Sunday, September 4


This is long, so if you want to read it, check the comments.


Blogger Motherlode said...

Wolf: Are you humiliated by what happened in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane?

MC: It was a hurricane followed by a flood. Never been anything like this. Like working in the tsunami while waves still surging. As dimensions of the catastrophe became clear, we moved as fast as possible.

WB: We knew it would hit by the Friday before, and that it could be a category 4. Everyone's recognized for years that the levees could not sustain more than a category 3. The frustration and anger is that you didn't move more quickly to get people out of this city.

MC: Mike Brown began talking on Thursday that we should take this storm seriously. On Saturday he was on TV telling people in N.O. they had to move to protect themselves. On Sat. a.m. they declared a mandatory evacuation. Getting people to recognize the seriousness has been a problem for years. Even on late Sat. it was a marginal category 3. On Sun. a.m. it moved to category 4. People didn't take it seriously enough up front. I've gotta emphasize we are still in the middle of the emergency. We're moving the city of N.O. to other parts of the country. Enormous challenges face us across the country.

Wolf reads Chertoff the Times-Picayune article from June 23, 2002 that projected precisely what has happened.

WB: Why wasn't more done over the years to prevent this type of catastrophe? Everybody knew about it.

MC: It's been discussed for years. Citizens all across the country will be asking about N.O. and how they've organized the levees. We have to emphasize the challenges ahead.

WB: Prez gave interview to Diane Sawyer where he said he didn't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. Lots of people have for years. What was he talking about?

MC: He was talking specifically about this storm. It looked like N.O. dodged the bullet. The levee being broached did catch people by surprise.

Wolf plays the Michael Brown/Paula Zahn interview about the Convention Center. Brown: "We just learned about that today [Thursday]." Now that's a pretty outrageous admission on the part of Mr. Brown. The federal government did not know about it even though everyone else did?

MC: This was clearly disturbing to me when I found out about it. None of the state and local officials were talking about it on our conference call. People evidently started going to the Convention Center spontaneously on Wednesday. FEMA is not equipped to put large masses of people into places, they plug into state and local infrastructure, which broke down. This stressed the system beyond what anyone in the country has experienced.

WB: But it shouldn't have. Knowing what we knew, the government should have done a better job, shouldn't they.

MC: We have to learn these lessons and put them into place quickly. And that may require changing the disaster model. Up to now FEMA has played a supporting role, might have to take primary role. Michael Brown has a lot of experience, has done a great job, he's in control, he has a very good team. We are now flooding this place with resources. We have a more unified command structure than five years ago, so we can do a better job than then.

WB: Widely reported that Brown ran an Arabian Horses Association. That doesn't sound like a lot of experience to prepare someone to deal with calamities.

MC: Mike Brown had four hurricanes last year. He's gone through a crucible. Nobody has had the experience of living through something like this. For even 20-year veterans, it's a catastrophe like nobody has ever seen.

WB: Has the NG deployment in Iraq undermined this recovery, this relief operation?

MC: Issue hasn't been number of people, it's the time it takes to mobilize.

1:20 PM  

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