Joint Task Force Katrina Commander Russel Honore on Wednesday blasted Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts as "amateur hour" and called for a stronger military presence because of the scope of the devastation.
"The American people have put too much confidence in us," Honore, a retired Army lieutenant general, told Erin Burnett on CNN. "We have been too successful overseas to come out in amateur hour and incrementally deploy the force.
"You have to come in big and you've got to be there right at the edge of the storm so you can come in as soon as possible and go in and rescue people.
"We don't have 100 helicopters here as of last night."
President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — along with other federal, state and local officials and first-responders — in their evacuation efforts.
"To the people of Houston and across Texas and Louisiana, we are here with you today," Trump told supporters in announcing his vision for tax reform in Springfield, Mo. "We are with you tomorrow — and we will be with you every single day after to restore, recover, and rebuild."
But Honore told Burnett that his biggest fear was that "night is coming.
"It is going to get worse before it gets better — and we have a lot of citizens out there that are hanging on by the thread of their life."
He noted that "12 years ago today, I arrived in New Orleans post Katrina.
"We did an extensive study to adjust how we were going to do business," he said, referring to Army Corps of Engineers. "We put a lot of emphasis on the states being first-responders.
"The problem is we have 50 different solutions," Honore added.
"The federal government took their hand off it and went off to fight terrorism — and each time we have a Sandy or Harvey, the solution is different.
"It's cooked up locally by the state," he said. "They don't evacuate and they don't pre-position troops.
"I know I'm sounding critical," Honore acknowledged as he called for an "Army response to local civil disasters.
"They've come upon a time when their mission is too big for the state National Guard — and they need to get the hell over it and bring them in when they have a big mission."
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