News

May 27, 2010 4:57 PM by Letitia Walker

Blanco: Says spill is "deja vu" of Katrina

 NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who

did not seek re-election after Hurricane Katrina, said Thursday

that all levels of government - federal, state and local - have

missed the mark in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

      "It was so predictable," Blanco said. "Where was the oil

going to go? It had no place to go but land. There definitely was a

lack of response by all levels of government. That was the deja vu

of Katrina.

      "It would be nice to see all three levels of government dealing

openly and honestly to solve the problem," Blanco, 67, said.

"Part of the problem is when the problem is this big, the

temptation is to point out blame."

      Blanco, a Democrat, was in her first term as governor when

Katrina hit Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005. After levees caved in, 80

percent of New Orleans was left flooded. In the chaos that

followed, squabbles escalated between federal, state and local

officials about the slow response.

      Blanco and then-Mayor Ray Nagin were familiar sights on

television, pleading for help from the administration of former

Gov. George W. Bush.

      After widespread public criticism, Blanco opted not to seek a

second term in 2007 and was replaced by Republican Bobby Jindal.

      Jindal, and Plaquemine Parish President Billy Nungesser, find

themselves in a Katrina-like situation, pleading with federal

officials to help protect the Louisiana coast - or allow the state

to do so - as masses of brown goo from the Deepwater Horizon spill

wash into marshes and beaches, depriving fishermen of their

livelihood and endangering the last protective barriers between

urban areas and the Gulf.

      Blanco said capping the spilling well is a "private-sector

responsibility" and should be left in the hands of BP PLC, the oil

industry and the complex technology that is involved. But the

"real dysfunction" - as Blanco called it - has occurred in

preparing for the oil to reach shore.

      "All I hear is why isn't BP sending more booms, why isn't the

federal government sending more booms. I say why isn't the state

getting more booms," Blanco said. "In a crisis, I think you need

to act and figure out the details later. It looks like they're

arguing over who's going to pay for it and it's paralyzed people at

the state and local levels."

      Blanco said Jindal "cannot do it himself," but could have

taken additional steps, such as authorizing deficit spending to

obtain any equipment needed. "Act and send them the bill and fight

over it later," she said.

      The former governor also said an opportunity was lost by not

using - at least on an experimental basis on parts of the spill - a

swarm of new technologies that have been offered to BP to deal with

the spill.

      "They should have all been deployed," Blanco said. "Anything

that looked like it had half of chance should have been deployed."

      As far as the federal government goes, Blanco said the focus was

on BP's responsibility, although it was obvious that the oil would

reach shore.

      The missed lesson of Katrina? Blanco went back to the storm

disaster, pointing out that lives were saved as the result of state

and local action.

      "There was no federal relief until after a week of trauma and

stress," the former governor said. "That's the case in any

disaster, the people on the scene are the ones who can physically

do the most. Whether they like it or not, they have the

responsibility."

      On Thursday, five weeks into the spill, President Barack Obama

sounded a defensive note, asserting his administration was in

charge of the response to end the crisis.

»Comments

»Topics in this article

Top Videos

1 2 3 4

Most Popular