Homeland Security seems unprepared for major disasters

What others say

Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2005

There is plenty of blame to go around in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath ... New Orleans officials bear their share, especially in how some evacuations were not carried out. So does Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who didn't act fast enough to formally ask for federal help, which the law requires.

But more than anything, Katrina ripped away the facade that was the Bush administration's disaster ''planning'' for homeland security — a plan it has spent four years and billions of dollars to develop since the Twin Towers fell.

What the nation really got is colossal incompetence and inexcusable bureaucratic bungling that has caused needless death and suffering on an epic scale.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami told everyone well in advance — including top federal officials — that Katrina was a monster that would trigger a huge storm surge, likely swamp New Orleans' levees and cause catastrophic flooding.

And then there's President Bush, who showed how blind he was by saying no one thought the levees would break, despite the loud warnings and years of studies that accurately predicted they would.

The Katrina-was-too-big-to-handle apologists conveniently forget this:

A nuclear or chemical attack by terrorists in a major urban area could easily cause a city the size of New Orleans to be contaminated and uninhabitable, spawning the same immediate and huge demands for evacuation, shelter, food and medical care as Katrina.

And do it without warning.

That's what Bush's Department of Homeland Security was supposed to be prepared for, but obviously wasn't.

— Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.)

Sept. 11

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