hurricane katrina

Elvin R. Heiberg III, General Who Took Blame for Hurricane Katrina Failures, Dies at 81

Former Head of Army Corps of Engineers Regretted Not Fighting for Storm-Surge Gates As Tropical Storm Karen approaches the Gulf Coast, and FEMA employees, furloughed by the latest GOP Government Shutdown, are called back to work without pay, The New York Times reports the death of Lt. Gen. Elvin R. Heiberg III, “who rose to the top […]

We’re Not Forgetting

* Except for posting this brief comment, we are among the millions of New Yorkers who are doing anything but “commemorating” the 10th anniversary. We are not reading the magazines’ special commemorative editions or watching the solemn and reverent broadcasts brought...

How Rumsfeld Aggravated Katrina’s Destruction (How Many Died from SecDef’s Turf War?)

The New York Times and other sources have reported on the biblical quotations that adorned the cover pages of Pentagon intelligence briefings sent to the Bush White House (“Therefore put on the full armor of God. . .”) in a GQ profile of former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Not good, especially when the Muslim world had already heard Bush describe the War on Terror as a “crusade.” In our view, however, Draper’s most distressing revelation is that days after Hurricane Katrina, when tens of thousands of victims were in desperate need of rescue and medical care, Rumsfeld refused to deploy a fleet of search-and-rescue helicopters at Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Florida—only 200 miles from New Orleans—who were waiting for go orders. Indeed, when Bush tried to drag cooperation out of him, Rumsfeld only grudgingly relented.

Fugate for FEMA: “Semper Gumby”—In an Emergency, “The Calmest Man in the Room”

Some of our readers are too young to remember a time when the much-derided FEMA actually functioned well. That would be 1993 to 2001: Under President Clinton, former Arkansas emergency services director James Lee Witt directed FEMA with direct, cabinet-level access to the president and earned wide, bipartisan respect for his competence and flexibility.

Happy days—or at least competent days—are soon to be here again. President Obama has nominated W. Craig Fugate, director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, to be the next head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is good news indeed.

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