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When Leo Bosner, FEMA Emergency Management Specialist (and president of the union representing FEMA staff), returns to FEMA’s Emergency Operations Center this evening, he and his colleagues are “aghast” at the lack of preparations taking place, according to a later interview with National Public Radio: “We’d been expecting that, given our reports and so on, that there’d be some extraordinary measures taking place. So when we come in Saturday night and nothing much had happened—you know, we had a few medical teams, a few search teams were in place, but there was no massive effort that we could see. There was no massive effort to organize the city of New Orleans in an organized way that clearly had to be done. There was no massive mobilization of national resources other than the few that were out there. And I think most of us—I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that I and a number of my colleagues just—we felt sort of shocked.… You assume that if there’s a fire, you’re gonna pull that lever and—someone will pull the lever, and you assume if you pull the lever that in no time these trucks and sirens are gonna come roaring up to your building and people will jump out and will have hoses and fire extinguishers and rescue equipment and things will be taken care of. Well, you sort of imagine now if your building catches fire and you pull that lever and nothing happens, the lever comes off in your hand, there’s nothing there; that’s, I think, how we felt.” Senior FEMA officials deny Bosner’s claim, although their denial reflects an expectation that state and local officials will handle the emergency. “We pleaded and informed state and local officials of the severity of this and encouraged everyone to take it seriously,” Russ Knocke, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff representative, will later contend, after asserting that, “Without question, there was a significant amount of recognition and appreciation for the magnitude of this storm.” (National Public Radio 9/16/2005)
Inside FEMA’s National Emergency Operations Center this morning, “None of the things that [are] supposed to be happening at the national level are happening. Nobody [is] mobilizing extra National Guard troops or organizing buses to help evacuate New Orleans,” Leo Bosner, FEMA Emergency Management Specialist, will later claim. (Bosner is president of the union representing FEMA staff.) According to Bosner, at one point today, he looks around and counts only 12 people in the office: “We [are] sitting around and somebody [says], you know, ‘Where are the buses? Where are the resources to get these people out of here?’ And I think we all just felt pretty despondent, let down, kind of numb about the whole thing.”
(National Public Radio 9/16/2005) FEMA Director Michael Brown, however, will paint a very different picture of FEMA’s preparation to President Bush (see
(10:00-11:00 am) August 28, 2005), and to the public (see (8:05 am) August 28, 2005) later today.
Note - Bosner will be inconsistent regarding exactly when this conversation about buses takes place. He reportedly tells the New York Times that it occurs on Friday. (Lipton et al. 9/11/2005) However, given that by his own reports, he and other staff members became focused on the threat to Louisiana on Friday night and Saturday morning (National Public Radio 9/16/2005) , it appears more likely that this conversation takes place on Sunday morning.
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