Director Visits Hurricane-Stricken Region
Director Travels to Hurricane-Stricken Region
His Message to Employees: "We Will Do Whatever We Can To Help You"
Director Mueller recently traveled to the Hurricane Katrina-stricken Gulf Coast, making stops in the Mobile Office and a makeshift New Orleans FBI operations set up in a downtown hotel. The Director met with employees in both places and heard-and in some cases saw firsthand-the devastating losses suffered by FBI employees there. It was his second trip to the disaster area since the storm.
In Mobile, Director Mueller met with not only employees of that office, but also with a number of New Orleans employees who had been taken in by Mobile personnel. The Mobile Office itself had some ground floor flooding after the storm, but the building’s structure seems sound. During the emotional meeting, employees one by one introduced themselves to Director Mueller and shared their stories with him—including one employee who had not only lost her home but her entire neighborhood.
Director Mueller told employees they were part of the Bureau family and that “we will do whatever we can to help you.”
Some employees in the Gulfport and Pascagoula Resident Agencies out of the Jackson Office also lost their homes, and the homes of many other employees were damaged.
In New Orleans, the Director met with Special Agent in Charge Jim Bernazzani—working out of temporary quarters—as well as Special Agents in Charge Mike Wolf of New Haven and Ken Kaiser of Boston, both currently on-site coordinating the FBI’s supporting efforts to state and local authorities. Director Mueller also met with Eddie Compass, New Orleans Police Superintendent; Colonel Terry Ebert, New Orleans’ homeland security director; Colonel Henry Whitehorn, chief of the Louisiana State Police; and other local and state officials.
The Director was briefed on FBI efforts in the region. FBI SWAT teams were on the ground immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit to help local authorities maintain order, followed shortly by representatives from the FBI’s Evidence Response Teams and Hazardous Material Response Unit to help deal with such things as toxins in the flood waters and downed live power lines. Other FBI personnel on the ground in New Orleans worked with the New Orleans Police Department, even helping them respond to 911 calls.
Police Superintendent Compass has been extremely complementary of the Bureau’s assistance in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, saying, “We couldn’t have done this without the FBI.”