“…I just look and feel like a tired old man”
Like all Presidents, when President Truman left office in 1953 he gave his farewell address to America. In that speech, he said, “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.” He had a sign he kept on his desk at all times which said, “The Buck Stops Here.” Besides his farewell address he is known to have frequently used that expression in many of his speeches!
Being a Marine Veteran, I have no difficulty understanding the meaning of that phrase. The levels of command are clearly defined. The rules of law, the UCMJ, are clearly defined. The consequences of actions are clearly defined. Even the route of appeal are clearly defined. We even had a clearly defined process to follow when given an order that violated our UCMJ. It was not a perfect system because systems are only as good as the people that implement them. But in all fairness and honesty I can say 99.999 % of the time the “system worked”
In government, we also have defined structure of leadership at the local, state and federal levels. Within each level there are rules, laws if you will, governing areas of responsibility for making laws, enforcing laws, and validating the legality of laws. Each of these levels, local, state, and federal are autonomous to the extent that they do not violate the laws of the level above them until we get to the federal level. At this point we hit the bottom line, the Constitution, the LAW of the Land.
There is a major difference between the military structure, except at the higher levels, and the civilian systems. Politics! Throughout the local, state, and federal levels most positions are elected, except of course judges, who are appointed. Of course at all three levels there are positions which are appointed, but again, these appointments are politically motivated. Generally the political party in control, controls the appointed positions, except in cases where elected offices have splits in the elected officials by party lines on state levels and at the federal levels. For instance, a President is of one party but the Congress is controlled by the other party.
So where is all this leading? Since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region states, we have been in shock. Katrina is the greatest natural disaster to affect the United States in our history. Ports were destroyed. All roads leading into New Orleans were destroyed or blocked. Bridges were destroyed. Over 90% of the city was under as much as 20 feet of water. Power was down. Pumps non functional. In other words the city looked like it had been leveled by a bomb!
Katrina did not hit the region, wreak its havoc, then disappear. It was a category “5” storm.
I have been doing some research on what happened in the Gulf region states. One thing I can across at FEMA was something called the National Hurricane Program under FEMA that had a section called the Hurricane Liaison Team [HLT]. There was also another section called
the Disaster Process and the Disaster Aide Program’s.
1.] HLT states:
“Hurricane Liaison Team (HLT)
One of the cooperative activities carried out under the National Hurricane Program is the deployment of a Hurricane Liaison Team (HLT) in response to a hurricane threat.
The team, which consists of FEMA, NWS, state, and local emergency management officials, reports to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) prior to the landfall of a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico.
The primary purpose of the team is to assist in coordinating the latest advisories from the NHC to the Federal, state, and local emergency management agencies.
The team works directly with NHC forecasters to monitor storm tracks and intensities and prepare briefings for the FEMA Director, FEMA Regional Operations Centers, and the potentially impacted State Emergency Operations Centers.
Each Hurricane Liaison Team coordinates closely with FEMA Headquarters Staff by phone and video conferencing systems.
The team is led by the Hurricane Program Manager, who administers FEMA’s National Hurricane Program in the FEMA Region IV office.
Hurricane Bret: FEMA Headquarters staff consulting by video conference with the FEMA Hurricane Liaison Team in the National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL.”
2.] Under the Disaster Process and the Disaster Aide Program’s it says:
“The Major Disaster Process
A Major Disaster Declaration usually follows these steps:
Local Government Responds, supplemented by neighboring communities and volunteer agencies. If overwhelmed, turn to the state for assistance;
The State Responds with state resources, such as the National Guard and state agencies;
Damage Assessment by local, state, federal, and volunteer organizations determines losses and recovery needs;
A Major Disaster Declaration is requested by the governor, based on the damage assessment, and an agreement to commit state funds and resources to the long-term recovery;
FEMA Evaluates the request and recommends action to the White House based on the disaster, the local community and the state’s ability to recover;
The President approves the request or FEMA informs the governor it has been denied. This decision process could take a few hours or several weeks depending on the nature of the disaster.”
Now I realize there is much each group has to do. Their responsibilities are pretty well laid out. On Tuesday, September 13, in his news conference, President Bush was asked:
“Q Mr. President, given what happened with Katrina, shouldn’t Americans be concerned if their government isn’t prepared to respond to another disaster or even a terrorist attack?”
The President replied:
“PRESIDENT BUSH: Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn’t fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong. I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm. And that’s a very important question. And it’s in our national interest that we find out exactly what went on and — so that we can better respond.”
He also said:
“And so I want to know what went right and what went wrong to address those.”
The MSM has turned this all around as a political ploy. They have blasted Mr. Bush for not saying this sooner. On which flight to the area should he have held a press conference to satisfy the the MSM. As a person with extensive training in first aide and crisis, etc. I can tell you the first job after the storm was rescue and medical treatment. While this process was being conducted all other considerations like food, water, etc. are conducted.
But the safety of the rescuers must be considered or else no one would ever be rescued. It has been my personal observation that the MSM was the first to complain about the response, whether or not it was racial, stood around talking and taking pictures but other wise did little to help. The MSM has also done more with their irresponsible reporting to harm the morale and create panic than the storm did! At times the coverage was negligent in my opinion. A person waiting for help who hears “no hope” gives up. A person hanging on who has hope lives longer.
I have previously said why I felt the response was the best it could be in many ways. There are always improvements that can be made in any process. The goal of any emergency team[s] is always continuous evaluation and self critique toward improvement.
I found a very moving account of one man’s journey to the region. He started off going to the aide of a friend. He wound up doing so much more. His personal accounts of his trek gives us a view of the region no one else has presented. I think if you will read John’s story you will understand better what happened in the Gulf States. maybe all the finger pointers will be humbled. We all should be!