Monday, March 31, 2008

Demand The Truth About NOLA Levees.....

as well as just, fair compensation for federal flood survivors who lost family members in the manmade disaster of New Orleans' levee breaches.

With the start of hurricane season a little over a month away, New Orleans' storm preparation and flood protection deserves a close look. These things are far more important than Wrightgate or Bosniagate. Because unlike these tempests in teapots, human lives depend on the safety and strength of New Orleans' levees.

Mary Landrieu
has said she intends to file a bill, the 8/29 Investigation Act, shortly after Congress reconvenes on March 31.

"It's very important to really understand with this nonpartisan commission what happened and make sure this never happens again," Landrieu said Wednesday.
Which per this surprising news in a commentary in the New Orleans weekly Gambit is being blocked by, among others, none other than Louisiana Sen. "Bitter Vitter" of diapers fame.
Sen. Landrieu tried to introduce the bill twice last year as an amendment to the 2007 Water Resources Development Act. That made sense because the water bill, which became law, authorizes projects for the Corps. Unfortunately, Landrieu was stonewalled both times by partisan objections. "We have the general support of the Democratic leadership, but Republicans haven't been very welcoming of an investigation of a subject that may show significant failings on the part of the current administration," Landrieu says. "Otherwise, it would have just sailed through."

The most egregious lack of support comes from Louisiana's junior senator, David Vitter. Although Vitter offered lip service to, saying he favors such an inquiry, he isn't even a co-sponsor of Landrieu's bill. Vitter also failed to respond to repeated requests by Gambit Weekly for an interview on the subject.

But back to the levees themselves--every time federal culpability for their failure has been brought up, there have been those who've propagated the meme--a Big Lie first set into motion by a BushCo intent on discrediting Louisiana, Gov. Blanco, and her other Democratic leaders at the time--that Louisiana and New Orleans had been responsible for levee maintenance and upkeep.

This spin is counteracted by the following comment, which also contains detailed info on how previous presidents of both parties have more competently handled major disasters, and how Dubya himself dealt with 2004 hurricanes in an electoral vote-rich Florida led by his brother in that election year by azureblue: are a few tidbits about Bush's string of failures, the first showing how Bush caused the flooding of new Orleans:

It is simple: no money to repair, things (levees) fail. The ACOE gets blamed rightly, but the truth is the ACOE had been begging for money rom Bush & Bush kept cutting the fund to rebuild the levees and stopping work in progress:
February 2001
Bush proposed half of what his own officials said was necessary for the critical Southeast Louisiana Flood Control Project (SELA)--a project started after a 1995 rainstorm flooded 25,000 homes and caused a half billion dollars in damage
February 2002
Bush provided just $5 million for maintaining and upgrading critical hurricane protection levees in New Orleans--one fifth of what government experts and Republican elected officials in Louisiana told the administration was needed. Bush knew SELA needed $80 million to keep working, but the he only proposed providing a quarter of that.
February 2004
The SELA project sought $100 million to strengthen the levees holding back the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, including the industrial canal- which is where the levee gave way, but Bush offered only $16.5 million. The Army Corps of Engineers asked for $27 million to pay for hurricane protection upgrades around Lake Pontchartrain--but the White House cut that to $3.9 million. Levee repairs around Lake Pontchartrain and the IC, stopped because of budget shortfalls.

Comparing previous disaster responses:
President Nixon -- August 1969 when Cat-5 Hurricane Camille hit the MS coast, President Nixon had already readied the National Guard and ordered all Gulf rescue vessels and equipment from Tampa and Houston to follow the Hurricane in. There were over 1,000 regular military with two dozen helicopters to assist the Coast Guard and National Guard within hours after the skies cleared.

President Clinton -- September 1999, Hurricane Floyd -- Cat-3, was bearing down on the Carolinas and Virginia. President Clinton was in New Zealand meeting with President Jiang of China. He declared the area a Federal Disaster so the National Guard and Military can begin to mobilize. Then he cut short his meetings overseas and flew home to coordinate the rescue efforts. All one day BEFORE a Cat-3 hit the coast.

President Bush (41) -- August 1992 -- was in the midst of a campaign for re-election. Yet he cut off his campaigning and went to Washington where he martialed the largest military operation on US soil in history. He sent in 7,000 National Guard and 22,000 regular military personnel, and all the gear to begin the clean up within hours after Andrew passed through Florida.

But look what Georgie does for FL:
Right after Hurricane Charley first made landfall on Aug. 13, 2004, Bush declared the state a federal disaster area to release federal relief funds. Less than two days after Charley ripped through southwestern Florida, he was on the ground touring hard-hit neighborhoods.

Illegitimus non carborundum

by azureblue on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 08:28:35 AM PDT

azureblue also discusses various evacuation-related snafus which have been blamed on the Bush Administration spin machine on Louisiana and New Orleans. He adds that it was Bush's fault, not that of Louisiana officials, that bus evacuation stopped:

Peter Pantuso of the American Bus Association said he spent much of the day on Wednesday, Aug. 31, trying to find someone at the Federal Emergency Management Agency who could tell him how many buses were needed for an evacuation, where they should be sent and who was overseeing the effort. This is a group of companies that could, if asked, rapidly provide large amounts of transportation.
Instead the agency had farmed the work out to a trucking logistics firm, Landstar Express America, which in turn hired a limousine company, which in turn engaged a travel management company. Landstar Express is a subsidiary of Landstar System, a $2 billion company whose board chairman, Jeff Crowe, also was chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation's premier business lobbies, from June 2003 until May 2004.
Jeff Crowe owns LandStar Express that had a $100million contract with FEMA to provide emergency evacuation services. LandStar Express didn't start working on the New Orleans evacuation until TWO DAYS AFTER Katrina hit. Then they subcontracted to a limo company who subcontracted to a Virginia travel agent...
They were trying to find 300 buses.
Meanwhile Greyhound and another company were trying to contact FEMA to offer 3500 buses at cost.
For this idiocy, LandStar's contract has been raised to $400million.

Looking for buses
Members of Blanco's staff were struggling to find buses and get them to where they were needed.
The first mention of buses among her top advisers comes from Chief of Staff Andy Kopplin, who sends out a missive to many in the executive ranks. "We need you to find buses that can go to N.O. asap," Kopplin wrote.
In an e-mail, Kim Hunter Reed, Blanco's policy director, complained on the afternoon of August 31 that she needs to know where to send the needed assistance.
"I am getting these calls to (sic) and I have buses and water but can't get word on where and how to send," wrote Reed, who in a separate note that same day also said she needed direction from the Louisiana State Police and the American Red Cross.
According to the timeline, Blanco says she learns late Wednesday, Aug. 31, that "a number of the promised FEMA buses are finally crossing into N. Louisiana, 7 or 8 hours away from New Orleans."

Sunday, August 28
"We're facing the storm most of us have feared," said Nagin. "This is going to be an unprecedented event." [Times-Picayune]
"Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to evacuate themselves."
This is referring to evacuating people to an emergency shelter within the city, not evacuating people to points outside the city. The Mayor did implement an emergency bussing system that evacuated the city's poor and disabled to the Superdome. This can be verified by reading the plan at

Thursday, September 1
"This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the convention centre and don't anticipate enough buses. We need buses. Currently the convention centre is unsanitary and unsafe and we're running out of supplies."

DHS failed to use catastrophe response plan in Katrina's wake

The Homeland Security Department did not use a plan for handling catastrophes in its response to Hurricane Katrina, even though some officials say that doing so could have saved lives and brought the chaotic situation in New Orleans under control.
The department didn't activate a section of the National Response Plan


From the Chicago Tribune, September 4, 2005: The US Bataan:
"While federal and state emergency planners scramble to get more military relief to Gulf Coast communities stricken by Hurricane Katrina, a massive naval goodwill station has been cruising offshore, underused and waiting for a larger role in the effort.
"The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore."
Tyson dispatched a landing craft from her ship -- 90 miles up the Mississippi River to New Orleans, carrying medical personnel, food, water. It was over halfway there when it was ordered back to the Bataan because the Bataan itself had been ordered to Mississippi

Investigation finds Red Cross agreed to withhold Orleans aid, operates in tandem with Homeland Security

in Blanco's testimony before Congress:
"I requested massive federal assistance in letters to President Bush on Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 -- before the storm's landfall," she said in one. "I spoke with President Bush on Sunday (Aug. 28) and Monday (Aug. 29) and told him I needed everything he had. I believed FEMA officials who told me that every federal resource was at my disposal. I believed this meant every single available resource."
Later on in the talking points document, she responds to a hypothetical question about what she did wrong in response to Katrina.
"I believe my biggest mistake was believing FEMA officials who told me that the necessary federal resources would be available in a timely fashion," she said."

The Original can be viewed on line at:

Illegitimus non carborundum

by azureblue on Wed Mar 26, 2008 at 08:44:17 AM PDT

And remember that picture of all of those flooded school buses, that had been spun as a sign of Mayor Nagin's and Louisiana's incompetence? Actually, Louisiana had wanted to use those buses for evacuation--but FEMA, whose rules specified that buses had to have air conditioning, which those buses didn't have, would not allow her to use those buses.

I've reprinted azureblue's comments from under this diary here because they tell a story that you won't hear from the corporate-owned mainstream media--yet a story far more accurate. What actually happened during the manmade disaster of New Orleans' levee breaches, and the continued effort to keep it covered up, are why we must keep a focus on and demand the truth about New Orleans' levees.

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