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Letter to the Editor: Local leaders watched, did nothing

Friday, September 9, 2005

To the editor:

Since 1993, Louisiana has had an emergency operations plan (www.ohsep.louisiana.gov/plans/plansindex.htm) which has been kept updated. There are also links to FEMA, Emergency Support Functions-the Federal Response Plan and Your Family Disaster Plan.

The plan specifies that responsibility starts at the parish/city level and even has a form to be used when the parish/city council feels it must ask the state for assistance. Hurricanes do not let us know when and exactly where they will strike. Federal agencies can prepare, but they cannot assemble troops until they know for sure they are needed and what services are required. The federal government gave the local/state governments the chance to respond to the requirements of their own citizens/neighbors. If the local governments did anything, it was not reported in the media. The firemen, police and Coast Guard all performed bravely and heroically. Police and fire departments do not have the authority to mobilize anything outside their own departments.

All we saw was disaster and hysteria, including looting of stores by the "downtrodden" populace. Some of their "leaders" and "spokesmen" said they had a right to loot. Letter writer Virginia Saunders is "ashamed of our government." What she does not understand is that "our government" starts at the town/city office -- the people the locals elected. They are the people responsible for emergency planning and then evaluating as situations develop. Unlike the cities in Florida, the New Orleans leaders apparently watched Katrina and did nothing.

ROBERT LUCAS, Cape Girardeau