Sep 11 2005

Nagin, Blanco – Note How It Is Done

Published by at 9:26 am under All General Discussions,Katrina

Nagin and Blanco seemed to have been victims of their own arrogance and stupidity. That is a harsh assessment, but accurate given what Florida officials have been saying in light of the disasterous response by New Orleans and Lousiana to Katrina. Just read through how all the southern states had problems – but Mississippi was able to admit it needed help quickly, and got it from the great people of Florida [hat tip Drudge]:

One of the biggest differences between how Florida and other states handle natural disasters lies in the degree of cooperation between cities, counties and the state. In Florida, they are in constant communication with one another as storms advance and during the recovery phase. Not so elsewhere, as first responders from Florida discovered at dawn the day after Katrina made landfall. Search and rescue crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were poised in Pensacola on Sunday night in anticipation of Katrina’s landfall Monday.

After scouting the Panhandle and determining it was OK Monday morning, Jones said she called Mississippi officials to see if they needed help.

“They said, ‘We don’t know,’ ” she said. “Monday night, Mississippi said ‘We still have not been able to evaluate the damage, so please go.’ So Monday night, we were at the border ready to go, and we were in Mississippi by 6 a.m. Tuesday. So before Mississippi could wake up and say, ‘OK, we have to start doing assessments,’ Florida was in those two counties, in Jackson and Harrison.”

Jones’ crews made the first rescue in Mississippi at dawn the day after Katrina made landfall, and they spent a week in the area, ferrying Mississippi Marine Patrol officers whose vessels were destroyed by Katrina.

Florida law enforcement officials in each county hold monthly conference calls to discuss disaster coordination, but it wasn’t until after the storm hit that these Mississippi officials were making a plan of what to do.

“The biggest frustration for us was sitting down and trying to get all the emergency managers in a county to sit down in their emergency operations centers and talk about a plan,” Jones said.

Part of the problem was that Mississippi officials were in the process of rewriting their state emergency plan when Katrina hit, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lea Stokes said. They hadn’t yet evaluated post-Dennis hurricane response surveys when the Category 4 storm and its 20- to 30-foot surge wiped out 75 miles of coastline.

Deadly unfortunate timing for Mississippi, to be caught in between plans. Unlike New Orleans, which had a plan no one knew or no one followed.

This article really highlights why it the local officials and resources who are responsible for a successful or failed emergency preparation and response. The feds shove supplies to them, people and machines for opening roads and getting water and electricity pack. But the local officials need to direct all this to where the trouble is.

But the most recent Louisiana emergency operations plan doesn’t address how to evacuate in the case of flooding from storm surge, saying simply that “The Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area represents a difficult evacuation problem due to the large population and its unique layout.”

It continues, “The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.”

Buses were unable to transport New Orleans citizens for days following Katrina’s landfall. The plan acknowledges that, in the event of a catastrophic hurricane, “the evacuation of over a million people from the Southeast Region could overwhelm normally available shelter resources.” But it doesn’t include a solution to the shelter issue.

Louisiana officials could not be reached for comment this week. Mississippi and Louisiana officials, however, have increasingly decried what they called a slow federal response to the disaster, blaming the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But Gov. Bush defended FEMA.

“If we weren’t prepared, and we didn’t do our part, no amount of work by FEMA could overcome the lack of preparation,” he said. Natural Hazards Center director Kathleen Tierney agreed, saying emergency planners in the Gulf states should have taken a tip from the jazz legends that made New Orleans famous.

“Organizational improvisation” is essential to cope with unpredictable events such as Katrina, Tierney said. “Research on jazz musicians shows that people don’t just pull stuff out of the air when they’re improvising. These are people with an extremely wide knowledge of musical genres. They have always practiced and practiced and practiced. Similarly, improvising involves a deep understanding of the resources you have at hand in your community.”

Well, we know where Blanoc and Naging pulled their response to Katrina from, and it wasn’t the improvisional agility of jazz. It was the more the loser blaming others for being such a failure.

And David Brookes at the NYTimes illustrates how Louisiana developed the perfect example of how it is not done [hat tip Real Clear Politics]:

The plan (which is viewable online at begins with the insight: Be prepared. Or as the plan puts it, “Individuals with assigned tasks must receive preparatory training to maximize operations.”

The Office of Emergency Preparedness will coordinate with the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness in conjunction with the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan by taking full advantage of the courses offered by the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association and other agencies “as well as conferences, seminars and workshops that may from time to time be available, most notably state hurricane conferences and workshops and the National Hurricane Conference.”

The plan, of course, was to take courses and trips to seminars. Maybe Nagin is implementing part of this plan by sending his overwrought staff on paid vacations to Los Vegas?

In addition, the plan continues, the administrative and training officer of the Office of Emergency Preparedness will maintain close communication with the state training officer of the L.O.E.P., making sure workshops are conducted at the Emergency Support Function level, reviewing Emergency Operating Center/E.S.F. standard operating procedures and undertaking more “intensive work sessions with elements of the emergency response organizations in order to enhance unified disaster planning.”

Personally, I cannot see how they failed to succeed? I mean they workshopped and reviewed and went to seminars and did work sessions. Of course they were prepared . They were prepared to do some info-mercials at the very least.

This is what we call in the business being sold a bill of goods. People set up these conferences on every subject in government to make money. Some are valuable, but too many times they are as good as that guy in the hotel telling you how to become a millionaire, in two months, in real estate using the internet.

The paper flow must have been magnificent! The quality of the facilitating must have been surpassed only by the magnificence of the interfacing!

And the Floriday responders where in the neighboring state less than 24 hours after the hurricane’s eye it New Orleans…..

One response so far

One Response to “Nagin, Blanco – Note How It Is Done”

  1. LuckyBogey says:

    Since CNN was reporting recently awarded FEMA contracts and the connection of Shaw Group to the Bush Administration and the obvious non-reporting of any connections to Blanco, I found this LA Politics online by John Maginnis to be of interest:

    Stories from July 29 2005
    Care Urged on Coast Spending
    Now that Louisiana has won a historic victory with the inclusion of $540 million in coastal restoration funds in the federal energy bill, a state senator warns that how the state and parish money is spent could determine how much more Congress allocates in the future. “If we screw this up, this is going to be the most expensive $540 million Louisiana ever got,” said Sen. Reggie Dupre, D-Montegut. He hopes parishes will cooperate with each other and with the state to build larger projects.

    Foster’s New Toy Tired of the long road commute to Southern Law School, former Gov. Mike Foster has bought himself a helicopter. He’s the proud owner of a new Robinson 44 four-seater, which he said cost “between three and four hundred thousand.” The purchase was made easier by some generous federal tax breaks offered to help the aviation industry.

    May 06 2005 They Said It “I was not surprised to hear the governor bought me a ticket to Cuba. I was surprised that it was a round trip.” –Sen. Robert Barham, an administration critic who accompanied the governor on trade mission to Cuba, to a northeast Louisiana group.

    August 10 2005 Blanco and Nagin continue to travel the country and world to tell the story that Louisiana and New Orleans are no longer shakedown central. That mission becomes more challenging the more dirt federal investigators uncover from the past and closer to the present. The governor departs for the Far East next month and the mayor is going to Brazil,

    When the governor’s husband flew to a football game on a Shaw Group jet along with officials of a Japanese company considering building a plant in Louisiana, it was no scandal but only an eyebrow raiser compared to escapades of past Mansion residents.

    Had former Gov. Mike Foster forsaken his duck blind one weekend to fly around schmoozing corporate honchos, we’d have slapped him on the back and begged him to do it again.

    But to an administration obsessed with squeaky-clean appearances, the mere suggestion that Raymond “Coach” Blanco was being used to show off to the Shintech execs, for whom the Shaw Group is hustling to build a $1 billion polyvinyl chloride plant, prompted an instant acknowledgement of error and assurances it won’t happen again. Heretofore, “coach” will refer to that section of a commercial airliner on which Mr. Blanco sits on future flights. Whether or not he is truly, as Foster predicted he would be, “the most powerful man in Louisiana,” he needs to better adjust to his role of Caesar’s wife.

    … Indeed, if we’re taking nominations for “most powerful man in Louisiana,” Bernhard would get his share of votes. Shaw Group didn’t have to fly Coach Blanco around to impress the Shintech executives with how tight Bernhard is with the first family. One only needed to read about the Mansion reception the governor held to introduce Bernhard to members of the Democratic State Central Committee, or to see her seated next to him the following day when the governing body elected him its new state chairman.

    Now that Bernhard has gone from political player to party boss, the question to raise is not ethical but practical. How does the CEO of a publicly traded Fortune 500 company function as a party chairman?