Tuesday, September 27


Documents show that Michael Brown didn't act on a long-standing FEMA Hurricane Response Plan. Brown tried to lay the lion's share of the blame at state and local officials, but it doesn't wash.

Michael Brown, the outgoing head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said while testifying to a House panel today that local officials were more to blame than he was for a failed relief effort in the days following Hurricane Katrina. He suggested much of the chaos in New Orleans could not have been anticipated.

But a draft of a comprehensive hurricane plan prepared for the United States government foresaw almost everything that happened in Louisiana as a result of Hurricane Katrina. While the plan never became official policy, it surely put everyone on notice at FEMA about what could happen if a big storm hit New Orleans.

"My biggest regret is not getting the governor [of Louisiana] and the mayor of New Orleans to sit down and iron out their differences," Brown told the panel.

But FEMA has had a catastrophic hurricane plan since January, which warns that local government would not be able to cope with a huge storm.

"The response capabilities and resources of the local jurisdiction may be insufficient and quickly overwhelmed," the document reads.

Brown said it was unclear what Louisiana officials needed.

"I could not find out who was making decisions about what needed to be done," Brown testified.

But FEMA's own plan advises the federal government that if lives are at stake, it should not wait to be asked for help.

"This may require mobilizing and deploying assets before they are requested," the plan says.


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