7 September 2005

Gotta know which way the wind blows

It's been reported that 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 workers to support rescuers in the region. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sought the approval from Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff roughly five hours after Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29. Brown said that among duties of these employees was to "convey a positive image" about the government's response for victims. Before then, FEMA had positioned smaller rescue and communications teams across the Gulf Coast. But officials acknowledged Tuesday the first department-wide appeal for help came only as the storm raged.

But the real fault here lies with the New Orleans Mayor. If he would have had any sense and known which way the wind blows, he would have given Halliburton a no-bid contract to handle the entire relief operation. Then there would have at least been a group of overpaid contractors sipping scotch in an expensive hotel somewhere near the storm when it hit. And maybe someone in the U.S. plutocracy would have cared enough to make a phone call--if nothing else, "to convey a positive image."

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