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The Best Laid Plans
June 28, 2007 12:52 AM   Subscribe

The Best Laid Plans: The Story of How the Government Ignored Its Own Gulf Coast Hurricane Plans. A new report from CREW describes FEMA's plan to respond to a hurricane of Katrina’s magnitude and its subsequent failure to implement that plan. [Via C&L.]
posted by homunculus (33 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but much of the city/environs are still a trashed disaster area, right?
posted by nightchrome at 12:57 AM on June 28, 2007


George Bush doesn't care about black people.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:37 AM on June 28, 2007


George Bush doesn't care about much.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:46 AM on June 28, 2007


George Bush doesn't care about black people.

Kayne West's one-liner was a more insightful statement than it first seemed.

The next national emergency -- whether another natural disaster or a terrorist attack -- undoubtedly will require both adequate preparation and competent execution; based on the findings in this report, what confidence can the American people have that our government will be ready to face those challenges?”

Competent execution. It seems all the fashion to blame incompetence nowadays instead of bad intent. What we saw was not a lack of adqequate preparation, failure to implement a plan, or even incompetence. Any half-assed attempt made up on the spot would have been better than what we saw. What we saw was near total neglect. What we saw was a local, state, and above all, federal government that didn't give a damn about a bunch of poor niggers. If I may be blunt about it.

Better planning and greater competence would not have made any difference.
posted by three blind mice at 2:02 AM on June 28, 2007


"Whoops you have no health care. Whoops I funded my buddies porch reconstruction. Whoops I started a war. Whoops I misplaced billions. Whoops I destroyed all confidence in the government. Whoops I accomplished the real conservative agenda. All this while you have been laughing at me."


You've just been Qualyed.
posted by srboisvert at 2:59 AM on June 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


What a succinct assessment, srboisvert. I don' think that his bumbling manner is rehearsed (no actor could pull it off so well)... but it sure is convenient. Put a big clown onstage, and whilst everyone laughs at him, his clowny friends burn down the entire town and eat all the children.

It's genius, really.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:21 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


three blind mice,
Isn't there a saying about not mistaking incompetence for evil? If you want to be cold and ignore the human element, New Orleans is one of the busiest ports in the world, an extremely important player in Gulf oil production, a world-famous tourism center, and the Wiki entry on its economy says it even has a NASA production facility. Local, state, and federal governments must really, really hate "poor niggers" if they would purposefully allow such a valuable asset to be destroyed just to get them. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite the face. Or maybe it really was just that everyone was caught with their pants down, everyone was expecting someone else to do the work, no one planned, and everyone was slow in reacting?
posted by Sangermaine at 3:25 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Somebody didn't read the linked article.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:09 AM on June 28, 2007


nobody could have foreseen that they would fly hurricanes into coastal cities.
posted by quonsar at 4:12 AM on June 28, 2007 [14 favorites]


George Bush doesn't care about black people.

Not true--just ask Condi Rice.

George Bush doesn't care about poor people.
posted by EarBucket at 4:12 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think he realises that Dr Rice is black.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:50 AM on June 28, 2007


Local, state, and federal governments must really, really hate "poor niggers" if they would purposefully allow such a valuable asset to be destroyed just to get them.

First of all, I don't think anyone in this thread is saying GWB manufactured a hurricane and then specifically targetting black people with it. Just that they didn't care enough to really try to save them.

Secondly, a good test for this theory would be the state of the port today. If it's operating at or near pre-Katrina capacity while the poor, black population of the city isn't, it isn't hard to make the argument that the Powers That Be care about inanimate objects more than the residents.
posted by DU at 5:28 AM on June 28, 2007


George Bush doesn't care about black people.

Not true--just ask Condi Rice.

What makes you think he cares about Rice? I've never seen him doing anything she suggests, only her doing thing he orders. That's the definition of "tool", not "colleague" or even "employee".
posted by DU at 5:31 AM on June 28, 2007


I wish I was in New Orleans
I can see it in my dreams
Arm in arm down Burgundy
But Fema and George Bush screwed me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:01 AM on June 28, 2007


DU,
First of all, I don't think anyone in this thread is saying GWB manufactured a hurricane and then specifically targetting black people with it.
Nor was I. I was just responding to three blind mice's skepticism of the "incompetence explanation". I think that what happened to the population has more to do with everyone being incompetent rather than the powers that be not really trying to help them. Though I agree that your test idea would be one way to see what went on in their heads, at least afterwards.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:09 AM on June 28, 2007


Sangermaine writes "Isn't there a saying about not mistaking incompetence for evil?"

Yes there's one. Yet there is none for covering up evil with apparent incompetence, for instance consider private companies who prefer to appear incompetent and stupid after cashing the money and exploiting their limited liability. Similarly is easy for a politician to blame bureocracy (that's the standard conservative/republic trick, blame the gubmint, then action corporate welfare paid by people welfare) and cover up their lack of interest or benefits from a situation.

Anyway let's blame sangermaine, who's going to defend him anyway.
posted by elpapacito at 6:18 AM on June 28, 2007


Isn't there a saying about not mistaking incompetence for evil?

Hanlon's Razor

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."
posted by Esoquo at 6:26 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


There was a great article in this month's Harpers about New Orleans by Duncan Murrell: In the year of the storm. (You may need a subscription to read it. Also, June's Harper's was solid gold.)
posted by chunking express at 6:26 AM on June 28, 2007


My comp isn't letting me read the pdf file. How airtight is this?

The linked press release says that "FEMA had created a “Southeast Louisiana Catastrophic Hurricane Plan” (SLCHP), which forecast a range of specific consequences, including:
* New Orleans would be flooded with 14-17 feet of water, the levee system inundated with at least 10 feet of water and the hurricane would move into Mississippi;
* One million people would evacuate, but flooding would trap at least 250-350,000"

Is that what happened?

Obviously, regardless of exactly how accurate the SLCHP was, it was implemented extremely poorly, if at all. I'd just like to see if the GOP talking point that "no one could have foreseen!" is 10, 50 or 100% false.
posted by ibmcginty at 6:29 AM on June 28, 2007


"Heckuva job Brownie!"

Qualifications to serve in the Bush administration:

1) Loyalty to Bush

2) Fund raising

3) Election corruption work

4) Competence? Not so much.
posted by nofundy at 7:01 AM on June 28, 2007


Put a big clown onstage, and whilst everyone laughs at him, his clowny friends burn down the entire town and eat all the children.

Best one line description of the last seven years yet, with bonus points for using "whilst".
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:10 AM on June 28, 2007


Local, state, and federal governments must really, really hate "poor niggers" if they would purposefully allow such a valuable asset to be destroyed just to get them.

Not this so much as the fact that disregard of poor people blinded them to the overall importance of the region. Not overt prejudice or even malicious disregard, but just an inability to understand/empathize with people who are not exactly like you (which sounds pretty much like evil to me). But isn't this what the vast right-wing conspiracy is all about? Getting rid of everyone not exactly like them?

Too bad they forgot that they are the ones staffing the ports, and wearing the police and firefighter uniforms, and teaching the kids, and fixing the sewers and running the pumps and..and..and...
posted by nax at 7:24 AM on June 28, 2007


"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Key word being "adequately". I think you can explain the current state of New Orleans by stupidty, I just don't think such an explanation is adequate. At least it isn't the complete explanation.
posted by DreamerFi at 7:49 AM on June 28, 2007


elpapacito,
Anyway let's blame sangermaine, who's going to defend him anyway.
Ah, ya got me. My racist, corporate, Republican agenda has been revealed. Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to burn down a poor, black church that's standing on ground my masters need for a new mini-mall.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:04 AM on June 28, 2007


48 hours before Katrina made landfall FEMA had 100 people in place, with response plans, in Mississippi, another 100 in Louisianna and another 100 in Alabama. The eye of Katrina went across the gulf coast of Mississippi. More people were displaced and more homes were lost in Mississippi than in Louisianna. How or why is it that both the response and recovery have gone so much better in Mississippi than LA? I don't think that the statewide ratio of black/white residents is all that different between the two states.
posted by X4ster at 9:53 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


As much as I love Hanlon's razor, I think a different principle is in play here:

Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
posted by mock at 10:07 AM on June 28, 2007 [8 favorites]


More people were displaced and more homes were lost in Mississippi than in Louisianna.

Not to belittle the experience of a neighbor, but no, not even really close on both accounts.

It was two different disasters. They got what you'd expect if a fairly heavily populated coastal area was hit dead on by a big hurricane. New Orleans got what you'd expect if 80% of a city was rotting in sitting water for a week or two. The MS gulf coast was a natural disaster. What happened in Orleans and the surrounding parishes were mostly infrastructural failures.

As to the questionable distribution of recovery money between the two states, I'd say there's a lot of explanations, some more obvious than others, but all of which I'm sort of tired of thinking about.
posted by gordie at 11:42 AM on June 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Fed response to Katrina evokes for me a sardonic chuckle about all the plans made and money spent for a nuclear attack.

Apart from the bunkers for the leadership, it's pretty clear that -- if that threat were ever real, rather than a funnel for tax dollars -- it would have been "every man for himself." In the argot of the time, as Lebowski would say.

(Whatever became of all the public bunkers marked with "Limit xxx" atomic symbols, and the supplies -- food, geiger counters -- that were stored in them? Did Reagan give them away along with the cheese? Where was the media coverage of that little item?)
posted by Twang at 2:51 PM on June 28, 2007


On August 28, 2005, the day before Katrina hit, FEMA Deputy Director Patrick Rhode sent an email to Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks Altshuler and Michael Heath, Special Assistant to FEMA Director Michael Brown, with the subject line, “copy of New Orleans cat plan” stating, “I never got one – I think Brown got my copy – did you get one?”

Wow.
posted by mek at 5:11 PM on June 28, 2007


I'll probably get attacked for this, but even so.
Regardless of who failed to do what, who was incompetent or malicious or what-have-you. Regardless of all the blame and such. I just have one broad question, as someone looking at it from the outside.
Why is New Orleans still mostly trashed?
Why is stuff just not getting done?
I heard they're putting a lot of effort into a memorial, when many people are still not even living reasonable lives again yet. And then there was the thing about building a new stadium. And then there was the recent article about how the city still has basically zero chance of handling another hurricane if it were to strike...basically nothing has changed or been planned.
What the hell is wrong with their priorities?
posted by nightchrome at 5:27 PM on June 28, 2007


Surely... this... surely... this... surely.. this.. surely this surely this surelythissurelythissurlythssrlytslts... -KABOOM-

Multiball!
posted by JHarris at 7:42 PM on June 28, 2007


Nearly Two Years After Katrina, Gulf Coast Residents Fighting Environmental Neglect, Privatization
posted by homunculus at 1:22 PM on June 29, 2007


I've been here for 7 months in St. Bernard Parish which is adjacent to Orleans Parish where New Orleans is located. To answer 2 of the questions:
Yes, the area is still trashed. Here in St. Bernard there is approximately a 30% rehabitation rate. Many properties still have not even been gutted.
Stuff is not getting done because the Louisiana Recovery Authority (aka Road Home) is either incompetent or evil. When I arrived 14 months after the storm there were approximately 95,000 people deemed eligible for LRA funds. The number that had received money at that date - 12. The current number is about 1,500. Just this month they are starting to release funds in quantity. Unfortunately the LRA is spending a huge percentage of the money they received on administration so that the awards will not nearly cover the cost of rebuilding.
posted by vapidave at 3:39 PM on June 29, 2007


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