Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Written Tale of Incompetence

As if you thought our response to Katrina couldn't have been any worse, I found this article. An electronic paper trail. - 'Can I quit now?' FEMA chief wrote as Katrina raged - Nov 3, 2005: "For instance, two days after Katrina, Marty Bahamonde, one of the only FEMA employees in New Orleans, wrote to Brown that 'the situation is past critical.'

'Here are some things you might not know. Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes,' Bahamonde said.

'The dying patients at the DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) tent being medivac. Estimates are many will die within hours. Evacuation in process. Plans developing for [Superdome] evacuation but hotel situation adding to problem. We are out of food and running out of water at the dome, plans in works to address the critical need.

'FEMA staff is OK and holding own. DMAT staff working in deplorable conditions. The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner we can get them out. Phone connectivity impossible.'

Brown's entire response was: 'Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?'

Two days later, on September 2, Brown received a message with the subject 'medical help.' At the time, thousands of patients were being transported to the New Orleans airport, which had been converted to a makeshift hospital. Because of a lack of ventilators, medical personnel had to ventilate patients by hand for as long as 35 hours, according to Melancon.

The text of the e-mail reads: 'Mike, Mickey and other medical equipment people have a 42-foot trailer full of beds, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, etc. They are wanting to take them where they can be used but need direction.

'Mickey specializes in ventilator patients so can be very helpful with acute care patients. If you could have someone contact him and let him know if he can be of service, he would appreciate it. Know you are busy but they really want to help.'

Melancon said Brown didn't respond for four days, when he forwarded the original e-mail to FEMA Deputy Director of Response Michael Lowder.

The text of Brown's e-mail to them read: "Can we use these people?"

Melancon also charged that few of the e-mails from Brown show him assigning specific tasks to employees or responding to pressing problems

On September 1, FEMA officials exchanged e-mails reporting severe shortages of ice and water in Mississippi. They were to receive 60 trucks of ice and 26 trucks of water the next day, even though they needed 450 trucks of each.

Robert Fenton, a FEMA regional response official, predicted "serious riots" if insufficient supplies arrive.

Brown was forwarded the series of e-mails about the problem, but no response from him is shown in the e-mails provided to the committee, Melancon said."
Where else in this country can you have a job, be totally incomeptent, have the President say you are doing "a heckuva job", worry about your attire while people are suffering, testify before Congress that it was someone else's fault, and get paid for it?

He probably gets retirement and health care benefits too.

I'm competent and I need a job. I won't screw it up either.

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