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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9179790/

MR. RUSSERT:  And we are back.

Jefferson Parish President Broussard, let me start with you.  You just heard

the director of Homeland Security's explanation of what has happened this

last week.  What is your reaction?

MR. AARON BROUSSARD:  We have been abandoned by our own country.  Hurricane

Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an

American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one

of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S.

history.  I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation

here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out

just what happened here.  Why did it happen?  Who needs to be fired?  And

believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to

go in this tragedy.  We have months to go.  We have years to go.  And

whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be

chain-sawed off and we've got to start with some new leadership.

It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here.

Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and

bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.  It's so obvious.  FEMA

needs more congressional funding.  It needs more presidential support.  It

needs to be a Cabinet-level director.  It needs to be an independent agency

that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state

and local governments around America.  FEMA needs to be empowered to do the

things it was created to do.  It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans,

with all of its force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy,

act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives.  Forget

about the property.  We can rebuild the property.  It's got to be able to

come in and save lives.

We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to

accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mr. Broussard, let me ask--I want to ask--should...

MR. BROUSSARD:  You know, just some quick examples...

MR. RUSSERT:  Hold on.  Hold on, sir.  Shouldn't the mayor of New Orleans

and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility?  Couldn't they

have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized in

evacuating the area?

MR. BROUSSARD:  Sir, they were told like me, every single day, "The

cavalry's coming," on a federal level, "The cavalry's coming, the cavalry's

coming, the cavalry's coming."  I have just begun to hear the hoofs of the

cavalry.  The cavalry's still not here yet, but I've begun to hear the

hoofs, and we're almost a week out.

Let me give you just three quick examples.  We had Wal-Mart deliver three

trucks of water, trailer trucks of water.  FEMA turned them back.  They said

we didn't need them.  This was a week ago.  FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of

diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish.  The Coast Guard

said, "Come get the fuel right away."  When we got there with our trucks,

they got a word.  "FEMA says don't give you the fuel."

Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency

communication lines.  They cut them without notice.  Our sheriff, Harry Lee,

goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and

says, "No one is getting near these lines."  Sheriff Harry Lee said that if

America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has

responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.

But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she's done and all her

leadership. She sent in the National Guard.  I just repaired a breach on my

side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't foresee, a 300-foot

breach.  I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard and

local parish workers and levee board people.  It took us two and a half days

working 24/7. I just closed it.

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.

MR. BROUSSARD:  I'm telling you most importantly I want to thank my public

employees...

MR. RUSSERT:  All right.

MR. BROUSSARD: ...that have worked 24/7.  They're burned out, the doctors,

the nurses.  And I want to give you one last story and I'll shut up and let

you tell me whatever you want to tell me.  The guy who runs this building

I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His mother

was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and

said, "Are you coming, son?  Is somebody coming?"  And he said, "Yeah, Mama,

somebody's coming to get you.  Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday.

Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday.  Somebody's coming to get you on

Thursday.  Somebody's coming to get you on Friday."  And she drowned Friday

night.  She drowned Friday night.

MR. RUSSERT:  Mr. President...

MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us.  Nobody's coming to get us.  The

secretary has promised.  Everybody's promised.  They've had press

conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences.  For God sakes, shut up and

send us somebody.

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So we finally had a category 4 hurricane hit a city built below sea level on a gulf coast property.  And we're amazed at the damage it wrought.  In California, I understand that all building codes require that construction is built to withstand a certain Richter scale number.  Yet in New Orleans we all agreed that "one day" a kick ass hurricane would come along and wipe the city out.  Did nothing about really making New Orleans a safe place from 28 foot tidal surges.  And for years the experts have been telling us that is precisely what we could expect in this kind of storm.  In Gulfport, MS there are gorgeous homes perhaps 200 feet from the edge of the ocean.  Some of them are fairly new.  How can anyone build a home that close to a potential wave surge higher than the house?

So it happened and none of us, myself included had any idea the damage would be as horrific as it was.  Sure some of us dropped the ball.  Lots of us.  But one thing we always seem to do is stand around and point the finger after the fact.  We are STILL investigating 9/11.  Why?  So perhaps we can find people even more guilty of not making a right decision or not being completely aware of every sign everywhere that something big was going to happen?  So we fire them, or jail them, or hell, even tie them to a post and stone their asses.

That does a lot of good, huh?  I read today somewhere that this hurricane will cost more than two major wars.  So let's learn from it, and prepare for the social problems of thousands of people relocating into cities where there is no one else like them there.  I am so sick and freaking tired of listening to people toss blame around. 

Mike Brown padded his resume; he didn't have the experience we thought he did to handle a job of this magnitude.  So...let's put a stopgap in place to prevent this from ever happening again.  Fema made some allegedly bad calls because they thought they didn't have permission or the authority they needed.  Let's fix that.  Seperate Fema from Homeland Security - make it a separate entity with pre-approved levels of authority AND spending levels before the next catastrophe hits.

Establish an emergency committee to make decisions as and where needed.  I guess my point is, we can expend all the energy it takes to stand around pointing fingers into being proactive if we really want to.

By the way, Mr Broussard...New Orleans lost power AND telephone service when Katrina hit.  How could that guys mother call him up every day?  Oops...there I go.  Kinda grows on you...

Dan~

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