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in reacting to the crisis facing the people of the Gulf Coast. As a result, on September 7, 2005, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) seeking records related to the federal government’s preparation for a hurricane of Katrina’s magnitude as well as records related to the government’s response to the devastation wrought by the hurricane. In January 2006, CREW sued DHS to force the agency to comply with the FOIA request. Over the past year and a half, DHS has released approximately 7,500 records, in whole or in part related to CREW’s request. This report is based on a review of those records, all of which are available on CREW’s website, www.citizensforethics.org. CREW’s analysis of the records indicates a deep disconnect between years of painstaking planning intended to lead to a swift and orderly response to a hurricane in southeast Louisiana and the disorganized and inadequate response to real events. The report first details the extensive planning undertaken by DHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”), state and local representatives and a private contractor to prepare for a major hurricane, which resulted in the creation of the strikingly comprehensive “Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan” (“SLCHP”). The SLCHP included a 14-part response to a “Hurricane Pam,” a Category 3 storm. Had the SLCHP been followed, much of the suffering by Gulf Coast residents might have been avoided. Sadly, however, the strategies outlined in the SLCHP were virtually ignored in the face of a real hurricane, Katrina. There are numerous gaps and redactions and many of the documents lack context, making it difficult to assess where the blame for the deplorable government response to Katrina lies. Nonetheless, the records reveal a federal government overwhelmed by the calamity, beleaguered by bureaucratic mismanagement and incapable of making the quick decisions required. CREW has not uncovered any document explaining why the federal government disregarded the SLCHP. Background As early as 2000, FEMA predicted that a catastrophic hurricane would threaten Southeast Louisiana and the city of New Orleans.1 Southeast Louisiana historically has been vulnerable to hurricanes2 and New Orleans is particularly susceptible to flooding, given its below-sea level elevation and its location between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi river.3
See Statement of Work – Task Order 125 Emw-2000-Co-0247 (unknown date). (Exhibit 1) Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Planning Workshops Scenario and Consequences Summary (Sept. 7, 2005) (prepared by IEM under FEMA BPA-HSFEHQ-04-A-0288, Task Order 001). (Exhibit 2) 3 Proposal for a New Orleans Metropolitan Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan at 1(unknown date, 2001 or earlier). (Exhibit 3)
Recognizing that “limitations of the current Federal response system”4 meant that such an event could present a threat to national security,5 FEMA stepped up its disaster planning. Starting in 2002, FEMA also began its lengthy transition into an agency under the then-new DHS.6 In concert with other government agencies, and with the help of a private contractor, FEMA began planning for a hypothetical Category-3 or higher hurricane expected to make landfall in Southeast Louisiana.7 The planning efforts focused on the myriad challenges posed by such a hurricane, including evacuation, shelter, temporary medical care and reentry issues.8 As the region’s largest population center, New Orleans received a heightened degree of focus throughout the planning process.9 Almost exactly as predicted, Hurricane Katrina struck Florida on August 25, 2005.10 One day later, the National Hurricane Center predicted the storm’s approach toward New Orleans with the strength of Category 3 or greater.11 According to a National Weather Service assessment, Katrina was a hurricane with “unprecedented strength” that would leave “most of the area … uninhabitable for weeks” and “water shortages [that would] make human suffering incredible by modern standards.”12 Scope CREW submitted a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request to FEMA on September 7, 2005, to obtain documents relating to the federal government’s planning for and response to Hurricane Katrina.13 In response to CREW’s FOIA request, FEMA released thousands of pages of documents that include: emails and letters between public officials, meeting agendas and transcripts, statements of work, maps and other materials provided by a private contractor, outlines of a plan to respond to a catastrophic hurricane strike on Southeast Louisiana, materials relating to a tabletop exercise as part of this plan, communications in planning between agencies, situation reports before and during the disaster, post-landfall requests for relief services and goods, and court transcripts from a suit between CNN and FEMA Director Michael Brown over alleged restrictions by FEMA on the media’s efforts to record and report on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Planning and Readiness Update for NEMA Conference, FEMA memo (Oct. 15, 2001). (Exhibit 4) Guidance: Catastrophic Disaster Planning Regional Brainstorming Session, FEMA (Apr. 9, 2003). (Exhibit 5) 6 Philip Shenon, Threats and Responses: The Reorganization Plan, N.Y. Times, Nov. 20, 2002, at A14. (Exhibit 6) 7 See, e.g., Memorandum from IEM to FEMA (Sept. 5, 2005), (Exhibit 7); Statement of Work – Task Order 125 Emw-2000-Co-0247. (Exhibit 1) 8 See, e.g.,Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Planning Project Plan Status Report from FEMA (July 24, 2004), (Exhibit 8); Weekly Status Report from FEMA (Dec. 8, 2004), Hurricane Pam Planning Exercise, (Exhibit 9); Explanatory document summarizing the planning process, (Sept. 23, 2005), (Exhibit 10); Letter from LOHSEP to Parish Presidents and Mayors, Appendix 3 to Transportation, Staging and Distribution (July 27, 2005) (Exhibit 11). 9 See, e.g., Statement of Work – Task Order 125 Emw-2000-Co-0247, DHS. (Exhibit 1) 10 Joseph B. Treaster, A Blast of Rain but Little Damage as Hurricane Hits South Florida, N.Y. Times, Aug. 26, 2005, at A10. (Exhibit 12) 11 Transcript of August 26, 2005 FEMA video teleconference (Aug. 26, 2005) at 4. (Exhibit 13) 12 Email from Michael Lowder to Michael Brown, Patrick Rhode, et. al. (Aug. 28, 2005) (containing Urgent Weather Message, National Weather Service, New Orleans, LA). (Exhibit 14) 13 Fax from Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of CREW, to the Department Disclosure Officer at the Department of Homeland Security (Sept. 7, 2005). (Exhibit 15)
Some of the documents are missing large amounts of information and for many documents dates are missing.14 Much of the documentation consists of internal emails, Blackberry messages or action request forms that include casual, short-hand and/or technical language with very little contextual explanation of its meaning or implication. To the extent possible, we have used outside research to provide context for such material. KEY FINDINGS PLANNING PROCESS FOR A HURRICANE Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Planning Project As early as 2000,15 FEMA anticipated a Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane would make landfall at Southeast Louisiana.16 In light of grim predictions regarding the devastation such a catastrophic hurricane would cause17 and its responsibility for providing federal assistance in response to such events, FEMA recognized the need to create a plan for such a disaster.18 At the same time, FEMA was “keenly aware of the limitations of the current federal response system” and was facing additional challenges.19 In 2001-2002, FEMA shifted away from particularized disasterresponse plans to a more standardized response, as part of its new management styles under DHS.20 FEMA’s goal was to come up with a template for a federal disaster-response plan by April 2002.21 Toward that end, FEMA developed a multi-phase plan, which included time-lines for developing the plan and selecting a contractor (January 1, 2002),22 completing rescue-relocation,
See, e.g., Proposal for a New Orleans Metropolitan Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan (unknown date, 2001 or earlier). (Exhibit 3) 15 See Statement of Work – Task Order 125 Emw-2000-Co-0247. (Exhibit 1) 16 Id.; see also Status of Catastrophic Planning Efforts, Oct. 15, 2001. (Exhibit 16) 17 See, e.g., Proposal for a New Orleans Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan (unknown date, 2001 or earlier). (Exhibit 3) 18 Statement of Work – Task Order 125 Emw-2000-Co-0247 (unknown date) (citing the Stafford Act, which provides FEMA with the authority and responsibility to oversee disaster-planning). (Exhibit 1) Contra Andrea Shalal-Esa, U.S. Still Lacks Disaster Response Plan, Reuters, May 20, 3007, available at http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN2936717320070530?feedType=RSS (quoting Adm. Thad Allen, who stated that the Federal Government lacked a clear mandate from the beginning to oversee disasterresponse during Katrina, as local and state officials were imbued with such authority). (Exhibit 17) 19 Planning and Readiness Update for NEMA Conference, FEMA Memo (Oct. 15, 2001). (Exhibit 4) 20 See Strategic Catastrophic Disaster Planning Work Group ( Nov. 21, 2002), FOIA D5-263 at 201-05 (Exhibit 18); see also Status of Catastrophic Planning Efforts, FEMA (Oct. 15, 2001), FOIA D5-263 at 334-35 (Exhibit 19); see also DRF “Attachment B-1, Exhibit 1,” FOIA D5-263 255-56 (Exhibit 20). 21 Proposal for a New Orleans Metropolitan Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan (unknown date; 2001 or earlier) at 7, FOIA D5-263 at 330. (Exhibit 3) 22 Proposal for a New Orleans Metropolitan Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan at 7 (unknown date, 2001 or earlier) (stating that it would secure a contractor by September 30, 2001, “complete information collection and analysis” by December 1, 2001, and organize working groups and prepare work schedule by January 1, 2001) (Exhibit 3). Note that FEMA previously intended to have a complete template response plan by April, 2002. See Planning and Readiness Update for NEMA Conference, FEMA memo, October 15, 2001. (Exhibit 4)
emergency shelter, housing, and un-watering plans (by January 15, 2002),23 and all other phases (by September 15, 2002).24 FEMA’s disaster planning was based on a set of predictions that proved to be remarkably accurate. In 2000-2001, FEMA looked at a population of New Orleans that was over 1.3 million people and predicted that when a catastrophic hurricane struck, the city would be flooded with 14-17 feet of water.25 One million people would evacuate and 250-350,000 people would be trapped in the city. FEMA predicted that it could take weeks to drain the city and that in the meantime, shelters would be overcrowded.26 FEMA recognized the need to plan for evacuation, transportation of people and supplies, search and rescue, draining the city of water, shelters, mass care and feeding, health and medical services, restoration of infrastructure and long-term rebuilding,27 and security for urban areas, hospitals and shelters.28 FEMA understood the possibility that such a disaster would be a threat to national security.29 In 2003, FEMA’s predictions of a catastrophic hurricane threatening New Orleans included the assessment that such an event would result in the loss of power, food, water, medicine and transportation, would leave 250-350,000 people stranded in the city and 50,000 in surrounding parishes, and would result in 5,000 deaths and 15,000 people injured within the city.30 FEMA also predicted such a hurricane would result in overcrowded shelters and hospitals with special needs patients, would leave hospitals without power, release HAZMAT into the city and render pumping stations inoperable.31 Based on these predictions, FEMA understood that any disaster plan had to address direction and control, search and rescue, evacuation, security, sheltering, health and medical, transportation and infrastructure restoration.32 By 2003, FEMA had also identified more specific goals under each aspect of the plan, (e.g. identifying “key points for evacuation”),33 and had refined its planned medical response effort in a memo about National Disaster Medical System (NDMS).34 FEMA recognized a need to plan for more public health issues such as food and drug safety, emergency worker health and safety, chemical, biological, and radiological hazards, potable water, waste water, and solid waste disposal.35
Proposal for a New Orleans Metropolitan Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan at 7, FEMA (unknown date, 2001 or earlier). (Exhibit 3) 24 Id. 25 See, e.g., Planning and Readiness Update for NEMA Conference, FEMA memo, October 15, 2001. (Exhibit 3) 26 Id. See also Statement of Work – Task Order 125 Emw-2000-Co-0247, (Exhibit 1); see also Proposal for a New Orleans Metropolitan Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan at 6, (unknown date, 2001 or earlier) (Exhibit 3); see also Fax from Sean Fontenot at the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (“LOHSEP”) to the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) at 3 (Aug. 22, 2003). (Exhibit 21) 27 Statement of Work – Task Order 125 Emw-2000-Co-0247 at 3-4. (Exhibit 1) 28 Proposal for a New Orleans Metropolitan Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan at 6, (unknown date, 2001 or earlier). (Exhibit 3) 29 Guidance: Catastrophic Disaster Planning Regional Brainstorming Session, FEMA (Apr. 9, 2003). (Exhibit 5) 30 Fax from Sean Fontenot at the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (“LOHSEP”) to the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) at 3 (Aug. 22, 2003). (Exhibit 21) 31 Id. 32 Id. at 3-4. (Exhibit 21) 33 Id. at 3. (Exhibit 21) 34 NDMS Planning Considerations, New Orleans Catastrophic Hurricane (Aug. 22, 2003). (Exhibit 22) 35 Id.
In 2004, FEMA hired a private contractor, Innovative Emergency Management, Inc (IEM), to facilitate meetings and develop a hurricane simulation in furtherance of a comprehensive hurricane response plan, SLCHP.36 IEM previously had contracted to work on other major disaster-planning projects.37 Representatives from federal, state and local agencies participated in several workshops facilitated by IEM,38 including a tabletop exercise in July 2004 (“Hurricane Pam”) and workshops in November 2004, July 2005, and on August 23-25 – just days before Katrina made landfall in Southeast Louisiana.39 A workshop scheduled for April 2005 was delayed “[d]ue to unforeseen budget shortfalls and current disaster activity.”40 Topics at these workshops ranged from temporary housing and medical care41 to plans for draining the city of water and dealing with hazardous materials.42 Handwritten notes from the July, 2004 meeting reveal discussion about far-flung details, including: demand for cleanup efforts and help from the EPA; water testing; animals on top of the levees; power, ice, and water delivery; lawlessness; use of schools for shelter; and what to do about educating children during the disaster given that the schools would be used as shelters.43 The July, 2005 workshop focused on temporary housing, and on transportation, staging and distribution of critical resources.44 In late July, FEMA sent a letter to each parish asking for their help identifying potential distribution points,45 their locations and their inventory of equipment and personnel.46 It is unclear when a number of the plans developed from these workshops were actually delivered to FEMA.47 On August 27, 2005, IEM released to FEMA two sections of an “updated” plan that discussed in greater detail transportation, staging and distribution of critical resources.48 Other predictive materials produced by IEM out of the workshops were not delivered to FEMA until September 7, 2005.49
Press Release, IEM, IEM Team to Develop Catastrophic Hurricane Disaster Plan for New Orleans & Southeast Louisiana (June 3, 2004), available at http://www.ieminc.com/Whats_New/Press_Releases/pressrelease060304_Catastrophic.htm. (Exhibit 23) 37 IEM has also contracted to work on other major disaster-planning projects including a nation-wide chemical stockpile-related emergency plan with FEMA (a $10 million contract), planning a bio-terrorist attack with the CDC and more recently, a $6 million contract to plan for an earthquake along the New Madrid fault. IEM Self Assessment at 28 (unknown date). (Exhibit 24) 38 See, e.g., Hurricane Pam Exercise Roster (Sept. 4, 2004), (Exhibit 25); LA Project Exercise Participants (as of June 28), June 28, 2004, modified June 30, 2004, (Exhibit 26). 39 Memorandum from IEM to FEMA (Sept. 5, 2005), Initial FOIA Release at E:21. (Exhibit 7) 40 Letter from Tony Robinson, Director, Response and Recovery Division of FEMA Region VI, to meeting participants (unknown date) (canceling Apr. 18-22, 2005 meeting without rescheduling it). (Exhibit 27) 41 Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Planning Project Plan Status Report from FEMA (July 24, 2004). (Exhibit 28) 42 Id. 43 Handwritten notes from meetings on July 20-22, 2004. (Exhibit 29) 44 Explanatory document summarizing the planning process, (Sept. 23, 2005). (Exhibit 10) 45 Letter from LOHSEP to Parish Presidents and Mayors, Appendix 3 to Transportation, Staging and Distribution (July 27, 2005). (Exhibit 11) 46 Enclosure 1, Appendix 3 to Transportation, Staging and Distribution of Critical Resources (July 27, 2005). (Exhibit 11) 47 Memorandum from IEM to FEMA (Sept. 5, 2005). (Exhibit 7) 48 Id. 49 See Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Planning Workshops Scenario and Consequences Summary (Sept. 7, 2005) (prepared by IEM under FEMA BPA-HSFEHQ-04-A-0288, Task Order 001). (Exhibit 2)
Parts of the Plan The SLCHP had 14 distinct parts, key points of which are outlined below. 1. The pre-landfall plan was supposed to go into effect no later than 72 hours before a hurricane made landfall.50 Under this plan, the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (“LOHSEP”) was charged with responsibility for communicating with the media, disseminating appropriate information for citizen evacuations, providing DHS/FEMA Region VI with an updated resource request51 and DHS/FEMA and LOHSEP with positioning personnel and commodities at the planned staging cites.52 LOHSEP, FEMA Headquarters and FEMA Region VI, and JIC were charged with specific communication tasks, analysis of resources and needs (from mortuary services to portable radios) and eventual closing of evacuation routes.53 2. The unwatering plan was drafted under the assumptions that New Orleans would be “inundated with at least 10 feet of water in the levee systems,” that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) would be in charge of draining that water, that water would be contaminated and that “there [would be] no levee breeches.”54 The plan demanded cooperation from federal, state and local agencies.55 Each was to focus on restoring the pumping stations,56 keeping in mind that there would be standing57 and contaminated water58 in the city until it could be drained. 3. The hazardous materials plan dealt with household waste, floating coffins, subsurface tanks with fuel and other flammable chemicals, biological and radiological hazards.59 Myriad state agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard would need to support the Louisiana State Police in the HAZMAT clean-up.60 The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and private contractors would be needed to help, as would 1,000 trained personnel and equipment such as small powerboats and protective gear.61 4. The billeting plan dealt with room and board for emergency response personnel.62 Initially, up to 500 personnel could live on quarter boats provided by USACE,63 after which base camps
Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 1.0 Pre-Landfall, 1-2, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 30) 51 Id. at 1 52 Id. at 1-2 53 Appendix B to Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 1.0 Pre-Landfall. (Exhibit 31) 54 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 2.0 Unwatering, 5, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 32) 55 Id. 56 Id. at 6. 57 Id. 58 See Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 2.0 Unwatering at 7, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 32) 59 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 3.0 Hazardous Materials at 11, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 33) 60 Id. at 13 61 Id. at 15 62 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 4.0 Billeting of Emergency Response Personnel at 17, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 34) 63 Id.
would be set up to house as many as 1,500 per camp.64 The U.S. Forest Service was to be in charge of providing catering, showers, laundry, housekeeping and waste management for workers’ quarters.65 The need for temporary housing, including for evacuees, was mentioned, but not in detail.66 5. The power, water, and ice distribution plan worked under the assumption, at an “absolute minimum,” each person would need one gallon of potable water and eight pounds of ice each day, and that, because of debris, flooding, and destruction to major roads, it would initially be very difficult to deliver those commodities.67 In areas that cannot be “supported on a sustained basis,” victims would need to be evacuated;68 in the meantime, the Louisiana National Guard would need to deliver commodities by helicopter and other means.69 In less-affected areas, the focus would be on delivering to shelters and distribution points where victims would pick up their own supplies.70 The United States Army Corps of Engineer’s (USACE’s) water contractor estimated that it could deliver 500,000-650,000 gallons of water within 24 hours, and at least 2 million gallons a day after the first 48 hours.71 USACE’s ice contractor estimated that it could deliver 500,000 to 2 million pounds of ice within 24 hours, and 3 to 4 million pounds per day after the first 72 hours.72 In a day, 25 trucks of ice would be able to bring 1 million pounds of ice, and 212 trucks would be able to bring 1 million gallons of water.73 USACE was supposed to store 5.5 million pounds of ice and 1,530,000 gallons of potable water (one day’s supply of each) at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana, before the hurricane made landfall.74 With respect to commodities, the plan also detailed how many distribution points and staging sites would be needed to serve a range in numbers of hurricane victims,75 how many trucks of baby food, diapers, baby formula, and bottles would be required per warehouse,76 noted that security would be needed at each staging site and where commodities would be kept,77 and provided an extensive list of commodities78 as well as facilities that would be needed to
Id. Id. at 18 66 Id. 67 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 5.0 Power, Water, and Ice Distribution at 21, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 35) 68 Id. at 22 69 Id. at 25 70 Id. at 22 71 Id. at 23 72 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 5.0 Power, Water, and Ice Distribution at 23, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 35) 73 Appendix A under Power, Water, and Ice Distribution: USACE Commodity Distribution/Staging Area Requirements at 41, Apr. 4, 2004 (contained in IEM document dated 2005; date of delivery to FEMA unknown). (Exhibit 36) 74 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 5.0 Power, Water, and Ice Distribution at 24, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 35) 75 Appendix A under Power, Water, and Ice Distribution: USACE Commodity Distribution/Staging Area Requirements at 46, Apr. 4, 2004 (contained in an IEM document dated 2005; date of delivery to FEMA unknown). (Exhibit 36) 76 Draft of Transportation, Staging, and Distribution of Critical Resources Plan at 15 (delivered to FEMA Aug. 27, 2005). (Exhibit 37) 77 Id. 78 Id. at 8-9.
distribute those commodities.79 A timeline for executing the distribution of commodities was also provided to FEMA on August 27, 2005.80 In addition, Louisiana power companies, municipalities, and cooperatives would be in charge of power restoration,81 working under a priority plan already established by the State of Louisiana as to which entities would have power restored first.82 6. The transport from water to shelter plan predicted that 22,000 victims would end up at Temporary Medical Operations Staging Areas (“TMOSAs”) on the first day, and a total of 350,000 victims would arrive over the first four days (half rescued by the search and rescue team, whose operations were to continue for seven days, and half rescued by themselves).83 There would be limited resources to transfer the victims from search and rescue bases to the TMOSAs.84 7. The volunteer and donations management plan addressed unsolicited volunteers and donations, each to be managed by a team.85 LOHSEP’s teams were supposed to work closely with agencies, volunteer organizations and the private sector.86 To process donations of goods, there would have to be reception points, warehouses, and screening methods for goods, as well as security at the warehouses.87 Unsolicited donations would be discouraged.88 Volunteers would be valuable, but skilled volunteers and especially first responders would be “unpredictable” in number and timing.89 8. The access control and re-entry plan was based on a number of assumptions: (1) that a national disaster would be declared; (2) that critical roads that needed to be cleared would be identified; (3) that “inaccurate media reports” might “hamper the re-entry message;” (4) that not everyone returning would have official forms of identification; (5) that reentry routes would be the same as evacuation routes; (6) that some evacuees, depending on where they were trying to return, would have to wait longer than others; (7) that parishes would have their own procedures to deal with the disaster, but might lose the capacity to implement those procedures; (8) that parishes would establish curfews; (9) that states would communicate with each other throughout the emergency; and (10) that a secondary evacuation may occur.90
Id. at 18-23. See Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan, Appendix 1 to Transportation, Staging, and Distribution of Resources (delivered to FEMA on Aug. 27, 2005). (Exhibit 38) 81 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 5.0 Power, Water, and Ice Distribution at 21, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 35) 82 Id. at 23. 83 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 6.0 Transport from Water to Shelter at 29, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 39) 84 Id. at 30. 85 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 7.0 Transport from Water to Shelter at 33, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 40) 86 Id. 87 Id. at 34. 88 Id. at 37. 89 Id. at 34. 90 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 8.0 Access Control and Re-entry at 41-42, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 41)
The access control and re-entry plan required an assessment of safe zones, dry zones, and usable roads, drainage of water and assessment of debris, removal of dangerous wildlife, ongoing search and rescue and distribution of critical goods and services, and a verification process for re-entry run by the state police, local law enforcement and the National Guard.91 9. The debris plan assumed that 600,000 residential structures would be affected, 77% of which would be destroyed; that 6,000 commercial structures would be impacted, 67% of which would be destroyed; that New Orleans would be under water; that human remains would not be treated as debris, but would “alter the debris mission”; that 70% of the debris would be from construction and demolition and that 30% of it would be vegetative.92 The plan mandated that several agencies help clean up the debris, taking on various and specific roles, and that an agency at each level of government (federal, state, and local) take the lead role.93 The plan dealt with clearance of debris in the first days after the hurricane, disposal of the debris by recycling, incineration and other methods, personal property that would be found during clearance, and coordination of debris-clearing efforts.94 10. The schools plan assumed that: (1) schools would be damaged and contaminated by the hurricane and HAZMAT; (2) records would be lost; (3) students and faculty would be dispersed; (4) temporary housing would need to be considered; (5) laws governing education (e.g. teacher certification, attendance, and testing) would be suspended; (6) surrounding schools would become overcrowded by the influx of evacuee students; (7) many students would need crisis counseling; and (8) there would be money to execute the Schools plan.95 Health issues such as immunization, additional school nurses, health clinics in schools, grief and trauma training for staff, specialty books with Braille or and large print and facilities to accommodate wheelchairs, would all need to be addressed.96 Local education agencies were supposed to have their own plans in place, including plans for securing and preserving records.97 Educational services would be provided in existing schools and other facilities such as churches, private schools and newly-built schools next to temporary housing.98 In the long run, schools and education agencies would need to be rebuilt and restaffed.99 11. The search and rescue plan assumed: (1) that many people would not evacuate before the hurricane and would need to be rescued from areas made impassable by flood waters; (2) that
Id. at 42-43 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 9.0 Debris at 45, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 42) 93 Id. at 46. 94 Id. at 47-48. 95 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 10.0 Schools at 55-56, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 43) 96 Id. at 61-62. 97 Id. at 57. 98 Id. at 58 99 Id. at 58
levee walls would be overtopped and pumping capacity surpassed; and (3) that the water would be contaminated.100 Search and rescue efforts would go forward by air, water, and ground.101 DHS/FEMA would lead the search and rescue effort, supported by the Agency for International Development, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services and many other federal agencies.102 The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries would take the lead over other state supporting agencies, and the parish sheriffs’ offices and fire departments would lead supporting local agencies.103 12. The shelters plan predicted that 57,896 people would need public shelter before the hurricane made landfall, and 500,000 people would need public shelter after landfall, either because their homes would be destroyed or would be in need of substantial repairs.104 The Shelters plan would require the help of 40,000 people in sheltering 500,000 people and distributing one million meals and other commodities.105 The plan assumed the following: (1) schools would probably be used as shelters for at least two weeks; (2) many evacuees would need medicines they had not brought with them; (3) evacuees would bring their pets to the shelters; (4) it would take two weeks to identify feasible shelters; (5) it would take 10 to 14 days get enough shelter for 500,000 people; (6) at least three states would need to provide shelter spaces; (7) because illegal immigrants would not use government-run public shelters they would require a separate plan; (8) those who evacuated before the hurricane would have their own transportation, but post-landfall evacuees would need public transportation from shelters to other facilities; (9) capacity of shelter space would be reached or exceeded; (10) the number of people in shelters would double or triple within three to four days of the hurricane; (11) many of those people would need medical attention and crisis counseling; (12) shelters would be opened before the hurricane and would need to have at least two radios for communication; and (13) some shelters of last resort would become “long-term shelters.”106 The shelters plan was laid out in phases, from 66 hours before the hurricane made landfall through 90 days after the landfall.107 The sheltering plan also estimated that for the first 30 days, 1,000 shelters would house an average of 500 people per shelter, so that 400 law enforcement officers would be needed (“one per every three shelters, depending on proximity of the shelters”), and 40,000 staff other than medical and security staff would be needed to execute the Shelters plan.108 The plan indicated that 20,000 shelterees could help run the shelters, along with non-shelteree staff.109
Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 11.0 Search and Rescue at 65, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 44) 101 Id. at 66 102 Id. at 65 103 Id. at 66 104 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 12.0 Shelters at 71, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 45) 105 Id. 106 Id. at 72-73. 107 Id. at 75-76. 108 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 12.0 Shelters at 83, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 45) 109 Id.
Apart from the shelter plan, Mayor Ray Nagin went through Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to secure funding for a Feasibility Study110 that would operate from the same dire predictions about a Category 3 or higher hurricane as the federal planning efforts.111 Previous studies had suggested that the Superdome could be used as a “refuge of last resort,” that more evacuation routes, such as more and better bridges, should be built, that sewers should be improved, and dewatering the city after a hurricane.112 13. The temporary housing plan assumed that 475,000 households would be displaced by the hurricane leaving up to 200,000 in need of long-term housing.113 The plan also assumed that people would “move the minimum possible distance and return at the earliest possible time”; that water, power, sanitation, medical services, security, schools and other services would be required at temporary housing sites; that housing sites in New Orleans would differ from non-urban housing sites; that there would be a shortage of “rental unity”; that parishes would have few or no resources to offer; that the worst-off parishes would not be available for temporary housing sites “for weeks or even months”; and that because of flooding and inoperable pumping systems, much of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, and parts of St. Bernard Parish, would not be able to host temporary housing sites.114 The goal of the plan was to move people out of emergency shelters and into longer-term housing, putting people from the most heavily-impacted areas at the front of the line for the more permanent housing.115 Intermediate housing could include, within the impacted region, college campuses, barracks, hotels and motels, personal travel trailers and RVs, rooms in private homes, vacation houses, scout camps, cruise ships and other rental units.116 Temporary housing sites could also be put together on grounds that could host mobile home parks and modular housing.117 The plan also provided an estimated timeline for numbers of housing units that could be provided, and how many households they could accommodate.118 Impacts on host cities and criteria for host cities (such as the ability to absorb 5,000-10,000 people) were also considered, if briefly, under the Temporary Housing Plan.119
See E-mail from Sen. Mary Landrieu to Pamela Turner at FEMA (Feb. 14, 2005) (Exhibit 46); see also Letter from Sen. Landrieu to Pamela Turner (Nov. 10, 2004) (Exhibit 47); see also Letter from Mayor Ray Nagin to Senator Mary Landrieu (Oct. 27, 2004) (Exhibit 48); see also Feasibility Study for New Orleans (unknown date) (Exhibit 49). 111 See Letter from Sen. Landrieu to Pamela Turner. (Exhibit 47) 112 See Feasibility Study for New Orleans (unknown date). (Exhibit 49) 113 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 13.0 Temporary Housing at 85, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 50) 114 Id. 115 Id. at 87. 116 Id. 117 Id. at 91. 118 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 13.0 Temporary Housing at 94, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 50) 119 Host City/Relocation Support Concept, unknown date, to be replaced with Appendix B to Temporary Housing. (Exhibit 51)
14. The temporary medical care plan made predictions of numbers of fatalities, non-fatal injuries and non-fatal illnesses per parish following the hurricane.120 It reiterated that hazardous materials would pose public health problems, and that many evacuees would need medicines they would not take with them to the shelters.121 Nursing homes should have been evacuated already.122 Coordination with Search and Rescue would be required.123 Inpatient care would take priority over outpatient care.124 An estimated 75,000 people per day were predicted to arrive at the medical facilities for four days, at least 10 percent, or 7,500 of them, needing medical attention.125 “All 40 medical treatment facilities in the impacted area” would be useless after the hurricane because of flooding, wind, and loss of power and communications.126 The Plan predicted that the facilities just outside the impacted area owned by the State and by the Department of Veterans Affairs could serve patients.127 The plan’s goal was to provide medical transportation, public health assistance, emergency medical care, outpatient care such as dialysis, radiology, and home nursing, and hospital care.128 Per 24-hour shift, 434 physicians, 453 nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, 2,718 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, 1,812 nursing assistants and technicians, 906 medical clerks, 453 respiratory therapists, 453 case managers, 453 social workers, 906 housekeepers and 906 patient transporters would be needed.129 Maps and Predictions of Damage IEM also prepared maps for FEMA, apparently delivered no earlier than September 7, 2005.130 The maps detail destruction that would ensue in the event of hypothetical Hurricane Pam, a Category 3 Hurricane with 120 mph winds that would bring floods and the possibility of tornadoes.131 The maps indicate that such a hurricane would make landfall 30 miles southwest of New Orleans,132 and would move into Mississippi.133 The hurricane would be followed by a heat wave, “major river flooding” that would damage structures and roads, and evacuation of people
Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 14.0 Temporary Medical Care at 99, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 52) 121 Id. 122 Id. 123 Id. at 102. 124 Id. 125 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 14.0 Temporary Medical Care at 100, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 52) 126 Id. 127 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 14.0 Temporary Medical Care, Appendix B: Alternate Medical Treatment Facilities, (dated 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 53) 128 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 14.0 Temporary Medical Care at 100, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 52) 129 Id. at 110. 130 See Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Planning Workshops Scenario and Consequences Summary, Sept. 7, 2005 (prepared by IEM under FEMA BPA-HSFEHQ-04-A-0288, Task Order 001) (see date on the cover page) (hereinafter Consequences Summary. (Exhibit 2) 131 Figure 11, Consequences Summary at 13. (Exhibit 2) 132 Figure 13, Consequences Summary at 14. (Exhibit 2) 133 Figure 14, Consequences Summary at 15. (Exhibit 2)
and transfer of property to higher ground would be necessary.134 IEM also provided a map of where and how many fatal and non-fatal injuries would occur.135 IEM also delivered predictions about people and households by parish that would be displaced and need long-term alternative sources of housing,136 the numbers of people by parish who would not evacuate,137 the value of damage to residential and other structures,138 the longevity of power outages139 and telecommunications outages,140 inundated transportation resources,141 damage to the petro-chemical industry142 and to emergency response assets143 and debris that would be produced, including release of HAZMAT.144 It appears that FEMA did not have access to any of these maps before Hurricane Katrina made landfall.145 PLANNING MEETS REALITY In contrast with the documents regarding the SLCHP, the documents CREW reviewed related to the federal government’s response to the hurricane lack a coherent structure or narrative. Given the absence of discussion regarding the SLCHP after Katrina hit, however, it appears that the plan was disregarded entirely. The post-hurricane documents reveal that most if not all of the problems anticipated in the SLCHP did, in fact, occur, but that the federal government was unable to quickly or effectively respond to the crisis. Hurricane Katrina On August 27, 2005, President Bush took the very rare step146 of declaring a Major Disaster in Louisiana before a hurricane’s imminent landfall, directing the federal government to provide its full assistance to the region in recognition of the devastating potential of the approaching storm147 and the great likelihood that state and local governments would be overwhelmed.148 The documents CREW received from its FOIA request reveal failures by FEMA and the federal government149 at nearly every stage of preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina and raise a host of essential questions. Most critically, why, despite longstanding anticipation of a
Consequences Summary at 16. Id. at 26. 136 Id. at 21. 137 Id. at 24. 138 Id. at 32-37. 139 Consequences Summary at 42. (Exhibit 2) 140 Id. at 44-47. 141 Id. at 48-50. 142 Id. at 52. 143 Id. at 53-55. 144 Consequences Summary at 56-57. (Exhibit 2) 145 Id. at unnumbered cover page. 146 THE WHITE HOUSE, THE FEDERAL RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA: LESSONS LEARNED, 27 (2006), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/reports/katrina-lessons-learned/. (Exhibit 54) 147 Id. 148 Id. at 17. (Exhibit 55) 149 Id. at 1, 3. (Exhibit 56)
hurricane strike on New Orleans,150 significant forewarning of Katrina’s imminent landfall,151 the potential impact on the Gulf Coast,152 as well as the extensive planning in the days leading up to Katrina’s landfall153 was the federal response so flawed? While documents provide few concrete answers, several significant themes emerge. Federal Disaster Management Priorities The federal government’s failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina can be traced, in part, to its failure to make disaster management a sufficient priority. Despite participation by federal and state agencies in the July 2004 “Hurricane Pam” tabletop exercise and FEMA’s contract with IEP to formulate the SLCHP, preparation for a theoretical hurricane strike on the Gulf Coast was subjected to multiple budget cuts.154 Federal flood control spending was reduced by nearly half, from $69 million in 2001 to $36.5 million in 2005,155 the Army Corps of Engineers budget for federal hurricane protection for the Lake Pontchartrain region was slashed from $14.7 million in 2002 to $5.7 million in 2005,156 and funding was cut for the SLCHP before it could be completed.157 These cuts occurred in the face of a 2005 request for $27 million by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).158 According to Eric Tolbert, a former FEMA Response Division Director under the Bush administration, the war on terror and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security diverted funds from FEMA’s disaster planning.159 In 2003, FEMA was incorporated into the newly formed Department of Homeland Security, along with portions of 22 other federal agencies, departments and offices.160 Although documents do not indicate whether funding cuts for preparation for a Gulf Coast hurricane were tied to the organizational change, it was argued both before and after Hurricane Katrina that FEMA’s effectiveness was debilitated by its absorption into DHS.161 Michael Brown, FEMA’s director in the lead up to and immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, stated that a “fatal flaw”
See Eric Berger, Katrina a Serious Threat to New Orleans, Houston Chronicle, Aug. 27, 2005 (contained in FEMA News Summary and Clips (Aug. 28, 2005) at 40-41). (Exhibit 57) 151 See Transcript of August 26, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 7 (Aug. 26, 2005). (Exhibit 58) 152 See Email from Michael Lowder to Michael Brown et al. (Aug. 28, 2005). (Exhibit 59) 153 See generally Transcript of August 27, 2005 FEMA video teleconference (detailing weather predictions and planning for anticipated relief efforts). (Exhibit 60) 154 See Email from David McKeeby, Recovery Division, FEMA, to Michael Hirsch et al. (Sept. 1, 2005) at 2-3 (containing article: Seth Borenstein, Federal Government wasn’t Ready For Katrina, Disaster Experts Say, Knight Ridder, Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 61) 155 Id. 156 Id. 157 Id. 158 Id. 159 See Michael Sherer, Anatomy of an Unnatural Disaster, Salon.com, Sept. 1, 2005, http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2005/09/01/levee_funding/index.html. (Exhibit 62) 160 THE COLUMBIA ELECTRONIC ENCYCLOPEDIA (Columbia University Press, Sixth Ed. 2003) available at http://www.answers.com/topic/homeland-security. (Exhibit 63) 161 See Email from Dick Keen to Scott Morris (sept. 2 2005) (containing Sept. 2, 2005 press release from Rep. Mark Foley press release (Sept. 2, 2005), (Exhibit 64); United Press International, Ridge Tells FEMA Critics to Stop Whining, Terradaily.com, Dec. 8, 2005, http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Ridge_Tells_FEMA_Critics_To_Stop_Whining.html. (Exhibit 65)
had been made in folding FEMA into DHS.162 According to Director Brown, “the policies and the decisions that were implemented by DHS put FEMA on a path to failure.”163 Former Rep. Martin Sabo, D-MN, who was the senior-most Democrat on the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee at the time, advocated pulling FEMA out of DHS, asserting that FEMA had been “gutted” by its incorporation into DHS.164 Once it was part of DHS, FEMA was no longer able to make preparedness grants directly to states as this function was designated to another entity within DHS.165 In addition, an added layer of bureaucracy caused inefficiencies. For example, during the Hurricane Katrina response, a Washington employee was required to travel to Orlando to be “processed” before being assigned, delaying his arrival in the affected region by at least a day.166 The question remains whether, two years later, in the midst of a predicted “above-normal” hurricane season,167 potential organizational dysfunctions such as these have been adequately addressed. Key Questions: What was the logic and purpose behind this budgetary de-emphasis on preparation for a catastrophic hurricane strike on the gulf coast? Is it true that funds were diverted from FEMA by the Department of Homeland Security? If so, was this diversion justified or necessary? Prediction of Challenges Coupled With a Failure to Execute Solutions A second recurring theme that the FOIA documents reflect is that despite the government’s identification and accurate prediction of potential problems and challenges, it failed to provide solutions once the storm hit. Federal officials were aware of the National Weather Center’s dire predictions on August 28 of “a most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength” that would cause “power outages for weeks,” “water shortages [resulting in] human suffering incredible by modern standards” and that would make “most of the area uninhabitable for weeks . . . perhaps longer.”168 Referring to the SLCHP, Michael Brown stated that Katrina’s approach had him “really worried . . . Look at this scenario compared to the cat planning [sic] we did for New Orleans and, well, you get the picture.”169 In addition, the “Hurricane Pam” tabletop exercise and the SLCHP predicted severe flooding of New Orleans.170 News summaries and clips sent to FEMA officials also predicted levee breaches
CNN Live Event/Special (CNN television broadcast Feb. 10, 2006), available at LEXIS 021001CN.V54 AT *12. (Exhibit 66) 163 Id. 164 See United Press International, Ridge Tells FEMA Critics to Stop Whining, Terradaily.com, Dec. 8, 2005, http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Ridge_Tells_FEMA_Critics_To_Stop_Whining.html. (Exhibit 65) 165 See Email from Patrick Rhode, Deputy Director, FEMA, to Brooks Altshuler et al. at 2 (containing article: Frank James & Andrew Martin, Ex-officials Say Weakened FEMA Botched Response, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 3, 2005). (Exhibit 67) 166 Id. 167 NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, NOAA: 2007 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON OUTLOOK (May 22, 2007), available at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/hurricane2007/May/hurricane.shtml. (Exhibit 68) 168 Email from Michael Lowder to Michael Brown, Patrick Rhode, et. al. (Aug. 28, 2005) (containing Urgent Weather Message, National Weather Service, New Orleans, LA). (Exhibit 14) 169 Email from Michael Brown to redacted receiver (Aug. 27, 2005). (Exhibit 69) 170 See e.g., Planning and Readiness Update for NEMA Conference, FEMA memo, October 15, 2001. (Exhibit 3)
and overtopping.171 On August 28, Ivor Van Heerden, Director of Louisiana State University Public Health Research Center, was quoted as saying that “there is a high probability that we are going to flood a large part of the city.”172 An ABC News World Tonight transcript sent to FEMA employees included Bobby Brouillette, an electrician who “maintains the levee pumps,” stating, in response to questions about the possibility of the levees being breached: “It’s never happened yet but it looks like this is going to be the one. . . I’m scared to death.”173 FEMA’s advance planning for a theoretical hurricane and its real-world preparations for Hurricane Katrina correctly identified many of the challenges that would arise in the agency’s efforts to provide effective assistance in the storm’s aftermath. As Hurricane Katrina approached New Orleans, FEMA Response Director Todd Davidson stated: “We’ve exercised for this. We’ve planned for this. We’re as ready as we can possibly be.”174 Yet, such assertions are belied by a pattern of improvisational and last-minute planning by FEMA and by accompanying difficulties in such essential areas as public safety,175 housing for evacuees,176 volunteer and donation management177 and communication,178 among others. What the documents do not reveal, (and what must be determined in order to improve our national disaster response) is what forces or events undermined the real-world execution of existing response plans. Logistics and Commodities Distribution The disconnect between planning and execution was typified by the federal government’s inability to deliver sufficient quantities of commodities (such as generators, ice, water and food) to meet demand.179 The planning workshop in July 2005 and the draft sections of the SLCHP delivered to FEMA addressed the transportation, staging and distribution of critical resources and included the exhortation, “federal support must be provided in a timely manner to save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate severe damage.”180 Additionally, in meetings before landfall, both FEMA Director Michael Brown and Federal Coordinating Officer William Carwile recognized the importance and potential difficulty of getting sufficient commodities to victims in the aftermath of the storm.181 On August 28, Director Brown requested that supply lines be jammed “full as much as you can with commodities. My gut tells me. . .that’s going to be one of
See “FEMA News Summaries & Clips” (Aug. 28, 2005) at 11 (contained in email from Kathryn Cable to Michael Brown et al. (Aug. 28, 2005)), (exhibit 70); “FEMA News Summaries & Clips” (Aug. 29, 2005) at 3 (contained in email from Kathryn Cable, no receivers identified (Aug. 29, 2005)). (Exhibit 71) 172 “FEMA News Summaries & Clips” (Aug. 28, 2005) at 11 (contained in email from Kathryn Cable to Michael Brown et al. (Aug. 28, 2005). (Exhibit 70) 173 “FEMA News Summaries & Clips” (Aug. 29, 2005) at 24 (contained in email from Kathryn Cable, no receivers identified (Aug. 29, 2005). (Exhibit 72) 174 Id. 175 See Transcript of September 2, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 14-15 (Sept. 2, 2005). (Exhibit 73) 176 See FEMA-1603-DR-LA Unified Command Incident Action Plan (Sept. 3, 2005). (Exhibit 74) 177 See Email from Al Martinez-Fonts to William Lokey et al. (Sept. 1, 2005), (exhibit 75); email from Al MartinezFonts to Patrick Rhode et al. (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 76) 178 See Email from William Carwile to Patrick Rhode (other receivers redacted) (Aug. 31, 2005). (Exhibit 77) 179 See e.g., Transcript of September 2, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 1 (Sept. 2, 2005). (Exhibit 78) 180 Draft of Transportation, Staging, and Distribution of Critical Resources Plan at 1 (delivered to FEMA Aug. 27, 2005). (Exhibit 37). 181 See Transcript of August 28, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 27-30 (Aug. 28, 2005) (containing misspelling of William Carwile’s last name as “Carlisle”). (Exhibit 79)
our biggest needs” and Mr. Carwile concurred, saying that “commodities are going to be a major issue.”182 Such warnings were insufficient to prevent massive shortfalls in commodities delivery during the disaster response. William Carwile reported that less than one-tenth of commodities requested for relief efforts by the Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force Katrina at Camp Shelby in Mississippi were actually being delivered as of September 2,183 and declared in an email, “The system appears broken…Sense of urgency demonstrated yesterday unacceptable. Will now attempt to get product in alternate ways.”184 Approximately fifteen minutes later in the same email exchange, FEMA Deputy Director Patrick Rhode responded that the Department of Defense was to take over responsibility for logistics distribution.185 It is unclear whether this take-over was to apply to logistics distribution for the entire region or only for operations in Mississippi. Key Questions: Were the obstacles to efficient delivery of commodities before the assignment of logistics to the Department of Defense circumstantial or structural? What were these obstacles? Why did FEMA’s leadership believe that the Department of Defense would be able to avoid these obstacles when the previous entity responsible for logistics could not? Finally, have the issues raised by this and similar problems in the Katrina response effort been addressed? Supply and Delivery of Meals Ready to Eat Other issues surrounding commodities delivery are evident. The failure to supply sufficient commodities created a security concern for officials,186 and security concerns, in turn, made delivery of commodities and evacuations more difficult.187 For instance, five truckloads of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and five truckloads of water were available to aid thousands of individuals sheltered at the New Orleans Superdome, but delivery was delayed until a security plan could be organized.188 Although it was reported on September 4 that commodities distribution in Mississippi was stabilizing,189 there were signs of continued problems throughout the affected region, particularly with regard to the availability of MREs.190 In a September 4 video teleconference, a Louisiana State representative declared that the “MRE situation nationally is that there’s not enough. . .”191 On September 6, in an email to Patrick Rhode, among others, Ed Buikema, acting administrator of FEMA's Response Division,192 reported that Admiral Moss, the head of logistics for Northcom, had informed FEMA that they were, “cutting into the supply of
Id. See Email from Patrick Rhode to Michael Lowder et al. (Sept. 2, 2005) at 2-3 (containing email exchange including email from Robert Fenton to William Carwile (Sept. 1, 2005)). (Exhibit 80) 184 Id. at 1 (containing email from William Carwile to Michael Lowder et al. (Sept. 2, 2005). (Exhibit 80) 185 Id. 186 See Transcript of September 1, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 2 (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 81) 187 See e.g., Email from John Jordan, Col., US Army, to Michael Brown (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 82) 188 Id. 189 See Transcript of September 4 FEMA video teleconference at 18 (Sept. 4, 2005). (Exhibit 83) 190 Id. at 3. (Exhibit 84) 191 Id. 192 Fema.gov, FEMA Leadership, http://www.fema.gov/about/bios/ebuikema.shtm (Last Visited: June 25, 2007). (Exhibit 85)
MREs for their war fighting effort and that they would not supply the Red Cross.”193 Mr. Buikema then commented, “So much for. . .assigning DOD the logistics support mission.”194 Key Questions: To what degree did the “war fighting effort” hamper the Department of Defense’s participation in the relief effort? Why was there a shortage in MREs nationally, despite estimates in the SLCHP that two MREs per person per day would be needed?195 Documents from August 27, 2005 suggest that, in its preparations, FEMA used the Army Corps of Engineers’ current modeling for three-day needs for commodities in Louisiana.196 What quantities did this modeling predict would be needed? Tracking and Reporting Commodities Delivery In a related issue, breakdowns in communication and an inability to determine the location of supply shipments at any given time appeared to hinder the supply chain.197 Action Request Forms submitted to FEMA which were, almost without exception, incompletely filled out, detail requests and occasionally the agencies assigned to satisfy the requests.198 Nonetheless, no corresponding system appeared to be in place to track when and where deliveries were made or requests met. For example, on August 30, Colonel Smith, who was participating in the response effort in Louisiana, stated that “anything that we could [sic] help improve the communications on inbound assets. . .would certainly be a tremendous benefit. . . I need visibility of the assets to be able to control this thing the way that we need to . . .”199 On September 2, Patrick Rhode received an email offer from Rob Quartel, CEO and Chairman of Freightdesk Technologies, offering (for payment) software and technical assistance in setting up a “transportation-logistics visibility system. . .to coordinate private relief shipments and public sector distribution.”200 Although Patrick Rhode forwarded the email to FEMA upper management staff, 201 no action on the request is evident. The need for such a system was evident two days later.202 During discussions at a September 4 video teleconference about the inability to meet demands for water and ice, an unidentified representative with the entity responsible for public works and engineering (Emergency Support Function-3) stated, “there is tremendous confusion here. We
Email from Ed Buikema to Patrick Rhode et al. (Sept. 6, 2005). (Exhibit 86) Id. 195 See Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan, Appendix 5 at 3 (dated June 7, 2005, delivery date unclear). (Exhibit 87) 196 See Transcript of August 27, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 17 (Aug. 27, 2005). (Exhibit 88) 197 See e.g., Transcript of August 30, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 10-11 (Aug. 30 2005), (exhibit 89); transcript of September 4, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 43-45. (Exhibit 90) 198 See e.g., FEMA Action Request Form (Sept. 1, 2005) (requesting fifty thousand MREs to be delivered to various locations with no response indicated). (Exhibit 91) 199 Transcript of August 30, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 10-11 (Aug. 30, 2005). (Exhibit 89) 200 Email from Patrick Rhode to Edward Buikema et al. (containing email from Rob Quartel to Ashley Cannatti detailing offer of software and assistance in setting up “transportation-logistics visibility system”) (Sept. 2, 2005). (Exhibit 92) 201 Id. 202 See Transcript of September 4, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 44-45. (Exhibit 90)
just heard someone say there’s zero [liters of water] at Camp Beauregard [Louisiana]. I’ve got a figure that says there are… about 16 million liters. So there is a lot of confusion . . .”203 Additionally, reporting on the status of commodities seemed designed to obscure FEMA’s shortfalls. For instance, a September 2 press release extensively detailed the amount of commodities and other aid delivered to the affected region, but offered no indication of the amount of aid requested or actually required.204 In an email on August 29, FEMA Deputy Secretary Patrick Rhode requested that the commodities portion of a “VIP briefing” be “fixed” so that it would “just show how much is there – not how much is anticipated” because it otherwise “looks like we failed and isn’t necessary and leads to too many questions for all the readers.”205 In one instance, an email exchange with the subject “Re: planned shipments against Requirements Through Operating Period Sept 2” addressed a major shortfall in supplies available for relief efforts in Mississippi; 450 trucks each of water and MREs had been requested, but only 60 truckloads of water and 26 truckloads of MREs were forthcoming.206 No other documents offered such a side-by-side comparison of needs against actual shipments. Key Questions: Why were communications at the management level so poor? Did FEMA have any system in place for tracking asset distribution and if so, what were its shortfalls? Was any action taken in response to the offer by Rob Quartel to create such a system? If no such system was in place, has one been established? What motivated FEMA’s decision to report only the amount of aid delivered and not the amount of aid requested? Might this information have been useful to the public or others involved in the relief effort? To what degree did FEMA attempt to conceal the shortfalls in its logistics operation as a whole? Communication Communication problems hindered relief efforts generally, despite expectations in the SLCHP that communications systems could be compromised.207 In addressing commodities shortfalls in Mississippi, William Carwile wrote in an email to Patrick Rhode, “To exascerbate [sic] situation, we have been unable to equip all key personnel with sat phones to coordinate overall efforts.”208 On the same day, Patrick Rhode received an email reporting that Verizon Wireless had “a mobile operation that will allow cell users in Mississippi and Louisiana to be up and running by using generators to operate their emergency services teams,” but that Verizon had been “desperately” trying to obtain clearance to bring their “portable cell tower operations” into the region.209
Id. See Email from ESF-15 (no receiver indicated) (Sept. 2, 2005) (containing press release detailing commodities delivered). (Exhibit 93) 205 Email from Patrick Rhode to Brooks Altshuler and Michael Heath (Aug. 29, 2005). (Exhibit 94) 206 Email from Patrick Rhode to William Carwile et al. (Sept. 2, 2005) at 2 (containing email from Robert Fenton to Patrick Rhode et al. (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 95) 207 Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 9.0 Debris at 54, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 43) 208 Email from William Carwile to Patrick Rhode (other receivers redacted) (Aug. 31, 2005). (Exhibit 77) 209 Email from Marc Lampkin to Patrick Rhode et al (Aug. 31, 2005). (Exhibit 96)
Patrick Rhode responded that he would “pass along” the request,210 but the documents do not reflect any resolution of this matter. Key Questions: Why was such a crucial request denied at lower levels? Was there any functional mechanism for expediting high priority requests? If not, has one been established? Bureaucracy and Disordered Management In a number of incidents, bureaucratic and systemic issues encumbered relief efforts. For example, state agencies, particularly those from Florida and Texas, lent significant support to relief efforts in the areas of search and rescue, commodities, security, sheltering, medical assistance and evacuation.211 Yet the mechanism for coordinating interstate aid, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), created bureaucratic impediments and inefficiencies in the provision of law enforcement aid.212 According to an email exchange on September 2, EMAC was requiring that a locality direct its requests for assistance to its state, which would then relay such requests through EMAC to other states that could satisfy the requests.213 In one instance during the Katrina response, this system left sheriffs from Michigan and Alabama sitting on the Louisiana border, unable to provide law enforcement assistance to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff who needed it, because their states had not received formal requests from Louisiana through EMAC.214 Documents do not reveal how this issue was resolved. In another instance of apparent bureaucratic conflict, Daniel Craig, head of FEMA's recovery division,215 responded to a report that Federal Coordinating Officer David Fukutomi had been reassigned. Emailing Patrick Rhode, Craig wrote, “Why is DHS pulling people off of spots that I have them in place for[?]”216 In a separate email, Brooks Altshuler, FEMA’s Acting Deputy Chief of Staff,217 expressed hostility towards “HSC” (presumably, the Homeland Security Council) writing, “this is HSC pushing this. . .Let them play their reindeer games as long as they are not. . .tasking us with their stupid questions. None of them have a clue about emergency management.”218 The email to which Mr. Altshuler was reacting has been redacted by FEMA, leaving the trigger for this angry response unclear.219 In several instances, there was confusion over who was in command of a particular area or mission. The commodities request system was disrupted when requests were made directly to upper level management, who then failed to relay the requests back down through established channels.220 Dick Harmon, reporting on behalf of Region six (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico,
Id. See e.g., Transcript of August 30, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 27-31 (Aug. 30, 2005). (Exhibit 97) 212 See Email from Patrick Rhode to Casey Long and Brooks Altshuler (Sept. 2, 2005) (containing email exchange detailing obstacles to law enforcement assistance to be provided under EMAC). (Exhibit 98) 213 Id. 214 Id. 215 CREW, First the Flood, Now the Fight, Aug. 30, 2006, http://citizensforethics.org/node/21697. (Exhibit 99) 216 Email from Daniel Craig to Patrick Rhode and Brooks Altshuler (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 100) 217 Stephen Losey, FEMA E-mails Expose Problems in Katrina Response, Federal Times, October 19, 2005, http://www.federaltimes.com/index2.php?S=1182193. (Exhibit 101) 218 Email from Brooks Altshuler to Patrick Rhode (Aug. 28, 2005). (Exhibit 102) 219 See Id. 220 See Transcript of August 31, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 23 (Aug. 31, 2005). (Exhibit 103)
Oklahoma, Texas), stated that “we get calls from NRCC [National Response Coordination Center] back asking the status, and some of these requests we haven’t even seen; they have come straight up here.”221 In the September 1 FEMA video teleconference, Colonel Don Harrington, the Department of Defense Liaison for FEMA, sought information on whether a delivery of 50,000 MREs to the Superdome had been received, explaining, “it’s very difficult getting visibility on what’s happening in the Dome, and who’s in charge down there?”222 Colonel Jeff Smith, Acting Deputy Director, Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, 223 responded, “there’s a lot of people worrying about who’s in charge. . .we’ve got people that need food, water, ice. . .get it down here and we’ll worry about who’s in charge.”224 Key Questions: Has the EMAC been reviewed to determine whether it can provide for greater efficiency? What was the cause of apparent confusions in the command structure? Were these confusions systematic or merely isolated incidents? Has the disaster response command structure been fully evaluated and reorganized as required? Evacuation, Housing and Sheltering Evacuees As early as 2000-2001, FEMA recognized that it would need to plan for housing evacuees as part of the SLCHP.225 Yet on August 29, the day of Katrina’s second landfall, Patrick Rhode sent an email to Daniel Craig with the subject “Housing Mission,” relaying that they were receiving “a lot of questions at high levels about our plans” and that “we are open to any and all ideas.”226 On September 3, an Action Request Form was submitted by the State of Louisiana for “the establishment of temp [sic] housing for up to 500,000 people.”227 On the same day, responding to a series of requests for housing assistance from the mayor of Houston, Patrick Rhode wrote, “we need to ask all the governors and mayors for their patience as we are trying to make a decision. . .this interim housing issue is being worked right now. . .”228 Additionally, Bill Lokey, Federal Coordinating Officer for the Katrina response, stated that the “only limiting factor to our evacuating refugees out of the city of New Orleans is going to be adequate places to put them.”229 Key Questions: Why was there still no plan for sheltering or housing evacuees in place by September 3? Is it true that the main obstacle to evacuation by September 2 was a lack of shelter space for evacuees? Was there any reliance on the planning for housing included in the SLCHP? If not, why was the plan not used? If it was used, to what degree was the SLCHP inadequate?
Id. See Transcript of September 1, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 16-18 (Sept. 1, 2005). 223 THE WHITE HOUSE, THE FEDERAL RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA: LESSONS LEARNED, 171 (2006) (Appendix E, Footnote 98), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/reports/katrina-lessons-learned/appendixe.html. (Exhibit 105) 224 Transcript of September 1, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 16-18 (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 104) 225 Proposal for a New Orleans Metropolitan Area Catastrophic Hurricane Plan at 2-4, 6-7 (unknown date, 2001 or earlier). (Exhibit 3) 226 Email from Patrick Rhode to Daniel Craig, Michael Brown and Brooks Altshuler (Aug. 29, 2005). (Exhibit 106) 227 Action Request Form submitted by State of Louisiana, LOHSEP (Sept. 3, 2005). (Exhibit 107) 228 Email from Patrick Rhode to Chad Boudreaux et al. (Sept. 3, 2005). (Exhibit 108) 229 Transcript of September 2, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 6 (Sept. 2, 2005). (Exhibit 109)
Has the issue of housing evacuees been adequately addressed in planning for future natural and man-made disasters? Fielding and Distributing Donations and Offers of Assistance Based on the “Hurricane Pam” tabletop exercise and SLCHP materials dated January 5, 2005, FEMA was aware that there would need to be a system for processing and distributing unsolicited volunteers as well as aid and donation offers.230 FEMA and the federal government received thousands of such offers from the private sector and from foreign countries and international organizations.231 On August 31, DHS official Candace Stoltz emailed Patrick Rhode to express the need for someone to coordinate assignment of resources offered by a list of companies that was growing “by the hour.”232 On September 1, Al Martinez-Fonts, Jr., Special Assistant to the Secretary at DHS, contacted William Lokey and others at FEMA to inform them that he had gathered more than 1500 offers of “contributions and items for sale to be used in the Katrina disaster recovery” and needed to “discuss how we can be of service.”233 Later that day, Mr. Martinez-Fonts wrote to Patrick Rhode and others, saying “I have just received the. . . press release. I am extremely disappointed that after spending 2 hours this morning on www.swern.gov as a tool to assist FEMA that there was no mention of it in this press release.”234 The web address cited by Mr. Martinez-Fonts was later referred to by other federal agencies as the site for the National Emergency Resource Registry, which served to register donation offers.235 According to a press release, it was not until September 3, five days after Katrina’s landfall, that FEMA activated its “National Emergency Resource Registry.”236 Two days after the site had been activated, a representative from Congressman Jack Murtha’s office wrote to Michael Brown saying, “we’ve received a multitude of offers to help for the Katrina victims and they are frustrated at every turn.”237 Michael Brown then forwarded the list of offers to FEMA staff to determine if they could be used.238 Key question: Why were those wishing to offer assistance “frustrated at every turn?” Why were offers not channeled through the National Emergency Resource Registry? Was the existence of the National Emergency Resource Registry sufficiently promoted? What system is currently in place to handle offers of aid and charitable donations in any future national disaster?
Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan § 7.0 Transport from Water to Shelter at 33, (dated Jan. 5, 2005, date of delivery to FEMA unclear). (Exhibit 41) 231 See e.g., Spreadsheet of foreign aid offers, (exhibit 110); email from Candace Stoltz to Patrick Rhode et al. (Aug. 31, 2005), (exhibit 111); email from Al Martinez-Fonts to William Lokey et al. (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 112) 232 See Email from Candace Stoltz to Patrick Rhode et al (Aug. 31, 2005). (Exhibit 111) 233 Email from al Martinez-Fonts to William Lokey et al. (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 112) 234 Email from al Martinez-Fonts to Patrick Rhode et al. (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 113) 235 See e.g., Center for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov/od/katrina/09-06-05.htm (last visited June 26, 2005). (Exhibit 114) 236 See Email from Abdul Satar to Michael Brown et al. (Sept. 3, 2005). (Exhibit 115) 237 Email from Mark Critz, Office of Congressman Jack Murtha, to Michael Brown and Bud Mertz (Sept. 7, 2005). (Exhibit 116) 238 See Email from Mark Critz to Michael Brown and Bud Mertz (Sept. 7, 2005) (containing email from Michael Brown to Mark Critz, Bud Mertz et al. (Sept. 7, 2005). (Exhibit 116)
Dysfunction at FEMA Finally, documents portray FEMA as an agency plagued with low morale239 and the federal disaster response structure in general as woefully disorganized. In 2003, FEMA ranked last in a poll of employee job satisfaction at large government agencies.240 A 2005 poll of 150,000 federal employees by the Partnership for Public Service ranked DHS, into which FEMA had been folded, 29 out of a list of 30 government agencies in worker satisfaction.241 Several documents suggest a level of disarray that is alarming. For instance, the day before Katrina made landfall, some of FEMA’s key officials did not have copies of the SLCHP, including Deputy Director Patrick Rhode, who stated that he believed Michael Brown had his copy.242 Additionally, on August 31, in response to an email informing him that only 299 disaster assistance employees had reported for duty in Orlando, Florida, Patrick Rhode responded, “this is bs [sic] – either folks step up now or they will disassociated with FEMA.”243 Key Question: What were the sources of dissatisfaction at FEMA? Why did staffing shortfalls occur and how did it impact the relief effort? Have problems relating to morale and motivation been addressed such that they do not interfere with FEMA’s operations in the future? Conclusion FEMA’s failure to implement the highly detailed SLCHP is alarming in light of the years of effort and taxpayer dollars expended on the project. Yet in lieu of the clear and forceful course of action envisioned by the SLCHP, when confronted with Katrina, FEMA’s response was anemic and haphazard. None of the records DHS provided to CREW explains this dichotomy. Beyond the government’s failure to respond to the most significant natural disaster ever faced by the United States and its inability or unwillingness to relieve the suffering of some of our most vulnerable citizens, the single-most serious issue to consider is what this means for the future. The next national emergency – whether another natural disaster or a terrorist attack – undoubtedly will require both adequate preparation and competent execution; what confidence can the American people have that our government will be ready?
See Transcript of August 27, 2005 FEMA video teleconference at 23 (Aug. 27, 2005). (Exhibit 117) See Elizabeth Saloom, New Site Ranks Agency Satisfaction With Agencies, Federal Daily, Nov. 26, 2003, http://www.federaldaily.com/youngfeds/2003/YF112603.htm. (Exhibit 118) 241 See Timothy Noah, Low Morale at Homeland Security, Slate.com, Sept. 14, 2005, http://www.slate.com/id/2126313/. (Exhibit 119) 242 See Email from Patrick Rhode to Brooks Altshuler and Michael Heath (Aug. 28, 2005). (Exhibit 120) 243 See Email from Patrick Rhode to Edward Buikema et al. (Sept. 1, 2005). (Exhibit 121)