- The Washington Times - Monday, September 5, 2005

From combined dispatches

Hundreds of would-be rescuers are wending their way to the Gulf Coast in buses, vans and trailers. But critics say government red tape has hampered many who are trying to help Hurricane Katrina’s victims.

Long lines of volunteers are reportedly being stopped on freeways on their way into New Orleans.

“The military was worried about having more people in the city. They want to limit it to the professionals,” said Kevin Southerland, a California firefighter whose rescue team was sent to New Orleans at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Aaron Broussard, president of Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that FEMA turned back three trailers of water, ordered the Coast Guard not to provide emergency diesel fuel and cut emergency power lines.

Mr. Broussard said FEMA needs to bring in all its “force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save lives.”

“The bureaucracy needs to do more than one thing at a time,” Rep. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Republican, told Time magazine. “It’s appropriate to save people with helicopters, but it can’t be done to the exclusion of everything else.”

At a press conference yesterday, the Army general in charge of military relief efforts denounced such complaints in angry and, at times, profane language.

“There is no red tape. … There are isolated incidents that people take to paint a broad brush,” Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, said in Baton Rouge after a reporter questioned him about Mr. Jindal’s criticism.

The cigar-chomping three-star general’s arrival last week in New Orleans prompted Mayor C. Ray Nagin to exclaim, “I give the president some credit on this — he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done.”

Another reporter yesterday asked Gen. Honore about security concerns in New Orleans.

“Have you been to New Orleans? Did anybody accost you? … You need to get on the streets of New Orleans, you can’t sit back here and say what you hear from someone else,” said the commander of the Georgia-based First Army. “It is secure, we walk around without any issues. Why … are you trying to make that the issue?”

FEMA Chairman Michael Brown said the federal government is doing its best in the face of a massive disaster. “Even as progress is being made, we know that victims are still out there, and we are working tirelessly to bring them the help they need,” Mr. Brown said.

From the first hours of the disaster, FEMA has relied on its National Incident Management System, a command structure to get resources and workers to places in need.

FEMA’s system brought in the Nebraska Air National Guard to deliver 66,000 Meals Ready to Eat and extra fuel and brought rescuers from Hamilton County, Ohio, to search for survivors in Gulfport, Miss. FEMA’s system also dispatched a nine-member medical team from Hawaii to the New Orleans airport, where they evaluated residents evacuated from hospitals, nursing homes, the convention center and the Superdome.

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