When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast seven years ago this week, complaints about the federal response to the disaster didn’t arise until there was plenty of evidence of screw-ups.
It’s a different story this time around, as we see HERE:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is already complaining that the Obama administration is being stingy with federal resources before Hurricane Isaac has even made landfall.
But the usual FEMA pre-disaster protocol has been activated. The Obama administration has approved Jindal’s request for a disaster declaration. The administration’s actions thus far have earned plaudits from the state’s two senators — including Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). And moreover, the steps the administration has taken are broadly similar to the Bush administration’s initial response to Hurricane Gustav in 2008, which Jindal did not publicly criticize.
Jindal’s chief complaint is that the Obama administration has not provided for the federal government to reimburse Louisiana for expenditures the state is making in preparation for the storm.
Asked today to respond to Jindal’s push for further assistance, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate explained, “primary responsibility for evacuations really [falls to] state and local governments and when it’s extraordinary the federal government can support that with financial assistance. What the President said yesterday was if you have a request for specific federal assistance, we’re ready to provide that life safety issues. We’re not going to hold anything up. But we’ll look at the impacts and determine, does this really exceed the state’s capability that require federal tax dollars to support that response and particularly if they start having damages. So, early on the request was direct federal assistance. If the financial impacts are greater than the state of Louisiana can manage, we assess that and we’ll make recommendations again looking at what the governor has requested.”
That’s the same approach the Bush administration took when Gustav was bearing down on Louisiana in 2008.