Monday, October 03, 2005

Katrina v. Karl 

Courtesy of Zemblan patriot K.Z., another story that has yet to find its way into American papers. The Independent describes a scathing report, commissioned by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, that will confirm most of your blackest suspicions about the government's response to the ongoing calamity in New Orleans:
Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.

The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to "sneak off post" to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission . . . .

The report concludes: "The one thing this disaster has demonstrated [is] the lack of coordinated, in-depth planning and training on all levels of Government, for any/all types of emergency contingencies. 9/11 was an exception because the geographical area was small and contained, but these two hurricanes have clearly demonstrated a national response weakness ... Failure to plan, and train properly has plagued US efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now that failure has come home to roost in the United States."
On a related note, our esteemed colleague Rodney Balko of The Agitator recommends a story that connoisseurs of FEMA obstructionism will not want to miss. Although he is a dedicated Republican, we must nonetheless tip our imperial diadem to the Mailman, Karl Malone, who still delivers -- even in retirement:
The former NBA all-star and a crew from his logging company in Arkansas spent two weeks in Pascagoula, Miss., hauling away debris left by Hurricane Katrina . . . .

“We were totally self-contained with our own food and everything,” Malone says. “We didn't want to take even one bottle of water away from these people. When we told them we were doing this for free, they looked at us like we were crazy or something.”

Malone, 42, an experienced truck driver and logger who was born in Bernice, La., spent 12 hours a day behind the wheel of his heavy machinery.

“We started every day at seven in the morning and didn't quit until we got it done,” he says.

When Malone arrived, he says he ran into resistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Army Corps of Engineers officials who said he wasn't authorized to bring his machinery into the area to clear private property.

“There was a lot of red tape, and I ain't got time for that,” he says. “I found out that if you're going to do something good, just go ahead and do it.”

Bob Anderson, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, says FEMA and the corps by law could only allow approved contractors to clear debris and that only government agencies could work on “public rights of way.”

Malone says landowners were told that debris had to be moved out to the street before it could be hauled away. “How is a landowner who just lost everything going to pay $15,000 or $20,000 to have a lot cleared? I mean, there were two or three houses on top of one another in some places” . . . .

“Once I get in my machine, no one is going to get me out,” he says. “We just said ‘the hell with it.' FEMA didn't approve, but we did it for the people.”
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