On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina began wreaking havoc on the
Gulf Coast that’s still reverberating today — and many members of the
public continue to see Michael Brown, head of FEMA at the time, as one
of the story’s chief villains.
Still, Brown, a KOA talk-show host
who’ll broadcast live from New Orleans tonight and tomorrow, insists
this feeling is hardly universal, as he learned after being caught in a
“I’ve actually been to New Orleans several times” since Katrina, he
points out en route to the airport this morning. “This might be my
fourth or fifth trip back — and my last trip was about a month or two
ago, with Spike Lee, to do some interviews for his documentary on HBO.”
During that stop, “I had to go get a rental car, because that
evening, I had to broadcast from Baton Rouge instead of New Orleans.
And I was walking from the hotel to a rental place when there was a
downpour. So I headed into the foyer of an old abandoned building with
some other people, including this sweet old woman. We were all soaked
— and I started talking to her.
“We were just making small talk, and, bless her heart, she
recognized who I am and put her arm around me and said, ‘I’ll tell you
what, sonny, we got out of the city, but we saw what happened — and
you just weren’t treated right.’ And I said, ‘Ma’am, you’ve just made
The opposite point of view was expressed by an e-mailer whose note
reached Brown last night. “It was from somebody who lives in Shreveport
or something — a trial lawyer, I think. And he wrote, ‘How dare you
share your face back in Louisiana. You and Bush screwed this up’ —
they’ve always got to throw Bush in there.”
His response? “Okay, whatever. That’s life in general. Some people,
no matter what you talk about in terms of what took place, what
happened, what didn’t happen — some of them will just never be
emotionally able to accept me or anyone else from the administration.
And I get that.”
But he refuses to hide.