Chertoff Delayed FEMA; Busy Restoring Pipeline

DHS ChertoffHere’s an interesting wrinkle in the Katrina debacle, it now appears that in the days following Katrina, the White House and DHS was more focused on restoring the Gulf coast oil and gas pipelines than in responding to the human emergency:

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.

That order – to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. – delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt.

[…]Dan Jordan, manager of Southern Pines Electric Power Association, said Vice President Dick Cheney’s office called and left voice mails twice shortly after the storm struck, saying the Collins substations needed power restored immediately.

Jordan dated the first call the night of Aug. 30 and the second call the morning of Aug. 31. Southern Pines supplies electricity to the substation that powers the Colonial pipeline.

Cheney’s office referred calls about the pipeline to the Department of Homeland Security.

Ah, so DHS was on the job of making sure the pipeline was restored, but what does this mean for Chertoff, head of Homeland Security? Connect the dots and you’ll understand why the delay in getting FEMA help into New Orleans (hint, it’s not as simple as Michael Brown being incompetent, that only compounded the delay):

But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff didn’t shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department.

[…]That same day, Aug. 31, the Department of Defense, whose troops and equipment are crucial in such large disasters, activated its Task Force Katrina. But active-duty troops didn’t begin to arrive in large numbers along the Gulf Coast until Saturday.

So the moral of the story is: if you want the federal government to rescue you out of your flooded house in your broke-ass neighborhood, you better hope the flooding is due to a nearby oil or gas pipeline rupturing.

3 Comments
  1. Exactly. I never bought the whole “incompetence” argument.

    Just like this article
    http://www.abcnews.go.com/US/HurricaneKatrina/story?id=1123495&page=1

    “Sept. 13, 3005 — Amid the chaos and confusion that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a congressman used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops, ABC News has learned.”

    Yeah, the concern wasn’t the people of New Orleans. This congressman just wanted to make sure his things didn’t get wet.

  2. By the way, how long do y’all think Chertoff will go without being “resigned”? Place your bets!

    I call next monday. Though realistically it’ll be never now that Bush claimed responsibility and thus pulled blame from his minions.

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