by Kevin Caruso
November 4, 2005
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Michael Brown, the former director of FEMA who was terminated for his incompetence a couple weeks after Katrina hit, sent some unbelievably idiotic and irresponsible e-mails during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
The e-mails are now being examined by a House committee that is assessing the deplorable response to Katrina at all levels of government.
Here are some of Brown’s e-mails:
“Can I quit now? Can I come home?” Brown wrote to Cindy Taylor, FEMA’s deputy director of public affairs on the morning of August 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina was hitting the Gulf Coast.
“If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god,” Brown wrote later in the day to Taylor.
On August 31, Brown received the following extremely urgent e-mail from a distressed FEMA employee in New Orleans which indicated that the situation was past critical and listed numerous serious problems including people who were dying who needed help.
Brown did not grasp the gravity of the e-mail, did not take action on any of the problems that were listed, and responded with an absurdly short and completely unhelpful reply: “Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?” Brown wrote.
“I'm trapped now, please rescue me,” Brown wrote to a friend a few days later.
Another communication that demonstrates Brown’s incompetence occurred beginning on September 2 when an e-mail message was sent to brown with “Medial Help” in the subject line.
The e-mail read as follows:
“Mike, Mickey and other medical equipment people have a 42-foot trailer full of beds, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, etc. They are wanting to take them where they can be used but need direction.
“Mickey specializes in ventilator patients so can be very helpful with acute care patients. If you could have someone contact him and let him know if he can be of service, he would appreciate it. Know you are busy but they really want to help.”
At the time this e-mail was sent thousands of patients had been moved to the New Orleans Airport, which was operating as a makeshift hospital, and there was a critical need for ventilators and the other equipment that was being offered.
But Brown did not respond to the above e-mail for four days, and when he did, his ignorance and incompetence were exhibited in the ugliest way imaginable.
Brown’s disgusting response after four days was this: “Can we use these people?”
Brown’s appalling e-mails are just one more piece of evidence which demonstrates that he was not qualified to be in the position he was in; that he did not understand the seriousness and urgency of innumerable critical issues; that he responded extremely slowly to life-or-death matters; that he exercised poor judgment; and that he was completely incompetent.
Michael Brown is a disgrace.