Former FEMA head talks of Katrina response

Feb. 10, 2006 at 12:16 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Ex-federal emergency head Michael Brown says claims the White House and other U.S. officials didn't know of the post-Katrina disaster in Louisiana is "baloney."

Brown, who resigned as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under fire because of the response to conditions along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina had passed, appeared Friday before a U.S. Senate committee.

Brown said officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the White House were kept informed with videoconference calls and calls from Brown. Some officials have said they were unaware of the extent of damage, particularly after levees ruptured and flooded sections of New Orleans.

"For them to claim that we didn't have awareness of it is just baloney," said Brown.

He claimed that Homeland Security policies focused on terror attacks and hurt FEMA's ability to act on natural disasters.

Brown told the committee a report he prepared well before the hurricane hit pointed out problems but "opportunities to strengthen FEMA prior to Katrina were missed."

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