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  • Saturday, October 22, 2005

    "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

    From Democracy Now!:

    More details have emerged depicting the extent of the neglect and irresponsibility of former FEMA Director Michael Brown in his roll in the scandal of the government's handling of Hurricane Katrina. On Thursday, FEMA official Marty Bahamonde testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. He was the first official from the agency to arrive in New Orleans ahead of Katrina. In the midst of the chaos and horror of the hurricane's aftermath, Bahamonde sent a dire e-mail to Michael Brown saying victims had no food and were dying. No response came from Brown. Instead, less than three hours later, an aide to Brown sent an e-mail saying her boss wanted to go on a television program that night. But first, the aide said, Brown needed at least an hour to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant, writing, "He needs much more than 20 or 30 minutes." Some 19 pages of internal FEMA e-mails revealed Thursday show Bahamonde gave regular updates to people in contact with Brown as early as August 28, the day before Katrina hit. They appear to contradict Brown, who has said he was not fully aware of the conditions until days after the storm hit. Bahamonde arrived on Aug. 27 and was the only FEMA official at the scene until August 30. Subsequent e-mails told of an increasingly desperate situation at the New Orleans Superdome, where tens of thousands of evacuees were piled in. Bahamonde spent two nights there with the evacuees. On August 31, he e-mailed Brown saying, "estimates are many will die within hours." He described the situation as "past critical." It was just moments after that email that Michael Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner. Worthy wrote, "Restaurants are getting busy...We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."


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