Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots. The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.
Before joining FEMA, his only previous stint in emergency management, according to his bio posted on FEMA's website, was "serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." The White House press release from 2001 stated that Brown worked for the city of Edmond, Okla., from 1975 to 1978 "overseeing the emergency services division." In fact, according to Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond, Brown was an "assistant to the city manager" from 1977 to 1980, not a manager himself, and had no authority over other employees. "The assistant is more like an intern," she told TIME.
Companies in the Gulf Coast area hit by Hurricane Katrina are turning to an unusual source to protect people and property rendered vulnerable by the storm's damage -- private security contractors that specialize in supporting military operations in war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke said he knows of no federal plans to hire private security, though he would not rule it out. "We believe we've got the right mix of personnel in law enforcement for the federal government to meet the demands of public safety," Knocke said.
That's right, the government response has been so pathetic that, in a Libertarian dream come true, the market has responded by hiring mercinaries to do what the National Guard should be doing. You may remember these Blackwater guys as the mercs working in Iraq who your tax dollars are paying 10x as much as soldiers make, and with 1/10th the accountability.
It was after midnight by now, and I realized sleeping upright in a stadium seat was going to be neither easy, nor comfortable. [...] The field before us, which would have been ideal to lay down on was empty, but off bounds. The field was manned by National Guardsmen who would not allow people on it. I was told by those around me that it was a multi-million dollar field which the stadium management did not want ruined.
So the second function of the National Guard (after controlling the press) is to protect the property interests of the owners of the Superdome. Nice.
Welcome to upside-down-land: the areas at risk for Katrina were quite remarkably the areas not included in Bush's declaration of emergency. What the hell?
The plan going forward for New Orleans is to demolish all the houses and burn them. There is nowhere to bury the waste in the region so they will incinerate it all. Before that can go on, they will have to search every house for chemical hazards.
The entire Gulfport region is blocked by National Guard and only authorized contractors can get in. An RV campground has grown up outside the roadblock of 80 or more contractors hoping to get a piece of the action. These people have signs outside saying, "Mold Expert," "Asbestos Contractor," etc. They are having cookouts at their RVs just to try to get people to come and talk to them.
This contractor has been organizing reverse osmosis (RO) water purification units from all over the country since last Tuesday. He has over 100 units of various sizes available to move into the region, but no one will give the go ahead. No one will sign their name to a piece of paper for fear recriminations later. He says that over 80 million pint bottles of water have been purchased at $0.75 each. The RO units can produce a gallon of water from contaminated water for $0.01 and they can produce thousands of gallons a day. Two are staged near the zone and these alone can produce 250,000 gallons per day. The Army has RO units, but every functional one, and every operator trained to use them, is in Iraq or Afghanistan.
(I'm still waiting for the shoe labelled "eminent domain" to drop.)
The Bradshaw/Slonsky story that I linked to the other day (but was a little skeptical of due to its source and lack of attribution) has finally made it into the SF Chronicle and the Washington Times. This appears to be an account from someone else who was in the same group.