Remember "Blanco: where were the 500 FEMA-promised buses?" Well, "Offer of buses fell between the cracks" has the shocking details.
A Florida trucking logistics company called Landstar Express America had a contract with FEMA that was worth up to $100 million per year to provide buses for evacuation purposes.
On Sunday, Aug. 28, Landstar apparently contacted a company called Carey Limousine asking them about the availability of buses.
Landstar found Carey by looking at their website.
Landstar inquired about availability again on Monday Aug 29, but they waited until "the early hours of Aug. 30, roughly 18 hours after the storm hit" to order buses from Carey, according to their spokeswoman Sally Snead:
She said Landstar turned to her company for buses Sunday after learning from Carey's Internet site that it had a meetings and events division that touted its ability to move large groups of people. "They really found us on the Web site," Snead said.
A Landstar spokeswoman declined comment on how the company responded to the hurricane.
Messages left for a FEMA spokeswoman were not returned.
In turn, Carey contracted with Transportation Management Services of Vienna, VA, which got 300 buses together.
Meanwhile, the heads of the United Motorcoach Association and of the American Bus Association - which apparently control over 20,000 buses - had each been contacting FEMA offering to help:
The day the hurricane made landfall, Victor Parra, president of the United Motorcoach Association, called FEMA's Washington office "to let them know our members could help out."
Parra said FEMA responded the next day, referring him to an agency Web page labeled "Doing Business with FEMA" but containing no information on the hurricane relief effort...
Unable to contact FEMA directly, Pantuso, through contacts on Capitol Hill, learned of Carey International's role and called Snead.
Pantuso said Snead told him she meant to call earlier but didn't have a phone number.
Finally, sometime after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Pantuso and Parra had enough information to send an SOS to their members to help in the evacuation.
By the weekend, more than 1,000 buses were committed to ferrying stranded New Orleans residents to shelters in Houston and other cities...
But, wait, there's more of the same:
In a regulatory filing last week, Landstar Express said it has received government orders worth at least $125 million for Katrina-related work. It's not known how much of that total pertains to the bus evacuation.
Landstar Express is a subsidiary of Landstar System, a $2 billion company whose board chairman, Jeff Crowe, also was chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the nation's premier business lobbies, from June 2003 until May 2004.
[...Landstar and the others are now aware of each other and cooperating...]
Landstar's regulatory filing also said that because of Hurricane Katrina, the maximum annual value of its government contract for disaster relief services has been increased to $400 million...
A situation similar to the last could have happened under Clinton or other presidents, but I have a feeling that under Bush it's a bit more "pronounced."