Thursday, October 27, 2005

Channel Surfing

Gov. Jeb Bush is channeling his brother:

Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday took the blame for underestimating the need for emergency supplies in Miami-Dade and Broward counties after Hurricane Wilma struck, and he aggressively defended the Federal Emergency Management Agency, urging critics to call him instead.

“If anybody wants to blame anybody, let them blame me. Don’t blame FEMA,” he said at the state emergency operations center, with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and FEMA Acting Director R. David Paulison at this side.

“This is our responsibility and [overall] we are doing a good job,” added Bush, who had promised before Wilma hit that relief supplies would be distributed to victims in the first 24 hours.

South Florida storm victims waited in lines for hours Tuesday at distribution centers, many perplexed and angry that state, local and federal officials seemed to have misled them about when and whether ice and water would arrive. The scenes were televised nationally, adding to FEMA’s battered post-Katrina image.

Wednesday’s operation was smoother at most of South Florida’s distribution sites, but supplies ran out at some places in Miami-Dade and Broward.

“When they run out, that’s it,” said a frustrated Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez. “FEMA cannot tell us when they will be resupplied.”

Mayor Alvarez has yet to learn that FEMA’s job is to send out officials in polo shirts to stand next to the governor at press conferences and nod their heads.

The governor also took the lead from his mom, Barbara Bush, with a touch of “well, it’s their own fault, really.”

[…] Gov. Bush and Chertoff pushed some of the blame back at residents Wednesday, saying they should have had supplies at home for three days after the storm. Still, Bush promised before the storm that supplies would be in place within 24 hours. And the state’s emergency management director, Craig Fugate, said it would be a “failure” if they weren’t.

“Part of the lesson of Katrina is that emergency management officials can’t rely on the preparedness of the population, so there will be people with virtually nothing,” Waugh said.

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Miami Democrat, said Gov. Bush was “insulting the victims of the hurricane in South Florida telling them to be patient and that they should have had what they needed for 72 hours.”

“No one is looking at the centers of poverty as a priority,” he said, adding that Little Haiti and Overtown still don’t have distribution sites.

Someone should let the governor know that it’s a little tough to lay in three days’ worth of hurricane supplies when you can barely buy regular groceries. Since Miami has one of the highest poverty rates of the large cities in America, it’s not like everyone in Overtown or Liberty City can run off to Dean & Deluca in their Hummer and pick up enough foie gras and Bloody Mary mix to make it through the duration.

Jebbie, you’re doing a heck of a job.