There is a documentary being shown tonight on HBO entitled “Trouble the Water.” It is about Katrina and, having read the review by one of my “usual suspects” – Linda Stasi of the New York Post, I can say that the kindest thing I can say about the filmmakers is that they are are totally ignorant about Katrina and its aftermath.
The initial section of film was made by Kimberly Rivers Roberts, a person “living below the poverty line” according to Ms. Stasi. She and her husband stayd, along with their neighbors, because “they had no way out.” After all, “the government did not provide transportation for the trapped.” Of course, the government is not identified but we all know it was Bush’s fault. The fact that Mayor Ray Nagin and others in the city government of New Orleans failed to implement their own emergency evacuation plan is not mentioned or, at least, did not penatrate Ms. Stasi’s brain.
Ms. Stasi states that “FEMA never arrived.” Of course! FEMA is to blame! Just ignore the fact that FEMA is not a “first responder” but, as its title states, the Federal Emergency Management Assistance Agency. FEMA’s job in emergencys such as Katrina is to provide management assistance and logistical support to state and local governments. In other words, those who “never arrived” were the first responders from the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. Why didn’t they arrive? In the case of the Louisiana National Guard units designated for hurricane response, it was because Louisiana’s governor, in spite of appeals from her own staff and from the White House, did not call out the National Guard until it was too late for the units to reach their deployment positions before Katrina arrived.
That caused situations such as the FEMA tractor -trailer, loaded with filled sandbags, arriving at a levee to find that the National Guardsmen that were to use the sandbags to re-enforce the levee had not arrived. Of course it was FEMA’s (and Bush’s ) fault. That tractor-trailer driver from FEMA should have re-enforced the levee all by himself.
The film mentions that 911 operators were telling people that the government is “not providing rescue at this time” but, it is not clear from Ms. Stasi’s column, just what “government” the 911 operators are speaking about. Of course, the 911 operators are city employees and may have been refering to city government. To hose who paid attention to what was happening, the fact that many city employees, who were supposed to perform various functions in accordance with the city’s emergency plans, did not go to their emergency assignments but, instead, took their families and fled the city before Katrina arrived.
Ms. Stasi, to her credit, was one of those people who volunteered to drive a truck with relief supplies to the Gulf. However the fact that she will “never forget” the total breakdown of FEMA is disturbing. She remembers something that did not happen. It was the total breakdown of the city government of New Orleans and the partial breakdown of the government of the state of Louisiana that the documentary should address not the popular fiction of a FEMA breakdown.