You must watch Meet the Press
An anguished Louisiana Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard on Meet the Press.
[UPDATE: part of the transcript from MTP is below.]
I can’t believe what I’m watching. Tim Russert is destroying Homeland Security’s Michael Chertoff on the air. Chertoff is spouting what is clearly going to be the BushCo line –
* Let’s look ahead, not at what’s happened in the past because of our f*ckups. We’ll do an analysis of it later (after the media and people are served and adequate amount of Kool-Aid).
* The governor of LA didn’t ask for help in the right way at the right time – she’s a screwup, as are all state and local officials (see NYT).
* The poor and the sick should have found some way out.
* “Mistakes were made” — meaning no one in this Admin plans to take responsibility for any of this.
We also just watched a man completely break down on the air. A tired, sad and angry Louisiana Jefferson Parish President Aaron F. Broussard recounted the numerous ways that FEMA refused fuel, turned away water from Wal-Mart, and other resources because FEMA was so disorganized. Broussard’s people have been working 24/7. FEMA had the audacity (or incompetence, who can tell) to cut emergency phone lines to Broussard’s parish. He had to have sheriff had to fix it and post armed guards by stop FEMA from doing it again. (See DKos diary on this).
He lost it when describing how the state director of emergency services stayed around the clock working to save people, and his mother, who was trapped in a nursing home, called him asking when someone would come rescue her. He would tell her on Tuesday that someone from FEMA was coming…Wednesday that someone was coming…Thursday that someone was coming…Friday someone was coming. She drowned Friday night.
Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, had to follow that man, and even he couldn’t help being on the edge of tears.
For the Bush team watching MTP (and you know they are) — if there is a Hell, you have been reserved a seat in the hottest depth of it.
I was conversing with Blender ‘Bean about whether this disaster will be the end of BushCo. This regime can only be discredited if the masses believes the country has been wronged. One would think that a catastrophe like Katrina and its aftermath would be enough to show even the most die-hard Bush supporters that the man is wholly incompetent to run this country.
My heart sank when a TV crew interviewed a man down in MS that lost his house and everything, and when he was told the president stopped by for his photo op, the man said (and I’m not sh*tting you) “Now we know something is going to be done.”
Transcript excerpts, courtesy of Think Progress:
Broussard on a colleague’s tragic story —
I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” and he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you.” Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us…
Broussard on FEMA and the Administration’s immoral abandonment of people in dire conditions —
RUSSERT: You just heard the director of homeland security’s explanation of what has happened this last week. What is your reaction?
BROUSSARD: We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. … Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.
Broussard then discussed the difficulties local authorities had with FEMA, including one case where they actually posted armed guards to keep FEMA from cutting their communications lines:
BROUSSARD: Three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. This was a week ago. FEMA, we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. When we got there with our trucks, FEMA says don’t give you the fuel. Yesterday — yesterday — FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards and said no one is getting near these lines…