Monday, September 19, 2005

Nagin Fails to Use Amtrak Trains

From Newsmax:

Officials at Amtrak say they offered to run a special train out of New Orleans that could have evacuated hundreds of residents hours before Hurricane Katrina struck - but city officials turned the offer down.

"We offered the city the opportunity to take evacuees out of harm's way," Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black told the Washington Post on Sunday. "The city declined."

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The train had room for "several hundred passengers," the Post said. But it left loaded only with railroad equipment - destined for higher and drier ground.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Sunday he had no idea what Black was talking about.

I don't know where that's coming from," he told NBC's "Meet the Press." "Amtrak never contacted me to make that offer. As a matter of fact, we checked the Amtrak lines for availability, and every available train was booked, as far as the report that I got, through September. So I'd like to see that report."

Nagin also offered a new explanation as to why he didn't press hundreds of city buses into service to aid in evacuation efforts.

"Sure, here was lots of buses out there," he told "Meet the Press." "But guess what? You can't find drivers that would stay behind with a Category 5 hurricane, you know, pending down on New Orleans. We barely got enough drivers to move people on Sunday, or Saturday and Sunday, to move them to the Superdome."

The New Orleans Democrat had a different excuse tens days ago, when asked about using his city's bus fleet.

"One of the briefings we had they were talking about getting, you know, public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out of here," he told WWL Radio.

"I'm like - you've got to be kidding me. This is a natural disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans."

Asked about the buses two days before his "Meet the Press" interview, Nagin told NBC's "Dateline": "I dont know. That is question for somebody else."

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