Jefferson Parish President
Broussard, let me start with you. You just heard the
director of Homeland Security's explanation of what has
happened this last week. What is your reaction?
MR. AARON BROUSSARD: We
have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane
Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms
ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst
abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S.
history. I am personally asking our bipartisan
congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately
begin congressional hearings to find out just what
happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to
be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired
right away, because we still have weeks to go in this
tragedy. We have months to go. We have years
to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole,
that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we've got
to start with some new leadership.
It's not just Katrina that caused
all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has
committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and
bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.
It's so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional
funding. It needs more presidential support.
It needs to be a Cabinet-level director. It needs to
be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its
mission to work in partnership with state and local
governments around America. FEMA needs to be
empowered to do the things it was created to do. It
needs to come somewhere, like New Orleans, with all of its
force immediately, without red tape, without bureaucracy,
act immediately with common sense and leadership, and save
lives. Forget about the property. We can
rebuild the property. It's got to be able to come in
and save lives.
We need strong leadership at the
top of America right now in order to accomplish this and
to-- reconstructing FEMA.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Broussard,
let me ask--I want to ask--should...
MR. BROUSSARD: You know,
just some quick examples...
MR. RUSSERT: Hold on.
Hold on, sir. Shouldn't the mayor of New Orleans and
the governor of New Orleans bear some responsibility?
Couldn't they have been much more forceful, much more
effective and much more organized in evacuating the area?
MR. BROUSSARD: Sir, they
were told like me, every single day, "The cavalry's
coming," on a federal level, "The cavalry's
coming, the cavalry's coming, the cavalry's coming."
I have just begun to hear the hoofs of the cavalry.
The cavalry's still not here yet, but I've begun to hear
the hoofs, and we're almost a week out.
Let me give you just three quick
examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of
water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them
back. They said we didn't need them. This was
a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel
fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish.
The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right
away." When we got there with our trucks, they
got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the
fuel." Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and
cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They
cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee,
goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed
guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near
these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if
America--American government would have responded like
Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.
But I want to thank Governor
Blanco for all she's done and all her leadership. She sent
in the National Guard. I just repaired a breach on
my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't
foresee, a 300-foot breach. I just completed it
yesterday with convoys of National Guard and local parish
workers and levee board people. It took us two and a
half days working 24/7. I just closed it.
MR. RUSSERT: All right.
MR. BROUSSARD: I'm telling
you most importantly I want to thank my public
MR. RUSSERT: All right.
MR. BROUSSARD: ...that have
worked 24/7. They're burned out, the doctors, the
nurses. And I want to give you one last story and
I'll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell
me. The guy who runs this building I'm in, emergency
management, he's responsible for everything. His
mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every
day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son?
Is somebody coming?" And he said, "Yeah,
Mama, somebody's coming to get you. Somebody's
coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you
on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on
Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on
Friday." And she drowned Friday night.
She drowned Friday night.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr.
MR. BROUSSARD: Nobody's
coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us.
The secretary has promised. Everybody's promised.
They've had press conferences. I'm sick of the press
conferences. For God sakes, shut up and send us
MR. RUSSERT: Just take a
pause, Mr. President. While you gather yourself in
your very emotional times, I understand, let me go to
Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi.