Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 23, 2006
KATRINA: What Went Right
Official estimates at this point suggest the [National] Guard, working from the Dome, saved 17,000 by air and uncounted thousands more by boat.
Except for the Coast Guard's brilliant performance, which saved up to 30,000 lives, most of the rescue operation was run by local National Guard middle management, combat tested in Iraq, accustomed to hardship, and intimately familiar with the city. (In fact, as I previously reported, Guard members rescued other Guard members, who then reported for flight duty.)
Gov. Blanco, facing the voters in 2008, is eagerly, and with justification, claiming some of the credit for the rescue operation. "When all the stories are told," Gov. Blanco is quoted as saying, "the story is going to be that Louisianans were saved by Louisianans." Understandable, but a little bit of a stretch, as it conveniently leaves out the federal contribution, namely the Coast Guard, the regular armed forces and Guard units from other states, as well as the key coordinating role the National Guard Bureau played.
I still think this account is too easy on Blanco and Nagin for not conducting a more thorough evacuation, although even on that score, reports after the fact have stressed that many more people were evacuated successfully than it first appeared. Overall, though, Dolinar makes yet another compelling case that the people responsible for first response accomplished the best you could ask of them, and - more to the point - they, not people in Washington or Baton Rouge, were the ones who were really responsible for handling the crisis. Read the whole thing. Unfortunately, as usual, the Bush White House is only facing forward while it bleeds profusely from shots to the back over the past, instead of setting the record straight.