I'm trying to picture a different aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's destruction of New Orleans: one in which all residents were evacuated in advance, no lives were lost, order was perfectly maintained, emergency supplies were delivered and distributed in ample quantities with flawless precision, and everyone was pleased with how well the government performed.
And you know what? I can't do it.
These things are called disasters for a reason: They have terrible consequences, most unavoidable and some unforeseeable. When nature unleashes its fury, it leaves a mess no amount of human ingenuity can instantly dispel. The images of chaos and death in New Orleans come as a shock, but what would we expect of the worst natural disaster in American history? Yet some people behave as though only incompetence or evil motives could account for anything that went wrong.
Read the rest of the article here. There seems to be a limitless number of finger-pointing and scape-goating going on as to why it took 5 days for help to arrive in New Orleans.
But of all the reasons for the slow response this one seems the most mind-boggling. This is from The Washington Post.
Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly.
A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor.