Thursday, September 08, 2005

National Hurrucane Center briefed govt. 36 hours before landfall: Katrina could cause levee breaches

While Chertoff said the levee breach that flooded New Orleans "exceeded the foresight of planners," Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, said Brown and other top federal officials were briefed as much as 32 hours in advance of landfall that Hurricane Katrina's storm surge was likely to overtop levees and cause catastrophic flooding.

"They knew that this one was different," Mayfield said yesterday. "I don't think Mike Brown or anyone else in FEMA could have any reason to have any problem with our calls. . . . They were told. . . . We said the levees could be topped."

Louisiana officials have blamed FEMA and Brown for bureaucratic bottlenecks, accusing FEMA of ignoring pre-storm offers of aid from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) and the American Ambulance Association.

In his last extended TV interview on CNN,Brown admitted Thursday that the federal government did not know that thousands of survivors without food or water had taken shelter at the city's convention center, despite a day of news reports.

Since then, Brown has been eclipsed by his boss, Chertoff -- who flew overnight Sunday to take charge of integrating military with civilian efforts -- and by a new deputy, U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, whom Chertoff named yesterday to take charge of federal recovery efforts in New Orleans.

Bruce P. Baughman, Alabama emergency management director, head of the National Emergency Management Association and the official in charge of FEMA's response to the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks in 2001, said Katrina will leave its mark on federal disaster management. "It's time to realize, whoever is in charge of FEMA does need an emergency management background. . . . It's something you learn by experience, and a lot of that experience is gone," he said.
FEMA Director Singled Out by Response Critics

In another article Mayfield says that the NHC records will show the conversations.

If President Nixon's secretary hasn't reached out from beyond the grave and destroyed them.

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