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September 8, 2005
Salvation Army Confirms Louisiana Gov't Kept Them Out Of New Orleans

Hugh Hewitt and Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson follow up with Fox's Major Garrett this evening on Garrett's blockbuster report last night that the Louisiana DHS ordered the Red Cross not to enter New Orleans. Tonight the story expands, as Garrett now reports that the Salvation Army confirmed that the state officials kept them away from the victims as well:

HH: And what did the Salvation Army tell you?

MG: The Salvation Army basically said look. We...first of all, both agencies also want to let people know that they've served the needs of thousands of people who got out, and who got out just a little bit to high ground, north of New Orleans. But they couldn't get in to meet those needs. They asked to get in. They were prepared with their...the Salvation Army has these ever-familiar portable kitchen canteens, is what they call them. They can actually make food, produce food on spot, and distribute it there. People line up. We've seen that at hurricanes and other natural disasters. They were ready. Not allowed in. At first, it was this idea that we don't want to create a magnet at the evacuation site. Secondarily, it became an issue of well, there's lots of water, and we can't assure your safety, so on and so forth. Here's another key point, Hugh. I was very specific with the American Red Cross, president and CEO Marty Evans, and said wait. Tell me clearly. Were you prepared to go in before the levees broke? Before water became an issue of any kind? She said absolutely. Were you denied access before the levees broke? She said we were denied access from minute one.

HH: And did they attempt to renew their request to get in after the levees broke, Major Garrett?

MG: Yes. I am told that the timeline indicates a frequent reasking of this question.

HH: And a frequent denial by Louisiana state Department of Homeland Security?

MG: Right. Because as we discussed last night, their system was this is the shelter of last resort. It is an evacuation site, not a services site. And today, in Louisiana, the Louisiana National Guard said look. Here we were. We had four hundred Louisiana National Guard soldiers at the Superdome. Let's do the math here, Hugh. Four hundred National Guard soldiers coping with thirty thousand evacuees.

HH: Right. Right.

MG: And they said, look. The Mayor told all these people to bring three days worth of food and water. Well, not very many people did. So the National Guard did bring in, on its own, palettes of food, water and things. But clearly, it wasn't enough. Clearly, they were overwhelmed. The numbers were staggering. In the end, it was up to 60,000 people that the National Guard had to supervise, or at least try to supervise at these two places, and eventually move out with the buses. Where did the buses come from? They came from FEMA. 1,100 of them were produced in 72 hours, even though as we all saw, buses were under water all over the city, never used.

Garrett also got the interview with Marty Evans on camera, which Fox has apparently broadcast. Now we have both major aid groups going on the record to state that the feds had them both ready to render aid before the flooding occurred -- and that the state officials would not allow them access to the victims. The combined assets of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army could have assisted the Superdome and the Convention Center easily, as well as most if not all of other shelters within the city.

The suffering and deprivations that caused the revulsion of the nation did not result from a lack of response from FEMA. While FEMA may have struck a few discordant notes, especially its tone-deaf chief Michael Brown, the truth is that they prestaged most of the necessary materials for the relief of New Orleans, counting on the city to follow its own emergency operations plans. When that failed, the key NGOs FEMA uses tried on several occasions to get the aid to the victims, only to have all their efforts blocked by Louisiana. The city failed to provide transportation to those who lacked it for the mandatory evacuation, and the state refused to allow the aid workers to go to the centers where the state and city urged the victims to congregate.

No amount of spin will overcome the heads of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army telling this story.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 8, 2005 9:41 PM

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