Saturday, September 10, 2005

Brown Demoted

Yesterday Michael Brown was relieved of his command of onsite relief efforts yesterday and it’s about time. Anyone without an ideological bias could see that he was had done an incredibly poor job both before and after the hurricane and Bush’s quote, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” might become more infamous than many of his Bushisms in the years to come.

I'm not saying the fault lies entirely with federal officials, because the local and state handling of the relief efforts have also had some problems from what I can tell. However, the federal response has been quite poor, from diverting funds to New Orleans in 2004 to help fund the Iraq war to their inability to grasp how disasterous this hurricane was going to be, and Brown's performance is one of the most glaring examples. Brown is one of the incompetent government officials I’ve seen in recent years and Brendan Loy has a fine post about Brown’s incompetence, which is well worth the read.

A couple highlights:

In response to this quote,

"Saturday and Sunday, we thought it was a typical hurricane situation -- not to say it wasn't going to be bad, but that the water would drain away fairly quickly," Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown said today. "Then the levees broke and (we had) this lawlessness. That almost stopped our efforts." ...

"Katrina was much larger than we expected," he said.

Loy writes,

No one -- NO ONE -- who knows anything about New Orleans's geography and topography and levee system would ever have thought for a single moment on Saturday and Sunday that Katrina, if it followed the predicted path, was going to be a "typical hurricane situation." Jesus Christ!! For how many years now has this article been out there?!? And this one? And many more like them? Did Michael Brown never read them? Was he not familiar with the science? Was FEMA's director unaware of what has been acknowledged for many years as the #1 most serious natural disaster threat in all of America?!? (Or, more immediately, did he not read the National Weather Service's statement on Sunday morning which predicted that Katrina would cause "human suffering incredible by modern standards"?)


And "larger than expected"?!? Katrina WEAKENED at the last minute, its western eyewall virtually collapsed, and it turned AWAY from New Orleans, moving 40 miles east of the city instead of moving directly overhead! It was substantially smaller, weaker and less bad than expected!!!

And on FEMA’s incompetence, he has something to say, including this:

[T]he warnings about New Orleans's vulnerability to post-hurricane flooding repeatedly circulated at the upper levels of the new [Homeland Security] bureaucracy, which had absorbed the old lead agency for disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among its two dozen fiefdoms. "Beyond terrorism, this was the one event I was most concerned with always," said Joe M. Allbaugh, the former Bush campaign manager who served as his first FEMA head.

But several current and former senior officials charged that those worries were never accorded top priority -- either by FEMA's management or their superiors in DHS. Even when officials held a practice run, as they did in an exercise dubbed "Hurricane Pam" last year, they did not test for the worst-case scenario, rehearsing only what they would do if a Category 3 storm hit New Orleans, not the Category 4 power of Katrina. And after Pam, the planned follow-up study was never completed, according to a FEMA official involved.

Also, apparently Cheney visited a relief center in Austin, Texas today, so he’s not completely AWOL. However, this is the first I’ve heard or seen of him since the hurricane, which is still a long time for him to have vanished.


At September 12, 2005 at 6:25 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favourite fact about Brown? He claims, back in the day, that he was an assistant city manager, when he was in fact assistant to the city manager. Just like Gareth on the office..

At May 5, 2007 at 1:06 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eh, Bush fils has a habit of saying stuff like that. Like this gem from '92: "Fay Vincent, you're doing a heck of a job." (He may or may not have said that, but he was one of the only owners to support Fay.)

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