The following is a transcript of an alleged August 31, 2005 cell phone conversation between former FEMA head Michael Brown (MB1) and Marty Bahamonde (MB2), a regional FEMA director who was in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
MB1: Brownie here.
MB2: Sir, it’s Marty Bahamonde. Sorry to interrupt your dinner. Listen, the situation here…
MB1: No problem, but let’s make it quick because I’m roaming.
MB2: Well, uhh…
MB1: (inaudible) the salt and pepper please, baby?
MB2: As I was saying, sir, the situation here is desperate and getting worse. There aren’t enough shelters and huge groups of displaced people are gathering at the convention center and the Superdome. They have nowhere else…
MB1: I saw the Super Bowl at the Dome one time. Say, how are those Saints looking this year?
MB2: The Saints? Sir, please, you must let me explain. Things are looking very bleak for New Orleans. There’s little food or water, no room in the shelters and no medicine for a lot of these people. And there are thousands…
MB1: Jesus, you’d think these people had never heard of a hurricane before. See, when a storm’s coming your way, the smart thing to do is pack the family into the car, hightail it out of there and find a hotel until the storm passes.
MB2: I understand that but a lot of these folks are too poor. They don’t own cars and don’t have anyplace to go if they did.
MB1: Are there no workhouses? No prisons?
MB2: Sir, I don’t …
MB1: Look, put them all on buses or something and get them out of there. I’m sure a bus will feel just like home.
MB2: All the local buses are underwater.
MB1: Where are the state authorities? It's not the federal government's job to deal with these state issues.
MB2: They don't have all the resources...
MB1: Well, I don’t know what you want me to do about it.
MB2: I’d like for you to arrange some relief services for the short term, and possibly follow up with transportation out of town sufficient for several thousand people.
MB1: Hang on a second. (inaudible) this medium rare. MEDIUM rare. Sorry, Marty.
MB2: Sir, I don’t think you understand the magnitude…
MB1: Transportation. Yes, we’ll have to arrange something. Say, Marty, do realize that before there were buses people used to get around town in horse-drawn carriages?
MB2: Yes, but let’s try to…
MB1: Do you like horses, Marty? I do. Have you ever seen an Arabian up close? Beautiful animal. Graceful, proud, exceptional muscle tone. I’ll tell you, Arabian semen in worth its volume in gold.
MB2: We’re having a lot of problems here, sir. I’d appreciate if you’d send whatever help you can right away. And I think you should come see the situation for yourself.
MB1: Seems like everybody wants Brownie’s time right now. Look, I’ll try and swing through there in the next few days.
MB2: I imagine there will be many dead by then, sir.
MB1: Hmm. Have you ever seen one of those Dixieland funerals they have in New Orleans, Marty? It’s the damnedest thing. The mourners carry the coffin down the street walking like zombies. Then all the sudden they break out into a jam session. It’s actually kinda cool. You should try and catch one of those while you’re there.
MB2: It looks like I’ll have plenty of chances.
MB1: OK, Marty, I need to eat my dinner, and my wife is giving me a dirty look because I’m not paying any attention to her. I’ll see what I can do about getting some decommissioned army buses out to you.
MB2: I appreciate that, sir, but the first priorities should be food, water and medicine.
MB1: Can’t you just hold them off with some canned food until we get something better set up? Look, my cell battery’s about to die.
MB2: That’s what I’m trying to tell you, sir. There’s little canned food where I am, and no MREs have arrived as of yet.
MB1: No MREs? Then let them eat crawdad gumbo. (inaudible, line goes dead)
MB2: Sir? Sir?