News| Hurricane Katrina | House Report: Everybody Failed Katrina Victims

News| Hurricane Katrina | House Report: Everybody Failed Katrina Victims

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Feb. 13, 2006 – At every level – “individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental” – society failed the victims of Hurricane Katrina, according to a congressional report released six months after one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

"Our investigation revealed that Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare," says the summary of the 600-page report, unveiled in Sunday’s edition of The Washington Post. The report is the result of an inquiry by the Republican-led House of Representatives.

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Meanwhile, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has begun its own investigation into alleged abuses in the distribution of federal emergency cash assistance programs for disaster victims. Nearly a million of the 2.5 million applicants got money with the aid of duplicate or phony ID, congressional investigators found.

Every conceivable entity – from the White House to local parishes – was caught by surprise when Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast, mostly because of the governments’ "fecklessness, flailing and organizational paralysis," report concluded.

"In this cautionary tale, all the little pigs built houses of straw," says the report.
“It’s six months after the fact, and nothing has been done,” Myra Dandridge, a spokeswoman for the Congressional Black Caucus, told
Among 90 separate findings in the report:

  • Both New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco are to blame for unnecessary deaths and suffering because of their failure to evacuate after recognizing the gravity of the situation.
  • The White House was fed contradictory information that precluded it from responding rapidly.
  • Much-needed military help was not on hand because there was a complete lack of coordination between local, state and federal aid organizations.
  • FEMA’s paucity of experienced workers stymied its efforts to help victims.

House investigation also blasted Michael Chertoff, the administration's Director of Homeland Security, which oversees FEMA, saying he acted "either late, ineffectively or not at all."

On Friday, former FEMA director Michael Brown blamed Chertoff for diminishing the agency's role, saying he was more interested in fighting terrorism than preparing and responding to natural disasters.

Written by BET-Staff


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