Monday, September 26, 2005

"WOW, you sure got here quick!" or, "Hey what about us?"

The Gulf Coast was hit again this past weekend by another strong hurricane named Rita, and once again the people of this region were dealt another emotional and heartbreaking setback.

Thankfully, Rita hit landfall to the west of the area that was utterly devastated by Katrina. Even so, this did not spare New Orleans and the surrounding parishes from renewed flood waters that once again submerged the area and set-back the gains in rebuilding made in the weeks, since Katrina hit. However many areas in southeast Texas were flooded and now are also in need of a great deal of assistance.

Now, it is not this websites intention to make any lesser comparison of either of these terrible storms. But with journalistic curiosity we are forced to ask the question regarding the timing of the Presidents visits to each of the hard hit areas.

The government had advance notice of each storm, were aware of the potential massive devastation of each storm and had the opportunity to take quick action immediately following each. So why did the emergency response take almost a week for New Orleans and a matter of hours for the Gavelston area?

In the case of New Orleans, the federal governments right hand had no clue not only of what the left hand was doing, but was obviously unaware of the what the fingers on each hand were doing as well.

Now you may attribute this to the myriad of problems within FEMA under the leadership of former Director Michael Brown. You can also attribute this to a confusion of responsibilities between the local, state and federal officials.

But how do you explain the timing of the Presidents visit to the areas following each storm?

We are sure that the White House was in a state of political panic upon learning that Hurricane Rita was in the gulf and heading towards Galveston and Houston.

Of course the President would want to go down right way and show his support for the people of his beloved home state. But the West Wing had to be burning the oil (and ordering a lot of late night take out ) trying to think how they could go so quickly to Texas when it took 5 days for the President to visit the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Think about it, Karl Rove had to realize that if he let his boss go to Texas right away people would say “Look how fast he got to Texas, see we were right, he didn’t go to visit New Orleans and Biloxi for reasons of race and politics”.

However if he tells the President to wait a few days like after Katrina, people will say “Where’s the President at the time of another catastrophe?, wow he really is that stupid, he just doesn’t get it”

Well, someone must have thought they had a ‘light bulb’ moment as they let the President go to the area on Sunday, not more than 24 hours after Rita made landfall. What was this moment of brilliance? To catch it you must go back to Saturday.

As Rita was battering the Texas/Louisiana border, the President was at NORAD in Colorado Springs being briefed on the progress of Rita. Following which he told reporters that the federal government was “well prepared and organized to deal with Hurricane Rita.”

Can you imagine the brain trust that came up with that! Of course the organization was well prepared and ready to go, they were approximately 350 miles away with first responders, trucks and supplies at the ready after the debacle of getting down there following Katrina.

The question to ask is, what if the storms paths had been reversed? What if Katrina had gone west and struck Galveston, would the response have been quicker and better orchestrated? After which the government would have been “well prepared and organized “ (and faster) to respond to New Orleans after then being struck by Rita?

Perhaps, but we will never know.

What we do know is that the President himself acknowledged “serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government.”

Nice…did he figure that one out all by himself, or did someone in the West Wing have another ‘light bulb’ moment…


dave bones said...

How dare you slag Mr. Bush. He is a wonderful human being. Shame on you.

Scott said...

Thanks Dave. I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek humor.