Bush’s FEMA Director ‘Heckuva Job Brownie’ Says Sandy Response Was Too Fast

Head of FEMA for Hurricane Katrina Mike Brown, who was widely criticized for bungling the worst natural disaster in recent American memory, has struck out at officials for what he perceives as an overzealous response to the threat posed by Hurricane Sandy, now known as “Super Storm Sandy.”

Mike Brown’s name became synonymous with crony government and bureaucratic bungling after the botched federal response to Katrina back in 2005, and more than 1,885 people lost their lives in the storm and subsequent flooding. The City of New Orleans has yet to fully recover from the ravages of the Category 5 hurricane, and, in the wake of the storm, Brown’s credentials were heavily critiqued by many who felt that his appointment was one of favor and not competence.

Brown headed up FEMA after a stint as as the Judges and Stewards Commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association. And famously, as New Orleans drowned and residents starved on their roofs awaiting rescue, then-president George W. Bush told the FEMA head he was doing a “heckuva job,” adding to the feeling that disaster response on the federal level had a deadly lack of oversight.

Hurricane Sandy preparations as the Northeast braced for the storm doubtlessly carried the echoes of Katrina, as local, state, and federal lawmakers made extensive preparations to ensure the safety of residents. And Brown gave an interview speaking about the response ahead of Sandy, accusing officials of responding too quickly and effectively to the looming chaos.

In the Denver Westword interview, Heckuva Job Brownie mused:

“Here’s my concern … People in the northeast are already beginning to blow it off…. [New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg has shut down the subway…[launched] evacuations…. I don’t object…they should be doing all of that. But in the meantime, various news commentators…[and others] in New York are shrugging their shoulders, saying, ‘What’s this all about?’ It’s premature [when] the brunt of the storm won’t happen until later this afternoon.”

atlantic city hurricane sandy

Brown seems to be unable to conceive of actually — oh, I don’t know — wanting to minimize loss of life and damage from the storm’s ravages , imagining instead that President Obama wished to make political hay of the tragedy because why else would anyone want to do their best to make sure people don’t die?

“My guess is, he wants to get ahead of it — he doesn’t want anybody to accuse him of not being on top of it or not paying attention or playing politics in the middle of it … He probably figured Sunday was a good day to do a press conference.”

Brown made an inevitable comparison between the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, which risked millions upon millions in areas affected by the freak storm, and the attack in Benghazi, adding:

“One thing he’s gonna be asked is, why did he jump on this so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in … Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas? … Why was this so quick? … At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question … This is like the inverse of Benghazi.”

Brown actually had the gall to add that disaster response was a “state and local issue” and said that the “stronger you make the federal government, the weaker you make local governments.”