Posted Feb. 2, 2006 – There's no end in sight to the Katrina blame game.
Congressional investigators are now pointing their fingers at the White House and Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff for lack of decisive action leading up to and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
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In a report released Wednesday, congressional investigators said not a single official was in place to handle decision-making during the storm and that Michael Chertoff waited 24 hours after Katrina hit to declare the storm an "incident of national significance."
"Government entities did not act decisively or quickly enough to determine the catastrophic nature of the incident," the report said. "In the absence of timely and decisive action and clear leadership responsibility and accountability, there were multiple chains of command."
That report didn't sit too well with Department of Homeland Security officials, who immediately blasted the report as "premature and unprofessional."
Just last year, President Bush accepted blame for the government's slow response; however, it's FEMA's former director, Michael Brown, who has been scorned by the public for dropping the ball.
Meanwhile, New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin went before a Senate committee investigating the chaos after the storm. He was chided for failing to get in contact with federal disaster officials about the decision he made to shift storm victims away from the Superdome to the Convention Center.
Senate committee Chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Nagin waited too long to issue a mandatory evacuation order. Documents showed that Nagin and his staff were discussing whether nursing homes and hospitals should be included, but Collins said those details should have been worked out before Aug. 28.
Responded Nagin: "Just like the nation will make proper adjustment after 9/11, we'll do the same."
The mayor said he told FEMA officials about his every move concerning evacuation details and makeshift shelters, not once, but "twice a day, three times a day."
"I had a FEMA guy with me," Nagin said, referring to the lone public relations officer the agency positioned in the city. "I am appalled they would be saying that."
In other developments:
FEMA officials say Katrina victims who still need a place to stay should call 1-800-621-FEMA or go online at www. fema.gov. The agency’s call centers continue to operate 24 hours a day, seven days-a-week.
“It’s important that individuals and families impacted by the hurricanes know that help is available,” said Acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison. “We want to make sure that those who need help aren’t self-determining whether or not they would be eligible for assistance, and that they understand that they may be eligible for FEMA housing assistance grants.”
Anonymous Victims Buried
Two anonymous victims of Hurricane Katrina will be buried Thursday in a Mississippi cemetery.
No one claimed the bodies of the man and woman, who were found in different places. Fingerprints, dental records and genetic tests have failed to yield their identities.
More than 100 other unidentified victims of Katrina still await burials. More than 1,300 lives were lost in the storm.