Just as FEMA and other government officials were finishing patting themselves on the back for the heralded response to Hurricane Gustav -- which still had plenty of problems; see our coverage here -- Ike has revealed still-deep flaws in our nation's disaster response infrastructure.
What's surprising is that, three years after Katrina and in the midst of one of the most destructive storm seasons in history, neither presidential candidate is talking about this very clear threat to national security.
Here's an on-the-ground report from the Facing South comments:
Was nothing learned from the flooding of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina? What has occurred in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike is an OUTRAGE.I was part of an out-of-state, specialized marine emergency rescue team deployed to Texas to assist in the rescue of storm flood victims. We left Florida Saturday September 13th at the request of State of Texas public safety officials. Midway through our deployment our mission was canceled due to Texas Task Force One taking control of the situation. Without regard to your specialized equipment our team was called off.
In watching the news reports, I personally witness Texas Task Force One engaging in antiquated methods of flood rescue, utilizing inflatable boats, undersized jon-boats and jet skies. It was VERY obvious that the entire operation was a dog and pony show. The Texas Task Force One excluded all other rescue resources in order to make themselves appear superior to all other resources.
I adamantly proclaim that the flood rescue methods and techniques used by Texas Task Force One and FEMA were antiquated and archaic. This was proven during the flooding of New Orleans in 2005.
What has taken Texas Task Force One to accomplish in 48 hours with 1,000 rescue personnel could have easily been accomplished within 18 hours with 100 personnel. There has been a serious misallocation of manpower and resources that may have very well resulted in human suffering and the loss of life.
As our report on Katrina and human rights this past January revealed, the United Nations has developed a comprehensive approach to dealing with natural disasters, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. Although the U.S. has embraced them, our country has done little to bring its natural disaster policy in line with these standards.
The experience of the last three years suggests that our country is good at frisking airline passengers and foreign policy saber-rattling. Defending and protecting the rights of those in harm's way of natural disasters? Not so much.