House to release blistering report of federal government failure in KatrinaHouse to release blistering report of federal government failure in Katrina: Federal response marked by

Published 13 February 2006

A soon-to-be-released report (the New York Times calls it a “blistering report”) by an all-Republican eleven-member House investigative committee charges that FEMA was overwhelmed and blames a government-wide ineptitude for mishandling Katrina preparation, rescue, and relief. The 600-page report says that the House inquiry has found unheeded warnings, poor planning, and apathy in recognizing the scope of Katrina’s destruction — all of which led to the slow emergency response from the White House down to local parishes. The report says that late state and local evacuation orders exacerbated an untrained and inexperienced force of federal emergency responders. Overall, the House report says, the federal government’s response to Katrina was marked by “fecklessness, flailing and organizational paralysis.”

The House committee was especially harsh on Secretary Chertoff, saying his overall responsibilities for the federal disaster relief during Katrina were fulfilled “either late, ineffectively or not at all.” It concluded that Chertoff unnecessarily delayed naming a top federal coordinator for relief efforts and the activation of an internal disaster management group. More prompt action by Chertoff would have quickened the relief effort, the report said. It also faulted Chertoff for not following a response plan specifically for catastrophic disasters.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is continuing its own investigation into the government’s failure in Katrina, and its report will be out in six weeks or so. Insiders say it will be just as harsh in its judgment of the federal government’s preparation and response to Katrina.

-read more in Lara Jakes Jordan’s AP report