Out to Lunch

Emails between FEMA staffers during the Katrina disaster speak volumes about the people leading this country.

A 12-year FEMA veteran, Marty Bahamonde was the agency's only staffer in New Orleans when Katrina hit.

On Tuesday, August 30, Department of Homeland Security chief Mike Chertoff designated FEMA director Mike Brown the principal federal official in charge of the Katrina response.

full text of the emails, excerpted here with typos corrected, is at the New York Times website.

From: Bahamonde, Marty
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2005 4:40 PM
To: Michael-Heath1@dhs.gov
Subject: Re:

There are currently 2000 inside the dome with about 300 special needs….Medical staff at the dome say they expect to run out of oxygen in about two hours and are looking for alternatives. There are still lines outside the dome waiting to get in….

From: Bahamonde, Marty
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2005 4:46 PM
To: Passey, David
Subject: Re: Checking in

Issues developing at the Superdome. 2000 already in and more standing in line….The medical staff at the dome say they will run out of oxygen in about 2 hours and are looking for alternative oxygen…

From: Bahamonde, Marty
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2005 6:28 PM
To: Wing, Deborah
Subject: NOMS Resource Status Report

Everyone is soaked. This is going to get ugly real fast. Everyone here at the EOC is very concerned with what might happen [at the Superdome].

From: Taylor, Cindy
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2005 1:38 PM
To: Rule, Natalie; Widomski, Michael; Andrews, Nicol D - Public Affairs
CC: Passey, David; Hudak, Mary
Subject: Updates from Marty and Beeman

From Marty (New Orleans)
- 17th Avenue Canal levee (running along border of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes) broke through with water flow "bad" into New Orleans side
- City will have feeding/sheltering issues with population at Superdome (est. 12K)
- North side of city under est. 11' water in heavy residential area
- Estimate 30,000 tourists in city holed up in hotel rooms
- Charity Hospital - all windows out; basement flooded, no power; have not been able to reach other 27 hospitals for capabilities
- Early estimate that power will be over a month to restore - main hubs out of commission

From: Bahamonde, Marty
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 7:02 AM
To: Nicol.Andrews@dhs.gov; Marty.Bahamonde@dhs.gov
Subject: Re: Site Search

What is happening with [Mike Brown] travel this morning? When is he coming to New Orleans? The area around the Superdome is filling up with water, now waist deep. [Brown] can land and do a presser but then have to leave. There will be no ground tour, only flyover.

From: Bahamonde, Marty
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 11:20 AM
To: Michael.D.Brown@dhs.gov
Subject: New Orleans

Sir, I know that you know that the situation is past critical. Here are some things you might not know. Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds are still being rescued from homes.

The dying patients at the DMAT tent being Medivac. Estimates are that many will die within hours. Evacuation in process. Plans developing for dome evacuation but hotel situation adding to problem. We are out of food and running out of water at the dome….

From: Worthy, Sharon
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 2:27 pm
To: Valerie.Smith@dhs.gov
CC: Natalie.Rule@dhs.gov; Andrews, Nicol D - Public Affairs; Cindy.Taylor@dhs.edu
Subject: Scarborough

….[I]t is very important that time is allowed for [Mike] Brown to eat dinner. Given that Baton Rouge is back to normal, restaurants are getting busy. He needs much more than 20 or 30 minutes. We now have traffic to encounter to get to and from a location of his choice, followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you.

Sharon Worthy
Press Secretary

From: Bahamonde, Marty
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 2:44 PM
To: Taylor, Cindy; Widomski, Michael
Subject: Re: Scarborough

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! No won't go any further, too easy of a target. Just tell her that I just ate a MRE and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants. Maybe tonight I will have time to move the pebbles on the parking garage floor so they won't stab me in the back while I try to sleep, but instead I will hope her wait at Ruth's Chris is short….


Blogger Miss Cellania said...

Small messages speak volumes. FEMA didn't even have the sense to switch to "emergency" mode. Thanks for posting this.


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