If there was a single defining moment during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, it was when Kate Hale, director of Dade County Emergency Management, stood in front of a nationally televised news conference and exclaimed, “Where the hell is the cavalry?” Quite clearly, local and state government had broken down, and the federal government was proving of little help. Well, that was true until President Bush the First heard Hale’s plea and ordered the 82nd Airborne and 10th Mountain Divisions to deploy to Florida. Forty-eight hours later the military was on the ground in force, and further crises were averted.
In Louisiana, during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there was a similar localized breakdown of government, followed by a collapse of civil order. Once again, the 82nd Airborne left Fort Bragg, this time ordered out by President Bush the Second, and within 96 hours completely reversed what had been a rapidly deteriorating situation. Of course, not all local governments failed. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry managed an efficient response despite an area of devastation almost as great as Louisiana’s. Not only did Perry refrain from screaming for the Army, he also opened his state to hundreds of thousands of refugees that Louisiana could not care for. Similarly, Gov. Haley Barbour in Mississippi led a superb response and never pushed the panic button.
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