The former head of the US emergency agency has mounted a spirited defence of his response to Hurricane Katrina and criticised Louisiana officials.
Michael Brown, who resigned as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), was testifying at a congressional inquiry into the failings of the relief effort.
EVACUATION OF NEW ORLEANS
I didn't have a problem with the evacuations in Mississippi or Alabama. They were doing it. (Florida Governor) Jeb Bush had already ordered evacuations through the (Florida) Keys as Katrina was making its way through that area.
My mistake was in recognising that, for whatever reason that we might want to discuss later, but for whatever reason, (New Orleans) Mayor Nagin and (Louisiana) Governor Blanco were reticent to order a mandatory evacuation.
And if I, Mike Brown, as an individual could have done something to convince them that this was the big one, and they needed to order a mandatory evacuation, I would have done it...
My biggest mistake was not recognising by Saturday (two days before the storm hit) that Louisiana was dysfunctional.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LOUISIANA OFFICIALS
I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down and get over differences and work together.
I just couldn't pull that off. I want this committee to know Fema pushed forward with everything it had, every team, every asset it had, in order to help what we saw as potentially catastrophic disaster.
HIS RECORD AT FEMA
I've overseen over 150 presidentially declared
disasters. I know what I'm doing, and I think I do a pretty
darn good job of it.
Fema doesn't evacuate communities. Fema does not do law enforcement.
Fema does not do communications...
Many may be surprised to learn that, guess what, Fema doesn't own fire trucks. We don't own ambulances. We don't own search and rescue equipment
The people of Fema are being tired of being beat up, and
they don't deserve it.