On Friday I quoted at some length from a New Orleans Times-Picayune newsblog item about deaths occurring among people waiting for relief in the St. Bernard-Placquemines Parishes areas south and east of New Orleans. Congressman Charles Melancon, who represents the area, was the paper’s main source for the horrifying reports.Well, today Melancon wants the President of the United States to come see conditions on the ground in his district, in a statement that directly challenges the we-did-the-best-we-could, and it’s-the-state’s-fault spinathon coming out of the administration for the last several days. Here’s the summary from the T-P newsblog:
Today, 3rd District Congressman Charlie Melancon invited President Bush to personally tour the devastated areas outside New Orleans in Southeast Louisiana. President Bush has announced plans to be in Louisiana on Monday.Congressman Melancon’s comments on the invitation follow:”People in Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish and other affected area in the Southeast Louisiana’s 3rd District need to see that the federal government has not forgotten them.” “Today, I invited President Bush to join me on the ground in these parishes as soon as possible – ideally tomorrow – as we work to rescue survivors and get supplies where they are desperately needed.””The fact is that 124 hours after Katrina hit, Plaquemines Parish still had received little or no contact from FEMA. Other parishes in southeast Louisiana went days without hearing from federal officials – that’s unacceptable.””Thankfully, Louisiana State Senator Walter Boasso and local officials, along with the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and other entities were able to reach folks on the ground. Together, we worked to put support efforts in motion and coordinate efforts to convey specific needs in the area to those who could take action. While slowly improving, conditions in parishes throughout Southeast Louisiana are beyond dire. Hundreds died among the thousands of residents who were stranded at Camp Katrina on Chalmette Landing. Areas nearby are equally grim. We need all the federal support we can get, and the only way to understand that is to witness it first hand.”
Melancon’s certainly right that it’s the lack of a prompt federal response that’s truly “unacceptable,” and probably right in assuming that you apparently have to be involved in a presidential photo op to get an appropriate degree of federal help even now.