Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Bus 'em" Responses

Pursuant to the bus issue: this Kos Diary destroys the "why didn't Nagant send people away on the school buses" argument.

The response is pretty simple:

1) "Compelled evacuation is unprecedented, unlikely to succeed, and unconstitutional, and therefore is probably not allowed, even in a state of emergency." (thus, those who wouldn't go, wouldn't go, but still need to be dealt with as much as possible.)

2) "There is no more dangerous place for evacuees during a hurricane than being trapped in a vehicle on an interstate." (If the hurricane had sped up or the buses had been caught in gridlock, those people would be dead, guaranteed.)


3) the mayor did plan, and DHS had to sign off on it: "In fact, he took emergency action, ordered evacuation, provided transportation, and otherwise helped 80% of his citizens evacuate. Although, as I diaried earlier, the State does have responsibility for designing emergency evacuation and response plans to natural disasters, when those disasters overwhelm local and state resources or when they are "incidents of national significance," which the breaches of the levees surely were (if not the threat of a Cat 5 hurricane itself), then the primary responsibility is upon FEMA and DHS to coordinate the response. Regardless, FEMA and DHS still have to approve of any state and local plans, not rubber-stamp them."

On this last one, stop and think about it. Who has the resources to properly vet and coordinate a plan like this? A mayor's office of a notoriously poverty-stricken city certainly doesn't. The state might, and certainly has a role in developing it, but they can't plan on using resources that they don't have.

Only the DHS had the ability to truly verify that a) the plan is workable (they should have experts on this, considering the likelihood of the hurricane) and b) that they can and will commit the resources. The state's plan (as Greuben's diary pointed out) was to do what they could while they waited for FEMA. The whole plan was predicated on FEMA's timely arrival.

The arrival wasn't timely.


If the plan wasn't workable, it was DHS's job to say "wait up... if the highways are damaged, we will have difficulty getting in, you might need to rethink this plan" or "we will need martial law declared in case of looting" or whatever else they thought they needed. If they mistook or underestimated what was required, that isn't the fault of the mayor and governor. How could either know what resources the DHS had at its disposal as well as DHS?

Vetting a plan makes you responsible for it as much as the person who designed it. If DHS vetted the plan, they have responsibility for it.


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