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Ex-FEMA Boss: Feds Had 'No Authority' to Evacuate New Orleans

Image: Ex-FEMA Boss: Feds Had 'No Authority' to Evacuate New Orleans
(Getty Images) Hurricane Katrina, 2005.

By    |   Thursday, 27 Aug 2015 09:37 PM

The FEMA director who handled the crisis that was Hurricane Katrina tells Newsmax the federal government had "no authority" to evacuate New Orleans before the mega storm made landfall 10 years ago.

Michael Brown appeared on Newsmax TV's "The Hard Line" Thursday night and defended the George W. Bush administration's response to the historic category 5 storm that killed more than 1,200 people.

"People don't understand. For the president of the United States to evacuate a major American city, you have to waive [the] Posse Comitatus [Act], you have to authorize the use of federal troops, of U.S. Army troops on American soil, and you have to waive the Insurrection Act, which is a Civil War act that says you can't just come in and take troops and take over a state," Brown tells host Ed Berliner.

"And so we didn't do that and we had no authority to do that and people have this misconception that somehow, you know, it's the conspiracy theories, all sorts of things about FEMA that they think we can just swoop in with the proverbial black helicopter and take over an American city. That's not true."

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Many blamed Brown for what was called the government's slow response to the hurricane. Days after it made landfall and wreaked havoc on the New Orleans area, Brown resigned as the administrator of FEMA.

Brown tells Newsmax the New Orleans mayor at the time, Ray Nagin, failed to take advice from Brown via Bush to order an evacuation of the city.

Nagin is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for several federal charges of wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering.

"I'll tell you the thing that irritates me the most is that I actually called President Bush at the ranch in Crawford and said, 'Mr. President, I need you to do me a favor, I want you to pick up the phone and call this mayor in New Orleans and use the presidency bully pulpit to convince him to evacuate the city,'" Brown says. "And there was this five seconds of silence and the president said, 'are you serious?' And I'm like, 'yes sir, I need you to do that.' Even after that phone call, the mayor waited until Sunday around 10, 12 o'clock on Sunday to ask his people to leave New Orleans.

"And then of course the storm hit about 5 o'clock that morning. Too late. And but for that, but for the failure of the mayor and the governor to evacuate New Orleans, we would not have had 200,000 people in the Super Dome and frankly, you and I probably wouldn't be having this conversation today."

Brown adds that he's "sorely disappointed" the Bush administration didn't stand up for him in the face of criticism after the storm, which led to chaos in New Orleans.

In another interview with Newsmax, Brown defended his actions before and during the storm.

"People have asked me for years, What was the tipping point of Katrina?' What I point out is that about 96 hours before Katrina made landfall, I was talking to Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami," Brown said. "We agreed that the most important thing we could do to avoid what was probably going to be a full-blown crisis is to convince the governor of Louisiana [Democrat Kathleen Blanco] and the mayor of New Orleans [Democrat Ray Nagin] to evacuate the city of New Orleans as soon as possible."

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The FEMA director who handled the crisis that was Hurricane Katrina tells Newsmax the federal government had "no authority" to evacuate New Orleans before the mega storm made landfall 10 years ago.
michael brown, fema, hurricane, katrina, new orleans
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2015-37-27
Thursday, 27 Aug 2015 09:37 PM
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