Why did federal and local officials fail to protect thousands of Americans from a widely predicted natural disaster? FRONTLINE reporter Martin Smith finds out what happened to FEMA and asks who should be held accountable for the 900 mostly elderly people who lost their lives in New Orleans.
We heard the questions in the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina: Where were the troops, the food, the water? Where were the emergency workers? Where was FEMA?
…in an unsparing yet clear-eyed report, FRONTLINE details what went wrong with the federal response to the storm.
Few of the people interviewed for this report come out smelling good. … It’s a maddening report.
- The Houston Chronicle
“The Storm” does an excellent job exploring what went wrong with the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
- Pittsburg Post-Gazette
Leave it to “Frontline” to provide a gripping documentary with fresh facts and analysis, raising important questions we all need to ponder for some time to come.
- Chicago Tribune
Frontline makes Michael Brown squirm, and rarely does television provide more riveting rubber-necking.
- Orlando Sentinel
So who was ultimately responsible for the government’s inept reaction to Hurricane Katrina? “Frontline” offers a dispassionate, methodical but ultimately thoroughly damning account of the federal response, providing vital historical context about the dismantling of FEMA and an interview with its former head Michael Brown that carries the timely reminder it’s important to know when to shut the hell up. Paired with a “Nova” documentary about the science of the storm, this meatier half of the night won’t ease PBS’ left-leaning image among conservative critics, but it’s still must-see TV.
Correspondent Martin Smith leaves few stones unturned in an hour that opens and closes with disturbing homevideo of the disaster’s toll. While Brown apparently hasn’t learned to quit when he’s behind — becoming testy when Smith asks how he could have “misspoken” three times regarding the feds’ knowledge of the conditions in New Orleans — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and President Bush notably declined to be interviewed.
… PBS, of course, finds itself caught in its own kind of storm, indicative of the poisonous environment that made discussion of the Katrina response less about competence, whatever one’s allegiance, than about seeking to gain leverage amid the aforementioned finger-pointing and political fallout.
However, Smith’s authoritative approach conveys a meticulous journalistic throughline that all but the most partisan hacks will be hard-pressed to convincingly parry.
At least, that should be true until the next disaster — complete with that year’s edition of “the blame game” — blows into town.
Brown is the juiciest target in the program’s post-Katrina shooting gallery, but not the only one.
– Newark Star Ledger
“Frontline” corners the usual suspect, Michael Brown, the former Federal Emergency Management Agency director, who still defends his galling inaction. The reporter, Martin Smith, conducts an aggressive, on-camera interview, described as Mr. Brown’s first since the storm, and the deposed political appointee says that he does not want to pass the buck and then does just that.
– New York Times
“Frontline” revisits the Hurricane Katrina mess and gives former FEMA chief Michael Brown a chance to dig an even deeper hole for himself.
- Kansas City Star
Footage of the storm, much of which appears to be new to television, is breathtaking. Depiction of failures at every level to respond to the hurricane is equally stunning.
- Philadelphia Enquirer
“The Storm” … puts the federal government’s feet to the fire for failing to better prepare for and respond to Hurricane Katrina. It’s a scathing look back at what happened on the political front…
- Los Angeles Times
Smith takes no prisoners: He asks tough questions, is unsmiling throughout and asks tough follow-ups (“So how do you misspeak three times? I don’t understand”). It’s old-school television journalism at its best, the kind you hardly ever see any more on the increasingly airbrushed newsmagazines on the major U.S. networks. … Frontline’s Katrina post-mortem is tightly focused and tightly wound. It tells a complicated story simply and well. … It’s fascinating viewing, eye-opening and revealing, with not a dull moment in it.
- CanWest News Service (Canada)