Saturday, September 10, 2005


NPR takes a lot of beating from here, usually, but these timesline reports that they established are stunning. They're really too long to provide much of a useful excerpt, but they should be read through by everyone.

Part 1.

Part 2.

brief bit from part 2:

ZWERDLING: Now it's Wednesday afternoon. Local officials like Walter Maestri say they haven't seen the food or water or medical supplies that state and federal officials promised.

Mr. MAESTRI: You know, we're hearing all kinds of excuses. We're hearing all kinds of rationales that `We don't step in until the locals ask.' Well, you know, the asking was going on.

SULLIVAN: While Maestri is waiting for supplies, FEMA contractors like Dan Wessel are trying to send them. Wessel owns Cool Express of Wisconsin, one of the main companies under contract by FEMA to bring ice and water to the area. First, he says, his fleet waits two days for FEMA to give the go-ahead. Then, he says, FEMA sends the deliveries to the wrong place.

Mr. DAN WESSEL (Owner, Cool Express): Our first trucks got staged in Montgomery, Alabama. The second trucks, second wave, got staged in Dallas, Texas.

SULLIVAN: When they are finally redirected to Louisiana and other areas that actually need supplies, there is no one around to greet the trucks or distribute the ice and water.

Mr. WESSEL: We are told to go to a certain location. We get there. There's nobody there. We don't know what to do. So it was my driver fending for himself. But pretty well what they did is they opened up the doors and let people take the water and ice.

ZWERDLING: By Thursday, there seems to be a total disconnect between what's going on on the ground and what officials in Washington say is happening on the ground. That morning, Mayor Nagin goes on local radio.

(Soundbite of local radio broadcast)

Mayor NAGIN: I need reinforcements. I need troops, man. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country, and get that (censored) moving to New Orleans.

ZWERDLING: Meanwhile, top officials in the Bush administration are painting a different picture. In fact, the secretary of Homeland Security sounds like he doesn't know what's been going on at the convention center in New Orleans for the past two days. Here's Michael Chertoff on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

(Soundbite of previous broadcast)

Secretary MICHAEL CHERTOFF (Department of Homeland Security): I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water.