Recovery

Former New Orleans Homeland Security Director Under Ray Nagin Tapped to Return to Role Under Cantrell

Ebbert, 75, will oversee New Orleans’ fire and emergency medical departments and will be responsible for emergency preparedness as Cantrell’s director of public safety and security.

by Jeff Adelson, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. / June 8, 2018

(TNS) - Terry Ebbert, who was in charge of New Orleans’ disaster response and public safety agencies under former Mayor Ray Nagin, will be rejoining city government in a similar role for Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

Ebbert, 75, will oversee New Orleans’ fire and emergency medical departments and will be responsible for emergency preparedness as Cantrell’s director of public safety and security, the administration announced Thursday evening.

He will not oversee the Police Department but will supervise the city's 911 call operation and the Office of Police Secondary Employment, a spokesman said.

A retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, Ebbert was New Orleans’ homeland security director from 2003 to 2008 and served as the incident commander during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In the days after levee breaches flooded the city, he became a frank and sharply critical voice about the inadequacy of FEMA’s response and later was a key witness for a congressional investigation into the federal government’s failures to provide aid and coordinate relief efforts in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Since leaving city government, Ebbert has run an emergency preparedness consulting firm. He also has served as director of security and emergency management for the Department of Energy's National Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“I intend to call on my past experience with local, state and federal agencies and their leadership to provide the city of New Orleans with plans, procedures and trained organizations prepared to manage all public safety challenges for New Orleans,” Ebbert said.

“I want to promise the citizens of New Orleans that I will do everything within my skill set to earn their trust and respect.”

Ebbert started work Thursday, six days into the 2018 hurricane season.

He will be paid $181,000 a year. That’s about $63,440 a year more than former Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s homeland security director, Aaron Miller, was paid, though Miller’s job was more narrowly focused on emergency preparedness and response and did not include direct oversight of other public safety agencies.

Ebbert’s appointment came after Cantrell ended up rejecting another former city official for the role.

Her first pick was former Police Superintendent Warren Riley, another top Nagin administration official.

Riley had already filled out his hiring paperwork and quit his job at FEMA when Cantrell first delayed and then called off his appointment because of mounting public criticism.

The critics faulted Riley's oversight of the Police Department during a time of cover-ups of police violence and killings during and after Katrina, including the fatal shooting of civilians on the Danziger Bridge.

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