Michael Brown (Full disclosure: a lunch buddy of mine) says “here’s what really happened” while he was running Federal Emergency Management during Hurricane Katrina:
As the storm neared New Orleans, all I could do—and did do even before the federalization debate got underway—was go on television, radio and any media outlet my press team could find—and encourage people to “literally get your butts out of New Orleans before the storm hits.”
Prior to Katrina making landfall, I asked then-National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield to forcefully explain on a secure video conference call with Blanco and Nagin the catastrophe they were potentially facing if they failed to evacuate at least two or three days prior to landfall. When that didn’t work, I called President Bush at the ranch and implored him to call Mayor Nagin and encourage him to evacuate his city. The president called; the mayor dallied.
Nagin finally asked people to evacuate on Sunday morning for a storm that hit his city sometime after midnight that night. By that point, Amtrak had left the city with rail cars sans passengers. Airlines had evacuated Louis Armstrong International Airport with planes sans travelers. And school buses sat in their lots, soon to be flooded and ruined. The mayor’s incompetence cost lives.
While I was urging people to leave New Orleans, Mayor Nagin announced a “shelter of last resort,” the New Orleans Superdome. In other words, despite calls to evacuate, if you choose not to evacuate, or are now unable to evacuate because you lack transportation, run to the Superdome.
I was livid.
Read the whole thing.
Unfortunately Michael didn’t choose to repeat a tale he once told me in person, concerning a civil rights “leaders” actions during Katrina, which were so shameful that you’d never believe it. Except of course that you’d totally believe it because you know what a horrible person this “leader” is. But I digress, and that’s Michael’s story to tell, should he ever decide to.
But this Politico report goes a long way towards correcting a public record long and desperately in need of correction.