Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"La. Turned Down Feds Help, Documents Show"

This headline had to pain the AP. Excerpt:
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.

But in an interview Monday night, Louisiana Medical Director Dr. Jimmy Guidry said HHS was helping state health officials plan for evacuating hospitals and nursing homes by the eve of the storm. The federal department also stayed after Katrina hit to help the state coordinate transportation assets, like ambulances and military vehicles, Guidry said.

"They sent people to help us out," Guidry said of HHS officials in Louisiana. "They helped us get all those assets lined up."
The committee also released a Senate interview of Louisiana Transportation Secretary Johnny Bradberry, during which he told investigators "we have done nothing to fulfill this responsibility" of ensuring evacuation plans are in place for at-risk populations.
The feds asked La. if they needed help. The state said "No." The state said they did nothing to fulfill their own responsibility.

It's clear, then...it was all Bush's fault.