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So where WERE those NOLA buses?

Katrina NOLA Buses

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#1 Call Me Robin

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 03:52 PM

Louisiana's Governor Blanco gives her side of the story on what happened to those buses.

Quote

Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina raged ashore, Gov. Kathleen Blanco still wants one question answered.
Where were the buses?

Hours after the hurricane hit Aug. 29, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a plan to send 500 commercial buses into New Orleans to rescue thousands of people left stranded on highways, overpasses and in shelters, hospitals and homes.

On the day of the storm, or perhaps the day after, FEMA turned down the state's suggestion to use school buses because they are not air conditioned, Blanco said Friday in an interview.

Even after levees broke and residents were crowding the Louisiana Superdome, then-FEMA Director Mike Brown was bent on using his own buses to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco said.

During the delay, misery and mayhem mounted in the Dome, thousands gathered in desperation at the nearby convention center, and Americans watched in shock as dead and dying New Orleans residents were broadcast on national television.

The state had sent 68 school buses into the city on Monday.

Blanco took over more buses from Louisiana school systems and sent them in on Wednesday, two days after the storm. She tapped the National Guard to drive them. Each time the buses emptied an area, more people would appear, she said.

The buses took 15,728 people to safety, a Blanco aide said. But the state's fleet of school buses wasn't enough. On Wednesday, with the FEMA buses still not in sight, Blanco called the White House to talk to Bush and ended up speaking to Chief of Staff Andy Card.

"I said, 'Even if we had 500 buses, they've underestimated the magnitude of this situation, and I think I need 5,000 buses, not 500,'" Blanco recounted.

"'But, Andy, those 500 are not here,'" the governor said.

Card promised to get Blanco more buses.

Later Wednesday night, Blanco walked into the State Police Communications Center and asked if anyone knew anything about the buses.

An officer told her the buses were just entering the state.

"I said, 'Do you mean as in North Louisiana, which is another six hours from New Orleans?,'" Blanco recalled in the interview. "He said, 'Yes, m'am.'"

It was at that point, Blanco said, that she realized she had made a critical error.

"I assumed that FEMA had staged their buses in near proximity," she said. "I expected them to be out of the storm's way but accessible in one day's time."

It was late Wednesday. The buses wouldn't get to New Orleans until Thursday. By then, many of the sickest and the weakest were dead or dying.

The buses weren't the only resource to arrive late, Blanco said.

It took days to get a communications system and outside troops. In the first days after the hurricane hit, Louisiana National Guard communicated by sending text messages on cell phones.

The death and destruction multiplied as looters armed themselves and residents languished waiting for rescue.

Brown was the first bureaucratic casualty in the massive governmental breakdown in responding to Katrina.

He resigned last week amid criticism that he responded sluggishly to the hurricane. Brown lashed out a few days later, telling The New York Times that Blanco and her staff were "incapable of organizing a coherent state effort."

Brown said that, on the day before the storm hit, he asked Blanco and Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, head of the state's National Guard, what resources they needed.

"The response was like, 'Let us find out,' and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing," Brown told The New York Times last week.

Blanco said it shouldn't have been up to her to provide a list.

"Specific things, my God," she said. "(If) they didn't know that we were in the middle of search and rescue and needed to evacuate people, then they were not on the ground with us. We needed buses and helicopters."

Besides, Blanco said, she thought Brown was in control of the situation.

"I had security in the knowledge that there were 500 buses," she said. "Mike had emphasized the buses to me personally. That was not my first concern until I realized that they were not there."

Meanwhile, the state continued to send school buses into the affected areas.

One of Blanco's aides, Leonard Kleinpeter, said FEMA told him at one point that the state could stop sending school buses because the agency was going to bring in helicopters and use them instead of the commercial buses that still weren't there.

Blanco told Kleinpeter to ignore those instructions.

"She said, 'I'll be damned. You keep loading the wagons on the school buses,'" Kleinpeter said.

Kleinpeter said he now wonders if FEMA temporarily halted its buses because the agency thought helicopters would work better.

By Tuesday, the day after the hurricane, Brown was ready to cede control of state and federal relief efforts to the White House.

Two days later, President George W. Bush met with Blanco on Air Force One and asked her for control of the troops that were finally pouring into the state. Blanco asked if Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour would be under the same regime. The answer was "No."

Blanco told Bush she'd get back to him in 24 hours. The president didn't wait. That night, the White House faxed a memorandum of understanding for her to sign to cede control of the troops. Her answer was "No."

"If I thought that it was going to bring one more resource to bear, if I thought that he was denying me resource because of it, and I don't think he was, then it might have been something that I would have considered," she said.

"By that time, we were already getting the resources and commitments," the governor said.

It wasn't the response that the White House wanted. People close to the Bush administration started criticizing Blanco, saying she bungled the state response.

When Bush returned to the state a few days later, he didn't tell Blanco he was coming. The night before that second visit, Blanco learned about the visit from a news reporter and wrangled an invitation to accompany Bush on his tour.

There was a noticeable tension between the president and the governor throughout the trip.

"What was going on is the national media people started picking on the president. So the White House began to defend the president. So they turned some guns on me," Blanco said.

"It was a colossal waste of our time and energy to get into the blame game," she said.

Blanco said things are now fine between her and Bush.

Bush has since acknowledged that his administration failed to respond adequately to the hurricane. The president has ordered a review of the sluggish response.

"Four years after the frightening experience of Sept. 11, Americans have every right to expect a more effective response in a time of emergency," he told the nation in an address from Jackson Square Thursday night.

"When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I as president am responsible for the problem, and for the solution," Bush said.

Blanco is less emphatic in taking blame for the breakdown.

She said she takes responsibility "for assuming that help was on the way" when it wasn't.

Blanco said she's also learned a lesson.

"In the end, in a really dangerous, life-threatening situation, there is no army that's going to be there to save you," she said. "It's going to be person-to-person, helping each other. Some people are putting their lives on the line to help other people whose lives are at risk. And that's the bottom line."

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#2 Nonny

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:25 PM

Call Me Robin, on Sep 20 2005, 12:52 PM, said:

Louisiana's Governor Blanco gives her side of the story on what happened to those buses.

Quote

On the day of the storm, or perhaps the day after, FEMA turned down the state's suggestion to use school buses because they are not air conditioned, Blanco said Friday in an interview.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:eek2:  What were they thinking?!!  :(  :angry:  

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#3 Corwin

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:31 PM

I don't buy this......

The city and state should have gotten those people out on the available buses BEFORE the storm hit...  and well before FEMA even got to NO.


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#4 MuseZack

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:41 PM

Corwin, on Sep 21 2005, 08:31 PM, said:

I don't buy this......

The city and state should have gotten those people out on the available buses BEFORE the storm hit...  and well before FEMA even got to NO.


Corwin

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Let's be blunt, though.  Where were they supposed to send all those mostly poor, mostly black people?  As it is, they've been distributed to something like 28 states, and there have already been tensions and problems.  I

MHO, it was beyond the capability of either New Orleans or even Louisiana to have out-of-area shelters ready for everyone, and it was a failure at every level of government to not have a comprehensive evacuation plan ready for such a forseeable disaster.  If a poor country like Cuba could evacuate 20 percent of their population last year ahead of a category 5 hurricane without losing a single person, then surely a nation as rich and powerful as the United States can figure out how to move a million people out of the way of a hurricane.
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#5 Corwin

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:48 PM

That very true and that IS a failure of FEMA not coordinating with other cities to help them set up shelters.  But if the state doesn't get the ball rolling in the right direction, it's hard for anyone else to come in and pick up the pieces.  And there is a lot of failures from the local level on up to the Feds....

Edited to add:  One of my biggest question is when did FEMA find out that the city and state dropped the ball, and what and when did FEMA do something about it.

Corwin

Edited by Corwin, 21 September 2005 - 03:56 PM.

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#6 MuseZack

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:59 PM

Corwin, on Sep 21 2005, 08:48 PM, said:

That very true and that IS a failure of FEMA not coordinating with other cities to help them set up shelters.  But if the state doesn't get the ball rolling in the right direction, it's hard for anyone else to come in and pick up the pieces.  And there is a lot of failures from the local level on up to the Feds....

Edited to add:  One of my biggest question is when did FEMA find out that the city and state dropped the ball, and what and when did FEMA do something about it.

Corwin

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



I agree.  And the pathetic thing is, by historical standards the Katrina evacuation was actually a success, with 80 percent moved out.  During the last hurricane to threaten N.O., the evacuation rate was something like 40 percent.  Neither are anywhere near good enough.
"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
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#7 Corwin

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 04:02 PM

wow.. after reading my post I realized how many grammatical and tense errors I made.... that's what I get for posting at work while trying to answer the phones.....

Corwin
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#8 UoR11

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 04:32 PM

On the other hand, this is Blanco we're talking about. She has no credibility on anything. It's possible this is how things happened, just like it's possible people standing on street corners screaming that the end of the world is coming are right. And they're about equally likely.
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#9 G1223

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 05:56 PM

In the city evacuation plan where were the people suppose to go? I mean the plan had been there for a few years. The planners had to figure out where those people were suppose to go. If it was in LA then why didn't the state agencies do the job of telling those cities to prepare for these people.

Why is it the Feds job to handle where people are suppose to go? I could see the feds getting in the picture if the people were suppose to go out of state. But if it was just out of the NO area why is it the feds job.
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#10 Corwin

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:33 AM

Well.... it's LA, only the most corrupt state in the US... at least as far as politics and business goes.....

Our evacuation plan is going great!  (unless you're stuck in the traffic getting out).  Everything is in place, the biggest part of the traffic is heading out decently, and people are actuallly leaving town.. Early on Wed. morning buses in Galveston evacuated the elderly, sick and others that didn't have the means to get out.

If Galveston could use school buses, city buses and everything else buses and get people out of town 72 hours early.. why couldn't NO?

Corwin
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#11 Natolii

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 05:57 AM

G1223, on Sep 21 2005, 06:56 PM, said:

In the city evacuation plan where were the people suppose to go? I mean the plan had been there for a few years. The planners had to figure out where those people were suppose to go. If it was in LA then why didn't the state agencies do the job of telling those cities to prepare for these people.

Why is it the Feds job to handle where people are suppose to go? I could see the feds getting in the picture if the people were suppose to go out of state. But if it was just out of the NO area why is it the feds job.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


According to the National Disaster Plan drawn up by FEMA, The outlying Parishes were supposed to take in people. FEMA designated the Superdome as a Shelter of Last Resort. The Convention Center is not mentioned in the plans at all. That couldn't happen for obvious reasons...

Nagin did not have the manpower to run those buses and asked Blanco for help, according to a resident of Jefferson's parish. She did not send help, or rather could not - It appears she was waiting for *the Federal help she asked for on 8/27, two days ahead of the storm*(see - http://gov.louisiana...tail.asp?id=976 ). This is not a media source on this one, rather a person* that evacuated ahead of the storm backed with state documents.

Everyone was apparently waiting for the calvary to arrive because they could not handle a storm of this magnitude. So why wasn't the Federal response mustered in the days before the storm? The State made the *required* requests for Aid 2 days before the storm struck... FEMA made a non-Urgent request for Volunteers 5 hours into the storm... Now I understand that it takes a bit of time to muster a response, but why wasn't the call put out as soon as the President (see - http://www.whitehous...0050827-1.html) activated the agency?

Nagin's outburst now makes a lot more sense as the pieces of the puzzle emerge, does it not?

(*Thank god her sister's b/f discharged from the Marine about a month or two before this otherwise my firend who took them in would have driven down to get them.)

(Edited to Change Federal Disaster Plan to National Disaster Plan)

Edited by Natolii, 22 September 2005 - 06:04 AM.

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#12 Corwin

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:23 PM

There is no magic FEMA wand that would have gotten people into place any faster or allow FEMA to do anything more than it did.  FEMA cannot just come in and take over operations.. That is not what they do.. They augment existing local and state personnel using local equipment.  

PROBABLY THE WORST FAILURE WITH KATRINA WAS THE BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNICATIONS ON THE LOCAL AND STATE LEVELS MOST ESPECIALLY INVOLVING NEW ORLEANS. This is because they do not have clear and redundant communication and control systems in place.  The NO Police chief has stated that this was the main reason while local authorities lost control of the situation.

Without clear communications and control not much is going to be coordinated and getting done.  FEMA relies upon the local and state authorities for much of this.  They do not know the specific areas normally and certainly not all the people.  What they normally do is come in with lists of people that are supposed to help in an emergency and help with the Federal paperwork to get people disaster relief.  FEMA does not come in and rescue people.  That's what the local and state emercency services are for and the National Guard.

Here in Texas we have multiple redundant communications and control systems scattered all over the state to ensure Government response and control in emergencies up to and including a nuclear attack on the capitol or other city.  Most of the problems that happened in New Orleans wouldn't happen in Texas on such a scale because our plans and infrastructure are simply more complete.  Dedicated people can only do so much without being told exactly where to go to help.

As for as the Buses in NO..... Nagrin couldn't find drivers????? BS!!!!   I only have a class C license good for cars and light trucks.. But I damn well could have driven a school bus out of that area.  And look at the above stated documents saying that Blanco was waiting for Fed help... What the hell were they doing during the time they were waiting.  


The most frustrating part of all this:  Although FEMA does and should carry it's share of the blame, I"m really tired of Blanco and Nagrin saying that it wasn't their fault and the Feds should have done more sooner.
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#13 Natolii

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:37 PM

Corwin, on Sep 22 2005, 01:23 PM, said:

There is no magic FEMA wand that would have gotten people into place any faster or allow FEMA to do anything more than it did.  FEMA cannot just come in and take over operations.. That is not what they do.. They augment existing local and state personnel using local equipment. 

PROBABLY THE WORST FAILURE WITH KATRINA WAS THE BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNICATIONS ON THE LOCAL AND STATE LEVELS MOST ESPECIALLY INVOLVING NEW ORLEANS. This is because they do not have clear and redundant communication and control systems in place.  The NO Police chief has stated that this was the main reason while local authorities lost control of the situation.

Without clear communications and control not much is going to be coordinated and getting done.  FEMA relies upon the local and state authorities for much of this.  They do not know the specific areas normally and certainly not all the people.  What they normally do is come in with lists of people that are supposed to help in an emergency and help with the Federal paperwork to get people disaster relief.  FEMA does not come in and rescue people.  That's what the local and state emercency services are for and the National Guard.

Here in Texas we have multiple redundant communications and control systems scattered all over the state to ensure Government response and control in emergencies up to and including a nuclear attack on the capitol or other city.  Most of the problems that happened in New Orleans wouldn't happen in Texas on such a scale because our plans and infrastructure are simply more complete.  Dedicated people can only do so much without being told exactly where to go to help.

As for as the Buses in NO..... Nagrin couldn't find drivers????? BS!!!!   I only have a class C license good for cars and light trucks.. But I damn well could have driven a school bus out of that area.  And look at the above stated documents saying that Blanco was waiting for Fed help... What the hell were they doing during the time they were waiting. 


The most frustrating part of all this:  Although FEMA does and should carry it's share of the blame, I"m really tired of Blanco and Nagrin saying that it wasn't their fault and the Feds should have done more sooner.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Nagin was utilizing City transportation and doing what he could. Go look at the interstate, that is where the drivers were. Anyone that could get out, did. I'm not talking media spin here. My friend can't believe she voted for that "Fat Cow" Blanco so I'm willing to bet that Blanco dropped the ball and Nagin didn't have what he needed to get the job done.

I'm not saying they were innocent, but by the same token I am most annoyed with the spin the politicians and media are putting on this.
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