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NYT,pg1: When Katrina Hit, National Guard Was Deluged Too

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 08:11 AM
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NYT,pg1: When Katrina Hit, National Guard Was Deluged Too
When Storm Hit, National Guard Was Deluged Too
By SCOTT SHANE and THOM SHANKER
Published: September 28, 2005


The morning Hurricane Katrina thundered ashore, Louisiana National Guard commanders thought they were prepared to save their state. But when 15-foot floodwaters swept into their headquarters, cut their communications and disabled their high-water trucks, they had their hands full just saving themselves.

For a crucial 24 hours after landfall on Aug. 29, Guard officers said, they were preoccupied with protecting their nerve center from the waves topping the windows at Jackson Barracks and rescuing soldiers who could not swim. The next morning, they had to evacuate their entire headquarters force of 375 guardsmen by boat and helicopter to the Superdome.

It was an inauspicious start to the National Guard's hurricane response, which fell so short that it has set off a national debate about whether in the future the Pentagon should take charge immediately after catastrophes....In interviews, Guard commanders and state and local officials in Louisiana said the Guard performed well under the circumstances. But they say it was crippled in the early days by a severe shortage of troops that they blame in part on the deployment to Iraq of 3,200 Louisiana guardsmen. While the Pentagon disputes that Iraq was a factor, those on the ground say the war has clearly strained a force intended to be the nation's bulwark against natural disasters and terrorist attacks....

***

There is little disagreement that Guard equipment sent to Iraq, particularly hundreds of high-water trucks, fuel trucks and satellite phones, could have helped speed the response. The chairmen of the Senate National Guard caucus, Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, and Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said in a Sept. 13 letter to Mr. Bush that the Guard nationally had only 34 percent of its equipment available for use in the United States....

***

Aware that the Guard would be stretched thin, state officials had contacted other states two days before the storm hit about sending troops under an agreement called the Emergency Management Assistance Contract. The day the storm hit, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana asked President Bush for all the help he could provide. After touring New Orleans by helicopter the next day, she asked General Blum, of the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon, to speed and coordinate aid from other states....


http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/28/national/nationalspec...
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 08:15 AM
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1. Brown must have know about this-yet expected Blaco to perform miracles
while he 'coordinated".
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