The Great Bus Question
Kevin Drum posts Gov. Blanco’s response. The problem is that there are several questions and Blanco only really responds to one of them. The first question is why weren’t school buses used to get people out of New Orleans before the storm hit? Blanco has literally no answer to this since her reply deals with the time after Katrina had hit.
Hours after the hurricane hit Aug. 29, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a plan to send 500 commercial buses into New Orleans to rescue thousands of people left stranded on highways, overpasses and in shelters, hospitals and homes.
Now, the article does claim that FEMA turned down the idea of using school buses to get people out of New Orleans and the afflicted area because school buses are not air conditioned. I agree this was dumb, but again this was after the hurricane hit.
Even after levees broke and residents were crowding the Louisiana Superdome, then-FEMA Director Mike Brown was bent on using his own buses to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco said.
Could the reason that Brown was bent on using “his own buses” was because the buses in New Orleans were under three feet of water because Mayor Nagin and Gov. Blanco didn’t do anything to save such useful assets? What happened, did Blanco call the President and get him to give FEMA the go ahead, then go take a nap or something?
The state had sent 68 school buses into the city on Monday.
Blanco took over more buses from Louisiana school systems and sent them in on Wednesday, two days after the storm. She tapped the National Guard to drive them. Each time the buses emptied an area, more people would appear, she said.
The buses took 15,728 people to safety, a Blanco aide said. But the state’s fleet of school buses wasn’t enough. On Wednesday, with the FEMA buses still not in sight, Blanco called the White House to talk to Bush and ended up speaking to Chief of Staff Andy Card.
“I said, ‘Even if we had 500 buses, they’ve underestimated the magnitude of this situation, and I think I need 5,000 buses, not 500,'” Blanco recounted.
Well, from what I’ve read New Orleans had about 250 school buses. I bet New Orleans had a bus system as well. How many buses did they have…50, 100? Lets say 325 total. How many buses did the rest of the state contribute in the end? Another 100? Seems to me that would have helped tremendously. And the 5,000 buses is just idiotic. The numbers I’ve heard in regards to people needing to be moved was around 100,000. So we need 20 people per bus?
“I assumed that FEMA had staged their buses in near proximity,” she said. “I expected them to be out of the storm’s way but accessible in one day’s time.”
How come New Orleans buses weren’t similarly staged?
Brown said that, on the day before the storm hit, he asked Blanco and Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, head of the state’s National Guard, what resources they needed.
“The response was like, ‘Let us find out,’ and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing,” Brown told The New York Times last week.
Blanco said it shouldn’t have been up to her to provide a list.
Think about that. Blanco wants Brown, or anybody else, to know precisely what resources to send…via telepathy or some other psychic means I guess. If Lousiana needed water, food and buses, Blanco wants Brown to send that and everything else Lousiana doesn’t need.
I’m not defending FEMA here, but this idea that it was only FEMA’s fault strikes me as unbelievable. Blanco’s statments sound like somebody doing some major butt-covering and really skirt that actual issue. How come New Orlean’s buses weren’t used to help get people out before the storm hit? Mayor Nagin’s answer was he couldn’t find the drivers (although it seems like having the drivers show up would be part of the emergency plan). Why Blanco didn’t stage buses and resources outside the storm zone is also a good question…resources like the New Orleans school buses.