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A Dearth of Answers

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Bush: "Well, what I'd like to see in corporate America, is to make sure they contribute to helping these victims. . . . "

And what about the long-term federal role?

Sawyer: "The prospect, some people are saying, [is] of a million American refugees in place for a very long time. . . . What are you saying to them about how far the federal government will go to get their lives back? Do you promise jobs? Do you promise that they will be moved back into housing and how soon?"

Bush: "Well, first of all, we've got to get a handle on the situation. In other words, we have to stop the flooding in New Orleans and, you know, rescue the folks. Get them out of harm's way. Get food and medicine to people. Then take a serious assessment about what it is going to need to rebuild New Orleans. And parts of Mississippi."

Sawyer, her interview over, turned things back over to anchors Charlie Gibson and Robin Roberts.

Said Roberts: "Diane was right. People are asking: Where is the help? We need it now. We keep hearing, they keep hearing, that's it's coming. But they need it now."

About Those Levees

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," Bush said.

Wrong.

Just for starters, how about Sunday's New Orleans Times-Picayune , which described a computer model run by the LSU Hurricane Center. "It indicated the metropolitan area was poised to see a repeat of Betsy's flooding, or worse, with storm surge of as much as 16 feet moving up the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet and topping levees in Chalmette and eastern New Orleans, and pushing water into the 9th Ward and parts of Mid-City."

Or Monday's New York Times , in which New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin is quoted as saying that "Hurricane Katrina could bring 15 inches of rain and a storm surge of 20 feet or higher that would 'most likely topple' the network of levees and canals that normally protect the bowl-shaped city from flooding.

And as Andrew C. Revkin and Christopher Drew write in today's New York Times: "The 17th Street levee that gave way and led to the flooding of New Orleans was part of an intricate, aging system of barriers and pumps that was so chronically underfinanced that senior regional officials of the Army Corps of Engineers complained about it publicly for years."

Today's Coverage

Bush had Air Force One fly low over the Gulf Coast on his way back from Texas to Washington yesterday.


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