From Captain's Quarters:
Katrina: The Memes Die Last
The notion that the federal government has primary authority over
cities and states, an error that any high-school graduate should recognize,
has slowly begun to fade from media coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
In its place comes dawning realization of the massive failure of Louisiana
and New Orleans to initiate their own disaster plans and to use their
available assets to maintain control in New Orleans. On CNN yesterday,
even Mayor Ray Nagin now recalls his civics classes, although he still
hasn't done much to take responsibility for his own failures to
follow his own detailed emergency response plan.
From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
FEMA is not a first responder
Don't be so quick to pillory the federal response in New Orleans.
Immediate emergency management is primarily a local and state
The key to emergency management starts at the local level and expands
to the state level. Emergency planning generally does not include any
federal guarantees, as there can only be limited ones from the federal
level for any local plan. FEMA provides free training, education,
assistance and respond in case of an emergency, but the local and
state officials run their own emergency management program.
Prior development of an emergency plan, addressing all foreseeable
contingencies, is the absolute requirement of the local government
--and then they share that plan with the state emergency managers
to ensure that the state authorities can provide necessary assets
not available at the local level. Additionally, good planning will include
applicable elements of the federal government (those located in the
local area). These processes are well established, but are contingent
upon the personal drive of both hired and elected officials at the
I've reviewed the New Orleans emergency management plan.
Here is an important section in the first paragraph:
"We coordinate all city departments and allied state and federal agencies
which respond to citywide disasters and emergencies through the
development and constant updating of an integrated multi-hazard plan.
All requests for federal disaster assistance and federal funding
subsequent to disaster declarations are also made through this office.
Our authority is defined by the Louisiana Emergency Assistance and Disaster
Act of 1993, Chapter 6 Section 709, Paragraph B, 'Each parish shall maintain
a Disaster Agency which, except as otherwise provided under this act, has
jurisdiction over and serves the entire parish.' "
Read New Orleans emergency management plan (which was never
implemented by Mayor Nigan).