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Politicians, FEMA blame each other for relief missteps

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    By CAROLYN FEIBEL AND BRADLEY OLSON
    Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle


    Sept. 14, 2008, 11:29PM

    It didn't take long for the finger-pointing to begin.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency came under fire Sunday as emergency workers were left undernourished and dozens of trucks of water and food had yet to be set up at distribution centers around Houston and surrounding communities.

    And no sooner had the agency — widely condemned for its glacial response to suffering after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — drawn sharp criticism as its leaders and spokesmen began to say it was someone else's fault.

    Earlier in the day, a FEMA spokesman said delays in setting up staging points to hand out needed provisions had been caused by blocked roads. By the evening, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it was the fault of state officials who handed his department the "unexpected challenge" of having to prepare distribution points in addition to delivering supplies.

    Two local members of Congress from opposing political parties had a different take.

    U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Houston, said he was told before the storm by FEMA officials that there was food and water already staged at the Ellington Air National Guard base.

    "Now it's on the way? That doesn't make any sense to me," he said. "I don't know what happened ... The storm's been over for 30 hours.

    "I hope some heads will roll in this," he added later.

    U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, said he was "outraged" at the agency because first responders at two staging areas are without food and water.

    Stratford High School's Tully Stadium and Spring Forest Middle school are staging areas for Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Texas State Guard and Texas National Guard troops.

    "It's just outrageous," Culberson said, calling on residents near those sites to share food and water with the emergency crews. "I think it's inexcusable. ... I was horrified to discover that our first responders needed our help."

    Some were more circumspect, chalking up the delays to the intense pressure faced by government officials in meeting the challenge of cleaning up after severe damage and rendering aid to 5 million people without power and access to clean drinking water. They held out hope that FEMA's 5 million liters of water and 5 million meals would soon be available to those in need. Local officials said they expected some distribution centers to be announced late yesterday evening.

    "None of these operations are perfect. There are always ways to do it better," Gov. Rick Perry said shortly after landing at Ellington after an aerial survey of the storm damage.

    He said he was generally satisfied with the post-hurricane recovery effort.

    Mayor Bill White said the city already told the agency where the supplies should be sent and promised to hold the federal agency accountable for delivery of the supplies.

    "If they fulfill these commitments in the coming week, on a reasonable timetable and not a bureaucratic timetable, then they'll get high marks," the mayor said. "And if they don't, they'll get low marks."

    Reporter Mike Glenn contributed to this report.

    carolyn.feibel@chron.com


    bradley.olson@chron.com
  2. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    it's actually my fault.

    i was supposed to cut the potatoes thnner and have dinner w/quail.
  3. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg Pow! Pow!

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    Regardless of who is at fault, you'd think we'd have this whole hurricane thing figured out by now.
  4. jrumann59

    jrumann59 Well-Known Member

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    But that was in Louisiana, not texas.
  5. Viper

    Viper Active Member

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    Can you really have everything prepared for a natural disaster of this magnitude?
  6. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg Pow! Pow!

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    I think there's room for improvement. Don't you?
  7. Viper

    Viper Active Member

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    There is always room for improvement. But what do you do when people refuse to leave? It is a disaster, it is approprietly named.
  8. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    i think there always will be, don't you?
  9. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg Pow! Pow!

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    Of course. :D
  10. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    so do you often go looking for what you know you're going to find?
  11. Aikbach

    Aikbach Well-Known Member

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    FEMA has existed since 1979 and has never been perceived as a competent agency, time to scrap it and let the states do it locally themselves.

    You'll notice how competent governors did wonders, Haley Barbour had Mississip recovering in no time and their devastation was just as bad as New Orleans, this time a round Bobby Jindal had a competent command of his state and Nagin was trying to make up for his boneheadedness during Katrina.

    Don't look to the federal government to be the primary responder, they have never succeeded in FEMA's 29 year existence.

    They failed Hugo, Ivan, Andrew,Katrina and many more as well as five presidential administrations.
  12. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg Pow! Pow!

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    Can't disagree with you there. There's just too many chiefs involved and they just end up stepping all over each other and it ends up as a cluster.
  13. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Things are not perfect and when dealing with things like this they may never be perfect but by and large officals across the board are doing a good job.
  14. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    Yeah, I can't really complain about how the officials from every level prepared and responded to the crisis.

    With so many people without power, it's going to be hard to respond to every issue.

    This becomes a bigger thing if the folks in charge focus on what didn't happen vs trying to fix it and make it right.
  15. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Take care of business now and then review afterwards where improvements can be made. In an operation of this size you are going to have mistakes. Overall though you have a lot of hard working people at all levels doing a good job in a difficult time
  16. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    I find myself at odds with Fema.

    The reason is not what you may think.

    It is not about bush or brownie or chertoff although I have railed on about it in the past.

    My problem with it, and what I find myself at odds over is the idea that they combined fema with Dept of Homeland security.

    The reason I find myself at odds is that I do want smaller government and in combining the two you would have smaller in a manner of speaking.

    However the problem is maybe it is not such a good idea to combine the two in this case.

    I would like to know how much money, manpower and hours are dedicated to one section of it compared to the other.

    I wonder if say the majority (I guess that would be anything over 50%) is dedicated to homeland security and therefore maybe FEMA aspect of it is lacking. Or if it is around 50/50.

    I understand how they could work together. A major terrorists attack would fall under homeland security while at the same time FEMA in the aftermath.

    But it just does not seem to be as good in the idea of a natural disaster and you have to wonder if one department suffers due to the other.

    I guess you could even wonder if we have a natural disaster if so much is diverted to the FEMA area of the dept, are we at that time lacking in the Homeland SECURITY area.

    Not sure if you understand what I am getting at as I am probably rambling so I will try to simplify it.

    Just at odds with myself over it because it is an issue of smaller government by combining the two vs the possible cost of effectiveness of each area due to being combined under one umbrella and leadership.
  17. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Supposedly its better to have one chief instead of several arguing with each other.

    But this is the US and we have made history at being different......

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