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January 31, 2006
Louisiana Turned Down Katrina Help For Evacuations

A new memo has surfaced from the investigation into the response to Hurricane Katrina which shows that state and local officials turned down federal help in evacuating hospitals and nursing homes until it was too late:

A ranking Louisiana health official turned down federal offers to help move or evacuate patients as Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans, a newly released document shows.

But the state's top medical officer said Louisiana coordinated with the federal Health and Human Services Department in evacuating hospitals and nursing homes after Katrina hit.

Two days before the Aug. 29 storm, HHS was told by the state's health emergency preparedness director that the help was not needed, according to an e-mail released Monday by a Senate panel investigating the government's response to Katrina.

The state official, identified in the Aug. 27 e-mail as Dr. Roseanne Pratts, "responded no, that they do not require anything at this time and they would be in touch if and when they needed assistance," wrote HHS senior policy analyst Erin Fowler.

Once again, the evidence for the failure of emergency relief in Louisiana keeps pointing back to the state and local officials who responded without referencing their own emergency plans, who left assets to sink under the flood waters, and who sat around pointing fingers and mouthing off to the cameras instead of doing their jobs. Their refusal to ask for federal help -- indeed, for telling the feds that no help was necessary -- cost dozens of lives.

These investigations will not make Ray Nagin or Kathleen Blanco look good. If the Exempt Media gives it any kind of coverage at all, it will recast the Katrina relief story significantly, and to the detriment of their reputations.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 31, 2006 7:00 PM

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