Priorities

From Holden:

Via Froomkin, the Bush Assministration pulled Mississippi electrical workers away from their efforts to restore power to two hospitals and several water systems and had them restore power to a fuel pipeline first.

Katrina roared through South Mississippi knocking out electricity and communication systems, the White House ordered power restored to a pipeline that sends fuel to the Northeast.

That order – to restart two power substations in Collins that serve Colonial Pipeline Co. – delayed efforts by at least 24 hours to restore power to two rural hospitals and a number of water systems in the Pine Belt.

[snip]

“I considered it a presidential directive to get those pipelines operating,” said Jim Compton, general manager of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association – which distributes power that rural electric cooperatives sell to consumers and businesses.

“I reluctantly agreed to pull half our transmission line crews off other projects and made getting the transmission lines to the Collins substations a priority,” Compton said. “Our people were told to work until it was done.

[snip]

“We were led to believe a national emergency was created when the pipelines were shut down,” Compton said.

[snip]

Compton said workers who were trying to restore substations that power two rural hospitals – Stone County Hospital in Wiggins and George County Hospital in Lucedale – worked instead on the Colonial Pipeline project.

The move caused power to be restored at least 24 hours later than planned.

Mindy Osborn, emergency room coordinator at Stone County Hospital, said the power was not restored until six days after the storm on Sept. 4. She didn’t have the number of patients who were hospitalized during the week after the storm.

“Oh, yes, 24 hours earlier would have been a help,” Osborn said.