What a congressional investigation will find

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 3, 2005

Texas is a productive industrious state run by Republicans. Louisiana: Government dependent welfare state run by Democrats. Texas: Residents take responsibility to protect and evacuate themselves. Louisiana: Residents wait for government to protect and evacuate them. Texas: Local and state officials take responsibility for protecting their citizens and property. Louisiana: Local and state officials blame federal government for not protecting their citizens and property. Texas: Command and control remains in place to preserve order. Louisiana: Command and control collapses allowing lawlessness.

Texas: Law enforcement officers remain on duty to protect city. Louisiana: Law enforcement officers desert their posts to protect themselves. Texas: Local police watch for looting. Louisiana: Local police participate in looting. Texas: Law and order remains in control, eight looters tried it, eight looters arrested. Louisiana: Anarchy and lawlessness breaks out, looters take over city, no arrests, criminals with guns have to be shot by federal troops. Texas: Considerable damage caused by hurricane. Louisiana: Considerable damage caused by looters.

Texas: Flood barriers hold, preventing cities from flooding. Louisiana: Flood barriers fail due to lack of maintenance allowing city to flood. Texas: Orderly evacuation away from threatened areas, few remain. Louisiana: 25,000 fail to evacuate, are relocated to another flooded area. Texas: Citizens evacuate with personal 3-day supply of food and water. Louisiana: Citizens fail to evacuate with 3-day supply of food and water, do without it for the next 4 days.

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Texas: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials provide accessible distribution points. Louisiana: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials prevent citizens from reaching distribution points and vice versa. Louisiana: Media focuses on poor blacks in need of assistance, blames Bush. Texas: Media can’t find poor blacks in need of assistance, looking for something else to blame on Bush.

Texas: Coastal cities suffer some infrastructure damage, Mayors tell residents to stay away until ready for repopulation, no interference from federal officials. Louisiana: New Orleans is destroyed, Mayor asks residents to return home as another hurricane approaches, has to be overruled by federal officials. Louisiana: Over 400 killed by storm, flooding and crime. Texas: 24 killed in bus accident on highway during evacuation, no storm related deaths. Texas: Jailed prisoners are relocated to other detention facilities outside the storm area. Louisiana: Jailed prisoners are set free to prey on city shops, residents, and homes.

Texas: Local and state officials work with FEMA and Red Cross in recovery operations. Louisiana: Local and state officials obstruct FEMA and Red Cross from aiding in recovery operations. Texas: Local and state officials demonstrate leadership in managing disaster areas. Louisiana: Local and state officials fail to demonstrate leadership, require federal government to manage disaster areas. Texas: Fuel deliveries can’t keep up with demand, some run out of gas on highway, and need help from fuel tankers before storm arrives. Louisiana: Motorists wait till storm hits and electrical power fails. Cars run out of gas at gas stations that can’t pump gas. Gas in underground tanks mixes with floodwaters.

Texas: Mayors move citizens out of danger. Louisiana: Mayor moves himself and family to Dallas. Texas: Mayors continue public service announcements and updates on television with governor’s backing and support. Louisiana: Mayor cusses, governor cries, senator threatens president with violence on television, none of them have a clue what went wrong or who’s responsible. Louisiana: Democratic Senator says FEMA was slow in responding to 911 calls from Louisiana citizens. Texas: Republican Senator says, &uot;When you call 911, the phone doesn’t ring in Washington, it rings here at the local responders.&uot;

What if state and local elected officials were forced to depend on themselves and their own resources instead of calling for help from the federal government? Texas cities would be up and running in a few days. Louisiana cities would still be under water next month. Republicans called for action, Democrats called for help. We don’t need a congressional investigating committee. It is all summed up right here, thanks to e-mail contributors. Solution: fill big deep hole in New Orleans with hurricane debris, cover with topsoil and grow tobacco, save billions of tax dollars.

Robert Pocklington lives in Suffolk and is a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com.