The Sunday edition of the New York Times has broken it all down for us in their usual investigative way. Heading says "Breakdowns Marked Path From Hurricane to Anarchy." It was such an evasive and puff piece for the mayor and governor and such a hit piece for the federal government that it took four people to write it. To start with, their coverage begins on the third night after the storm.
The governor of Louisiana was "blistering mad." It was the third night after Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans, and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco needed buses to rescue thousands of people from the fetid Superdome and convention center. But only a fraction of the 500 vehicles promised by federal authorities had arrived.
Their initial examination of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath is that it "demonstrates the extent to which the federal government failed to fulfill the pledge it made after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to face domestic threats as a unified, seamless force."
I'm sorry, but I would have thought that the mayor refusing to use his fleet of school buses to evacuate those left in the city would have been a part of their initial examination. It's not even mentioned. It also did not mention the fact that it was the State of Louisiana Department of Homeland Security who had repeatedly refused the Red Cross access to the ones they were supposed to be helping.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials expected the state and city to direct their own efforts and ask for help as needed. Leaders in Louisiana and New Orleans, though, were so overwhelmed by the scale of the storm that they were not only unable to manage the crisis, but they were not always exactly sure what they needed. While local officials assumed that Washington would provide rapid and considerable aid, federal officials, weighing legalities and logistics, proceeded at a deliberate pace.
In this beauteous round of verbiage that must have taken all four to compose, the New York Times comes down like this. The first responders were just so overwhelmed that they didn't know the full extent of what they were dealing with nor what to ask for. So they blame FEMA for not knowing what they needed and where they needed it. Preface it all with the 'government is responsible for taking care of me' attitude from the so-called leaders who actually had that responsibility and the problems become compounded.
The story omits Mayor Nagin's scoffing of the school buses as provided for in his emergency evacuation plan. And his refusing to utilize them because they were "school buses," and "these people" need to be evacuated in Greyhound buses, which sounded to me like a nice racial component to add to the tragedy. A normal reaction would be to get out of town by any means possible.
"Partly because of the shortage of troops, violence raged inside the New Orleans convention center."
Yes, partly. But they don't say what was mainly the cause. The New York Times did not mention any other possible cause for the unrest such as being starved and left there with no food, no water, no sanitation, and no way out. I don't know about you, but that would be enough to make me pretty cranky.