Herenton blasts politicians over emergency preparedness

In an impromptu interview about emergency preparedness Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton blasted other elected officials who - he says - have been politicizing the issue.

"It just irritates me. I seen mayor wharton and I seen congressman ford responding to the situation and I don't think they've been honest with the people of this community," Herenton said.

He says the community will never be fully prepared and he says to suggest it's possible is dishonest.

He's critical of Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton who has ordered an immediate review of Shelby County's emergency plan. Congressman Harold Ford Junior has requested the same thing.

"You never really know until you're hit with these things. You get all these politicians making inept statements, misleading people. When you're called upon to respond to a situation, you can't pull out a cookbook and tell A, B, C, D... Here's what you do," Herenton said.

But others are trying to come up with a plan. Congressman Ford has co-sponsored a bill that would create a volunteer army through Americorps.

"For Ford talking about 30-thousand volunteers and all that. It sounds good. It sounds good. It resonates well. But it simply does not speak to the realities of those disasters. So it really irritates me to see elected officials mislead the public," said Herenton.

"I'm not interested in quarrelling with Mayor Herenton about his administration's preparedness for an emergency situation, my only interest is in ensuring that the city and region are ready for disaster god forbid it happens," said Congressman Ford in a telephone interview.

Mayor Wharton sent us a statement saying, "I have discussed this matter with Mayor Herenton and am convinced that we are in agreement that there is no way anybody can insure total and complete protection from catastrophic events." He also said, "it does the community no good to engage in public arguments over this issue."