My neighbor, Marty Bahamonde, had the dubious honor of being the first FEMA official in New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit. Last week he was hauled in front of the Congress-critters to give his side of the story about what went wrong.
From the New Orleans Times Picayune:
Although Bahamonde said he had enjoyed a good relationship with Brown, who had trusted him as his “eyes and ears” for major disasters even though he lacked formal emergency management training, at one point he let loose with rage against his bosses.
On Aug. 31, he had e-mailed Brown from the Superdome to tell him that thousands of evacuees were gathering in the streets outside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center without food or water and that there were “estimates that many will die within hours.”
“Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical,” he wrote.
But less than three hours later, Brown’s press secretary said in an e-mail that “it is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner” at a Baton Rouge restaurant that night before appearing on an MSNBC talk show. “We now have traffic to encounter . . . followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc.,” the e-mail said.
“OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!” Bahamonde wrote in an apparently hastily written response to a colleague at FEMA after the message was shared with him. “Just tell her (the press secretary) that I just ate an MRE and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy retaurants. Maybe tonight I will have time to move the pebbles on the parking garage floor so they don’t stab me in the back while I try to sleep.”