I heard this on CNN early this morning, just after my last post. If you happen to have not heard Ray Nagin’s interview yesterday afternoon on WWL Radio, go listen right now. If you need a work-safe version, you can read the transcript on CNN.com.
Here are some important quotes:
“I told [President Bush] we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we’re outmanned in just about every respect…
“I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain’t talking about — you know… they were talking about getting public school bus drivers… I’m like, ‘You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans.’… hey’re thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can’t emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy.
“You know, God is looking down on all this, and if [Bush and Governor Blanco] are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Because every day that we delay, people are dying and they’re dying by the hundreds, I’m willing to bet you…
“And I don’t know whose problem it is. I don’t know whether it’s the governor’s problem. I don’t know whether it’s the president’s problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now…
“I don’t want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don’t do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can’t even count.”
I must say that Nagin seems to be the only politician I’ve heard who is publicly acknowledging the magnitude of this disaster, in human terms, and not spinning and downplaying. Hopefully his pleas, and the pleas of everyone still trapped after Katrina will be answered soon. Call your Senators and Congressmen and tell them to urge the President to act, and act now.
CNN is still re-broadcasting Nagin’s interview, but they’ve since edited it for brevity, and bleeped out bad language. Personally I find it offensive that they dumbed it down, since it de-emphasizes the content of Nagin’s criticisms, but whatever — this is CNN after all.
Yesterday afternoon, I saw on the local news that there had been basically no communication from any public official directly to the people who are stuck in the Superdome and Convention Center. Of course they have no power and no phones, we all know that. And it may well be too dangerous for officials to show up in person yet. But what about low-tech solutions? Drop some flyers out of a flippin’ plane or something, and tell these people what’s happening and what to do. Kinko’s headquarters is in Dallas across the street from my house — I know they’re still operating. Let’s get our shit together, people!