Donna Brazile is currently Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. She has been a partisan Democrat and was campaign manager for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential run. She is a Louisiana native with family in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. Her family needed help and they got it. The day after the Bush Library Dedication, Brazile wrote a column praising George W. Bush for his handling of Hurricane Katrina.
But rather than rehash all that went wrong, I want to share what I believe to have been President Bush’s determination to follow up on commitments, and the intense, personal, dedicated efforts he made to revive and restore people’s futures. I know what I’m talking about.
Kathleen Blanco, Louisiana’s governor in 2005, asked me to serve on the state’s commission overseeing the long-term recovery from the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. I’ve kept a close watch over the last eight years.
Hurricane Katrina wasn’t one natural disaster: It was a triple whammy of water, winds and lawlessness. An Army Corps engineer on CBS talked this week about Midwest flooding: “Water is the perfect instrument of destruction,” he said. He is so right: Katrina’s waters laid waste to an area the size of Great Britain. Its winds reached 174 mph and, together, they took 1,833 lives.
Every member of my family was displaced by Katrina. Last year, I lost both my father and sister. But I had them with me that much longer because they were rescued from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. My father, Lionel, left New Orleans only two times in his life. The first was to serve his country in Korea. The second was when FEMA evacuated him to San Antonio, Texas.
My older sister, Sheila — people sometimes thought we were twins, we looked so much alike — was in an assisted care home. Sheila developed a brain tumor in childhood. Brain surgery left her needing help, although she still managed to finish high school and college. When FEMA officials told me it might be weeks before we found Sheila, I was furious…Eddie Rodriguez of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and our cousin, Keith, a cop, rescued her from the building’s rooftop…
My 92-year-old great uncle Henry, a WWII vet, was plucked from another rooftop and transported to Roswell, Georgia, only to suffer a heart attack. All seven of my remaining siblings, my father, uncle, aunts, and other relatives, lost everything in Katrina. I was upset — mad as hell — and disappointed But, I made a decision not to act out — act against Bush — but rather to turn to his administration for help, and to offer my help.
“Mr. President,” I said, “how can I help you?”
“Civility,” he said…
George W. Bush was good as his word. He visited the Gulf states 17 times; went 13 times to New Orleans. Laura Bush made 24 trips. Bush saw that $126 billion in aid was sent to the Gulf’s residents, as some members of his own party in Congress balked.
Bush put a special emphasis on rebuilding schools and universities. He didn’t forget African-Americans: Bush provided $400 million to the historically black colleges, now integrated, that remain a pride, and magnet for African-American students. Laura Bush, a librarian, saw to it that thousands of books ruined by the floods were replaced. To this day, there are many local libraries with tributes devoted to her efforts.
The above are snippets, read the whole story at CNN and how it must have galled them to report Brazile’s story. There’s also some good commentary on this story at the Washington Times by Eric Golub – you’ll want to read it.