[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 00:07 GMT 01:07 UK
US hurricane response: Key players
The political storm that accompanied the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina is still having repercussions. As the US House of Representatives committee beings investigating the response to Katrina, we look at some of the key players in Washington and Louisiana.

Michael Brown, former head of Fema

Michael Brown was director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) at the time Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, and became its first political victim. When the extent of the chaos became clear, Mr Brown was recalled to Washington and replaced by US Coast Guard Vice-Admiral Thad Allen. A few days later, he resigned. Only days earlier, President George W Bush had said Mr Brown was doing "a heck of a job".

Mr Brown's suitability for the post was subsequently questioned, with critics pointing to his previous career as a lawyer and commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association, a breeders and horse show organisation.

Appearing before Congress in late September, he blamed the chaos on local and state officials and said that Fema could not be held responsible for the chaotic response.

Michael Chertoff

Mr Chertoff is the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Fema. Mr Chertoff escaped much of the criticism directed at his former colleague, Michael Brown, despite at times seeming equally ill-informed about the situation on the ground in the early days. He has been charged by President Bush with reviewing emergency plans major cities in the US.

Mr Chertoff, a former appeals court judge, played a key role in drafting US anti-terror laws in the wake of 9/11 and is a former head of the US justice department's criminal division.

Ray Nagin

A relative newcomer to politics, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has found himself at the centre of the political storm which has accompanied Hurricane Katrina.

He blasted the federal authorities for failing to respond fast enough to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. However, Mr Nagin was criticised for failing to evacuate New Orleans early enough, leaving thousands of poor citizens in the path of the storm. He was also criticised for rushing plans to reopen the city as Hurricane Rita approached.

Kathleen Blanco

Louisiana's first female governor was accused by former Fema chief Michael Brown of not doing enough to prepare for Hurricane Katrina. Mr Brown said he could not get her to work with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

Testifying in front of the Senate committee, Gov Blanco declined to respond to the criticism, asking Congress instead for more money. However, a Times magazine report said the Democrat governor could not reach either President Bush or his chief of staff on the day the hurricane hit, and had to leave a message pleading for help with a low-level adviser.

Vice-Admiral Thad Allen

This Coast Guard Vice-Admiral was charged by President Bush to head federal recovery operations in Louisiana.

Vice-Adm Allen has direct experience of hurricane relief operations, having overseen about 15,000 search and rescue operations in south-eastern US and the Caribbean. His teams were among the first to reach New Orleans after its levees broke. He is seen in Washington as a man who "gets things done".

Lt Gen Russel Honore

The commander of military taskforce dealing with the aftermath of Katrina was dubbed the "John Wayne dude" by New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. "He came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving," Mr Nagin said.

The cigar-smoking three-star general directed an estimated 20,000 National Guard troops in New Orleans, ordering them on his arrival to lower their weapons when patrolling the city. Famed for his no-nonsense attitude, he served in Korea and in Iraq and Kuwait in the first Gulf War.

Susan Collins

The Maine Republican senator is head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and is presiding over the Senate investigation into "failures of all levels of government" during the crisis. She has said she will look for systemic problems rather than scapegoating anyone.

Eddie Compass

The New Orleans police chief resigned four weeks after the hurricane struck, but refused to give a reason for his decision. However, the timing of the announcement could lead to suspicions that he was put under pressure to leave.

The police force came under intense criticism in the early days after the hurricane for failing to prevent widespread looting and insecurity in the city. The police department says it will investigate why nearly 250 officers - about 15% of the force - failed to report for duty after the hurricane.

Fran Townsend

President Bush's homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend was asked to head an internal inquiry into the federal relief effort. Democrats have criticised the move, calling instead for a fully independent inquiry.

Ms Townsend, a former federal prosecutor, most recently oversaw changes to the country's intelligence services, after the intelligence failures in Iraq.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific