"A trio of Duke University sophomores say they drove to New Orleans late last week, posed as journalists to slip inside the hurricane-soaked city twice, and evacuated seven people who weren't receiving help from authorities.
The group, led by South Carolina native Sonny Byrd, say they also managed to drive all the way to the New Orleans Convention Center, where they encountered scenes early Saturday evening that they say were disgraceful.
'We found it absolutely incredible that the authorities had no way to get there for four or five days, that they didn't go in and help these people, and we made it in a two-wheel-drive Hyundai,' said Hans Buder, who made the trip with his roommate Byrd and another student, David Hankla....
At 2 p.m., the trio decided to head for New Orleans, Buder said. After looking around, they swiped an Associated Press identification and one of the TV station's crew shirts, and found a Kinko's where they could make copies of the ID.
They were stopped again by authorities at the edge of New Orleans, but this time were able to make it through.
'We waved the press pass, and they looked at each other, the two guards, and waved us on in,' Buder said....
'Anyone who knows that area, if you had a bus, it would take you no more than 20 minutes to drive in with a bus and get these people out,' Buder said. "'hey sat there for four or five days with no food, no water, babies getting raped in the bathrooms, there were murders, nobody was doing anything for these people. And we just drove right in, really disgraceful. I don't want to get too fired up with the rhetoric, but some blame needs to be placed somewhere.'"
"'DMort is telling us to expect up to 40,000 bodies,' Dan Buckner said, quoting officials with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a volunteer arm of Homeland Security....The 40,000 estimate does 'not include the number of disinterred remains that have been displaced from ... mausoleums,' Buckner told the Times-Gazette Monday." [Shelbyville Times-Gazette| September 6, 2005]
"More than 1,500 Cuban doctors are ready to leave for the United States to help Hurricane Katrina victims but Washington has yet to accept the offer of help from its longtime nemesis....Venezuela, which also has testy relations with the United States, has offered one million gallons of gasoline for Katrina victims and five million dollars for a field hospital, water and other essential supplies for the tens of thousands of victims. [Caribbean Net News | September 6, 2005]"
Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck — a delay nearly certain to be investigated by Congress.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard on 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.
Among those headed in were several hundred from Wisconsin, where the governor took the unusual step of declaring a disaster outside his state to activate his Guard.
"This was the first time a governor ever declared a natural disaster in another state and activated to that other state," said Gov. Jim Doyle, who issued his order Wednesday. "We were ready to be deployed within 24 hours of that order."
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.
Up to now, the Bush administration has not hesitated to sweep aside the opinions of lawyers on such matters as prisoners' rights. But after Katrina, a strange paralysis set in. For days, Bush's top advisers argued over legal niceties about who was in charge, according to three White House officials who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. Beginning early in the week, Justice Department lawyers presented arguments for federalizing the Guard, but Defense Department lawyers fretted about untrained 19-year-olds trying to enforce local laws, according to a senior law-enforcement official who requested anonymity citing the delicate nature of the discussions.
22 National Guard soldiers from the Taos-based 1115th Transportation Company, all veterans of the recent year-long deployment to Iraq, joined the New Mexico National Guard's 720th Transportation Company in Las Vegas, NM, to deploy to the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort.
"There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."
Gilligan: What time did you say this levee breach was, Professor?
Professor: Shortly after 11.
Gilligan: Oh well then, me or Skipper Cheney couldn't help because we were both sound asleep.
Professor: Both of you?
Gilligan: Well yes, eh...
Professor: Well then, if you were asleep how could you know that Skipper Cheney was?
Gilligan: Becasue he told me when he woke up.
Professor: Well if Skipper Cheney was asleep, how could he know that you were?
Gilligan: Well because I.... a... well...... oooo! If there's anything I can't stand is logic!
"It is difficult to understand the lack of preparedness and the ineffective initial response to a disaster that had been predicted for years, and for which specific, dire warnings had been given for days."
"If our system did such a poor job when there was no enemy, how would the federal, state and local governments have coped with a terrorist attack that provided no advance warning and that was intent on causing as much death and destruction as possible?"
What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. And they don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.
"Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area. And bureaucracy needs to stand trial before Congress today. … So, I'm asking Congress, please investigate this now. Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."
" The government’s disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security employees to the region — and gave them two days to arrive, according to internal documents....Brown said that among duties of these employees was to 'convey a positive image' about the government’s response for victims....Brown’s memo to Chertoff described Katrina as 'this near catastrophic event' but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, 'Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.'"
According to the pilots and other military officials, they rescued 110 people.
The next morning, though, the two crews were called to a meeting with Commander Holdener, who said he told them that while helping civilians was laudable, the lengthy rescue effort was an unacceptable diversion from their main mission of delivering supplies. With only two helicopters available at Pensacola to deliver supplies, the base did not have enough to allow pilots to go on prolonged search and rescue operations.
"We all want to be the guys who rescue people," Commander Holdener said. "But they were told we have other missions we have to do right now and that is not the priority."
Dozens of military aircraft are now conducting search and rescue missions over the affected areas. But privately some members of the Pensacola unit say the base's two available transport helicopters should have been allowed to do more to help civilian victims in the days after the storm hit, when large numbers of military helicopters had not reached the affected areas.
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