Mornin. For the last 24 hours virtually every newscast has included reports from New Orleans screaming, literally screaming, that Bush has left them high and dry...or in this case, low and wet. Bloggers that normally seem reasonable even if they disagree with Bush have lost their minds. Everyone seems to say that we can not get politics involved right now, people's lives are in danger....that hasn't stopped an increasing shrillness to the reporting on Bush's activities or lack thereof.
The comparisons to the tsunami or 9/11 ignore vast differences.
9/11: The area of damage was contained to about 4 square miles in New York and one building in Washington. The area of damage from Katrina is THOUSANDS of square miles. In New York, emergency services could literally drive right up to the areas affected. In LA and Mississippi, emergency services were under as much water as the areas they were to assist.
Let me diverge here for a moment.
"Where the hell is Bush? We have no water or food for 4 days....". This was a quote from a woman on a newscast on Thursday. I have to ask, why? Why did she and her family not have food or water since Sunday. It wasn't like they didn't know a hurricane was coming. Even if the levees had not broken, the probability that electricity would be available even now is zero. Let is ignore for the moment the evacuation order...no, let us not. People were told to get out of New Orleans. I remember seeing a report late Sunday night from the French Quarter where bars were open and people were partying on the streets. Why were the businesses open? Why were there people having a party AFTER an evacuation order? Still, the people of New Orleans and all the Gulf Coast KNOW they are in Hurricane Boulevard. Where was the personal stockpile of food and water?
(Now some reasonably sounding person is going to comment - the stockpile of food and water is in their home...submerged under water....and I will agree that is possible for say...20% of those that stayed. Remember, only about 20% of the population either ignored the evacuation order (75%?), or had no way to get out(25%?).
Louisiana has lived with the possibility of a major hurricane hitting it for decades. Where was their own emergency plans? The Superdome? Please...it is in the middle of the severe danger zone! In the event of a levee breach, the Superdome would become an island in a sea of devastation...oh, hey, IT IS.
The National Guard is controlled by the individual states where they are based. Where were the Louisiana Guard? Please don't give me the crap they are all in Iraq, because that is not true. But even if EVERY National Guard member were available and ready to go, the question is...go where? As many as a dozen towns in Louisiana have CEASED TO EXIST. The damage in Mississippi is as bad although it had no cities the size of New Orleans in the path of destruction. Louisiana has about 6,500 National Guard troops available...meaning that if they were deployed to cover the entire damage area (about 20,000 sq miles) there would be only a couple per square mile if they were limited to actual towns. So, IGNORING all the rest of the damaged areas, a National Guardsman whose normal Guard job is fixing radios, COULD, hold a gun and stand on a corner in 4' of water in the French Quarter with 5 other equally 'well-trained' Guards for hours on end to protect it from looting...but of course, they would need food and water and people might be dying three blocks away...
As late as Friday, Katrina was only a Cat 1 hurricane with the potential of hitting the Gulf Coast. It was a Cat 3 only 12 hours later and a Cat 4 24 hours later...but now it was late Saturday/early Sunday....the weekend. The path was predicted on Saturday to hit Louisiana Monday. As late as Sunday evening I heard people saying it was going to miss New Orleans...from people in New Orleans...idiots.
Federal funding. Even if every penny had been left in the budgets, the levees would not have been ready for a Cat 5 before 2011 (I have heard 2008 to 2015). Does anyone else think this is ridiculous? People wonder why others insist on building homes on sides of hills in California that are KNOWN to slide...build homes on the BARRIER islands on the southern Atlantic seaboard...build homes on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. I can't get a permit to build a home if the area is in a 50 year flood plain....but we built a whole city below sea level in an annual flood plain? Hello??
Remember the newscasts on Monday afternoon? "New Orleans dodged a bullet." All those people that stayed, "I've been through 3 of them...no problem", were congratulating themselves Monday evening...were drowning Tuesday morning.
Looters. I would agree with those that think "shoot on sight" is an appropriate response except there bodies would end up floating with all the other garbage floating in the city. People knew they wouldn't be arrested...no where to put them...so, the scum of New Orleans walked among all the other floating scum and added to the destruction. I AM NOT BEING RACIST - the majority of the looters shown on newscasts have been BLACK...AFRICAN AMERICAN....why? It appears the vast majority of people that did not evacuate when told to do so, were black. Where was the neighborhood leadership....gone? Is it because the majority of the people left were too poor to leave? They had to loot to survive? I find there is NO excuse for looting, PERIOD....EVER. What percentage of looters do you want me to concede were not black...10%, 20%...40%? The majority was/is. Again, why? The asshole that said he had been held down by the man and this was payback time, was a criminal and NO ONE should defend either his words or actions. But you will, won't you....
Another thing I noticed. Lack of leadership. People were wandering around asking what to do, where to go, where is the help? Where were the people that organized small groups to help themselves? I hate to say it, but those people looked not only lost but helpless.
I have a portable radio. I would have gathered my family and neighbors and started walking out of the damage area. Sitting on a bridge surrounded by water for 4 days JUST WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.
To the idiot that asked where was the plane with porta-potties. Yea, over in Kansas, there is an airport with 200 porta-potties and a plane right next to them that can hover and drop them off anywhere in the US with just a few hours notice...but you are black and live below sea-level and didn't evacuate when told to, so we sent the pilots home to have a nice LABOR day weekend....tough shit...
Of course if people hadn't started shooting at rescue workers, things might not have gotten stalled on Wednesday...
No one is covering it deeply, but it is getting reported that there were rapings going on in the SuperDome...treat them like animals and what do you expect? Sorry, I don't buy that shit. If it was happening, then the people in there should have beat the shit out of the criminals and dumped them outside. Where was/is the leadership? NO NOT BUSH.....let us start with the people themselves...the neighbors, the pastors....the Mayor of New Orleans, the Governor of Louisiana. The Federal Government doesn't act until requested...of course the offers can be (AND WERE) made.
Where would the government put up evacuees? To the east, the damage was as bad or worse and the access to the east is severely damaged. Most areas outside the damage area already were full with those that actually did leave when they were supposed to. The AstroDome is 320 miles to the west...so, having places to put people have been few...no sense in loading people into trucks and buses with no place to go...
-- NOTE to residents of New Orleans and other damaged areas: The Bankruptcy Reform Act goes into effect on October 17th. Your income is based on the last 6 months...so even if your home is gone, your job is gone, you might not QUALIFY to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy....good luck.... ---
I heard on woman complain that the MRE's she had gotten were terrible, that she couldn't eat that crap...I guess beggars can be choosy...
The devastation is terrible, the loss of life, horrible. But the place to start questioning readiness is IN NEW ORLEANS, in Louisiana...not Washington DC. Americans are going to give BILLIONS to the damaged areas...the Federal government is going to allocate and spend BILLIONS in Louisiana and Mississippi. Rebuilding will take years...but it is going to be for naught....because sometime in the future, a Cat 5 is going to come ashore again and lay waste to all that rebuilding. Some have compared the rebuilding to Chicago after the fire...but is wrong...Chicago did not build wooden houses on top of smoldering ashes...
Oh...the comparison to the tsunami, which caused damage over a widespread area. Access was available almost immediately after the fact....the population density did not approach that of the Gulf Coast, and the level of technical infrastructure was considerably lower....and if I recall correctly, it took 4-5 days for relief to get into place.
By the way....what kind of disasters happen (even if infrequently) in your area? Are you ready? Do you and your family have an evacuation plan? For your house, your neighborhood? I do. I know what we will do and where we will go in the event of: a fire, a tornado, a blizzard, flooding, loss of utility services (expected to last for more than couple of days), loss of civil order, loss of government services (fire, police).