Letters to the Editor

Don't blame Bush for Katrina problems

The recent hurricane is the worst natural disaster to ever happen in the United States. Unfortunately, politicians opposed to Bush are crawling out of the woodwork to criticize what they claim are his actions and inactions. The mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana soundly criticized the federal government for what they claim were slow reactions, but these two must pass any blame for their own shortcomings and divert public anger that would be directed at them in future elections.

As one who has been involved in disaster relief, I say the federal actions were appropriate and in fact speedy. Of course, the citizens of the affected areas wanted immediate relief. But it needs to be realized that in normal situations it is the local and state law enforcement agencies and relief agencies who are supposed to bridge the first few days until more distant aid can be sent. In this case, there were few public servants or police who were not themselves knocked out of action. Local agencies are the primary initial lead agencies and they were simply not there.

Most natural disasters are either flooding or wind damage but not both at the same time. Never have we had a hurricane where standing deep water was a long-term problem. You had water damage, surge damage and highly damaging winds occur at the same time and the area affected was likely over 100 times larger than a normal disaster area. To have such tremendously widespread simultaneous outages of water services, electric services, medical services, transportation, fuel, communications, food distribution and law enforcement is unprecedented and is not something that you can plan for or easily coordinate. Surviving social services and local aid was simply not capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of survivors at the same time. If a vast quantity of disaster relief supplies had been stored in New Orleans they probably would not have survived.

Sure, there will be lessons learned but disaster scenarios and planning cannot cover every possibility. How can you plan for something so vastly damaging as Katrina? Likely, the biggest lesson learned is that New Orleans should never have been built where it is - below sea level.

- Gene Wade


Brown was bad pick

Mike Brown, whose experience lies in the field of horse shows, a field in which he performed very badly, was not an excellent choice to manage a crucial governmental agency such as FEMA. Lives hang in the balance.

- John Bullabaugh