setembro 02, 2005

KATRINA / New Orleans mayor blasts Bush

New Orleans - A day before President George W Bush headed to the hurricane-ravaged South, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin lashed out at federal officials, telling a local radio station "they don't have a clue what's going on down here."

Federal officials expressed sympathy but quickly defended themselves, saying they, too, were overwhelmed by the catastrophe that hit the Gulf Coast region on Monday.

Nagin's interview on Thursday night on WWL radio came as Bush planned to visit Gulf Coast communities battered by Hurricane Katrina, a visit aimed at alleviating criticism that he engineered a too-little, too-late response.

Bush viewed the damage while flying over the region on Wednesday en route to Washington after cutting short his Texas vacation by two days.

"They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn - excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed," Nagin said.

Nagin said he told Bush in a recent conversation that "we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice ... I have been all around this city and that I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we are outmanned in just about every respect."

In an interview Friday on NBC's Today, Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown stood behind the massive federal relief effort that's under way.

"I understand the mayor's frustration. ... We have been having a continuous flow of commodities into the Superdome, there were five trucks arriving last night to feed well over 50 000 people.

"We're also diverting supplies to the convention centre which I learned about yesterday and that area. ... This is an absolutely catastrophic disaster," he said.

Governor Kathleen Blanco, who like Nagin is a Democrat, was less confrontational than the mayor.

"When the system goes down, this is pretty much what you get," she said on CBS' The Early Show. "We don't get into the blame game. We just work with what we got."

Nagin: "Get Off Your Asses And Do Something"

By Tony Sanders

WWL radio and the United Radio Broadcasters of New Orleans network of stations broadcast an interview Thursday night (Sept. 1) with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin who said, in no uncertain terms, that federal and state disaster assistance has not been delivered to his city and that this help is coming “too late.” The interview aired late last night and was rebroadcast this morning, shortly before 7 a.m.

Nagin told WWL’s Garland Robinette during the interview that he had grave concerns whether the city would descend into complete lawlessness before help could arrive from either the state or the federal government. Nagin said last night that he wasn’t sure if New Orleans could hold out another night.

Mayor Nagin also said that the truth of what is happening to his city has been masked by political spin on the news generated by press conferences but no action. “They’re feeding the public a line of bull,” Nagin said in the interview, “and it’s spinning and people are dying.” At another point, Nagin reiterated the point when he said “It’s politics man and they’re spinning. They’re spinning for the cameras.”

Nagin said that he had talked directly with President Bush and had requested immediate assistance. Nagin said that his request for martial law had been made “a few days ago,” but was frustrated at the lack of any real response to that request. “I keep hearing that it’s coming. My answer to that is b.s.,” Nagin said last night.

Taking a moment to compose himself and clarify his point, Nagin told Robinet: “I don’t know if it’s the governor’s problem [Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco] or if it’s the president’s problem but they need to get their asses on a plane and sit down the two of them and figure this out right now.”