Stop pointing fingers; make changes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

Twelve thousand families left homeless by Hurricane Katrina checked out of federally funded hotel rooms Monday, some with no place to go.

Government reports released the same day detail the squandering of millions of dollars in aid meant to help victims of the storm.

Yet various government agency heads and the White House continue to squabble over who should shoulders the most blame for what went wrong after the storm, especially after former FEMA Director Michael Brown&8217;s testimony last week before a Congressional committee.

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Haven&8217;t we already established that pretty much everyone can share some blame for what went wrong, from Mother Nature right on down to the lowest levels of the Federal Emergency Management Agency?

The value in reports like those released by Congress and the Government Accountability Office this week is not a new opportunity to point fingers. They give us an opportunity to learn from what went wrong &8212; so that it never happens again.

What those reports &8212; and Brown&8217;s testimony &8212; should establish is that FEMA needs to be a separate agency again, out from under the Department of Homeland Security. Natural disasters should not be under the purview of an agency devoted to protecting us from terrorism.

Congress needs to act quickly to restore FEMA&8217;s independence &8212; and also needs to pore through the other reports to determine other ways to fix the problems of Katrina before another disaster strikes.