US government admits Katrina lapses
US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has acknowledged widespread lapses in the government response to Hurricane Katrina.india Updated: Feb 16, 2006 09:39 IST
US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has acknowledged widespread lapses in the government response to Hurricane Katrina.
Chertoff told incredulous senators on Wednesday that when he went to bed on the night of the storm, which killed about 1,300 people, he did not believe that Katrina had been as bad as many people had predicted.
But Chertoff took the blame for much of the criticism of government since the August 29 hurricane that devastated much of New Orleans and the US Gulf Coast.
"I'm accountable and accept responsibility for the performance of the entire department, the bad and the good," he told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
"There are many lapses that occurred," he admitted.
"It is completely correct to say that our logistics capability in Katrina was woefully inadequate," Chertoff added, while promising changes by the time the next hurricane season starts in June.
Chertoff said he had no idea of the extent of the devastation on the night of the hurricane August 29.
"When I went to bed, it was my belief -- and it was somewhat fortified by things I saw on TV -- that, actually, the storm had not done the worse that had been imagined," he told senators.
He said his department had told him there were some reports of breaches of levees in New Orleans but nothing had been confirmed. In reality Katrina tore through water defences around the city causing floods to 75 per cent of New Orleans.