Harry Heaps Blame on Brown for St. Bernard Parish

September 7th, 2005 11:33 AM

The Early Show's Harry Smith continued to pile on the Bush administration's relief efforts in Louisiana, shifting from New Orleans to a less-populated but equally if not more so devastated jurisdiction, Saint Bernard Parish, parts of which are awash with oil slicks caused by spills from a local refinery. Smith complained that FEMA had not been able to meet with parish officials until yesterday, and relayed the complaints of the parish's president and disaster management chief before asking Brown if he had "screwed up."

Harry Smith: "The toxic cocktail that drenched Chalmette likely means these neighborhoods will have to be flattened. Larry Ingargiola heads emergency management, Henry Rodriguez, Jr., is the parish president.

Smith with Rodriguez and Ingargiola: "What's the situation with most of the housing right around here."

Larry Ingargiola: "There is no housing."

Henry Rodriguez, Jr.: "There is no housing."

Smith: "There is no housing?"

Rodriguez: "There's nobody that can come back and live in a house. Nowhere in this parish."

Smith: "These men have a problem, and it didn't help matters much that FEMA took a week to show up. FEMA chief Mike Brown will arrive any minute. Their message:"

Ingargiola: "We were left alone. We need your help now. We're not going to bitch with you or do anything like that. We need your help. You don't bite the hand that's feeding you right now."

Rodriguez: "Our federal government can't be incompetent and stupid all at one time. You know, you've got to know that we've got problems down here."

Smith: "Mike Brown did show up, and while there were plenty of smiles and handshakes, the parish president was not afraid to throw up a few expletives to make his point."

Rodriguez to Mike Brown: "I don't want them hijacking [expletive deleted]."

Mike Brown of FEMA to Rodriguez: "That's why I'm here."

Rodriguez: "Good."

Smith @ 0721 EDT: "FEMA is a four-letter word in south Louisiana. Many folks here feel if it didn't work, it's Brown's fault."

Smith: "Did you screw this up?"

Brown: No. No."

Smith: "If, in the end there's an investigation and they say this just wasn't done right, who's accountable?"

Brown: "Well, that's what the investigation will find out. That's what the investigation will tell us."

As though it were a completely cynical motive, Smith then goes on to show the parish president saying the oil industry is the reason why the feds are paying attention to his parish's disaster relief needs:

Smith: "Saint Bernard Parish needs some federal grease to help clean up the slick in its backyard, but no one is bad-mouthing oil. Oil means jobs, and frankly the folks down here feel like they do a lot of the dirty work for a country that can't live without its products."

Rodriguez: "They're going to help us because of this. Oil."