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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:53, September 28, 2005
Former FEMA chief blames others for failures in hurricane response
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Former US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael Brown defended on Tuesday his handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and blamed local officials for failures in the federal government's response.

In his opening comments to a special congressional committee set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the bungled federal response to the storm, Brown blamed the media for undermining his authority by questioning his credentials for the job and Louisiana officials for ignoring his advice.

"I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade (Louisiana) Governor (Kathleen) Blanco and (New Orleans) Mayor (Ray) Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together. I just couldn't pull that off," he said.

Brown's defense, however, was rebutted by lawmakers.

"That's why I'm happy you left, because that kind of, you know, look in the lights like a deer tells me that you weren't capable to do the job," said Representative Christopher Shays, a Republican from Connecticut.

Brown resigned less than two week after the storm hit the Gulf Coast region on Aug. 29, which killed more than 1,000 people and left many others displaced, following criticism of his handling of the disaster and his ability to run the FEMA.

Brown insisted that in the days before the storm, he expressed his concerns that "this is going to be a bad one" with top administration officials, including President George W. Bush and White House chief of staff Andy Card.

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday (Aug. 27) that Louisiana was dysfunctional," he said.

He rejected criticism that he lacked experience in emergency relief before he joined the agency in 2001. "I've overseen over 150 presidentially declared disasters. I know what I'm doing, and I think I do a pretty darn good job of it," he said.

Responding to criticism that the FEMA failed to get better equipment to make communication easier among emergency agencies, Brown blamed the Home Security Department.

"We put that money in our budget request and it was removed by the Department of Homeland Security," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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