WASHINGTON, D.C.—On the fifth day after Hurricane Katrina struck, National Guard troops finally managed to get
themselves into downtown New Orleans.
How many people could have been saved while the
government sat on its ass, we’ll never know. And that’s to say nothing of the people who might have lived had the federal government provided support before the storm, bussing people out of the city rather than leaving them to carry out the evacuation order on their own limited—or absent—means.
Imagine if this had been a terrorist attack. Think of all the money spent, of all the contracts let and new companies formed to help us preserve homeland security in the wake of 9-11. Of all the innocent people arrested and interrogated under the USA Patriot Act. In this disaster, the Department of Homeland Security was utterly useless—with the exception of the Coast
Guard, the one federal agency that actually rescued
people in and right after the storm. The Secretary of
Homeland Security Michael Chertoff ought to have the simple decency to resign. If not,he should be fired, and if Bush won’t fire him, then he should promptly be impeached.
As for the pathetic military response, the
responsibility lies with Donald Rumsfeld, who runs the
Defense Department. These two should be held
accountable for their actions.
On 9-11 the government was unable to defend the
U.S. But nobody was held responsible. There was no
accountability. Is this to happen again?
Won’t the Congress for once stand up for the
ordinary people of the nation? Or is that just too
much to expect.
The National Guard is poorly equipped and poorly trained to handle any of this. Not only are its ranks depleted by the Iraq war, but its heavy equipment is gone
overseas. According to one report, the Guard can only
put together 35 percent of all the quipment,trucks,planes, etc., that it is supposed to have. The state Guards are so depleted they have to borrow from one another.
Although the government could have flown in the
medical equipment and doctors to staff existing or
makeshift hospitals, it didn’t move. Only at midday
today ,did the AP
report, “Rescuers finally made it into Charity
Hospital, the largest public hospital and trauma
center in the city, where gunshots prevented efforts
on Thursday to evacuate more than 220 patients. “We
moved all of the babies out of Charity this morning,” said Keith Simon, spokesman for Acadian Ambulance
This is the United States. Rescuing babies from a natural disaster took five days!
All week doctors made do with battlefield
triage, leaving the badly ill to die, while trying to
save the younger and healthier people.
Dr. Richard Bradley, a professor at both the
University of Texas Houston Medical School and Baylor
College of Medicine, is assigned to the elite Texas
Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue team. The team
went to New York after the 9-11 attacks. And he has been
in New Orleans since the hurricane. Here is what he
had on his blog
yesterday. “We have been pulling thousands of people
out of their locations where they are stranded and
surrounded by water. There are so many stranded that
the military helos are actually sling loading food and
water in to these people.
“There is no local government to be seen where we
are—except for a few law enforcement types. Many of
these guys are now carrying long guns. You may have
heard about the civil unrest here—it’s so bad, even
the Coast Guard rescue crews are carrying shot guns.
Our Incident support team told us they have requested
200 armed National Guard troops to protect us today
during Search & Rescue ops.
“The medical condition is bad. We don’t have any DMAT
(Disaster Medical Assistance Team) support—we have
been told they are all being used in Baton Rouge.
Acadian Ambulance set up a triage area which somehow
morphed into the city-wide evacuation center. It is
located under an overpass on I-10. It is an amazing
site. There are thousands of evacuees there. Some are
uninjured and waiting to get on buses to go somewhere.
Others are waiting hours for triage. Helicopters are
landing in the grass at the rate of 2 – 3 per minute.
They are full of evacuees. . . . Later today the unit was
pulled from operations because conditions worsened.
Once law enforcement improves, they’ll resume rescue
operations. Is this really America?”
Additional reporting: Isabel Huacuga