In the aftermath of Katrina, the utter and deadly incompetence of our top emergency management officials has become undeniable.
The aftermath of the storm left a humanitarian crisis. President Bush himself said that food and water were being mobilized to reach people in need. How could it be that reporters on site at the New Orleans convention center could be describing a scene of no food, no water and no law enforcement... on Thursday?
Hotel officials rent buses to evacuate their stranded tourists at a cost of $25,000. FEMA officials commandeer the buses... and make no arrangements for the stranded tourists who were thrown out on the street
. A 50-seat bus has a weight capacity of approximately ten tons. Ten metric tons of cargo could be taken as 8000 half-liter bottles of water and two tons of MRE's or other food. Ten buses a day could carry out a mere 500 people, but could meet the immediate needs of at least
10,000 people for food and water.
The first bus of refugees to reach the Houston Astrodome was.... a stolen school bus. The areas around New Orleans and elsewhere must use hundreds or even thousands of school buses to transport students to school and back every day. 300 school buses carrying 40 people each could move 12,000 refugees in a single convoy. Each bus could carry a week's worth of necessities for perhaps 400 people on the return trip. That would have handled the needs of the city until further assessment could be done. Yet nobody did it, despite news reports which should have caused light bulbs to go off in the heads of the people with the power to do something about it.
It's about 350 miles from New Orleans to Houston. It should be feasible for a bus to make a round trip once a day, perhaps using two drivers. Evacuating New Orleans over open roads should not be a difficult task, and neither should supplying the needs of those who must remain.
Why wasn't it done by Wednesday?
These events show a devastating lack of intelligence, imagination and basic responsibility. If these are the best people our elected officials can find for those jobs, it's time for the whole top tier to resign. State and federal. Appointed and elected. En masse. Now.