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Nagin Checks In From Expense Paid Vacation

From the humor pages of the Jamaica Observer:

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Mayor Nagin blames racism, class bias for slow Katrina response

MARK CUMMINGS, Observer staff reporter

NAGIN: I'm still shocked that this happened in America

MONTEGO BAY, St James – Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin says he believes that the slow pace of activity by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the immediate aftermath of hurricane Katrina that devastated the city in August was based on class and racism.

"I think that if this (New Orleans) was Orange County, California or South Beach in Miami, I do think the response would have been different," Nagin said. "I think it's a combination of racial issues and a combination of class," the mayor added.

Mayor Nagin who, along with his wife, Seletha, and three children – Jeremy, Jarin and Tianna – are vacationing in the island, was speaking to reporters in Montego Bay on the weekend.

The Nagins, who have been staying at a private villa owned by Sandals chairman Gordon "Butch" Stewart in the resort town of Negril, leave the island today.

"I have had the chance to think about this a lot, and I'm still shocked that this happened in America, a country with so many resources, where we can send battle ships around the world in 24 hours and yet you saw what happened in New Orleans," he added.

FEMA, whose mission is to "lead America to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters", has come under strong criticism since Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding that devastated New Orleans in August.

Created by President Carter in 1979, elevated to Cabinet level in 1993, and incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, FEMA is charged with guiding the federal response to the nation's disasters – both natural and man-made.

But the delayed federal response to Hurricane Katrina along the US Gulf Coast, particularly in New Orleans has led many officials to question FEMA's preparedness for natural disaster.

It was argued that the US government's failure in preparing for and responding to the category four storm that devastated roughly 80 per cent of New Orleans allowed much human suffering and property destruction to occur than should have.

Nagin told the Observer on the weekend that the images that were shown in the media around the world showed primarily poor black people suffering.

"I think that (the images of poor black suffering) in our subconscious as a nation did not allow us to respond appropriately," Nagin said.

He said, however, that the experience had taught him the importance of disaster preparedness at the local level.

"I've have learned that you don't assume that the 'Cavalry' is going to show up at some point in time and that, instead of assuming, you need to prepare to take care of yourself, no matter what, even though you don't have all the resources," he said.

At the same time, the New Orleans mayor has issued a word of advice to Jamaica on how to prepare for disasters.

"Do a critical assessment of your disaster plans, from the standpoint of your evacuation techniques, make sure that you have them updated and that they are modern enough for the worst-case scenario," he said.

"I would also advise that in the event that a hurricane hits you, that you plan to take care of your citizens over the long haul and you make sure that you have multiple resources of getting food and supplies into the country," he said.

Additionally, he said, it is necessary to have someone at the "top" who is willing to make tough calls in the event of an emergency.

"You need someone at the top who can make the tough calls so you don't have a dance going on which we experienced in New Orleans, where the federal government was trying not to step on the toes of the state government and the state government was trying not to look like they were so weak that they needed help from the federal government," said Nagin.

He added: "You need somebody at the top making the calls and getting things done during that critical first week after the storm happens."

It's almost too much. Here is this clown vacationing in Jamaica, while his city is still in shambles.

He is staying in a villa belonging to a casino operator who wants to expand his operations in New Orleans.

And on top of that Nagin feels like he is in a position to lecture Jamaica on how to prepare for hurricanes.

I thought it was a satire when I first scanned it. How can anyone be so stupid — and so smug about it?

New Orleans needs someone at the top, all right. Let Nagin go back home to Dallas.

(Note to self: got to get me one of them there battleships that can go around the world in 24 hours.)

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005. Comments are currently closed.

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