Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Finding fault

Another writer weighs in to place blame on state and local officials for the disaster in NOLA. This time, it's op-ed contributor Bob Williams in the Wall Street Journal. See post from earlier today with similar message in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. With news from Washington that congressional inquiry into the tragedy is now on the agenda, I hope there will eventually be answers to the many disturbing questions Katrina raised and the serious issues it laid bare at all levels. Some highlights from the Williams piece follow below. -- "Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal government, rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. I am fully aware of the challenges of having a quick and responsive emergency response to a major disaster. And there is definitely a time for accountability; but what isn't fair is to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible -- local and state officials who failed to do their job as the first responders. The plain fact is, lives were needlessly lost in New Orleans due to the failure of Louisiana's governor, Kathleen Blanco, and the city's mayor, Ray Nagin." "The primary responsibility for dealing with emergencies does not belong to the federal government. It belongs to local and state officials who are charged by law with the management of the crucial first response to disasters. First response should be carried out by local and state emergency personnel under the supervision of the state governor and his/her emergency operations center." "The actions and inactions of Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin are a national disgrace due to their failure to implement the previously established evacuation plans of the state and city. Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin cannot claim that they were surprised by the extent of the damage and the need to evacuate so many people. "