Sunday, September 04, 2005


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to repeat that I think we need to let some time pass before we start determining culpability for the problems with the relief effort in NOLA, if for no other reason then it will allow all of the relevant facts to be collected. I've also stressed that the problems with the relief effort are in many cases far more complex than I think some people believe.

Having said that, I've read some of the things which Michael Brown -- director of the Federal Emergency Management Administration -- said prior to and after Katrina's landfall on Monday, and frankly, I don't see a way to put a positive spin on them.

For instance, on Saturday he said, "Saturday and Sunday, we thought it was a typical hurricane situation -- not to say it wasn't going to be bad, but that the water would drain away fairly quickly," and ""Katrina was much larger than we expected."

I really don't know how he can say that... anybody who was following the storm online or on tv knew what was being said by the National Weather Service et al about the high potential of catastrophic damage, statements which I don't recall hearing about other hurricanes that have hit our country. We knew by Sunday that Katrina was a Category 5, and there had only been three C5's that came ashore on U.S. soil. How Brown can say what he did is unclear, to say the least.

Nor do I know how he can say that he expected the water to "drain away fairly quickly"... NOLA is below sea level, and I'd presume he knew that (if he didn't, he should have, to make a colossal understatement). And with the rain of a C5 hurricane, how can one expect the water to be pumped out quickly?

Mr. Brown will definitely have some questions to answer in a week or two. Provided things from this point go well enough to justify keeping him on the job.

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