Posted by R. Neal
FEMA Head: Lawlessness Not Anticipated:
The head of the federal disaster relief agency said Friday it's "heartbreaking and very, very frustrating" to witness the virtual anarchy in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and defended the Bush administration's response.
But Brown also acknowledged that little in the government's preparedness plan took into account the likelihood of lawlessness in such dire straits.
"Before the hurricane struck I came down here personally and rode the storm out in Baton Rouge," he said. "We had all of our rescue teams, the medical teams, pre-deployed, ready to go. ... The lawlessness, the crime that is occurring, did surprise us."
Appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," the FEMA director said he "never thought I'd see" the lawlessness that has overtaken the city and interrupted emergency relief efforts. "It's heartbreaking and very, very frustrating to me from a broad operational perspective," he said.
Bush Says Relief Results 'Not Acceptable':
"There's a lot of aid surging toward those who've been affected. Millions of gallons of water. Millions of tons of food. We're making progress about pulling people out of the Superdome," the president said.
For the first time, however, he stopped defending his administration's response and criticized it. "A lot of people are working hard to help those who've been affected. The results are not acceptable," he said. "I'm heading down there right now."
New Orleans Mayor Fumes Over Slow Reponse:
NEW ORLEANS - A day before President Bush headed to the hurricane-ravaged South, Mayor Ray Nagin lashed out at federal officials, telling a local radio station "they don't have a clue what's going on down here."
Federal officials expressed sympathy but quickly defended themselves, saying they, too, were overwhelmed by the catastrophe that hit the Gulf Coast region on Monday.
Nagin's interview Thursday night on WWL radio came as President Bush planned to visit Gulf Coast communities battered by Hurricane Katrina, a visit aimed at alleviating criticism that he engineered a too-little, too-late response.
Bush viewed the damage while flying over the region Wednesday en route to Washington after cutting short his Texas vacation by two days.
"They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of god**** - excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed," Nagin said.
FEMA couldn't forsee that tens of thousands of poor people left to fend for themselves might get desperate and take matters into their own hands when their families start dying from hunger and thirst?
And broadcast news crews are able to get in to the affected areas and move about, yet trained and armed National Guard troops and FEMA relief with military escorts and helicopters and armored personnel carriers and Humvees and who knows what all are unable to?
And the buck has apparently flown right through the Oval Office and landed on the desks of bureaucrats and functionaries. Where is the leadership?