The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Monday, September 05, 2005

DAMNING Congressional Record: Cries for Help Ignored By The Federal Government

DAMNING Congressional Record: Cries for Help Ignored By The Federal Government

by georgia10
Sun Sep 4th, 2005 at 20:37:18 PDT

The Cowboy of 9/11 is gone. Send in the Rodeo Clowns.

Team Bush is in full PR mode, spinning the facts and playing stupid in response to the explosion of criticism it has received about Katrina.

In typical "the Buck stops over THERE" fashion, the administration has launched a coordinated attack on state and local officials, claiming that the man-made disaster after Katrina is the fault of the Mayor and Governor. The primary fallacy, of course, is that a mayor's response is only as good as the resources and infrastructure available to him. When a city is evacuated and there ARE no resources or infrastructure to rely on like on 9/11, the mayor...well, he turns to the President and says "FIX THIS."

One look at the Congressional Record below proves that the state officials--particularly Sen. Landreiu--have been BEGGING the Republican Congress and the Republican administration to take action. The GOP administration was warned--time and time again over the last 4 years as you'll see below--of the devastation.

So the next time some winger tries to blame the mayor, or the governor, who worked with the state senators and representatives to beg for help--show them this. Show them what is PUBLIC RECORD.

House of Representatives, January 26, 2005
Rep. Blumenauer

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, I recently had the opportunity to view the devastation in Southeast Asia as a result of the tsunami. As appalled as I was by what I saw, I must confess that occasionally my thoughts drifted back to the United States. What would have happened if last September, Hurricane Ivan had veered 40 miles to the west, devastating the city of New Orleans? One likely scenario would have had a tsunami-like 30-foot wall of water hitting the city, causing thousands of deaths and $100 billion in damage.

The city has always been at risk because of its low-lying location, but that risk has been increased because of rising sea levels, groundwater pumping and the erosion of coastal Louisiana. Twenty-four square miles of wetland disappear every year, since the 1930s an area one and a half times the size of Rhode Island washed away.

Considering the reaction of the American public to the loss of a dozen people in the recent mud slides in California, it is hard to imagine what would happen if a disaster of that magnitude hit the United States.

The experience of Southeast Asia should convince us all of the urgent need for congressional action to prevent wide-scale loss of life and economic destruction at home and abroad. Prevention and planning will pay off. Maybe the devastation will encourage us to act before disaster strikes.

Senate - March 06, 2001
Senator Edwards

Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. President, I rise today to express my disappointment in President Bush's decision to discontinue funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Project Impact.

Project Impact is a nationwide public-private partnership designed to help communities become more disaster resistant. Each year, Congress appropriates literally billions of dollars in disaster relief money. Project Impact is our only program that provides financial incentives and support to State and local governments that want to mitigate the damage of future disasters.

Project Impact involves all sectors of the community in developing a mitigation plan that meets that community's unique needs. [...]

Project Impact is a relatively new program, but it has already shown important results. In his recent budget submission to Congress, the President described Project Impact as ``ineffective.'' I strongly disagree, and there are community leaders around the Nation that would take exemption to this description. For example, one of the first Project Impact communities was Seattle, WA. Experts agree that without the area's mitigation efforts spurred by Project Impact, the damage from last week's earthquake could have been much worse.

We cannot stop a hurricane , an earthquake, or a tornado. But we can save precious lives and limited Federal resources by encouraging States and local governments to take preventative measures to mitigate the damage. By discontinuing funding for Project Impact, this administration will severely undercut ongoing mitigation programs in all 50 States. Most importantly, by discontinuing this program rather than working to refine it, the administration sends a dangerous signal to States and local governments that the Federal Government no longer supports their efforts.

House of Representatives
Rep. Jones
July 11, 2002

Mr. JONES of North Carolina. [...]

The United States has a significant hurricane problem. ... In 1999, Hurricane Floyd brought torrential rains and record flooding to Eastern North Carolina. ... Of the 56 people who lost their lives in this storm, 50 of them drowned due to inland flooding.

* Mr. Chairman, even more heartbreaking is the fact that these deaths could have been prevented. That is why I stand before you today to voice my full support for H.R. 2486, the Inland Flood Forecasting and Warning System Act, introduced by my colleague from North Carolina, BOB ETHERIDGE. [...]

* Mr. Chairman, each year citizens along coastal areas do their part to protect families and communities from the effects of hurricanes, now it's time for Congress to do ours.

September 30, 2002
Sen. Landrieu

Ms. LANDRIEU. As nearly all of New Orleans area rests below sea level, a hurricane of [Cat. 4] magnitude alone on the path that Tropical Storm Isidore has taken would devastate southeast Louisiana.

In Louisiana and throughout the Gulf South, we deal with the threat of hurricanes every year. From all reports, this storm could have been much worse, and we are thankful it was not. But I must take this opportunity to bring to light what is at stake when a hurricane or storm takes aim on the Louisiana coast. Not only is the safety, lives and property of Louisiana residents at risk the Nation's critical energy infrastructure and energy supply as well as crucial conservation measures are in danger.

Tropical Storm Isidore should serve as a wake-up call to the Federal Government, which must do more to protect the nation's resources in Louisiana.

Because the City of New Orleans is below sea level and surrounded by levees, every drop of rain that lands there must be pumped out. This important job is accomplished by local, State, and Federal agencies working together to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place and working much of this work is done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, in the President's budget request submitted to Congress this year, funding for the southeast Louisiana Flood Control Project, (SELA), was cut by an astonishing 50 pecent.

The SELA flood control project is a smart investment. By investing in these flood control projects, we could prevent the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars that will otherwise be spent in Federal flood insurance claims and other disaster assistance programs. Fortunately, the Senate Appropriations Committee understands this investment and has approved an increase for this project, which will allow the construction already underway to continue. However, this is not enough. I urge the administration to rethink its priorities and to include sufficient funding for the SELA project in its budget request for fiscal year 2004.

[She then discussed at length the impact a hurricane would have on national oil production and prices].

Louisiana's rapidly eroding wetlands are invaluable in absorbing the surge of storm events like Isidore. Without them, one can only imagine the damage a hurricane could wreak on South Louisiana and the nation's energy infrastructure.

Louisiana takes pride in its role as the country's most crucial energy provider. Ours is a state rich in natural resources. However, given the contribution my State makes to the Nation, it is time for the Nation to carefully consider its deficient investment in South Louisiana and the Gulf Coast Region and to consider what would happen if, God forbid, a major hurricane travels the same path as Tropical Storm Isidore. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is just one example of a Federal revenue stream that will suffer. It is long past time for the Federal Government to adequately and fairly invest in a State that gives so much to the rest of the country.

As I said a few moments ago, Tropical Storm Isidore should serve as our wake-up call. The examples I mentioned today, the SELA flood control project, Louisiana Highway 1 and other highways such as Interstate 49, and our Nation's wetlands, are too important to ignore.

It is too early to tell what the final damage will be from Tropical Storm Isidore. However, one thing is guaranteed: it will not be the last. Let us act now to invest in the infrastructure necessary to protect the life and property of our citizens.

Oct. 2, 2002

Ms. LANDRIEU. [...]

The reason I rise to speak about [Hurricane Lili] is not because there is a whole lot we can do in Washington, today...From Washington, we can begin to focus on the kind of investments we should be making along the Gulf Coast that help protect us against the consequences of such storms--particularly as it comes to protecting the energy infrastructure in this Nation, which is so vital and crucial to the economic stability and well-being of the Nation.

We are telling you and begging this Senate and this Congress to recognize benefits Louisiana provides to the Nation. Louisiana is proud of that, but we need extra Federal help to secure this marshland, to help rebuild it, and protect us. If Louisiana does not receive help the wetlands will disappear, and the people of Louisiana will be sitting ducks for future floods and storms.


There is nothing we can do about keeping hurricanes from coming ashore. We cannot prevent them. People say: Senator, can't you do something? I say: If I could pass a resolution, I would. But, of course, there is nothing we can do about that. But we can be more prepared than we are.

While we are making progress, we have a long way to go. So whether it is at the energy conference, where I hope we will have a positive outcome, or in the new transportation bill where we can talk about the highways and evacuation routes in south Louisiana and the Gulf South need our attention. Not only do they serve as economic highways that are really necessary for commerce to flourish, but, as you know, when the hurricanes come, it is the only way for people to flee the storm. We don't have trains, as people do in the Northeast, to get out of harm's way. All we have in Louisiana are highways dangerously crowded with automobiles and pickup trucks. We need to make sure people can get north to higher ground...

September 15, 2004

Ms. LANDRIEU. Madam President, I rise to speak this morning about a very important issue for the country, particularly for the gulf coast region and the State of Louisiana.

As we wrap up our business here in Washington, the entire gulf coast, and the State I represent, Louisiana being one of those Gulf Coast States, Mississippi and Alabama and the panhandle of Florida, is under a mandatory evacuation. Why? It is because this [Hurricane Ivan] is a huge storm. It is a category 4. We hope and pray, and there are some indications, that it will change to a category 3. But it is a major storm with high winds of 165 miles per hour.

It is not the first time a storm of this size or intensity has hit the gulf coast. We know by reading history. Several decades ago, some of us actually lived through extremely powerful and killer storms like Camille or Betsy in Louisiana and other States throughout the gulf coast that proved to be very dangerous, with loss of life and billions of dollars in property loss.

We don't have to be reminded that Florida has just been hit in the last 3 weeks twice already. This one will be of historic devastation in Florida, having had three hurricanes hit in such a short period of time.

I want to speak this morning about what we can do here in Washington a little better, with a little more energy, with a little more focus to help the people in Louisiana and throughout the gulf coast area. Not only do they deserve our help, but because of the energy industry and the economic benefits they bring to the whole country, they not only need our help, they deserve our help. They deserve our attention....

The people of Louisiana know the devastation this kind of storm can bring. Let me show a picture because I think a picture is worth a thousand words. While this looks terrible and horrible--and it is very frightening, as you can see a woman, standing water rising over her waist, trying to get to safety--this is not a hurricane. This is only a tropical storm. This was Tropical Storm Isidore that hit the gulf coast in 2002. This wasn't a category 1 hurricane. We are talking about severe devastation when a category 3 or category 4 or category 5 hurricane pushes that water out of the gulf, out of Lake Ponchartrain into the tremendously populated areas around the gulf coast.

Luckily, the Governors of these States are very skilled and able, the local elected officials have been through this many times and were quick to see the danger, even though the path could not be predicted, and were quick to call for evacuations days ago.


We are in Iraq, in an important battle, but part of our objective there is to secure an oil supply for the region and for the Nation and to use that for the betterment of the people of Iraq, for their growth and development and the security and stability of the world, as well as to fight for other issues. We are fighting to get 1 to 3 million barrels out of Iraq, and right here in the Gulf of Mexico, today, we have a facility that has virtually been shut down because of a hurricane. Nearly a million barrels is being imported in this country, and exported, a year.


My point is, I hope we will again use this opportunity to focus on the critical infrastructure needs necessary for Louisiana and the gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama primarily to protect itself not just from homeland security threats from terrorists but real threats of weather.

[...] Yet time and time again, when Louisiana comes to ask, Could we please have just a portion of the revenue that we send?--we are not asking for charity; we are asking for something we earned; we are happy to share with the rest of the country to help invest in infrastructure--we are told: We cannot do it this year. We do not have enough money. It is not a high enough priority.

Well, I do not know when it is going to get to be a high enough priority. I hate to say maybe it is going to take the loss thousands of lives on the gulf coast to make this country wake up and realize in what we are under-investing.


We also have a bill through the WRDA legislation, which is the traditional funding for the Corps of Engineers, the Federal agency primarily responsible to keep the waterways dredged, to keep the levees up as high as possible, to work with our local flood control folks, particularly our levee boards in Louisiana, which are some of the most important public entities we have, that literally keep people dry from heavy rains and from floods and storms of this nature.

[...] We do not have halfway pumping systems. We have the best in the world. We have the best engineers, the finest pumping systems. We are an old city, and we spend a lot of our money to keep those pumping systems up to date. In fact, the Federal Government has been a major partner. I am proud to have led the effort. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Control program has invested hundreds of millions of dollars, Federal and State money, to upgrade those pumping systems. So we are not Pollyanna about this. We are not Johnny-come-lately. We have great engineers. We are smart. If fact, we have taught the world how to drain floodwaters because we have been doing it the longest, for over 300 years.

But the city can do just so much, when it has a population that is challenged. We are not the wealthiest State. We are not the richest State. We need our Federal Government to understand that we are happy to share our resources and riches with the world, but we do deserve a greater portion of these revenues to keep our people safe, to keep our infrastructure intact, and, most certainly, to be respectful of what the people of Louisiana and the entire gulf coast contribute to our national well-being and security.

Let's pray, Madam President, that Hurricane Ivan does not hit the city of New Orleans directly. I am going to submit a front-page article from the Washington Post for the RECORD. It is an article about what that might be like. One of our emergency personnel who has been working on an emergency plan has stored several thousand body bags in the event of a major flood in the city of New Orleans. Let's hope that never happens. But I have to say, as a Senator representing the State of Louisiana, the chances of it happening sometime are pretty good. If we do not improve our transportation evacuation routes, invest in protecting this infrastructure, and focusing on reinvesting some of the tremendous wealth that has been taken from this area, and reinvesting it back, we will only have ourselves to blame.

Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the article entitled ``Awaiting Ivan in the Big Uneasy'' be printed in the RECORD.

'Nuff said.

[Update]: By the way, if any idiot ever tries to blame the local officials for "not having a plan", please direct them to this link. That, my friends, is the State of Louisiana Hazard Mitigation Plan, that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT signs off on. The state submits its plans to FEMA for review and recommendations. Who signed off (pdf) on the LA plan? Michael fucking Brown, that's who. The asshat who is now trying to blame officials for implementing a plan HE HIMSELF signed off on.

If I hear one more person trying to put ALL the blame on the mayor and governor, in the words of Senator Landrieu, "I'm going to punch them. Literally."


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