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La. Governor's August 28 request for assistance

RAW STORY

The following is a letter written to President George W. Bush, and publicly released, by Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco on August 27, 2005. On August 28, authorities told residents to leave the city of New Orleans. The next morning, Katrina struck in Louisiana. By August 30, an estimated 80% of the city was underwater. See timeline.

On September 4, The Washington Post claimed that Federal authorities blamed Blanco for failure to react and slow response time, reporting that the Bush Administration had asked the Governor to hand authority over to them on the evening of September 2, five days after people were told to leave New Orleans, and four days after the hurricane hit Louisiana. Accusations of slow response have also come in from pundits (like Bill O'Reilly), and an e-mail that is reportedly calling for the Governor's impeachment.

Text of the Governor's letter, sent August 28, follows.

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August 28, 2005

The President The White House Washington, D. C.

Through: Regional Director FEMA Region VI 800 North Loop 288 Denton, Texas 76209

Dear Mr. President:

Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35, I request that you declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina for the time period beginning August 26, 2005, and continuing. The affected areas are all the southeastern parishes including the New Orleans Metropolitan area and the mid state Interstate I-49 corridor and northern parishes along the I-20 corridor that are accepting the thousands of citizens evacuating from the areas expecting to be flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

In response to the situation I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on August 26, 2005 in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act. A State of Emergency has been issued for the State in order to support the evacuations of the coastal areas in accordance with our State Evacuation Plan and the remainder of the state to support the State Special Needs and Sheltering Plan.

Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. I am specifically requesting emergency protective measures, direct Federal Assistance, Individual and Household Program (IHP) assistance, Special Needs Program assistance, and debris removal.

Preliminary estimates of the types and amount of emergency assistance needed under the Stafford Act, and emergency assistance from certain Federal agencies under other statutory authorities are tabulated in Enclosure A.

The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of State and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this emergency: • Department of Social Services (DSS): Opening (3) Special Need Shelters (SNS) and establishing (3) on Standby. • Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH): Opening (3) Shelters and establishing (3) on Standby. • Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP): Providing generators and support staff for SNS and Public Shelters. • Louisiana State Police (LSP): Providing support for the phased evacuation of the coastal areas. • Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (WLF): Supporting the evacuation of the affected population and preparing for Search and Rescue Missions.

Mr. President Page Two August 28, 2005

• Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD): Coordinating traffic flow and management of the evacuations routes with local officials and the State of Mississippi.

The following information is furnished on efforts and resources of other Federal agencies, which have been or will be used in responding to this incident:

• FEMA ERT-A Team en-route.

I certify that for this emergency, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act.

I request Direct Federal assistance for work and services to save lives and protect property.

(a) List any reasons State and local government cannot perform or contract for performance, (if applicable).

(b) Specify the type of assistance requested.

In accordance with 44 CFR § 206.208, the State of Louisiana agrees that it will, with respect to Direct Federal assistance:

  1. Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easement, and rights-of-ways necessary to accomplish the approved work.

  2. Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and shall indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work;

  3. Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-Federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and

  4. Assist the performing Federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.

In addition, I anticipate the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health, and safety.

Pursuant to Sections 502 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5192 & 5173, the State agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster. The State agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.

I have designated Mr. Art Jones as the State Coordinating Officer for this request. He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Governor Enclosure

ENCLOSURE A TO EMERGENCY REQUEST

Estimated requirements for other Federal agency programs:

• Department of Social Services (DSS): Opening (3) Special Need Shelters (SNS) and establishing (3) on Standby. Costs estimated at $500,000 per week for each in operation.

• Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH): Opening (3) Shelters and establishing (3) on Standby. Costs estimated at $500,000 per week for each in operation.

• Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP): Providing generators and support staff for SNS and Public Shelters. Costs estimated to range from $250,000-$500,000 to support (6) Shelter generator operations.

• Louisiana State Police (LSP): Costs to support evacuations - $300,000 for a non-direct landfall.

• Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (WLF): Costs to support evacuations - $200,000 for a non-direct landfall.

• Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD): Costs to support evacuations - $2,000,000 for a non-direct landfall.

Totals: $ 9,000,000

Estimated Requirements for assistance under the Stafford Act:

Coordination: $0

Technical and advisory assistance: $0

Debris removal: $0

Emergency protective measures: $ 9,000,000

Individuals and Households Program (IHP): $0

Distribution of emergency supplies: $0

Other (specify): $0

Totals: $ 9,000,000

Grand Total: $ 9,000,000

Originally published on Tuesday September 6, 2005.

 


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