quote:Why on earth would anyone be incapacitated by only ~8 ft of flooding? They were neither dead nor injured, they were just so confused that they had no clue what to do. And I should add that any competent planner would have put all vital supplies above sea level, to prevent a flood from destroying them.
Individuals, by themselves, are not all you need to respond to a disaster. You need equipment, infrastructure, command and control, as well as, nerve to perform rescue operations. If any of those fail, so to do the First Responders.
Consider most of the reports coming out of the disaster area. We didn't have one or two of the things I listed fail. We had virtually all of them fail. Whereas, those outside of the disaster area, at the very least, weren't subject to equipment or infrastructure (not local, anyway) failures. Instead, it appears their were C&C failures, which is inexcusable for an organization not directly hit by the storm.
For the record, noah, I'm not absolving either the State or Local authorities for their failures, but in under to do a "Lessons Learned" assessment on this disaster, you have to identify ALL failures, whether trivial or not, at all levels, otherwise you will learn nothing.
The question is one of strategy. At this point it looks like the basic FEMA strategy of leaving most of the coordination up to the local (state) authorities was ineffective. The question is whether we should merely attempt to improve this approach or scrap it entirely and put the Federal government in control of coordination.
I (personally) think that in most cases the State authorities will do a better job at coordination. They tend to be the first on scene, and thus already have C&C set up and running. Having FEMA move in and attempt to replace that could bring up more issues (no orders, or worse yet contradicting orders).
While I think the basic approach is correct, it seems to me that FEMA needs to do a real postmortem on this. While local and state governments did fail, and this lead to further FEMA failure, there should be contingencies in place to allow FEMA to operate when the disaster removes the State and local forces ability to respond effectively to the disaster.
Of course irregardless of how well the State reacts, they do need to ask for Federal and interstate support before it can be supplied. It seems that the State problem was not that it did not ask for help, but that it did ask, and did not specify exactly what help it required. Legal issues also apparently got in the way.
I am not sure what could be done to improve the response time. It is, however, apparent that the amount of bureaucracy that is preventing out-of-State first responders (Fire/EMS/Police) from assisting needs to be cut down.
I believe Zyne mentioned that she knew several people working down in New Orleans. What is their perspective on their ability to get to the scene in short order? What did they think of the C&C down there?
That's what you get when all the top brass are political appointees with little to no experience in the field, whereas the managers with experience, left over from the previous administration, are leaving in droves because the political hacks are screwing everything up.
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While Brown was obviously ineffective, I think that his resignation is much more the result of a desire for a political scapegoat than of his actual shortcomings.
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