Your e-mails: Government after Katrina
CNN.com readers' ideas for improving federal disaster response
(CNN) -- Government response to Hurricane Katrina was sharply criticized at all levels. CNN.com asked readers what suggestions they had to improve federal response to emergencies. Here is a sampling of the responses, some of which have been edited:
The federal government should step in, as they should have in Katrina, if the destruction is widespread. The response should be proportional to the area affected. This is just common sense if nothing else. An area is begging for help then help them. The excuse of red tape is just that...an excuse. If my neighbor's house is burning I do not just look at it and think "I wonder who will take care of that?". What needs to be restructured is the current administration. Paying a guy to sit out his job and another admitting taking responsibility with no consequences are just a few examples of how our system is breaking down.
The people, not the government, should be restructured. The people should be responsible for themselves. The government should be there to assist the people in their recovery, not do and pay for and do all the recovery effort. People have come to rely on the government much too much. People need to understand the problems they are faced with, be given information that will enable them and then respond in am appropriate manner.
There is no restructuring needed. What IS needed is to hold those accountable who are in decision-making positions and force the government organizations to function as they are. No excuses and no alibis. Get it done. There needs to be criminal remedies for those both elected and appointed who don't or won't perform, and for those who act outside of our good faith. Restructure, no; accountability, yes.
Our local and state government handled the Katrina disaster with no professionalism. Our federal government did not do much better. In the case of Katrina it was well known if a storm of this size were to hit this area, we would have flooding, deaths and destruction. The levee was going to break; anyone who has lived here in this area knew that. Our government on all levels failed the people -- especially the poor, sick and elderly. Let's elect some officials that at least have some common sense to take care of business.
We need a semi-mandatory national and international peace corps with a minimum membership of 500,000 that has one year of training and 18 months of service. The corps should have rapid response capabilities that could respond to five disasters ... within 24 hours ... The response team departments should include medical, food, water, housing, engineering & infrastructure, security police, relocation and special services. The good will created at home and abroad with a successful program like this, plus the attributes gained by our youth, could only reinforce our position as the good American with pride! Let's set the standard again!
On a federal level: FEMA needs to be released from Homeland Security. Both of which need complete overhaul and accountability checks. From this point it is necessary to thoroughly, state by state, city by city, assess infrastructure, determine problems assign either Homeland Security or FEMA depending upon whether the trouble is a security issue or a pending disaster. These two entities need not work separately, as a matter of fact should work together to resolve any issues. Fix troubled areas the likes of the levee system, damns, electrical grids, etc...
FEMA needs to be moved out of Homeland Security and possibly made Cabinet-level. The evisceration of its budget and qualified staff must be reversed, and all unqualified staff re-assigned. It must be made clear that it is "hands-off" to all politicians, free from political patronage and cronyism, and insulated from political reprisals. Congressional oversight must be strict, and all expenditures watched closely. Possibly the name should be changed to reflect the new mission.
FEMA is not the problem. America's problem is that of dependence on the federal government. We have lost our self-determination as individual states and people. Whenever something goes wrong, we always blame it on federal government incompetence. Doing this keeps us from holding ourselves, and those actually responsible for misdeeds, truly accountable.
All levels of government suffer from poor supply chain management. The anticipation of having any infrastructure in an affected region is dead-wrong. Governments need to focus on supplying affected areas with unconventional methods. For example in Katrina; why were there not hundreds of flat-bottom boats or a jet-skis on a C-130 or civilian cargo plane in Arizona for example, ready to be dropped in, even with a parachute, just like the Army does?
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