[updated 8:15 a.m.]
In the aftermath of of the Greensburg tornado, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius raised some very real concerns about the impact of the Iraq War on the state's ability to respond. The White House jumped into the fight.
As far as I can tell this morning, the score is Sebelius 1; White House, zero.
At issue is whether the National Guard has the equipment it needs to provide disaster response. Sebelius said she is concerned about the National Guard's ability to respond to more than one disaster.
Here's the key point, with emphasis from me, from The Kansas City Star:
Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the state’s adjutant general, said the Kansas National Guard’s equipment had been reduced about one-third from prewar levels, which were already low.
Bunting said that the Guard had the resources to handle the Greensburg cleanup but that the initial response was slowed somewhat by equipment shortages. He added that those resources were being stretched to the limit in Greensburg.
Over the weekend, he said, Kansas officials had real concerns about the potential for more tornadoes and major flooding elsewhere.
“The reality is, we should be able to do two or three (disasters) at the same time,” Bunting said. “Now we can do one and maybe one more small one. It just leaves you pretty tight.”
...Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said it was frustrating that the governor’s comments had further fueled the partisan battle over the war in Iraq because that was not her intent. Corcoran said Sebelius was only repeating what she and other governors of both parties had been warning for more than a year.
The Wichita Eagle also reports:
According to a spokesman for the Guard, the state doesn't have about half the tractor-trailer trucks it ordinarily would for moving heavy equipment from armories in eastern Kansas to the western Kansas disaster site. Also, the guard has only about 30 of its usual complement of 170 "medium tactical vehicles," high clearance cab-over trucks that are used to transport equipment, personnel and supplies.
On Tuesday, Snow criticized Sebelius, saying the federal government was prepared to supply what Kansas needed but that the governor had not requested aid beyond "FM radios."
He also appeared to lecture the governor about how to seek help from the government during the emergency: "If you don't request it, you're not going to get it."
Later, he corrected himself and said "the state has requested a mobile command center, an urban search and rescue task force, a mobile office building, 40 two-way radios, and coordination calls between Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma, to determine if they need extra Black Hawks (helicopters)."