Friday, September 09, 2005

The National Disaster Plan's Real Weakness

Although it appears that the federal officials, simply acted slowly, in their response to the disaster in New Orleans, it's not that simple. The problem was a missing scenario in the federal disaster plan and it was a scenario that is hard to blame them for missing. You see, nobody in the federal government could have ever imagined a scenario, where there would be a total breakdown at both the state and local levels of government. Nobody in the federal government had envisioned a scenario where both state and local governments would fail to even begin to follow their own disaster plans.

As even the liberal Houston Chronicle reported, New Orleans had a disaster plan in place and the Mayor failed to follow it. Specifically, it called for extra help to be provided in advance to residents with "special needs." That term means, among other things, anyone who has no means of transportation out of town. That help didn't materialize until it was too late to take them anywhere but the "shelter of last resort", the Superdome. Furthermore, the Governor, who by law, must specifically authorize any incursion by US troops into a state, did not call for federal help until Wednesday. The failure at both the state and local level was epic.

The federal disaster plan attempted to take into consideration, all reasonable possibilities. But, what reasonable person could have ever predicted that there would be such a total breakdown of authority at both the state and local levels? Prior to this, such a possibility was unthinkable. The result is that federal officials, who have extensive disaster plans in place for just about every conceivable disaster, were totally blind-sided.

Considering that this is the worst natural disaster that this nation has ever faced and the massive failure at the state and local levels, the federal response has actually been better than should have been expected. Instead of trying to figure out a way to spin the facts to blame Dubya, we need to focus on the recovery. Then, after it's all over, if people want to try to spin the blame, they should go for it.

Dubya has done more than enough for which to be criticized, in other areas. We don't need to be inventing imaginary evils to apply to him, especially now. Tens of thousands of people are probably dead, many others still need rescue and hundreds of thousands of others are displaced. Like it or not, Dubya and the federal government have done a respectable job.

As I have said here before, even a blind pig finds an ear of corn once in a while. Though Dubya has done more damage to our republic than any president in history, I must give credit, when credit is due. Chalk up one to the blind pig.

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