You need to read this.
This just absolutely broke my heart. I'll let you all draw your own opinions here.
Jefferson Parish President Broussard, let me start with
you. You just heard the director of Homeland Security's explanation of what has
happened this last week. What is your reaction?
MR. AARON BROUSSARD: We have been abandoned by our own
country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms
ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go
down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S.
history. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in
Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what
happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they
need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy.
We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this
totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got to start
with some new leadership.
It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New
Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans
area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now. It's so obvious.
FEMA needs more congressional funding. It needs more presidential support. It
needs to be a Cabinet-level director. It needs to be an independent agency that
will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local
governments around America. FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was
created to do. It needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its
force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy, act immediately with
common sense and leadership, and save lives. Forget about the property. We can
rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in and save lives.
We need strong leadership at the top of America right now
in order to accomplish this and to-- reconstructing FEMA.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Broussard, let me ask--I want to
MR. BROUSSARD: You know, just some quick examples...
MR. RUSSERT: Hold on. Hold on, sir. Shouldn't the
mayor of New Orleans and the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility?
Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more
organized in evacuating the area?
MR. BROUSSARD: Sir, they were told like me, every single
day, "The cavalry's coming," on a federal level, "The cavalry's coming, the
cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming." I have just begun to hear the hoofs of
the cavalry. The cavalry's still not here yet, but I've begun to hear the
hoofs, and we're almost a week out.
Let me give you just three quick examples. We had
Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned
them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had
1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The
Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our
trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel."
Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication
lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he
reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is
getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American
government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in
But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she's done
and all her leadership. She sent in the National Guard. I just repaired a
breach on my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't foresee, a
300-foot breach. I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard
and local parish workers and levee board people. It took us two and a half days
working 24/7. I just closed it.
MR. RUSSERT: All right.
MR. BROUSSARD: I'm telling you most importantly I want
to thank my public employees...
MR. RUSSERT: All right.
MR. BROUSSARD: ...that have worked 24/7. They're burned
out, the doctors, the nurses. And I want to give you one last story and I'll
shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this
building I'm in, emergency management, he's responsible for everything. His
mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and
said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah, Mama,
somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday.
Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on
Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday." And she drowned Friday
night. She drowned Friday night.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. President...
MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's
coming to get us. The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised. They've
had press conferences. I'm sick of the press conferences. For God sakes, shut
up and send us somebody.
MR. RUSSERT: Just take a pause, Mr. President. While
you gather yourself in your very emotional times, I understand, let me go to
Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi.