"For God's sake, shut up and send us somebody..." 

Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana on Meet the Press with Tim Russert:

We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history.

I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me they need to be fired right away because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go.

And whoever’s on the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we need to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now.

It’s so obvious. FEMA needs more congressional funding, it needs more presidential support. It needs to be a cabinet level director. It needs to be an independent agency that will be able to fulfill its mission to work in partnership with state and local governments around America.

FEMA needs to be empowered to do the things it was created to do. It needs to come somewhere like New Orleans with all of its force immediately -- without red tape, without bureaucracy. Act immediately with common sense and leadership and save lives. Forget about the property, we can rebuild the property. It’s got to be able to come in and save lives. We need strong leadership at the top of America right now in order to accomplish this into reconstructing FEMA.

Tim Russert: Shouldn’t the mayor of New Orleans and the governor bear some responsibility? Couldn’t they have been much more forceful, much more effective and much more organized about evacuating the area?

Aaron Broussard tries to continue, but Tom Russert speaks over him: “Hold on a minute…”

Broussard: Sir, they were told, like me, every single day “The cavalry’s coming.” On a federal level, “the cavalry’s coming (3x) I have just begun to hear the hoofs of the cavalry. The cavalry is still not here yet, but I’ve begun to hear the hoofs and we’re almost a week out. Let me just give you three quick examples. We had Walmart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. This was a week ago.

FEMA. We had a thousand gallons of diesel fuel on a coast guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said “come get the fuel right away.” When we got there with out trucks, they got a word. “FEMA said don’t give you the fuel.”

Yesterday. Yesterday! FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. Cut em without notice. Our Sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in. He reconnects the line and he posts armed guards on our line. And he says, “No one’s getting near these lines.” Sheriff Harry Lee says if America … American government would have responded like Walmart has responded we wouldn’t be in this crisis. But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she’s done and all the leadership. She sent in the National Guard. I just repaired a breach on my side of the 17th street canal, that the secretary didn’t foresee. A three hundred foot breach. I just completed it yesterday, with convoys of National guards and local parish workers and levy board people. It took us 2 and half days, working 24/7.

Russert tries to interrupt.

Broussard: I just closed it. I’m telling you. Most importantly, I want to thank my public employees {Russert tries to speak again) that have worked 24/7, that burn out – the doctors, the nurses… I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me.

The guy who runs this building that I’m in , emergency management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped {Broussard starts to cry.} in St Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son?” “Is somebody coming?” And he said, “yeah Mama, somebody’s coming to get you. Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday. And she drowned on Friday night. She drowned on Friday night.”

Russert interrupts: "Mr. President…"

Broussard: “Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us. The Secretary’s promised. Everybody’s promised. They’ve had press conferences. I’m.. I’m sick of the press conferences. For God’s sake, shut up and send us somebody!” {deep sobs}

Russert interrupts again, in a softer tone: Take a pause, Mr. President. While you gather yourself. These are very emotional times. I understand. Let me go to governor Haley Barber of Mississippi.

This interview took place on Sunday, 6 days after hurricane Katrina hit land.

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