Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Documents Show Govt Forewarned on Katrina: Did the Bush administration sellout New Orleans?

Today, the Associated Press reports newly released documents from Homeland Security shows that the Bush administration had advanced warning of the devastation that hurricane Katrina would visit upon the city New Orleans. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee documents show the the Bush administration engaged in an exercise known as "Hurricane Pam," which was designed to test "the nation's preparedness for catastrophe."

The exercise began in July 2004 and focused upon "a mock category three hurricane" that would produce "more than 20 in. of rain in 14 tornadoes." In reality, the mock trial was substantially less then the real effects of hurricane Katrina. What is important here is what the Bush administration knew as a result of the test. Associated Press reports:

"It found, among other things, that floodwaters would surge over New Orleans levees, creating "a catastrophic mass casualty/mass evacuation" and leaving drainage pumps crippled for up to six months."

Specifically, the exercise showed that the New Orleans' levees would likely be breached:

"Any storm rated Category 4 or greater ... will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching, leaving the New Orleans metro area submerged for weeks or months."

A fair assessment of this information shows that the Bush administration knew beforehand that devastation awaited New Orleans as a result of a hurricane the size of Katrina:

"The documents are the latest indication that the federal government knew beforehand of the catastrophic damage that a storm of Katrina's magnitude could cause."

Consequently, it's fair to ask: Why wasn't Homeland Security prepared in advance to meet hurricane Katrina as she approached Louisiana coastline? Was the Bush administration so preoccupied with improving its image in Iraq that it dropped its guard in New Orleans? Does the Bush administration truly understand that charity begins at home?


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