Kathleen Blanco on Environment

Democratic LA Governor

Refused to authorize federal involvement in Katrina

"Who's in charge of security in New Orleans?" I asked. My question silenced the raucous discussion in the Air Force One conference room on Sept. 2, 2005.

"The governor is in charge," Mayor Ray Nagin said, pointing across the table at Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

Every head pivoted in her direction. The Louisiana governor froze. She looked agitated and exhausted. "I think it's the mayor," she said noncommittally. Four days had passed since Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast. By law, state & local authorities lead the response to natural disasters, with the federal government playing a subordinate role.

I asked to speak to Gov. Blanco privately. I told her it was clear the state and local response forces had been overwhelmed. "Governor," I pressed, "you need to authorize the federal government to take charge of the response."

She told me she needed 24 hours to think it over. "We don't have 24 hours," I snapped. "We've waited too long already." The governor refused to give an answer.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.308-309 , Nov 9, 2010

Sept. 2005 Katrina: "Send everything you've got!"

As events unfolded [with Hurricane Katrina in Sept 2005], it became clear that Kathleen Blanco was overwhelmed and overmatched by events. They faced a unique situation, but they were simply not up to the challenge.

When Blanco called the White House, Blanco told [a staffer], "Send everything you've got!" The staffer asked the governor what she needed. Blanco simply repeated she needed Washington to "send everything you've got!" The staffer told the governor she wasn't able to guess what the governor was requesting.

Later that day Blanco reached the president. "I just asked him for help," she later said. But this time she had a specific request--40,000 federal troops. But what Blanco couldn't say was what she needed them for, which would dictate the kind of units we would dispatch. Did she need engineering, medical, or other specialized support?

FEMA director Mike Brown asked Gov. Blanco to request that the administration federalize the effort on Tuesday, the day after Katrina hit. She declined.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.446-447 , Mar 9, 2010

Other governors on Environment: Kathleen Blanco on other issues:
LA Gubernatorial:
Bobby Jindal
LA Senatorial:
David Vitter
Mary Landrieu

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011