the wake of Katrina and the breached levee, the answer seems to be not much of one. In the wake of 9/11, that is worse than incomprehensible. It is unforgivable.
undefined does not understand how we don't have water filtration systems crated up in all fifty states that could be loaded onto an airplane and be usable in under 5 hours is beyond him. He asked this very question during the Tsunami when it took the Navy guys 8 hours to make a water filtration unit to airlift into Indonesia. Why don't we have 1000 of these units built and forward deployed though out America and our overseas bases ready for immediate deployment?
But lets be pragmatic. DW (a poster over at Defense Tech) asks that we look at what's happening down there. Soldiers, civilians, everyone that can, is trying to get into the area and help. No one could have predicted that thugs would actually shoot at the rescue helicopters! What kind of a person takes the mindset that they shoot loot TVs from stores and shoot at their rescuers? Animals, that's who!
(photo left: Democratic Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin)
Stories of a hospital ship in Baltimore preparing to leave 3 days after the hurricane hits only adds to the belief that the military is behind the curve. This should have been a home run for the Pentagon. They should have looked like the A-Team. Instead, they look like bunglers.
Hat tip: Tim McD
UPDATE FROM A MAN WHO HAS BEEN THERE DONE THAT:
Disaster operations are messy just like war, and people today are expecting instantaneous response when it’s virtually impossible when dealing with disasters or large combat operations.
Prior to my retirement from the Army I was the officer who coordinated Military Support to Domestic Operations in the United States involving USAF, NAVY, Coast Guard, Army, and many other Federal and state agencies. I have also planned & executed other large military engineering operations such as the deployment into Somalia in the early 90’s.
You folks have no idea what is going on behind the scenes and what massive efforts are ongoing to deal with this disaster. I can tell you the STATES have VERY SIGNIFICANT role in coordinating disaster relief and if they are unprepared it will significantly slow federal response. The state of LA delayed requesting Federal help according to my sources and it was the demands of the President prior to the Hurricane arriving that forced the State of LA and New Orleans to finally make it a mandatory evacuation. There are legal requirements that the states are required to do before the Federal Government may act. The Federal government will prepare to act and then execute prior to official requests from the states. The military and federal response was front loaded (IVAN last year was just insignificant compared to this, but good training) for this operation as can be determined by their quick response. I know the press has not told us all the details, but as one who has done major disaster and major combat operations in the past the signs are there by the quick presence of the Navy, Coast Guard, and FEMA. You just have to sort through the media stories to see it.
We are dealing with three disasters at once over a multiple states (roughly over a 200 mile front and to a depth of 200 miles (90,000 square MILES!!!) …ocean surge, flooding, rain, and then wind damage. The damage is massive!!! As someone who has war gamed, planned and executed these type of operations (with dedicated people who work 20 hour days or more at the start), it is unbelievable that people are expecting miracles in 4 to 5 days. We really have had miracles as the Coast Guard alone rescued 3,000 people by helicopter and with boats on Thursday, just 3 days after the strike!!! Let’s move on….
The transportation grid basically has collapsed in many areas (roads (interstates), bridges, waterways, rail, pipelines, electric grid, etc.); just the damage to the fuel distribution system alone will slow any response. NOTHING runs without fuel/Electricity and if you have to truck it in then you have even more problems.
Complaints about where the ships were when the storm hit is foolish. Any Naval officer who had his ships at sea anywhere near a CAT 5 Hurricane would be relieved. The Navy routinely moves its ships to sea and away from the Hurricane prior to it entering its area of operations. So far the Navy has deployed 2 Amphibious Assault ships with 600 hospital beds each in addition to helicopters, etc.!!! Another fleet carrier is in route with additional hospital capability,etc. The hospital ships mentioned in the Press have to be staffed and then they sail to the crisis. The hospital ships are the long term care medical facilities after the other major surface ships depart the disaster area.
other federal agencies etc. will staff their services in the disaster area when they can be supported in the disaster area. Normally an initial planning and operations cell (Command and Control) deploys and then as soon as feasibly possible everything else starts to follow as they can be supported logistically. Has it occurred to anybody that if you send in thousands of rescue workers without a transportation system to feed and supply them that you have only increased the amount of people you now have to rescue! Obviously the press has nobody who has dealt with logistics on the scale being involved in this relief operation. The press needs to get a grip and really think about what is going on. In military planning terms we are trying to move the equivalent of an Army in this disaster that has thousands of untrained and stunned troops (civilians).
This is a MAJOR effort of unbelievable proportions which in many cases local political leaders cannot understand the requirements or may not want to even cooperate in. In some cases the local Leader such as the Mayor of New Orleans demonstrated yesterday; really do not have a clue. From his rant yesterday it is obvious he has given up and is totally expected the Federal government to save him (and the attitude does not help). The local leaders really have to hang in there and maintain a leadership position of strength, (Rudy is an excellent example). Let’s move on….
It is apparent to me that President Bush understood the magnitude of the situation when he encouraged people to evacuate prior to the Katrina reaching landfall with a press conference. If you notice he did this after the slow evacuation procedures were started in New Orleans. This is the first time that I can remember a President doing such a declaration prior to a hurricane making landfall. This is state and local responsibility. Additionally, the disaster areas were declared before the hurricane hit which shows you that the Feds and the states new it was going to be bad. Almost always disaster areas are designated after landfall of a hurricane. I firmly believe the press has had a negative impact by all of the hype they put on the previous hurricane this summer (and exemplified by Drummonds comments). I believe this made people think the damage would not be that great and that they could stay in the affected areas and survive the storm.
Many of the people forgot the basics of surviving a disaster, which I blame on the states and local governments, which include preparing for 3 to5 day supply of water and food on hand to survive after a major disaster. It’s sorry to say, but many people will not live to learn their lesson, but I pray that those who do survive learn from this experience.
I truly believe that neither political party should try to gain politically from this disaster that they should focus on helping those in the disaster area, and those who have evacuated to the surrounding states. There will be plenty of time in the next few months to constructively criticize (and assign political blame), but we need to focus on the relief operations, if criticism is leveled it should be accompanied with a proposed solution and if not it should be ignored. This is too important to waste time answering political accusations and distracts from the leaderships focus successful conducting life saving operations. It is apparent that the usual wacko lefty lefties are screaming about nonsense, the grownups need to ignore them and do what it necessary. Shame on the press for pursuing their agenda instead of truly doing comprehensive reporting. The entire nation could learn from this disaster if better reporting was ongoing, as we will have more in the future.
Ben Bauman (U.S. Army, Retired) Commander,
VFW Post 9949
"And I heard the voice of the LORD saying "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said "Here I am! Send me." Isaiah 6:8 Sincerely,
for me Bauman says it all but my favorite Doc over at Maggies Farm gives good analysis;
The Anchoress has two good pieces on the failure of local and state govt. Neo-neocon addresses the failure to prepare. View from 1776 discusses the moral failures of NO. Right Thinking has a little debate with the reflex Bush-bashers. Vilmar agrees with us - don't rebuild. RWNH covers the territory - the Bush-bashing, the immature blame-game, the racism issues, and mainly, money-raising to help out. And of course Michelle is on top of things.
My humble opinion: Despite total incompetence, ignorance, stupidity, and corruption of the local hack, low-life politicians, and unprofessional police (one third abandoned their posts, and many joined in the looting) no-one can quickly manage a natural disaster on this scale. Even if they weren't such losers. That's why they call it a "disaster." If it were manageable, it would be called a "problem." This is beyond a "problem." This is the nature-imposed destruction of a city, with a local response which was an embarrassment, both practically and morally. And why didn't Bush know they were too incompetent to handle things? Don't know.