Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Finally, some answers

Newsweek's breakdown of the breakdown. Doesn't paint a rosy picture of the locals but realistic, I think. And puts the ultimate blame where it belongs - lack of imagination, lack of initiative/leadershop and the sad result of bad policy. I gotta give Shrub props for finally stepping up and accepting responsibility for once.

Oh - and you gotta love the Coasties: "He was replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen. The Coast Guard was one agency that performed well, rescuing thousands."

Have I ever mentioned my brother's in the Coast Guard? His crew alone rescued 700 in one day. In this entire nightmare the Coast Guard was one shining example of how shit should be done.

"Indeed, while state, local, and other federal officials appeared not to fully comprehend the magnitude of the disaster at hand, the Coast Guard acted with the urgency the crisis demanded.

Admiral Robert Duncan, head of the Eighth District in New Orleans, dispersed cutters, helicopters, and other vessels ahead of the storm. He also requested additional forces from the commander of the Coast Guard's Eastern Area, in Norfolk, Va., which is responsible for everything east of the Mississippi, according to Coast Guard officials.

''We don't have to get approval to execute," said Richard J. Dein, a retired Coast Guard commander and a search-and-rescue specialist. ''The Coast Guard is organized by geography. All of those districts act autonomously. They each have a command and control center. What you had was a ready response network."

But then, they do this every. single. day. Save lives, relieve suffering. And get no credit (not that I'm bitter or anything). In all the recriminations about what went wrong, I want to remind folks of what went right. And I'm proud to say my bro was part of what was in all likelihood one of, if no the largest search & rescue effort in U.S. history.

In the Coast Guard, they train to respond in the most adverse, hostile conditions imaginable. And more importantly, they have a standing mandate to act on their own recognizance to save lives threatened by the worst of Mother Nature. It seems everybody is looking for an answer to the red tape and beaurocratic hoopjumping that plagued Katrina. And the more I think about it, the more I realize you've got your answer right there.

Separate the emergency first response duties from all the other accounting bullshit. In times of natural disasters, just hand over that authority to the Coast Guard. Expand their mandate, give them a bigger budget and there you go. They're already on-call 24/7. They have assets deployed & ready to go at a moment's notice in every geographical area. They have ongoing operations in every geographical area, which means they have ongoing relationships with state and local Emergency Services agencies (fire, police, medical - etc.) . Like the National Guard, they have law enforcement authority besides rescue authority. And they deal with pollution, environmental and hazmat situations on a daily basis.

Or, revamp the National Guard (or a portion thereof) to model the Coast Guard in it's mandate. Cut all the red tape - if a Governor declares a state of emergency, then the Nat'l Guard is automatically activated and authorized to mobilize on their own. None of this "Gov. has to specifically ask and that request must be specifically approved by the President" bullshit.

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