Excellent Points On What We Should Learn From Katrina

September 15, 2005

I am often impressed by the intelligent comments I get from Polipundit readers. This email from Carol Baumann is incredibly smart and President Bush would do well to include some of Carol’s observations and questions in his speech tonight.

What makes me maddest about the whole MSM – blame Bush – Katrina coverage is that they could be using the airwaves and this golden opportunity to save millions of lives in our nation’s future. What should the MSM be doing?

They should be talking about how the state was not prepared and did not know the proper chain of command to get the help they needed. (Note to audience – are there people in your state who are trained to implement the plans that have been written? Is the department of emergency management well funded and staffed with trained personnel?)

They should be talking about how the city failed big time. They failed to evacuate citizens when they had the time and means to do so. Communities are responsible for their plans because they know what the dangers and needs are for their population. I live in Texas and have been working with and talking to people who were rescued from rooftops and who were in the “Dome”. Believe me most wish that they had gotten out of town before the hurricane hit. (Note to audience – does your town or city have an emergency manager, how well trained are they, is the plan ever practiced, either by table top or full scale drill?)

They should have pointed out that institutions failed. Many medical caregivers were heroic, but in one large hospital the emergency generators were on the first floor. Who’s idea was that in a city where the #1 possible disaster is flooding. In the same hospital they had staff bring their families to the hospital instead of evacuating them to a safe distance inland. This added hundreds to the number they had to feed, water, and eventually evacuate. Another institution refused to evacuate with fatal results. (Note to audience – does your school have multi-hazard emergency plan, your church, daycare, mall, hospital, etc. and do they practice these plans?)

Most important of all, they should have pointed out that every citizen has the responsibility to take care of themselves and those around them who are too young, too old, or disabled. Schools and communities can take a roll in this training but ultimately each person who willingly made a choice not to evacuate should have been prepared to care for themselves for at least three days. (Note to audience – go to the FEMA or Red Cross web sites and download all the information on family emergency planning. Do it now! Write a family plan and practice it. Consider joining a CERT team or the Medical Reserve Corp.) I realize that due to educational levels, health problems, age, and substance abuse this is not a solution for many of the poor in inner cities, but if all able citizens were caring for themselves then first responders could concentrate on the most needy.

Did FEMA make mistakes? In a disaster of this magnitude many mistakes are bound to be made at every level. What should happen is that those mistakes should lead to fine tuning plans at all levels. Our county should come out on the other side of Katrina as a safer place for everyone to live. Trial by fire is not the chosen way to test emergency plans, but it is the most effective way. In my opinion the biggest mistakes of all are being made by the MSM. They could be educating the citizens of this country but instead they have chosen to create a political whirlwind.

Also see my list of things I hope to hear from the President tonight. Just consider Carol’s points added to my list.

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