Friday, September 02, 2005

Congressman Harold Ford Calls for Major Overhaul of Relief Effort

As victims of Hurricane Katrina continue to languish without relief, Congressman Harold Ford issued the following statement:

"President Bush declared this morning that the relief efforts in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are 'not acceptable.' He is right. Too many people have gone without food and water for too long, and thousands of sick and elderly still need to be evacuated.

"Television stations and news organizations have been able to send crews to survey the suffering in places like the Superdome and the convention center in New Orleans, yet the federal government has unable to do so until late this afternoon. With so much manpower and advanced technology at our disposal, we should be able to do much more.

"Michael D. Brown, FEMA's current director, has failed to show the leadership or logistical expertise to do the job. Indeed, his statements in numerous interviews do not comport with the reality of what is happening on the ground, the rooftops and the overpasses of New Orleans.

"I call on President Bush to remove Director Brown immediately and appoint a single person to be in charge of the relief effort. This person must have cabinet-level authority and leadership necessary to direct all military, homeland security, FEMA, fire, police, EMT, health, energy and environmental assets and personnel involved in the relief effort. In addition, he or she must have the authority to coordinate private and non-profit aid, with government efforts.

"Someone like Colin Powell, whose logistical expertise and steadfast determination helped guide our military through war, or Rudolph Giuliani, whose leadership and passion were instrumental in getting New York back on its feet after 9/11, would be ideal. The President should appoint such a person for enough time - perhaps 60 days - to put our relief effort in order. After such time, the President could appoint a permanent replacement.

"There is no time for delay. The President needs to act and he needs to act now. I urge him to move decisively to finally bring relief to the people of the Gulf Coast."