FEMA Director Michael Brown is now blaming the citizens of New Orleans for their own fate. According to CNN, Brown said:
"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans.
Yeah, that dead elderly man in the wheelchair that I saw on the news tonight, what was he thinking about? Serves him right for not driving out of town and putting up in a hotel somewhere else.
Brown got his job because he was a college friend of Joe Allbaugh, the Bush crony who took over FEMA in 2001. Since then, the agency has been on the skids. This Baltimore City paper article from last year is pretty damning, arguing that since it was taken over by the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA has lost both focus and staff. Of particular interest is this section:
And indeed, some in-need areas have been inexplicably left out of the [disaster mitigation] program. “In a sense, Louisiana is the flood plain of the nation,” noted a 2002 FEMA report. “Louisiana waterways drain two-thirds of the continental United States. Precipitation in New York, the Dakotas, even Idaho and the Province of Alberta, finds its way to Louisiana’s coastline.” As a result, flooding is a constant threat, and the state has an estimated 18,000 buildings that have been repeatedly damaged by floodwaters—the highest number of any state. And yet, this summer FEMA denied Louisiana communities’ pre-disaster mitigation funding requests.
In Jefferson Parish, part of the New Orleans metropolitan area, flood-zone manager Tom Rodrigue is baffled by the development. “You would think we would get maximum consideration” for the funds, he says. “This is what the grant program called for. We were more than qualified for it.”
Yeah, I think they were qualified for it.