Thursday, September 01, 2005

Bush's Fault State & Local Governments Were Not Prepared?

WASHINGTON - The federal government so far has bungled the job of quickly helping the multitudes of hungry, thirsty and desperate victims of Hurricane Katrina, former top federal, state and local disaster chiefs said Wednesday.

The experts, including a former Bush administration disaster response manager, told Knight Ridder that the government wasn't prepared, scrimped on storm spending and shifted its attention from dealing with natural disasters to fighting the global war on terrorism.

The disaster preparedness agency at the center of the relief effort is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which was enveloped by the new Department of Homeland Security with a new mission aimed at responding to the attacks of al Qaida.

"What you're seeing is revealing weaknesses in the state, local and federal levels," said Eric Tolbert, who until February was FEMA's disaster response chief. "All three levels have been weakened. They've been weakened by diversion into terrorism."

Well, of course, it's Bush's fault that the states of Lousiana and Mississippi were ill-prepared! And it's Bush's fault that the cities of New Orleans, Gulfport, and Biloxi were not prepared for a Category 5 Hurricane. I mean, it's perfectly obvious that the Federal Government has taken over the position formerly held by God Almighty: omniscent and omnipotent.

What happened to the spirit of the pioneers? The spirit that caused many of our ancestors to give up hearth and home and head out to a new, foreign world? Leaving civilization behind and relying on one's self and one's immediate neighbors?

I know, I know. That was then. And nobody in New Orleans expected the levees to break, which has caused more problems than Katrina did. (Are the levees under federal control? Or state? In California, the levees in the Delta are under the jurisdiction of the state.)

And which is more important: delivering water and ice to those in shelters or rescuing those who are stranded on roofs and in attics? How do you decide?

There will be plenty of time to point fingers later. And I'm sure there will be more than enough blame to hand around to all parties involved, including private citizens. Let's get folks to safety, bring in clean water and food, and provide medical attention NOW.

For the rest of us: every area has its own particular natural disaster. Here in earthquake country, we've been warned, time and again, to be prepared for three days without food, water, or power. No, I'm not completely prepared (despite being in Scouts). Are you?