Story by Tom Pace, Special to the Press-Tribune
It’s no secret: State Treasurer John Kennedy is definitely not a fan of the federal government or the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP).
In a meeting with Mayor Lo Walker and other emergency responders at the Bossier Sheriff’s Substation on Viking Drive, June 17, Kennedy was asked for his opinion about the emergency response to the historic 2015 Red River Flood across Shreveport-Bossier.
Kennedy said bluntly, “I think our folks in local government have done a phenomenal job…they’ve been heroic.”
“I’m gonna reserve judgement, I can say some things that others either can’t, or won’t. I’m pretty frank,” Kennedy quickly adding, “I’m gonna reserve my judgement on the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness.
“It became very clear, very quickly that the information we were receiving from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service, was not gonna be accurate, they changed the prediction for the crest seven times in 14 days. Now that’s just a fact,” emphasized Kennedy.
“Now GOSHEP has a $1.3 billion budget, they’ve got 374 people, and their one and only mission… is to lead in the preparation, response, and recovery from natural disasters.”
“That means they’re supposed to be the quarterback. That is not the core responsibility of a sheriff or a mayor, that’s why we created GOHESP.”
“Our local officials, thank God for them. Whether we get federal aid, folks are gonna need help in the cleanup.”
“Now, this gonna shock you: Sometimes the federal government is not right.”
“The fact is the matter is, we started May 24th with an estimate of 31.5 feet, we ended on June 7th with a crest of 37.4. Now that’s a helluva swing,” said Kennedy.
“What I’m disappointed in that GOSHEP didn’t step up to the plate, it’s not the job of our sheriffs or mayors to do that…(to say) the feds don’t have a handle on these numbers, so we’re going to ramp up here and assume the worst.”
Summing up his disappointment with GOHSEP, Kennedy concluded, “Our quarterback should have said ‘Woah, time out, we don’t have a handle on the numbers, so let’s assume the worst and hope for the best. You live and learn.”
Tom Pace is Executive Editor and radio host of “Talk of the Town” on www.ShreveTalk.com and The Promise 90.7FM