Section 4: The Great Debit Card Giveaway and the rise of the welfare state
FEMA cuts off
hotel funds for storm victims. Auditors detailed how the federal government squandered
millions of dollars in Katrina disaster aid, including handing $2,000 debit cards to people who gave
phony Social Security numbers and used the money for such items as a $450 tattoo.
No more money
for New Orleans. The media (if you look hard enough into online sources and local
news) is filled with examples. Hurricane "victims" stuffing money handed out to them by
FEMA, the Red Cross, or both into the g-strings of strippers. These same victims holding
up drinks while they're out "clubbing" with that same money. More "poor people who've lost
everything" photographed leaving stores with Louis Vuitton bags and other "necessities" of survival
such as jewelry and electronics.
the hurricanes, it's raining money. It is one of the secrets of the Beltway: Washington
loves disasters. With large-scale disasters, government expands, its friends get wealthy and citizens
become as docile as kittens.
have abandoned small government. Katrina is swamping every goal conservatives
have, from limiting government to cutting taxes to reforming entitlement programs. Katrina
spending has already imperiled plans to repeal the death tax, and Congress is already $60 billion
into a spending binge. Handing out $2,000 debit cards was just the beginning. The
conservative Congress has brought back the welfare state.
Who are these
Republicans? Gone is the heady talk from the days of the Republican Revolution
in 1994, when whole departments and agencies were to be eliminated. Today, the corpulent state
gobbles up taxpayers' money, and it is Republicans who declare that no "offsets" can be found
for the new spending natural disasters will require.
Card Giveaway Goes Awry in Houston. What was billed as an innovative effort to help victims
of Hurricane Katrina get back on their feet brought chaos and confusion Thursday [9/8/2005] as thousands
of evacuees jostled for promised federal and private cash assistance.
Lavish tastes of
card-carrying lowlifes. Profiteering ghouls have been using debit cards
distributed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — intended to buy essentials
for evacuated families — in luxury-goods stores as far away as Atlanta. … "It
doesn't say anything on the card other than alcohol, tobacco and firearms cannot be purchased
with it," the store employee told me. "There's nothing legally that prevents us from
taking it, unfortunately. Other than morally, it's wrong."
binge on Cape Cod, Spend fed cash on booze, strippers. Hurricane Katrina evacuees hastily
handed $2,000 in federal relief money last month have been living it up on Cape Cod, blowing cash on booze
and strippers, a Herald investigation has found. Herald reporters witnessed blatant public drinking
at a Falmouth strip mall by Katrina victims living at taxpayer expense at Camp Edwards on Otis Air Force
Base. And strippers at Zachary's nightclub in Mashpee, a few miles from the Bourne base, report
giving lap dances to several evacuees.
take a swipe at Katrina card use. Some stores across the country are
refusing Red Cross-provided hurricane-relief debit cards because they do not approve
of the goods being bought. Responses have poured in since this column reported
last week that the cards had been used to buy $800 handbags at the Louis Vuitton
store in Atlanta. Retailer Vicki Haniford said she has begun refusing the
cards at her store in Illinois. "[Last] Saturday, I had 14 transactions go
through from about six different people totaling a little over $1,000," she
E-mailed. "They purchased jewelry and a TV with a DVD player. I called
the Red Cross and they said unfortunately these people made bad choices when purchasing,
but there was nothing they could do.
Oh, yes, the debit card scheme worked so well... now let's give them "free" cell phones,
too! After all, the government is paying for it, so it won't cost anybody anything,
right? So goes the public perception.
free cell phones. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed
distributing cell phones and 300 free minutes of call time to Hurricane Katrina
evacuees in Louisiana. The move came after the state Public Service Commission
asked FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to use his influence with the wireless telephone
industry to help out the 1 million people evacuated from the parishes around
in the middle as confusion rules relief effort. Confusion reigns for hurricane
evacuees today after the American Red Cross suddenly moved its financial aid office from Reliant
Park to a church offsite, and some evacuees who received financial assistance with debit cards
complained they didn't work.
Entitlements. Lawmakers under pressure to respond in real time inevitably
choose the path of least resistance — they simply expand existing governmental
programs and approaches. Indeed, over the last decade Congress has, through a steady
stream of emergency-relief measures, created what amounts to yet another entitlement program
whereby the federal government acts as insurer of first resort to the victims of floods,
earthquakes, hurricanes, and terrorist acts.
sacrifice. Sen. Tom Coburn, playing his familiar role of skunk at the Sunday
school picnic, is arguing that massive federal spending in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
must entail some sacrifice. By that he meant the pork so dear to his colleagues. That
has evoked an icy response, not only from Congress but from the White House as well.
dangerous times for our wallets. Tim Chapman, who has his ear to the Hill,
predicts that the government will end up spending $100 billion in response to
Katrina. That's the equivalent of 5 percent of the annual federal budget. If
you sent 5 percent of your annual budget to a charity for Katrina relief, would you do
it without checking up on the charity and finding out exactly how they would spend the money?
Has Been Paid to Victims. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has paid
out $669 million nationwide to families affected by Hurricane Katrina, officials announced
Saturday [9/10/2005]. Nationwide, FEMA has registered 573,262 families, agency spokesman
Ed Conley said. In the Houston area, 36,823 families have registered and $49.3 million
has been paid. Conley said the family registration figure represents singles and multiple-member
Aftermath Highlights True Political Motives. For liberals, the scope of the Katrina
catastrophe, and the degree to which America is preoccupied with it, represent a golden opportunity
to exploit emotions and distort circumstances as a means to maximize the political mileage that
might be gained from it. Such callous behavior, while heartless and absolutely appalling,
is also absolutely consistent with standard liberal operating procedure.
Swap: When Hurricane Katrina wiped out the City of New Orleans, Congress jumped in and
did what Congress does best: Spend money like drunken sailors with no regard for the fiscal
consequences. … You'd think a Republican-controlled Congress might show a little fiscal
discipline and cut out some "frills" to cover this unexpected major expense. And
you'd be wrong.
Getting a bit
carried away? Keep in mind that $100 billion is one-eighteenth of the federal
government's whole operating budget this year. It is what we have been spending each
year on the entire Iraqi war effort. It is roughly twice as much as America spends
each year to operate all its colleges and universities. It is more than the total
passenger revenue of all the major airlines in the United States. This year. It
is a staggeringly huge amount of money.
GOP lawmakers urge cuts to
offset storm-relief costs. "We just can't throw money at the problem, and if we do
throw money at the problem, which seems to my way of thinking some of what we're doing today, we
better figure out how we're going to handle the financial difficulties that come from that," said
Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican. He joined Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Jim DeMint of
South Carolina and leaders of the House conservative caucus in saying that the hurricane offers
a chance to cut parts of the federal budget.
Blank check for
repairs. When asked Sept. 16 how much his grand program to rebuild the
Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina will cost, he said, "It's going to cost whatever it's going
to cost." And, boy, will it ever. The current estimate of taxpayer money needed to
pay for Mr. Bush's grand scheme range from $150 billion to $200 billion. And
that's on top of a $612 billion increase in the federal budget since he took office in 2001.
Louisiana's money grab. Even the liberal Washington Post noted that Landrieu and
Vitter's $250 billion, which would come on top of $62 billion already approved for
hurricane relief, would give Louisiana more than $50,000 in federal aid for every man, woman
and child in the state.
Senator Kennedy Ignores the Economic Reality
of Minimum Wage Increases. Senator Kennedy claims that his minimum wage increase is meant
to help hurricane Katrina victims, many of whom are poor minorities. He does not mention that only
8 percent of the beneficiaries from his wage increase will be single mothers, and only 4 percent
will be single mothers in poverty.
Katrina experiment: The common denominator of low-income-housing programs over
these last 40 years is that they have been consistent failures. Yet, despite this
indisputable fact, today's social-policy gurus persist in search of the magic government
low-income-housing program, rather than appreciating that the problem has been, and is
today, government interference in private lives.
A hurricane relief
formula. Because federal tax dollars are not infinite, money spent recovering from
Katrina has to compete with all the other programs receiving government funds. This is why
Congress, to avoid further damaging the economy while funding the necessary relief, must prioritize
its spending just like the generous American people donating to Katrina relief are: They need to
choose giving aid over spending on less important luxuries.
disastrous history. Just as local and state officials have come to see themselves
not as leaders but as lobbyists for more federal aid, so many evacuees ask not what they can do
for themselves, but what the country can do for them.
face dilemma over Katrina relief. Congress has already approved two emergency
budget packages totaling $62 billion for reconstruction and relief in Louisiana, Mississippi
and Alabama. … And some members of Congress have different definitions of what's related to
Katrina and what isn't.
Speaking of squandered tax dollars ... Capitol
renovation project costs more than doubled. Renovations in state Capitol offices used
by Gov. Kathleen Blanco staffers jumped in cost by more than 50 percent partly because the state used
a private company and expensive walnut trim and granite countertops, according to a published report.
FEMA extends rent
vouchers for evacuees. Hurricane evacuees in [Houston]'s housing-voucher program
received a reprieve Friday [1/20/2006] when a federal agency extended the apartment-lease
deadline beyond March 1.
...but not indefinitely. Katrina Evacuees
Face Eviction. More than 4,500 evacuees were expected to check out of their government-paid
hotel rooms Tuesday [2/7/2006] as the Federal Emergency Management Agency began cutting off money to
pay for their stays.
[Yes, but many of these people were homeless before Katrina hit, and are no worse off than before,
except that some of them have been relocated to other states.]
Federal, State Officials Remind
Mississippians to be On Guard for Fraud. People have been charged with criminal
violations related to FEMA relief funds in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Some
complaints already called in include allegations that applicants are using false names or fictitious
addresses; claiming non-existent losses or losses to someone else's property; misusing FEMA grants;
receiving duplicate payments from FEMA and insurance companies; and stealing FEMA checks.
No surprise here... Auditors
Find Huge Fraud in FEMA Aid. Thousands of applicants for federal emergency relief money after
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita used duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers or bogus addresses, suggesting
that the $2.3 billion program was a victim of extensive fraud, a Congressional auditor will report
FEMA wasted millions in Katrina
aid. The two audits found that up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received
aid under FEMA's emergency cash assistance program — which included the $2,000 debit cards
given to evacuees — were based on duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers, or
false addresses and names.
FEMA Wants $4.7M Katrina
Benefits Repaid. More than 2,000 Mississippi residents were notified that they must repay
millions of dollars in federal Hurricane Katrina benefits that were excessive or, in some cases,
fraudulent. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking a total of $4.7 million
from 2,044 people, giving them 30 days to repay or set up a payment plan.
Katrina Evacuees Sue to Keep
Housing. About two dozen hurricane evacuees living on a cruise ship south of New Orleans
were taking the federal government to court Monday [2/27/2006] in a bid to keep the ship docked and the
government paying for it.
Update: Judge Lets FEMA Remove 'Cruise
Ship' Housing. A federal judge on Friday [3/3/2006] shot down a lawsuit that sought to keep a
cruise ship docked here as temporary housing for hurricane evacuees, saying the question was not a matter
for the courts.
Read this: A Very Late Checkout.
After being flown [to New York City] for free back in September, [Theon] Johnson's been at the Holiday Inn
since Super Bowl Sunday. On April 21, the hotel served Johnson with three notices of occupancy
termination, saying that it would begin court proceedings if he wasn't out by May 9. He wasn't,
so it did. If the court boots him, Johnson could end up in one of the city's homeless shelters. He's
been broke for over a month now. FEMA sent him $9,000 in housing aid, but he spent it all on booze,
cigarettes, some clothes, and food — partying, mostly. "I spent my money just the way
I wanted, and I think [FEMA] should send me some more," he says.
The Editor cries out in frustration ...
Here's an example of a person who will be a freeloader and a sponge for the rest of his life. If
there's a government "No Fly" list at the airport, why isn't there a "No Handouts" list at the homeless
shelters? It would be cheaper to buy this man a one-way ticket to another country. Or at least
to Guam or Puerto Rico or somewhere other than a New York City hotel!
GAO finds mismanagement of
hurricane aid. The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to
victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical
vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found. Prison inmates, a supposed
victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian
hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the
nation's disaster relief agency.
FEMA official casts doubt on GAO
study. [FEMA] said it has identified $16.8 million in improperly awarded disaster relief
money and has started efforts to collect the money. [Conversely,] the GAO said it was 95 percent
confident that improper and potentially fraudulent payments were much higher — between
$600 million and $1.4 billion.
folly: Of the $6.3 billion that FEMA handed out, as much as $1.4 billion —
nearly a quarter of the total — went to crooks and con artists. According to the Government
Accountability Office, FEMA paid millions of dollars to prison inmates, to people who listed cemeteries or
post office boxes as their damaged homes, and for property that its own inspectors reported was
nonexistent. Some people collected thousands of dollars in rent assistance even though they were staying
in hotels paid for by FEMA.
collects a bundle. The flow of federal dollars to the Gulf Coast two years after Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita devastated the region already exceeds what the U.S. spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild
Europe after World War II. President Bush and Congress have committed more than $127 billion in
resources and tax relief for the region — significantly more than inflation-adjusted $107.6 billion
directed to 16 countries in Europe between 1947 and 1951.
Easy's Billion Dollar Boondoggle. How much money has Uncle Sam spent on New Orleans and the Gulf
region since Hurricane Katrina ripped the place apart? ... The grand total is $127 billion (including tax
relief). ... Perhaps all this money should've been directly deposited in the bank accounts of the 300,000
people living in New Orleans. All divvied up, that $127 billion would come to $425,000 per person!
Do you want cheese with that whine?
It has now been two years since Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf states and the whining by the Louisiana
politicians continues. The federal government hasn't done this or that, too many people have not returned
to New Orleans, etc. etc. What about that good old American can do attitude of taking care of ones self?
Life is not fair, but what else is new? One would think that nothing could ever get done if the federal
government is not involved.
Homeless Camp at
New Orleans City Hall. The homeless of New Orleans have left the city's shelters and gutted
buildings to set up camp on the mayor's doorstep. About 250 homeless people have erected
pup-tents — the only affordable housing they say they could find since Hurricane
Katrina — and created a colony of despair in a grassy plaza outside City Hall.
The Editor says...
Here we have about 250 people who believe that the government owes each of them a house.
Sadly, if they make enough noise, they will probably get what they want at the taxpayers'
Housing changes begin to unravel Katrina
victims' lives. More than two years after Hurricane Katrina transplanted thousands of New
Orleanians into Houston, the lives of the most vulnerable — the unemployed and working
poor — are starting to unravel. Once kept afloat on federal rental assistance, these
families are losing their benefits and are ending up on Houston's streets, activists and social
swamp corps with trillions in claims. Tens of thousands of people whose property was
destroyed when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed New Orleans' protective levees have filed claims
demanding the government pay astronomical sums that would be enough money to make multimillionaires
of everyone in Louisiana. The Army Corps of Engineers received 247 claims from residents,
businesses and government agencies seeking $1 billion or more, according to the agency.
Homeless still feel Katrina's
wrath. One of the most popular gatherings for the homeless is under the Interstate 10 overpass at the
corner of Claiborne Avenue and Canal Street in downtown New Orleans. A handful of camping tents and sleeping
bags pre-Katrina soon bloomed into more than 100 tents after the storm, homeless activists and police said.
wars destroyed FEMA from within. [The] warning came from former FEMA head Michael Brown. In a Sept. 15,
2003, memo, he wrote that the reorganization being proposed would "fundamentally sever FEMA from its core functions," "shatter
agency morale," and "break longstanding, effective and tested relationships with states and first responder stakeholders."
And it did.
VA employees rack up $2.6 billion in credit card
charges. In the past, purchase cards have been improperly used to pay for prostitutes, gambling
activity and even breast implants. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the GAO estimated that 45 percent
of Homeland Security purchase card spending during a six-month period was improper and included iPods, designer
rain jackets and beer-making equipment.
FEMA is easy to defraud. Even if
you were nowhere near the paths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, if you are a U.S. taxpayer, you are a victim. A
government audit released Monday [2/13/2006] shows that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was defrauded of potentially
billions of dollars because it made duplicate emergency assistance payments to thousands of people, and potentially
thousands of other people took advantage of flaws in FEMA's registration process to obtain more than one payment. In
some egregious cases, single individuals defrauding FEMA received as many as twenty-three $2,000 checks.
15 confronts Speaker Nancy Pelosi on FEMA spending. When NBC 15 News first met Gwenester
Malone a month ago, she was receiving three catered meals a day, while housekeepers made sure her hotel
room stayed clean. None of it was costing her a dime. "Since the storm, I haven't had any
energy or pep to go get a job," Malone said, "but when push comes to shove, I will." That shove
may not come until March 2009.
Years later... From Katrina To Sandy,
FEMA Rumors and Failures Keep Swirling. Could it possibly be true that FEMA, the most maligned federal agency after the IRS, asked victims
of Hurricane Katrina, Rita, and Wilma to repay millions of dollars in relief funds supposedly transmitted in error? And did they really ask for
compensation from Katrina victims more than five years after their checks were cashed?
Section 5: Gun seizures, property seizures and other attacks on the Bill of Rights
Orleans Begins Confiscating Firearms as Water Recedes. Waters were receding across
this flood-beaten city today [9/8/2005] as police officers began confiscating weapons, including
legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the
residents still living here.
Rights Group Outraged that New Orleans Officials Confiscated Guns. "There have been many
stories of self-defense, where stranded survivors were able to use firearms to protect what little they
had, against the criminal thugs who had been released from the prisons. To take away their firearms
now is simply adding 'insult to injury,'" said Erich Pratt. "Unfortunately, we have yet to learn
the lessons from previous dark episodes in our recent history," Pratt said. "We need to remember
those lessons, such as the riots of Los Angeles more than a decade ago."
New Orleans Gun Seizures Ilegal. Following low-key inquiries that were
met with stony silence and official indifference, the Citizens Committee for the Right
to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today [9/12/2005] is calling for a federal investigation
into reports of gun seizures from law-abiding New Orleans residents, and is demanding
that officials there immediately account for all confiscated firearms.
Orleans Gun Seizures Allegedly 'Creating More Victims'. Few people objected when police
began gathering firearms they found in abandoned New Orleans homes, to prevent them from falling into
the hands of criminals. But one gun policy expert says confiscating guns from law abiding citizens
who remain in the city is increasing the danger posed by criminals.
Louisiana Legislature Moves to Restore Citizens'
Guns. Here is a news item that you may have missed. Law enforcement officers confiscated
firearms from law-abiding citizens in the wake of hurricane Katrina. The confiscations occurred even
for homeowners in wealthy (and dry) neighborhoods, leaving owners defenseless.
New Orleans to Return Seized
Guns. The NRA has negotiated an agreement with New Orleans regarding the firearms seized from
lawful owners during and after Hurricane Katrina. The issue is pending before the federal court in the
case NRA v. Mayor Ray Nagin.
Remember New Orleans! In
the days following Hurricane Katrina, Americans watched in horror as law enforcement officers confiscated
legally-possessed firearms from New Orleans residents, who were accused of no crimes. … New Orleans
was the first city in American history to disarm peaceable American citizens door to door at gunpoint,
says NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre, and it must be the last.
protect evacuees' gun rights. With little debate, the Senate voted 39-0 Monday [4/10/2006]
for a bill that would prohibit police from confiscating firearms of law-abiding citizens in times of
emergencies or disasters.
[The Second Amendment is not limited to "times of emergencies or disasters."]
New Orleans Will Begin Returning
Seized Firearms Monday, Says SAF. More than seven months have passed since New Orleans
residents were forcibly and illegally disarmed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and starting Monday,
April 17, the City of New Orleans will be returning seized firearms to their rightful owners, thanks
to legal action by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association.
unanimously OKs gun seizure bill. Legislation that would prohibit local, parish or state police
officers from seizing firearms from law-abiding citizens during a state of emergency sailed out of
the [Lousiana] Senate, 36-0, on Monday [5/22/2006] and headed back to the House for final approval
of minor changes.
New Orleans Should Have Said Yes to
Guns. The United States has one of the world's lowest "hot" burglary rates — burglaries
committed while people are in the building — at 13 percent, compared to the "gun-free" British rate
of 59 percent. … Even without a catastrophe like Katrina, it would have been a poor strategy for
would-be victims in New Orleans merely to call 911 and wait for help; the average response time of police
in New Orleans before the hurricane was eleven minutes.
As 'Landmark' Victory for New Orleans Gun Owners. "We're encouraged by this latest ruling," said
Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb. "For almost a year, we've been fighting the city's
delay tactics, which included outright lying by city officials [who denied] that any firearms had been
seized. Only when we threatened Mayor Nagin and Superintendent Riley with a motion for contempt did the
city miraculously discover that they actually did have more than 1,000 firearms that had been taken from
Katrina Gun Grab. Former New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass issued orders to confiscate
firearms from all New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, under a flawed state emergency
powers law. Shortly thereafter, the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation sued
New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley to stop the illiegal confiscation of
firearms. The NRA and SAF filed suit in federal court and won a preliminary injunction ending all
the illegal gun confiscations.
Disarming Law-Abiding Americans during Disaster: It Can Happen to You. This exact scenario
unfolded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, unbeknownst to most people across the country. New
Orleans and other government officials literally ordered reluctant law enforcement officers to confiscate
firearms from law-abiding citizens at gunpoint. In other words, at the very moment when Second Amendment
rights mattered most, when innocent civilians needed firearms for self-protection, government forcibly
NRA foe Jefferson
ordered to surrender his Guns. When Rep.William Jefferson was arraigned on a boatload of
corruption and racketeering charges on Friday, he was ordered to surrender his firearms. Apparently,
while the Louisiana Democrat stores his FBI-marked bribe money in his freezer in Washington, he stockpiles his
collection of rifles and shotguns in his home in New Orleans. You might ask yourself, what does a man
who, in 2005, voted against a bill to protect law-abiding gun dealers and manufacturers from litigation blaming
them for criminal misuse of their products by others, need with rifles? Did he own them when he voted
against similar law in 2003?
Gun Seized After Katrina?
NRA Wants You. The National Rifle Association has hired private investigators to find hundreds
of people whose firearms were seized by city police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to court
papers filed this week. The NRA is trying to locate gun owners for a federal lawsuit that the lobbying
group filed against Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley over the city's seizure of firearms
after the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.
and Gun Control: [Senator Hillary] Clinton has repeatedly voted for antigun proposals, and co-sponsored many
of them. After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans and St. Tammany police confiscated guns from law-abiding
citizens, violating an explicit Louisiana law. In some cases, the confiscation was carried out with the
assistance of federal agents, and was perpetrated via warrantless break-ins into homes. The next year,
the U.S. Senate voted 84-16 for a homeland security appropriations rider stating: "None of the funds
appropriated by this Act shall be used for the seizure of a firearm based on the existence of a declaration
or state of emergency." Mrs. Clinton was one of the 16 who voted "no."
Shame on Nagin. [New Orleans Mayor Ray] Nagin
violated every law-abiding citizen's civil rights, Constitutional rights, and human right of self-defense with the now
infamous forced gun confiscations from the good people of New Orleans, whose only defense was their own lawfully owned
firearms. Good for them! Nagin ordered all law enforcement to concentrate wholly on breaking down doors of
homes and taking firearms away from the people, even by force if necessary — and in many documented cases,
they did use physical force. One old woman about 70 reportedly was literally knocked down to the floor of her
Alabama lawmaker wants to ban cops from seizing guns during emergencies. Rep. Marc Keahey,
D-Grove Hill, said last week he will sponsor a bill in the Legislature to prevent the government from
seizing lawfully owned firearms in times of emergency, such as hurricanes. The bill was inspired by
the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans police ordered people to surrender their
firearms. More than 1,000 guns were seized, according to the National Rifle Association.
State "Emergency Powers" vs. The Right to
Arms. After Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans residents legally armed themselves to protect their
lives and property from civil disorder. With no way to call for help, and police unable to respond, honest citizens
were able to defend themselves and their neighbors against looters, arsonists and other criminals. However, just
when these people needed guns the most, New Orleans's Police Superintendent ordered the confiscation of firearms,
allegedly under a state emergency powers law. "No one will be able to be armed," he said. "Guns will be
taken. Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns."
Section 6: FEMA: audacity, incompetence and political correctness
This subsection has moved to a page of its own,
Section 7: Learning lessons and planning for the future
Spending billions to rebuild and repair New Orleans (or Florida) after a hurricane would be
understandable if we knew that there would never be another hurricane. But exactly the reverse
is true: There will certainly be more hurricanes next year (if not sooner), and the people
who choose to live on the coast should take that risk on their own, without the assurance that
Uncle Sam will always be there to get everybody back on their feet. In other words, move
inland and take responsibility for your own expenses!
Trump Can Learn From Hurricane Katrina. As President Trump seeks to maintain law and order during upheavals in
major American cities, he would be well served to remember the painful lessons of Hurricane Katrina. In a pivotal
moment, at a podium in Louisiana in 2005, President George W. Bush chose not to allow Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray
Nagin to take the full blame for their poor leadership. As leaders do, Bush stepped in to rescue the situation.
Yet, rescuing takes on many forms, and leaders often need to look beyond the immediate to see others in need of
assistance. If only President Bush had said, "Governor Blanco, we respect the sovereign state of Louisiana and do not
wish to overstep. We're ready to assist you with your plan." Following that statement, a thirty-second
pause to expose the incompetence of the Democrat party leadership in Louisiana would have served as a teachable
moment — and provided a greater rescue. Without compromising relief efforts, Bush had the opportunity to
shine the spotlight of truth on the collapse of Louisiana's Democrat leadership and allow the country to see destructive
consequences of liberalism. The moment passed quickly as Bush tried to play nice with people who viciously turned on
him. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina now remains permanently hung around the neck of George W. Bush, while few
(if any) remember Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin.
Excellent summary: Disastrous politics. On
a good day, New Orleans continuously pumps water out of the alluvial bowl created by its levees, though building
structures there continue to sink. In the event of a category four or five hurricane, however, 80 percent
of the city would be swamped, and every politician from the city's mayor to the state's governor knew it. But
the Big Easy is a party town — a gambling destination — and the city's leadership wagered the
city against odds of a big hurricane.
President Trump Just Won Re-Election. [Hurricane] Katrina was the end of President Bush's presidency, even
though it occurred at the beginning of his second term. After Katrina, Bush lost credibility and limped through the
last three and a half years of his administration. [...] But George Bush failed when he crumbled in response to media
criticism and flew to New Orleans to abase himself in front of the cameras at Jackson Square. There he apologized to
the black community and promised billions in reparations for what that community had gone through. It made no
difference: the left hated him even more. But by demeaning himself in this way, Bush lost what support he still
had on the right.
New Orleans repeating
deadly levee mistakes. Signs are emerging that history is repeating itself in the Big Easy, still
healing from Katrina: People have forgotten a lesson from four decades ago and believe once again that
the federal government is constructing a levee system they can prosper behind.
Money won't fix New Orleans.
Although Mississippi appears to have successfully put the storm behind it, Louisiana is demanding more help for
New Orleans, after having already wasted more than $100 billion of our taxes by inept and corrupt
mismanagement of the money. It has been estimated that such an unimaginable amount would be enough to
have replaced each damaged home and business, while putting two new cars in every adjacent driveway.
the real climate 'deniers'. For example, take all their nonsense about people dying in New Orleans
because of global warming. People died in New Orleans because it was stupid to build a major city below
sea level so close to the warm waters of the Gulf, in a part of the world notorious for fierce hurricanes, long
before anyone had ever heard of Al Gore or Katrina. It was a man-made disaster, but it had nothing
to do with global warming.
winners, three losers. One big loser is New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who jumped
to erroneous conclusions and cast blame like confetti. But he wasn't alone among local
demagogues, who did Huey Long proud. … Reports of official pilfering of emergency aid bring
to life FBI agent Lou Riegel's description of Louisiana public corruption as "epidemic, endemic
and entrenched." A second big loser: national media that served as megaphones for
hysteria and propaganda.
Prize. New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial
infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly
the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return
there because the alternatives are too devastating.
California's New Orleans: Parts
of [Long Beach, California] stand an average three feet below sea level, compared to
eight feet for New Orleans. Yet despite all the talk from the political left that the Bush
administration has effectively drowned New Orleans residents, that same political left is
working assiduously to leave Long Beach residents exposed.
Compare this to the 1927
flood. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 killed 246 people in seven
states — Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and
Tennessee. The river breached the levee system in 145 places and
flooded 27,000 square miles, leaving some areas under 30 feet of water.
increase devastation of "natural" disasters. The actions that humans take
contribute to the damage caused by extreme weather, say observers. For example: People
continue to live in mobile homes, although tornadoes turn them into matchsticks and one-third of all
deaths from tornadoes occur among people living in mobile homes.
Bush … the Fall Guy. Sooner or later people need to realize if they keep
building homes in high risk areas, they are not putting too much value on their lives or the
lives of their families. Yes, hurricanes and tornadoes hit urban and rural areas as well,
but not on the same level and magnitude as coastal areas. … The damage left behind in
New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina is astronomical, and it will take billions of dollars to
rebuild the city. But how much sense does it make — rebuilding a city that
will always be vulnerable to suffering the same type of destruction?
government is still subtly, slowly and surely destroying the human spirit, creating a dependency that
Katrina has so clearly and powerfully revealed.
New Orleans: The
Nanny State's Bitter Fruit. Two days. … This was all the time it took for the fabric
of civilization to unravel in New Orleans. Streets which just last week were lined with the fans of
Blues clubs and theaters are now patrolled by gangs of what in any other country would be called terrorists
looking for their next innocent victim or store front to pillage.
faults White House over rebuilding. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, flanked by
veteran Democratic activists and a union leader, criticized the Bush administration on
Saturday [10/29/2005] for allowing hurricane rebuilding contracts to go to out-of-state
firms and low-wage workers.
The Editor says:
Governor Blanco seems to be defiantly clinging to Louisiana's traditional way of doing things, which
is part of the problem, not the solution.
Perversions Insured. The
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control program and federal flood insurance subsidize construction
in flood-prone areas and encourage high-risk development by shifting the cost of insurance and physical
protection against floods from property owners to taxpayers. The result: more construction
in high risk areas. It's economics 101 — if you subsidize something you get more
of levees in Plaquemines raising eyebrows. More than $190,000 per person. That's how much
the Army Corps of Engineers now says it will cost to protect the 14,795 residents of Plaquemines Parish
against a flood with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any single year — the government
standard for protection against a Katrina-like or stronger hurricane.
FEMA says Louisiana
homes must be raised off the ground. Many homes damaged by flooding during Hurricane
Katrina likely will have to be raised one to three feet to qualify for flood insurance, a FEMA
official said Wednesday [4/12/2006] as the government released long-awaited new projections on area
Hurricane Katrina Lessons
Learned: Solid Recommendations. On February 23, 2006, the White House released
its after-action report on the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. … The report contains four main
elements: perspectives on how the federal government has responded to previous disasters, a
chronology of events from August 29 to September 5, an extensive analysis of the federal
response to Hurricane Katrina, and a comprehensive set of recommendations.
69% of poor evacuees are here to
stay. Houston may be hot, unfriendly and frustratingly difficult to navigate, but more than
two-thirds of the poorest New Orleans evacuees who fled to the city after Hurricane Katrina plan to stay, a
Rice University survey released today shows.
Houston Katrina evacuees unemployed. More than 80 percent of Hurricane Katrina evacuees surveyed
in the Houston area are unemployed one year after the storm forced them to flee New Orleans, according to a
study released by Rice University on Friday [9/8/2006]. Sixty-six percent of the 362 evacuees surveyed
had full- or part-time jobs before Hurricane Katrina battered the U.S. Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005,
the study said.
in the Big Easy doesn't have to be so hard. If simply throwing cash around could accomplish
anything, New Orleans would be repopulated already. The federal government has dedicated $7.5 billion
simply to help rebuild and repair hurricane-damaged homes. But the program, called "Road Home," is
taking the scenic route. So far, the Associated Press reports, it's helped only 42 — that's
right, 42 — homeowners.
New Orleans face the music. A year after Hurricane Katrina ran its ruinous course over New
Orleans, all America is aware of the botch that state, local and federal government made of rescue and
rehabilitation efforts. As the Wall Street Journal reported recently, "Uncle Sam has spent some
five times more on Katrina relief than any other natural disaster in the past 50 years."
The Tragedy of New
Orleans. The post-Katrina spend-fest in Louisiana will be remembered as one of the greatest
taxpayer wastes in U.S. history. First came the FEMA $2,000 debit-cards fiasco intended to pay for
necessities that were used for things like flat-panel TVs and tattoos. Then came the purchase
of thousands of mobile homes that cost as much as $400,000 per family housed; the $200 million
for renting the Carnival Cruise Ship; millions more in payments that went for season football
tickets, luxury vacation resorts, even divorce lawyers. Federal flood insurance policies surely
will encourage many to rebuild in the same flood plains and at the same height as before.
Repeats Mistakes as It Rebuilds. After Katrina, teams of planners recommended that broad swaths
of vulnerable neighborhoods be abandoned. Yet all areas of the city have at least some residents
beginning to rebuild.
Orleans struggles to keep its black character. On Martin Luther King Day last year, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
famously said his city would 'be chocolate at the end of the day,' a remark meant to encourage African Americans
to return after Hurricane Katrina. At the time, it drew accusations of racial divisiveness and a barrage of
jokes. … But a year later, it is no laughing matter. New Orleans, one of the most culturally distinct
African American cities, is struggling to regain its black character.
for the Next Big One. There is impeccable logic to the argument that taxpayers should not be
made to pay for the risks incurred by people who choose to live along a hurricane-prone coast or atop a
major geological fault. More than half of all Americans, however, live within 50 miles of a coast.
California Wildfires: The Un-Katrina.
San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium filled up with 20,000 evacuees and volunteers. If the Superdome in New Orleans
after Katrina was like a ring in Dante's hell, Qualcomm has been like a street fair — with bountiful food, and
even massages, acupuncture and yoga on offer. Whatever its failings, California's government isn't as
addled with corruption and incompetence as Louisiana's, and that has made the difference.
First Responders: Louisiana's first responders
had catastrophic communications problems in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina. According to National Defense Magazine:
"Police could not talk to firefighters and emergency medical teams. Helicopter and boat rescuers had to wave signs and
follow one another to survivors. Sometimes, police and other first responders were out of touch with comrades a few
blocks away. National Guard relay runners scurried about with scribbled messages as they did during the Civil War."
A congressional report on preparedness and response to Katrina said much the same thing.
Big Easy rebuilds, bottom up. New Orleanians have achieved much of this success by building and
rebuilding on their own or with small-scale help, rather than under top-down government decree. They're
showing that thousands of individual planners are better than one master.
Conservatism Helped Louisiana Beat Katrina. Three years ago many experts predicted
Louisiana's economy would never be the same. That's true, though not the way the experts thought:
It's getting better. These storms forced us to rethink our aspirations as a state. We are not
just rebuilding the failed institutions of the past — we are rebuilding smarter.
America has Become a Dependent Culture. When
the power goes off for more than a day, the inhabitants of whole cities can become refugees from the elements
and have to be saved by big-brother government. If the help doesn't come fast enough the "refugees" cry
foul and complain. As in the travesty that was New Orleans (Hurricane Katrina), the people stood around
helpless, waiting for government to deliver them from a nature-made calamity. They were incapable of
helping themselves. Several thousand died as a result and billions of tax dollars were squandered to
save the rest. They didn't have the intelligence, training or the where-with-all to escape the big
city. The big city and their helplessness killed them, or made them wards of the government.
Challenge Removal of Trees from Levees. Environmental activists are threatening to sue the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers over its policy of removing trees that weaken Seattle-area coastal levees. The
Army Corps believes preserving the structural integrity of levees and minimizing the chances of another
Hurricane Katrina-like disaster should take priority over tree populations on levees. Environmental
activists argue the Corps can retain the trees without significant additional risk of levee failure.
Battery-powered TVs useless this storm season.
Without power for 12 days during Hurricane Ike, Houston secretary Donna Clanton relied on her battery-powered TV for news
updates, road closings and notices of flooded intersections. "Actually seeing what was happening made me feel more
connected and a little less isolated," Clanton said.
The Editor says...
It's must be amazing to these people that anyone survived before television came along.
You're a Liberal/Progressive if You Believe...
the Bush administration "dropped the ball" with respect to Hurricane Katrina, but the Obama
administration was on the BP oil spill "from day one." It was "all Bush's fault" that then-Governor
of Louisiana Katherine Blanco rejected his offer to put troops in New Orleans two days before the hurricane
arrived, and that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told people to evacuate to an ill-equipped Superdome while
hundreds of buses that could have transported residents out of the city sat idle.
Government the Villain in Katrina Tragedy.
Five years after Hurricane Katrina, the biggest adversary for the people of Louisiana continues to be government at
all levels, local, state and especially, federal. Hurricane Katrina was a devastating storm, but the
destruction was made much greater by the failure of the levees that were built to protect the city.
demonstrated the danger of big government. Effective crisis response and disaster management
rely on immediate information gathering and situation analysis, clear lines of decision-making, and quick
and accurate communication. The federal government had the capabilities, the resources, and the
manpower to respond effectively. Yet even President George W. Bush at the time expressed
frustration over the lack of coordination and blamed "government bureaucracies." What went wrong?
Section 7a: Congressional investigations and independent analysis
What Could Possibly Go Wrong? [Scroll down] The
problems with the government response to Katrina had far more to do with actions by Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco, both Democrats, and it is important
to say so. The truth matters, and what our consultant class never seems to understand is that ceding a certain false narrative to liberals in an
attempt not to offend the moderates, we feed a narrative always comes back to bite us [...]
It is, of course, axiomatic that George W. Bush was to blame for natural disasters that struck during his
presidency. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, it goes without saying that Bush failed on three major
fronts: First, he did not go back decades in time and demand construction of more resistant levies.
Second, he did not force Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to accept his offer of National Guard troops to help
bail out New Orleans — when she refused, Bush didn't invoke the Insurrection Act and invade
a U.S. state.
Didn't 9/11 Prepare Us For Hurricane Katrina? We don't need a Katrina Commission to tell us that a Katrina
was likely to occur and that we should have provided reasonable security to preserve life and property in her wake.
New Orleans' below sea level vulnerability had been recognized for decades by the local and federal authorities responsible
for emergency preparedness. It was well known that the levees would not hold in a serious storm, and they didn't.
What happened to
the racism in Katrina? The House released its investigative report on Hurricane Katrina
this week, under the title "A Failure of Initiative." The report is an indictment of government
failure at all levels federal, state and local. In 379 pages, plus 141 appendices, the report
documents government failure in major areas that, if handled better, could have reduced the death and
damage caused by Katrina. But it is also important to note what the report does not say. Nowhere
is there any conclusion that the poor response resulted from racism.
points to man-made disaster. As investigators and residents have picked through the
battered New Orleans levee system's breaches, churned-up soil and bent sheet pile in the 100 days
since Hurricane Katrina struck, they have uncovered mounting evidence that human error played a
major role in the flood that devastated the city.
Says FEMA Ignored Warnings. For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency
officials, including former director Michael D. Brown, dismissed urgent eyewitness accounts by FEMA's
only staffer in New Orleans that Hurricane Katrina had broken the city's levee system the morning of
Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding, the staffer told the Senate yesterday [10/20/2005].
One crisis after
another yet lesson never learned. What, after all, should we be walking away from the
Katrina tragedy with other than a deep skepticism about government? Yet we're just hearing more
about getting government more involved. … Hundreds of millions of dollars are now being spent daily
on Katrina-related contracts and grants and reports of fraud and abuse are already flowing.
Study shows Most Katrina
Victims were Elderly. A majority of people killed by Hurricane Katrina were older residents
unable or unwilling to evacuate in the rising floodwaters, according to a study of almost half the bodies
recovered in Louisiana.
Memos Put Katrina Body Blame on Blanco. Bodies of people killed by Hurricane Katrina
went uncollected for more than a week in the New Orleans area as the federal government waited for
Louisiana's governor to decide what to do with them, according to memos released
Thursday [10/27/2005] by a Republican-led House committee.
of Two Cities. No two neighboring towns better embody the differences between the
two main political philosophies competing in the U.S. today — Houston, Texas which is the
embodiment of the Lone Star State's can do spirit of limited government and self-reliance versus
New Orleans, Louisiana, aptly nicknamed the "Big Easy" and perhaps the embodiment
of welfare state dependence in the South.
Mississippi, and New Orleans: A Comparison of Character. With so much
attention focused on New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a significant fact has been largely
overlooked. As a proud citizen of the Magnolia State I believe it's high time to make a
comparison of just how folks from Mississippi dealt with the storm's aftermath compared to those
in and around New Orleans.
civil society in New Orleans. We all know that rebuilding the physical infrastructure of
New Orleans will require tremendous resources. But rebuilding the civil society of the Big Easy
will require just as much effort, and has so far gotten almost no attention. That's because most
of our opinion-making elites do not want to see that marriage is the cornerstone of civil society. And
the images of Katrina demonstrate this, if we are willing to see.
chief: Influx of sex offenders 'cause for concern'. At least 287 sex offenders from
Louisiana are in the Houston area due to Hurricane Katrina, Police Chief Harold Hurtt said. FEMA
gave the recent figures to the Houston Police Department but Chief Hurtt admits there could be
[No doubt many others went to Dallas and San Antonio.]
Shifting Blame in the Katrina
Tragedy. Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal
government … rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. … [It
isn't fair] to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible — local and state
officials who failed to do their job as the first responders.
New Orleans Hospital Staff
Discussed Mercy Killings. Soon after Hurricane Katrina struck, the first unconfirmed reports
surfaced of "mercy killings" — euthanasia of patients — at New Orleans
hospitals. For months, the Louisiana attorney general has been investigating these charges.
from Wal-Mart: Anyone who's ever filed a tax return or visited the Department of Motor
Vehicles understands that government does two things well: spend our money and waste our
time. Unfortunately, both traits were on display during the response to Hurricane Katrina.
New Video, Blanco Says Levees Are Safe. In the hectic, confused hours after Hurricane
Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast, Louisiana's governor hesitantly but mistakenly assured the Bush
administration that New Orleans' protective levees were intact, according to new video obtained
by The Associated Press showing briefings that day with federal officials.
Democrats Exaggerate Warning of Levee Breaches. Critics of the Bush administration have
promoted video of an Aug. 28, 2005, teleconference between emergency management officials and the
president as proof that the White House was warned that levees around New Orleans would likely fail
against Hurricane Katrina. But a closer examination of the recording and transcript shows no
mention that the Crescent City's levees would be breached.
Popular Mechanics Takes on Katrina
Myths. Last week's Associated Press release of a video, taken just prior to Hurricane Katrina's
arrival in New Orleans last August, has generated a new round of second-guessing and finger pointing regarding
who is to blame for the supposedly slow, poor response to this natural disaster. Falling under the fold
was an in-depth cover story on this subject by an unlikely source, Popular Mechanics.
Fraud and Abuse. The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, Richard Skinner,
told the Senate that "it is unclear how the decision was made" to spend $900 million on the more than
26,000 homes. It is clear, however, that almost every penny of that money was wasted, since
FEMA's own regulations prohibit the use of mobile homes in flood plains.
administration is asked to account for Katrina spending. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas)
sent a letter to the administration today [2/24/2006] requesting a detailed account of the money
already allocated to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast region as well as the spending justifications
from each agency requesting funds. His letter comes one week after the White House asked
Congress to allocate $92.2 billion in emergency supplemental spending to repair lingering
damage from two devastating hurricanes last fall. Congress has already approved almost
$400 billion in emergency spending for the region.
system blamed for Katrina crisis. An incomplete system of defenses built in pieces over
40 years was responsible for the flooding that devastated New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina last
year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Thursday [6/1/2006].
Stating the obvious... Katrina Victims Blamed for Houston
Crime. A letter to inmate No. 1352951 and a cell phone bill for $76.63, both found in
a soggy New Orleans duplex ruined by Hurricane Katrina, led Louisiana bounty hunter James Martin to
Texas. Again. It marked the seventh time since Katrina that Martin, whose pursuit of bail jumpers
often begins with clues salvaged from abandoned New Orleans homes, has followed a trail to Texas. "I
don't think Texas really knows what they got," Martin said. Katrina sent a lot of bad guys to Texas,
as Houston is finding out.
After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast on August 29, Houston took in
150,000 evacuees, the most of any U.S. city. Unfortunately, the Texas coastal city's hospitality has
been met with increased crime rates, say observers.
Millions Wasted on No-Bid Katrina Contracts. The
government awarded 70% of its contracts for Hurricane Katrina work without full competition, wasting hundreds
of millions of taxpayer dollars in the process, a House study released yesterday [8/24/2006] by Democrats said.
The Editor says...
Please recall that it was the Democrats who insisted that the federal
government "do something" within hours of the hurricane hitting New Orleans. If any group deserves to be
blamed for the government wasting money because it acted hastily, it would be the Democratic Party.
Many more links on this page... The Costs of Katrina: Rebuilding the
Gulf. At the end of August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. As the devastation
to the region became clear, Congress quickly passed two emergency appropriations bills (H.R. 3673 and
H. Res. 432) totaling $62.3 billion. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) received
$60 billion; the Department of Defense received $1.9 billion; and the Army Corps of Engineers received
$400 million, all with very few strings attached. ... Federal taxpayers cannot afford to write a blank
check to federal bureaucrats and private contractors. Efficiency and accountability are paramount to
ensure that those most effected in the Gulf get the help they need, without bankrupting the Treasury.
The bipartisan Katrina boondoggle: The Bush
administration, like every administration since Jimmy Carter created the Federal Emergency Management Agency
in 1979, has failed mightily to break the natural disaster-federal disaster cycle. Next to the systemic
breakdown on border security and immigration enforcement, the Hurricane Katrina boondoggle stands as the
Republicans' most disgraceful domestic failure. After years of hawking five-pound fiscal conservative
blueprints for downsizing government bureaucracy and reforming federal spending, the GOP blew a monumental
opportunity to show liberals how to end disaster socialism.
Katrina aid to firms of party cronies. Some had a history of making political donations to the
Republican Party, which was in control of Congress as well as the White House at the time. Others had
ties to Louisiana Democrats, including the office of the state governor, Kathleen Blanco. … After the
new Democrat-controlled Congress convenes next month, at least seven committees will be holding hearings into
how the $88 billion approved for Katrina relief and reconstruction has, or has not, been spent.
The Editor says...
I would guess that every large and successful company in the United States is headed by wealthy people
who have political connections. This is nothing new, and it is not confined to one political
party or another. But when a huge cleanup job must be done quickly and competently, it is
a waste of valuable time to look for the smallest company, the most disadvantaged company, or the contractor
with the most favorable skin color. A cleanup job like this can only be done by a well-established,
experienced and efficiently managed company that already has the necessary equipment on hand. A much
more important question is whether hurricane damage should be cleaned up at government expense. Katrina
was not the last hurricane. If you choose to live near on the Gulf coast, you should assume the
FEMA overhaul delay irks
legislators. Lawmakers are frustrated with the lack of progress on a congressionally mandated
overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, designed to ensure that flaws that dogged the response to
Hurricane Katrina are fixed.
Flooding risk remains in parts of New Orleans.
After nearly two years of work, the Army Corps of Engineers revealed for the first time Wednesday which New Orleans
neighborhoods and blocks were the most vulnerable to flooding, and which were the best protected. The
report shows that large swaths of the city are still likely to be flooded in a major storm.
The latest: Katrina's impact on crime
questioned. A huge crime wave blamed on thousands of Katrina evacuees in Houston and other
Southwest cities never happened, say criminologists who warned public officials and the media to be careful in
attributing crime to the former New Orleans residents.
Section 7b: Hurricanes Gustav and Ike: The first big post-Katrina storms
Parts of Katrina's history repeated themselves upon the
arrival of Hurricane Gustav. There was no massive flooding, looting, or
wildly sensationalized reporting, but there was a difficult evacuation, and
now many of the evacuees are demanding better treatment and nicer facilities.
Gustav revives question: Is New Orleans worth
it?. Since Katrina ripped through New Orleans three years ago, the federal government has
devoted at least $133 billion in emergency funds and tax credits for Gulf Coast disaster relief.
Much of it went to rebuilding and better protecting New Orleans from future storms. Former GOP House
Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., infuriated Louisiana lawmakers when he suggested in 2005 that a lot of New
Orleans "could be bulldozed" after Katrina and questioned the wisdom of rebuilding it.
The Editor says...
Can you imagine the uproar I would face if I put up a web page with a title like, "Is New Orleans worth
it?" Yet Newsweek can ask a rhetorical question like that and get away with it.
Gustav's Lessons for New
Orleans: The sad truth is that the Big Easy — while slightly less vulnerable than it
was before Katrina — is still extremely vulnerable. And eventually the region will face the
Big One, a storm far larger than Gustav or Katrina.
Has Houston pulled in its welcome mat?
[As Hurricane Gustav approached] one reader commenting on the Chronicle's Web site suggested the headline
should have read "Houston area, prepare to bear arms!!! Here we go again!!" Someone questioned
when Houston would have a hurricane "so we can take all our undesirables to New Orleans and leave them?"
A few readers attempted to remind the others of our humanitarian obligation to help our neighbors. But
the memories, or perhaps more accurately in most cases, the perceptions, of Katrina evacuees' impact on the
area are too bitterly fresh.
Some say New Orleans 'jumped the
gun' in evacuations. Millions fled the Gulf Coast in fear of Hurricane Gustav, billed as the
apocalyptic "mother of all storms." It didn't deliver. Now, with three other storms lining up
in the Atlantic, some fear people might not listen next time.
Hurricane Evacuees Arrested In Atlanta Blue Jean
Robberies. Four evacuees from Hurricane Gustav are in jail in Atlanta Friday [9/5/2008], charged
with stealing high-priced blue jeans from two Buckhead stores. Police said the suspects, three men and
a woman, all from New Orleans, stole high priced jeans from the Luna boutique on Peachtree Road
Thursday afternoon [9/4/2008], walking into the store and grabbing all the jeans they could.
FEMA may cover hotel costs for hurricane
evacuees. Victims of Hurricane Gustav who can't return to their homes over the next month because
of storm damage or power outages can have their hotel costs covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
officials said Thursday [9/4/2008].
residents pleased with Gustav evacuation. "For the first time, it looked like we really had
control, like we knew what we were doing," contractor Eddie Cannon said about the orderly departure of more
than 250,000 residents, including the largest government-assisted evacuation in the city's history. "The
governor was on point with the information, with the stats, with the police reports," said Cannon, who
Again,' Again. Hurricane Gustav gave the state of Louisiana a test for which it had three
years to prepare. There were thousands of poor, sick, disabled and elderly people who could not
get out on their own. They needed to be rescued with dispatch, and sheltered in safety and dignity.
One simple test. The state flunked.
The Editor says...
Maybe not... at least this time they
in the nursing homes instead of moving them inland. So they didn't "flunk" as badly as last time.
The differences between Galveston
and New Orleans: I've been on the ground in Galveston since the Monday after Ike hit. I
have not seen a single citizen of the city begging, demanding and weeping piteously for help from big brother.
The general attitude seems to be welcoming to help from outside, but if it doesn't come, we'll find a way to
make it on our own. Neighbor helps neighbor. People pitch in. Things get done. Hang
the government. The people of Galveston have a special resilience and toughness about them.
Perry: Feds are slighting Texas in
Ike aid. Gov. Rick Perry lashed out Thursday at the federal government's response to Hurricane
Ike, saying Texans are suffering as federal agencies penalize the state for sound fiscal management after
rewarding its less prudent neighbor to the east. Perry said he was outraged that Homeland Security
Secretary Michael Chertoff had told local officials that Texas wouldn't get the same level of reimbursement
for debris removal as Louisiana received after Hurricane Katrina because Texas has a budget surplus.
FEMA: Ike grants now
over $1 billion. The Hurricane Ike recovery effort reached a major milestone Tuesday [6/9/2009]
when Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants awarded to help the state of Texas and local
communities recover from the storm topped $1 billion. Allocated under FEMA's Public Assistance
Grant Program, the funds provide supplemental financial assistance to state, local and tribal governments,
as well as certain private nonprofit groups, for Ike-related response and recovery activities.