Sunday, September 04, 2005
Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish, gave maybe the most moving interview I've ever seen this morning on Meet the Press. I encourage you to watch it; here's a part where he is very specific about why blaming local authorites isn't a good idea: FEMA worked at cross purposes with them:
Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Walmart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water, FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. Uh, FEMA, uh, we had a hundred, we had a thousand gallons of diesel fuel on a coast guard vessel docked in my parish, the coast guard said come get the fuel right away. When we got there with our trucks, they got a word, "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday, yesterday! FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut 'em without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line, he posts armed guards on our line and says "No one's getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America would've, American government would've responded like Walmart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.I never thought I'd quote someone praising Walmart. And I should note that Broussard doesn't want local government to be in charge, he wants a FEMA that is independent, cabinet-level, and works. I won't transcribe the story he tells right after this; that's one you've got to see for yourself. But this, combined with Nagin's radio interview, has brought home to me the scope of this disaster: these are politicians who are trained to keep their cool, and they're breaking down on national television.