Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans
By Joseph R. Chenelly
Times staff writer
NEW ORLEANS — Combat operations are underway on the streets “to take this city back” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.”
Gov. Jeb Bush sought federal help Friday while [Hurricane] Charley was still in the Gulf of Mexico. President Bush approved the aid about an hour after the hurricane made landfall.
By Monday afternoon, the cavalry seemed to be in place . . . Cargo planes were shuttling FEMA supplies from a Georgia Air Force base to a staging area in Lakeland, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had shipped 11 truckloads of water and 14 truckloads of ice. The first assistance checks to victims were to be shipped Monday night.
"Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said.
The provisions, secured by U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Napoleonville, and state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom, baked in the afternoon sun as Bush surveyed damage across southeast Louisiana five days after Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm, said Melancon’s chief of staff, Casey O’Shea.
'We had arrangements to airlift food by helicopter to these folks, and now the food is sitting in trucks because they won’t let helicopters fly,' O’Shea said Friday afternoon."
"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican.
"In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility...for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort." [DHS website]
""New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday....In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service." [Associated Press | September 3, 2005]
"From: Announcements to all U.S. DHHS Employees
[mailto:HHS-STAFF@LIST.NIH.GOV] On Behalf Of News, HHS (HHS/OS)
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 4:57 PM
Subject: Commemoration of Patriot Day
In twelve days, we will commemorate Patriot Day, a day to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, a day to honor members of the Armed Forces currently serving at home and abroad, and a day to reiterate our commitment to the freedoms we enjoy. I will honor Patriot Day by participating in the Freedom Walk, a memorial event sponsored by the Department of Defense. I invite you as employees of the Department of Health and Human Services to join me.
The Freedom Walk begins at 10 a.m. in the Pentagon's south parking lot, winds two miles through Arlington National Cemetery and over the Potomac River, and ends at the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall where country music star Clint Black will perform. The walk is free, but people must register by visiting www.AmercaSupportsYou.mil
September 11 marked a change in the way we view our world, our nation and ourselves. The betterment of ourselves and our country is our response. In whatever way you choose to commemorate the horrendous acts of early September four years ago, let us once again renew our gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy and reaffirm our commitment to tolerance, peace and liberty throughout the world."
"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard last Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday....In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service." [Associated Press | September 3, 2005]
”Vital measures to protect New Orleans from 'catastrophic' hurricane damage were scrapped by the Bush administration to pay for its wars on terror and in Iraq, despite official warnings of impending disaster.
Funding for flood prevention was slashed by 80 per cent, work on strengthening levees to protect the city was stopped for the first time in 37 years, and planning for housing stranded citizens and evacuating refugees from the Superdome were crippled. Yet the administration had been warned repeatedly of the dangers by its own officials.
….But the skimping has worsened since President Bush's election, particularly after 11 September. Federal spending on flood control in south-east Louisiana has been cut by almost half since 2001, from $69 million per year to $36.5 million. Funds for work at Lake Pontchartrain, the source of the flooding, have fallen by nearly two-thirds over three years, from $14.25 million to $5.7 million. As a result, work on New Orleans' east bank hurricane levees stopped last summer for the first time in 37 years.
….Plans to provide shelter for victims and evacuate the Superdome, started after last year's Hurricane Pam exercise, were abandoned. Eric Tolbert, chief of disaster response at FEMA until last February, said this was because funding dried up.
[Independent Online | September 4, 2005]
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