Saturday, September 03, 2005

More on New Orlean's Mayor's "Bus Gate" Scandal

The finger pointing and race baiting continues in the tragic wake of Hurricane Katrina. As I pointed out yesterday, fleets of buses were destroyed by the storm in New Orleans, that could have been used by the local government to evacuate those who had no other transportation.

New Orlean's Mayor Nagin , waited until the day AFTER President Bush declared a federal emergency in his state, before declaring his own state of emergency and ordering a mandatory evacuation.

Junk Yard Blog is all over this story in detail. He cites the Southeast Louisiana evacuation supplement (page 13, paragraph 5):

5. The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating.

The mayor and the police force also had power under this emergency order to commandeer any vehicle to assist in their efforts.

Yet for the last several days, Mayor Nagin has been running around giving interviews saying things like: the federal government needs to "get their asses moving," stop calling "goddamn press conferences." In another angry interview Nagin said: "I need reinforcements," he pleaded. "I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. This is a national disaster."

You've seen the closeup aerial photo of school buses that were destroyed by Katrina and never used to help get the poor out of harm's way.

Here's a wider satellite shot. The buses that could have been used to evacuate residents of the poorer neighborhoods are only a few miles up the freeway from the Superdome and the Convention Center where many refugees were stuck without food, water or sanitation for days. Junkyard blog estimates that the 205 buses shown could easily have evacuated over 10,000 people in their very first trip to the Astrodome in Houston, had time to return and take another load before the storm hit on Monday morning.

Bill Hobbes points out that the New Orleans Regional Transport Authority had at least 364 buses, which could have carried thousands more to safety had they been employed in time.

That's at least 500 buses Mayor! Why didn't you use them?

Mayor Nagin isn't the only one trying to confuse the issue by blaming someone else:

From Associated Press: An angry Terry Ebbert, head of New Orleans' emergency operations, watched the slow exodus from the Superdome on Thursday morning and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency response was inadequate. The chaos at the nearby New Orleans Convention Center was considerably worse than the Superdome, with an angry mob growing increasingly violent and few options for refugees to leave the scene.

"This is a national disgrace. FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control," Ebbert said. "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."

As Junk Yard Blog points out, Ebbert was appointed by Mayor Nagin, and it is Ebbert's job to implement the evacuation plan.

World Net Daily also points out that New Orleans had a similar evacuation mess with the scare caused by Hurricane Ivan the year before. After that, disaster plans for the city were reviewed.

Next time Mayor Nagin or Emergency Operations Chief Ebbert give yet another blame the feds press condference, It would be nice if JUST ONE REPORTER ASKED WHY THEY DID NOT USE THE BUSES TO GET PEOPLE OUT!

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