Wall Street Journal Blows Blanco and Nagin Out of the Water
From WSJ Opinion Journal article by BOB WILLIAMS (former state legislator who represented the district impacted by Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980). Excerpted below:
Unlike governors of New York, Oklahoma and California in past disasters, Gov. Blanco failed to take charge of crisis management and to ensure Louisiana's emergency operation facility was in constant contact with Mayor Nagin and FEMA.
Blanco and Mayor Nagin cannot claim surprise at the extent of damage and the need to evacuate so many people. Detailed written plans were already in place to evacuate more than a million people. The plans projected that 300,000 people would need transportation in the event of a hurricane like Katrina. Had the plans been implemented, thousands of lives would likely have been saved.
Local, state and federal officials held simulated a hurricane drill 13 months ago, in which widespread flooding supposedly trapped 300,000 people inside New Orleans. The exercise simulated the evacuation of more than a million residents. Problems identified in the simulation apparently were not solved. The primary responsibility for dealing with emergencies does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to local and state officials who are charged by law with the management of the crucial first response to disasters carried out under the supervision of the state governor and the state's emergency operations center.
The federal government does not have the authority to intervene in a state emergency without the request of a governor. President Bush declared an emergency prior to Katrina hitting New Orleans, so the only action needed for federal assistance was for Gov. Blanco to request the specific type of assistance she needed. Governor Blanco failed to send a timely request for specific aid.