RUSH: Folks, I’m sorry. I would have led off the program with this. I have been under a terrible misconception. I thought by now everybody would have known that there was a documented, detailed evacuation plan for the city of New Orleans that was not implemented at all. But I’m reading my e-mail, “Well, I never heard of this.” Now, I didn’t get a chance to spend the whole weekend watching television, but I would have thought certainly by now the mainstream press would have uncovered this. It’s been all over the place. Snerdley didn’t even know about it. I’m terribly sorry about this. Let me start there. I’m holding in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers — this is Annex One Hurricanes Preparedness, City of New Orleans; Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan; Part two, Evacuation. This thing is huge. It’s typical of something a bureaucracy would produce. No wonder nobody read it. Nobody probably can. You probably need a library to house the whole thing, but I’ve got here just annex one, hurricanes, part two, evacuation. Roman numeral I, General: “The safe evacuation of threatened populations when endangered by a major catastrophic event is one of the principle reasons for developing a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.” That’s capitalized, CEMP. “The thorough identification of at-risk populations, transportation, and sheltering resources, evacuation routes and potential bottlenecks and choke points and the establishment of the management team that will coordinate not only the evacuation but which will monitor and direct the sheltering and return of affected populations are the primary tasks of evacuation planning. Due to the geography of New Orleans and the varying scales of potential disasters and their resulting emergency evacuations, different plans are in place for small scale evacs and for citywide evacuations of whole populations.
“Authority to issue evacuation of elements of the population is vested in the mayor. By executive order, the chief elected official, the mayor of the city of New Orleans, has the authority to order the evacuation of residents threatened by an approaching hurricane. Evacuation procedures for special-needs persons with either physical or mental handicaps, including registration of disabled persons is covered in the standard operating procedure for evacuation of special needs persons, which is a different annex of this report. Major population relocations resulting from an approaching hurricane or similar anticipated disaster caused the City of New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness to develop a specific hurricane emergency evac standard operating procedures, which are appended to the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. The standard operating procedure is developed to provide for an orderly and coordinated evacuation intended to minimize the hazardous effects of flooding, wind, and rain on the residents and visitors in New Orleans. Standard operating procedure provides for the evacuation of the public from danger areas and the designations of shelters for evacuees.” Paragraph Roman numeral II is Concept of Operations, and it is quite detailed in what it says. Here’s a paragraph I highlighted: “The city of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas. Those evacuated will be directed to temporary sheltering and feeding facilities as needed. When specific routes of progress are required, evacuees will be directed to those routes. Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life-saving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures as needed.” None of this was done.
None of this was done, folks! You can sit there and you can blame FEMA. FEMA is not a first-response organization anyway. They’re not an early responder. Go read what FEMA’s charge is. You will not find her first on the scene. That’s not what they do. There is so much misinformation apparently that’s out there on this, and again, forgive me. I just assumed that this would be widely known by now. Let me read this again. “The city of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas. Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life saving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedures needed.” All this, by the way, comes under the authority of the mayor, as specified from what I’m reading. It’s kind of sad when you go through this, and we learn now that on Sunday before the hurricane arrived we have the president begging the governor to declare an emergency and get people out of there, and she dithered for 24 hours. By the way, this is not White House spin that tells me that, it’s an Associated Press story, folks, where the president made this phone call. Under paragraph three, evacuation order, Roman numeral A: “Evacuation Time Requirements: Using information developed as part of the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force and other research, the city of New Orleans has established a maximum acceptable hurricane evacuation time for a category three storm of 72 hours. This is based on clearance time or is the time required to clear all vehicles evacuating in response to a hurricane situation from area roadways. Clearance time begins when the first evacuating vehicle enters the road network and ends when the last evacuating vehicle reaches its destination.”
By the way, it also stipulates that “for people who have no transportation, that city municipal transportation, school buses, public buses, will be used to get them out of the city.” Remember, these people were told to walk to the Superdome or to get there on their own, however they could get there, to bring their own food. This is their local government that was promising them all these years to take care of them. “Bring your own food. Use the hoof express. Get yourself to the Superdome. By the way, we don’t expect the electricity to last all night because this is a bad storm. So we know the bathrooms aren’t going to work.” You know, you can talk about all day long about the horror we saw of whatever numbers of people could not get out of there after the flooding and after the hurricane, but what about this whole document that specifies how they are to be gotten out of there before this happens? And evacuation before this happens is far simpler, easier, and more sensible than trying to evacuate survivors. You’ve got to get rid of everybody when this storm is coming. You can’t deploy the military to sit there and take hits. You can’t send FEMA down there to stand there in the middle of the storm so they’re on the scene when the storm passes. You get everybody out of there and then as soon as you can get people back in, you do. “Clearance time also includes the time required by evacuees to secure their homes and prepare to leave. The time spent by evacuees traveling along the road network and the time spent by evacuees waiting along the road network due to traffic congestion.”
In other words, 72 hours because they anticipate traffic jams, they anticipate all the problems that can come with an evacuation, so it’s supposed to start 72 hours before a category three. Now, we know there have been previous storms to hit New Orleans and they didn’t hit or if they did hit, it wasn’t that bad, “Ah, if we get hit it won’t be that bad.” Yeah, that’s what the normal person is going to say. The leadership of the city has got to say, “Un-uh. We’re getting outta here, a cat three / cat four is headed our way. We can’t take a chance.” Now the mayor was on television begging people to leave. I’m not denying that, and he said, “This is not a test. This is not a drill,” but there was no implementation of this plan whatsoever. Here are the time frames: “Precautionary evacuation notice 72 hours or less, special needs evacuation order, eight to 12 hours after the precautionary evacuation notice is issued, and the general evacuation notice, 48 hours or less. So the first 24 hours of an evacuation are designed in this manual to get people out of there who can’t get out on their own. The others who can get out, and it says here, “primary responsibility for evacuating will be yours, the citizens, getting out in your own transportation.” You have to provide it. For people who can’t, first 24 hours we’re going to pack them up on city buses and get them outta here. This did not happen. Now, again, I’m sorry, I thought I was going to start out by keeping it simple, stupid. I just assumed that a lot of people knew this, which is why I said that what we had down there was an eminent failure of state and local government. We had incompetence in the mayor’s office, incompetence in the governor’s office, and we had the utter illustration, total illustration, the utter failure of entitlement mentalities from government on down. Just stand by after the break. I mean, it gets even better than what I’ve shared with you so far.
RUSH: The New Orleans Times-Picayune on Monday called for “every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be fired. In an open letter to President Bush, the paper said: ‘Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.'” But the Times-Picayune published a story on July 24, 2005, barely a month and a half ago, stating: “City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give a historically blunt message: ‘In the event of a major hurricane, you’re on your own.'” So six weeks ago the New Orleans Times-Picayune runs a story intended for the population of New Orleans, (paraphrasing) “Hey, major storm comes your way, city, state, and federal emergency officials are apparently telling you that you’re on your own.”
“Staff writer Bruce Nolan reported some seven weeks before Katrina: ‘In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm’s way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation. In the video, made by the anti-poverty agency Total Community Action, they urge those people to make arrangements now by finding their own ways to leave the city in the event of an evacuation.'” This is seven weeks ago! I’m reading to you from a New Orleans paper. Seven weeks ago the city leaders said, “We can’t get you out if something happens. You are on your own.” And yesterday the same newspaper demands that everybody at FEMA be fired.
You are responsible for your safety, says this video, and you should be responsible for the person next to you. If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you if you can get yourself outta here on your own. So seven weeks ago pretty much admitting that they could not implement their own evacuation plan, and so now that it happens — and guess what? Guess who it is to get blamed? The federal government, FEMA, you name it. It’s strictly pass the buck. More from the evacuation plan. “If an evacuation order is issued without the mechanisms needed to disseminate the information to the affected persons then we face the possibility of having large numbers of people either stranded and left to the mercy of a storm or left in an area impacted by toxic materials.”
They knew what was going to happen, and they were prepared for it and they were worried about the fact that if they gave an evacuation order, and some people couldn’t hear it, or read it, because they didn’t have newspapers or television and radio, then we were in deep doo-doo. They knew all of this, and I can’t get over the picture of all those school buses and municipal buses flooded and basically ruined trying to get people out of there. All of this, by the way, let me just read to you again. “Due to the sheer size and number of persons to be evacuated, should a major tropical weather system or other catastrophic event threaten or impact the area, specifically directed long-range planning and coordination of resources and responsibilities efforts must be undertaken. The clearance times facing Orleans Parish for a severe hurricane will necessitate proper traffic control and early evacuating decision making. The evacuation must be completed before the arrival of gale force winds. The thorough identification of at-risk populations, transportation and sheltering resources, evacuation routes and potential bottlenecks and choke points, and the establishment of the management team that will coordinate not only the evacuation but which will monitor and direct the sheltering and return of affected populations, are the primary tasks of evacuation planning.” Again, authority to issue evacuations, the population is vested in the mayor.
So, I mean, it’s patently obvious here. I guess the mainstream press hasn’t been talking about this all weekend, is that what you’re telling me, Mr. Snerdley? You have not heard any of this on television? You didn’t hear any of this on TV, Dawn? There’s a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today by Craig Martelle, retired as a major in the US Marine Corps, lives in north Huntington near Pittsburgh. He recently launched the strategic outlook institute of public policy organization. He said, “Don’t be so quick to pillory the federal response in New Orleans. Immediate emergency management is primarily a local and state responsibility. As one who has received training by FEMA in emergency management and also training by the Department of Defense in consequence management, I believe that the federal response in New Orleans needs clarification. The key to emergency management starts at the local level and expands to the state level. Emergency planning generally does not include any federal guarantees, as there can only be limited ones from the federal level for any local plan. FEMA provides free training, education, assistance and respond in case of an emergency, but the local and state officials run their own emergency management program. Prior development of an emergency plan, addressing all foreseeable contingencies, is the absolute requirement of the local government — and then they share that plan with the state emergency managers to ensure that the state authorities can provide necessary assets not available at the local level. Additionally, good planning will include applicable elements of the federal government (those located in the local area). These processes are well established, but are contingent upon the personal drive of both hired and elected officials at the local level. I’ve reviewed the New Orleans emergency management plan. Here is an important section in the first paragraph.” Want me to read it again, drive the point home?
“‘We coordinate all city departments and allied state and federal agencies which respond to citywide disasters and emergencies through the development and constant updating of an integrated multi-hazard plan. All requests for federal disaster assistance and federal funding subsequent to disaster declarations are also made through this office. Our authority is defined by the Louisiana Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993, Chapter 6 Section 709, Paragraph B, ‘Each parish shall maintain a Disaster Agency which, except as otherwise provided under this act, has jurisdiction over and serves the entire parish.'”
“Check the plan — the ‘we’ in this case is the office of the mayor, Ray Nagin who was very quick and vocal about blaming everyone but his own office. A telling picture, at left, taken by The Associated Press on Sept. 1 and widely circulated on the Internet–” I guess this picture is only on the internet. I guess this picture has not been on television. Have you seen these pictures of all the school buses, Mr. Snerdley, sitting flooded? There must be hundreds of them here. A school bus park filled to capacity with buses under about four feet of water. If a mandatory evacuation was ordered, why weren’t all the taxpayer purchased buses used in this effort, particularly for the people who had no way of getting themselves out. “The folks in New Orleans who are perpetrating the violence and lawlessness are not that way because of low income or of race, but because they personally do not have any honor or commitment to higher ideals. The civil-rights leaders should be ashamed at playing the blame game. The blame is on the individuals. The blame is on the society that allowed these individuals to develop the ideal that the individual is greater than the national pride he is destroying.”