Do everything for others, nothing for your own people?
September 1, 2005 9:59 AM   Subscribe

``I don't treat my dog like that,' 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the [dead] woman in the wheelchair. ``I buried my dog.' He added: ``You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here.' People dying and left in streets waiting for aid at a New Orleans Convention Center.
posted by omidius (260 comments total)
 
People who seriously compare this to the tsunami clearly didn't comprehend its scale. When the roads are filled with bodies six-deep, then you can start complaining about how the government does everything for other countries and nothing for us.

(Not saying this isn't tragic and heartbreaking, but, well, it would cheapen Katrina if I compared it to a car accident I saw last week, too.)
posted by Plutor at 10:04 AM on September 1, 2005


Here is some good news. Evacuee Lands Job After NBC 5 Broadcast
posted by thomcatspike at 10:07 AM on September 1, 2005


Um. Okay, Plutor. So we're comparing dick size in terms of natural catastrophes now?

The simple fact of the matter is, this thing is being handled so fucking poorly it would be laughable, if it weren't so goddamned sickening.
posted by wakko at 10:07 AM on September 1, 2005


"When the roads are filled with bodies six-deep, then you can start complaining about how the government does everything for other countries and nothing for us."

Wait a second, let me get a pen... So what you are saying is: wait for a hundreds of thousands to die in some tradgic incident and for the government to still be inept before I can start to comment on their ineptitude... At what body count can I begin writing a strongly worded letter?
posted by Meccabilly at 10:08 AM on September 1, 2005


What I don't get is that we all could see the hurricane coming, we all knew it was going to hit and devastate a large area of the country and yet it appears that there weren't any plans put into place to account for refugees and food shortages and everything else.

I am becoming more and more worried about friends I have in New Orleans since surviving the hurricane was just the first survival hurdle people down there have had to face.

Its an incredibly scary time and I've been seeing more and more reports that the "authorities" are all but useless in dealing with the problems. I'm sure there are places where things are going well enough but we're not seeing those reports in the news, just alot of people who have had a really tough few days and no help in sight.
posted by fenriq at 10:09 AM on September 1, 2005


I'm really perplexed, as more news comes out about this. How is this happening? Can someone tell me in a non-cynical fashion.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:11 AM on September 1, 2005


Let me clarify again: This is a terrible disaster, and it's really being handled terribly. And even under ideal handling, it would go badly. But people who act like the tsunami cleanup was a cake walk and the US government is sleeping on the job on this one are being very anglo-centric. "It was far away, on the television, so it wasn't that bad of a disaster. This one's worse because it's US!"
posted by Plutor at 10:13 AM on September 1, 2005



I'm really perplexed, as more news comes out about this. How is this happening? Can someone tell me in a non-cynical fashion.


I'm trying really hard here: It was not in the priorities of the current administration to prepare for disasters not directly linked to terrorism. Also all the troops are currently half way around the world and unable to help. At this point i can no longer make 100% cynancism free statements....
posted by Meccabilly at 10:14 AM on September 1, 2005


What I don't get is that we all could see the hurricane coming, we all knew it was going to hit and devastate a large area of the country and yet it appears that there weren't any plans put into place

Everyone knew this would happen sometime, but the likelihood of it happening on any one politician's watch is very, very low. If you're that politician, it is easier and more politically expedient to do nothing and hope the killer storm doesn't hit on your watch.

It's more than just a failure of leadership at the federal, state and local levels, it's a failure of our political system, which rewards short-term gains and does not reward far-sighted leadership.
posted by nyterrant at 10:16 AM on September 1, 2005


Plutor: thanks for the clarification. It really didn't make sense at first.
posted by wakko at 10:17 AM on September 1, 2005


It's more than just a failure of leadership at the federal, state and local levels, it's a failure of our political system, which rewards short-term gains and does not reward far-sighted leadership.

Countries should not be run like corporations. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more the case in the U.S.
posted by wakko at 10:19 AM on September 1, 2005


This is like Bangladesh in the streets of the fucking United States of America. It feels as if there's a barely controlled panic with the horrifying reports coming out of NOLA, the lines at gas stations, some being shut down, the spike in prices, the general sense of helplessness.
posted by kgasmart at 10:19 AM on September 1, 2005


"It was far away, on the television, so it wasn't that bad of a disaster. This one's worse because it's US!"

I'm from the Uk - so roughly the same distance from both incidents... well sorta... they both far away. I would not compare the two directly at all.

It just seems that they have known about the danger for at least four years and probably longer. That is easily enough time to prepare, but they don't appear to have done enough.

When the Bush admin was given warning about 9/11 they ignored it (no tin-foil hats now, folks) and they appear to have ignored this warning also simply because it was not in their interests.
posted by Meccabilly at 10:20 AM on September 1, 2005


This is a horrible tragedy but it's not on the same scale as the tsunami. On the other hand, it's a huge natural disaster in a first world country and I'm angry that it's taking so long it's taking to get basic food, medicine, and transportation to survivors.
posted by rdr at 10:22 AM on September 1, 2005


This is America!? In 2005!? In a place where hurricanes happen year on year? So much for 'national security'.
posted by Acey at 10:23 AM on September 1, 2005


Two things come to mind. One - where's OUR international aid? I grant Bush lost a lot of 'capital' with the international community, but still, we're there for a lot of countries when they need it. I have yet to see anyone in say Europe lend us so much as a screwdriver. But perhaps I simply missed those stories (or they're not being covered).

Two - This overseas thing. Say what you will about Iraq, etc. What bothers me is everyone is howling like monkeys when
we know what the problem is. A good chunk of our manpower, equipment, money, is tied up overseas. We can argue whether it should be or not, but the crux of the matter is this: we have no choice.
It pisses me off to read Bush saying: “The citizens ought to be working together.'
We have to pay taxes for the war effort under the law.
We can choose to give, to help, etc the people in New Orleans.
Guess which one gets the priority?
I don’t much like the gubbmint taking my money to “save lives” or “fight terrr” or whatever, then turn around and say if the shit hits the fan I have to pull money out of my wallet to help because they’ve already blown what I’ve given them.
What am I supposed to send these people? The tax refund Bush gave me when he first got elected?
Our tax money is supposed to go for crap like this - where the hell is FEMA?
I was under the impression ‘conservative’ meant keep money in people’s pockets. If I had any confidence my dough wouldn’t get spent on some senator’s junket or rerouted to Haliburton somehow I’d give with both hands. As it is I’m happy to give to charities, but they can only do so much.
It is exactly this type of thing we have governments for. If it can’t do what it’s supposed to do, why the hell are we putting up with it?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:23 AM on September 1, 2005


``I don't treat my dog like that,' 47-year-old Daniel Edwards said as he pointed at the [dead] woman in the wheelchair. ``I buried my dog.'

This man's opinions, as well as the opinions of any other armchair first responders out there, while interesting, are irrelevent. Are emergency workers supposed to abandon the living, who desperately need assistance, in order to bury the dead? Thousands of years of ethics seem to suggest not.

The things that New Orleanians are experiencing right now are terrible. It's easy to say that things are being handled poorly, because terrible things are happening, and you'd like to think that if things were handled better, maybe such terrible things would not happen. However, the people in charge of the relief efforts are not just making this up as they go along. There is a lot of expertise being brought to bear, and things could be considerably worse.

wakko, would you please enlighten us with some examples of how you think efforts could be more effective? Please provide supporting data and analysis where available.

Full disclosure - I am a former New Orleanian, and trained first responder.
posted by rush at 10:24 AM on September 1, 2005


The simple fact of the matter is, this thing is being handled so fucking poorly it would be laughable, if it weren't so goddamned sickening.

I'm serious, how can the currently handling be improved? "Better planning" would've been great, but isn't an option now. The police may be out-of-control, but there are 28,000 national guard troops there now. Yes, the situation there is horrible, but how could it be better handled right now?
posted by sohcahtoa at 10:24 AM on September 1, 2005


When the Bush admin was given warning about 9/11 they ignored it (no tin-foil hats now, folks) and they appear to have ignored this warning also simply because it was not in their interests.

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

Personally, I think one of the President's greatest strengths is that his child-like innocence supports an apparently infinite capacity for surprise.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:24 AM on September 1, 2005


From what I've read, they've been trying to transport survivors out, only to get shot at. FEMA is pulling the boat rescuers out now. They didn't have lawlessness to this degree after Andrew or Hugo. I just don't understand the reasoning behind shooting rescue workers.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:27 AM on September 1, 2005


They need to get the UN relief agencies and other international humanitarian orgs in there -- obviously the US govt and US Red Cross have no idea how to deal with a problem this massive.
posted by footnote at 10:28 AM on September 1, 2005


Smedleyman, can't vouch for the reliability of this, but if true it does answer your question:

Being kept from these American people also by their Military Rulers have been the uncounted offers of assistance from Nations all around the world, including: Venezuela has offered their Medical Airlift Command for the evacuation of peoples trapped in these devastated regions; Holland has offered the resources of their Public Works Ministry (and who are the acknowledged World Experts for below sea level water evacuation procedures); Russia has offered over 100,000 temporary living structures, along with Military Personal to assist their American counterparts; Iran has offered 1 Billion US Dollars in immediate assistance and guaranteed 5,000,000 barrels of oil at $35.00 US Dollars; China has offered their Military Rescue Forces (Who are acknowledged as one of the best in the world for rescuing peoples in flood ravaged areas.)

All of these offers, and more, the Military Leaders of the United States have declined, and for the their previously stated reason: “The United States Government and its People Respectfully Decline your offer of assistance and refer you to our previous State Department Bulletin (NCO:13788) in which we had stated that this remains an internal action.”

posted by kgasmart at 10:29 AM on September 1, 2005


Oriole Adams - refugee exoduses on this scale always have security problems, and an armed civil population is making it much more dangerous. People are desperate. My guess is that they're shooting in order to comandeer the vehicles (helicopterjacking.)
posted by footnote at 10:34 AM on September 1, 2005


CNN just broadcast "on-the-street" footage from outside the Superdome. The anger and frustration of the people is rising. No one is "in-charge." They showed a dead woman -- bundled in a blanket -- in a wheelchair and another body wrapped in a sheet left by a door at the outside of the stadium. CNN also showed footage of people elsewhere who have had no food or water for two days. It begs the question - what level of preparedness was there for this and any other natural disaster or terrorist attack?
posted by ericb at 10:34 AM on September 1, 2005


Armitage: I think by "breach" Pres Bush is referring to the fact they broke. Going into the storm, the fear was the water would simply overflow, which it did not. Immediately after the storm the feeling was "OK, it's not THAT bad" but then the levies broke and flooded everything.
posted by b_thinky at 10:34 AM on September 1, 2005


I'm serious, how can the currently handling be improved?

Perhaps if the President were to set a tone of, I don't know, urgency? The federal government follows the tenor and tone of the leadership, and the "things are bad, but look at what we've done, keep yer chin up" tone of Bush's speech means a) he has no fucking clue just how bad things are or b) he is so whacked out on anti-depressants he really is in another world.

What people are looking for right now is reassurance, some sense that those in power are actually doing something. And we are not getting that. (And no, this isn't partisan or political. One can critizice a Republican president without being a Democrat.) There have been numerous others who have pointed out the various steps that could have been taken to avert the magnitude of this catastrophe. Now, given the chance to be decisive and strong, Bush punted. He doesn't know what to do, and so the whole apparatus balks.

Leadership. A sense of leadership. And then actual leadership.
posted by solistrato at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2005


From the Chicago Tribune

" First it was Hurricane Katrina chasing them away. Now it's the fans of the Miami Hurricanes. Hundreds of storm refugees are being evicted from Tallahassee hotels to accommodate fans coming to Tallahassee for the Miami-Florida State game Monday night. "There is absolutely no compassion here whatsoever," Lynne Bernard wrote on a Web bulletin board of The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. Hoteliers said there was little they could do to help those who fled homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama because they had to honor longstanding reservations for the football weekend. "This weekend has been booked for a couple of months," said Antwan Hinkle, the front-desk manager of the Quality Inn. "We're going to have a whole bunch of angry people." Christian Heritage Church plans to shelter as many as 200 refugees for four nights starting Friday."
posted by cbjg at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2005


Countries should not be run like corporations. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more the case in the U.S.

Wakko, the skewed incentive structures aren't a recent development. The incentives in our political system have been geared towards the short term since we started electing presidents to four-year terms. In the past, however, I get the feeling our leaders were more willing to look beyond their own (and their parties') short-term political gains.

Today, the political and media machine that has built up around US politics has left us stuck with carboard cutouts for leaders. Spin has eclipsed substance. The founding fathers are spinning in their graves. Thomas Jefferson understood investing for the long term (Louisiana Purchase, anyone?). He would have gotten the money to fix the levees. Bush doesn't understand shit. He didn't get shit. This country needs to get with it lest PR bullshit eclipse this country's founding spirit forever.
posted by nyterrant at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2005


Honestly folks, the federal budget was worked on to make sure the largest of the potential problems were prepared for. Someone had to calculate the probability of New Orleans being flooded by a hurricane, and then calculate how much money to spend on preventing that. The Army Corp of Engineers got a TON less than they needed and that was acceptable to the calculator. Many things are overbudgeted and underbudgeted, but it's easy to say that in hindsight.

Having said that, Bush still sucks. Carry on.
posted by cleverusername at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2005


what level of preparedness was there for this and any other natural disaster or terrorist attack?
Maybe August should have been NAtional Preparedness month....
posted by Meccabilly at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2005



"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."


I cannot FUCKING believe he said that. I just don't have the words to express how disgusted I am now.
posted by footnote at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2005


Two things come to mind. One - where's OUR international aid? I grant Bush lost a lot of 'capital' with the international community, but still, we're there for a lot of countries when they need it. I have yet to see anyone in say Europe lend us so much as a screwdriver. But perhaps I simply missed those stories (or they're not being covered).

No offense, but Jesus I'm getting sick of that question. International aid isn't a freakin' "scratch my back, I scratch yours" deal. Wealthy nations give it to impoverished nations who can't afford emergency efforts. Our problem isn't financial, at least at this point, it's the fact that there is nowhere near enough manpower controlling the populace, fautly leadership mismanaging the efforts, and an administration that completely failed to recognize the severity of the situation and get enough resources there in time. (Golly, sound familiar?)

Yes, other nations should offer aid in the form of manpower and resources, and hopefully they will be. But other than Canada, the U.S. really is the only place where there's an active national guard that can get to the disaster area immediately- European nations would need 24-48 hours at a minimum to mobilize and transport any sizable force to help out in New Orleans. Unfortunately, much of the active ready force we could send- national guardsmen who's actual job is exactly this situation- are in the Middle East. Oopsie.

Meanwhile, nations ARE in fact offering aid, such as Canada, who have some of the best rescue teams on the planet. Unfortunately, our tip-top Department of Homeland Security isn't letting them into the country. Again, oopsie.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:37 AM on September 1, 2005


"In case anyone in national security is reading this, get the word to President Bush that we need the military in here NOW. The Active Duty Armed Forces. Mr. President, we are losing this city. I don't care what you're hearing on the news. The city is being lost. It is the law of the jungle down here. The command and control structure here is barely functioning. I'm not sure it's anyone's fault -- I'm not sure it could be any other way at this point. We need the kind of logistical support and infrastructure only the Active Duty military can provide. The hospitals are in dire straights. The police barely have any capabilities at this point. The National Guard is doing their best, but the situation is not being contained. I'm here to help in anyway I can, but my capabilities are limited and dropping. Please get the military here to maintain order before this city is lost.
posted by gwint at 10:38 AM on September 1, 2005


I understand the worries of bus drivers and rescue workers at being shot at - but there are children and eldery people in there. The vast majority of the victims don't have guns. They seem to be pulling back in the face of possible rick to workers - but leaving the people in the face of definite danger.
posted by jb at 10:39 AM on September 1, 2005


Also: those comparing this to the tsunami are missing the point entirely. It doesn't matter how big the scope is. This is its own thing.

As for why people might be shooting rescue workers: panic, anger, and a sense that if they leave this little rooftop that used to be their home, that's REALLY it. At least now they're on their house. Once they step onto a helicopter, they don't have anything. I don't really think one can gague the state of mind of a person who's been on his roof for three days, especially if you're sitting in an office somewhere reading MeFi.
posted by solistrato at 10:39 AM on September 1, 2005


Sorry, that should be "risk to rescue workers".
posted by jb at 10:39 AM on September 1, 2005


The real problem here is not that the government was unprepared to deal with the humanitarian crisis, although that was clearly much worse than was anticipated. The real problem is simply that the level of civil disturbance is far more extensive than it has been in other, similar, circumstance. We might be able to deal with the flooding and evacuation, if the police and guardsmen did not also have to deal with containing the riot like situation in New Orleans.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:40 AM on September 1, 2005


No doubt that this is a massive disaster; in terms of loss of life it will come nowhere near the tsunami, which is just as well. But do we really need to compare them at this stage? Mother Nature caries a big stick and is no respecter of rich or poor nations, though the more affluent in a nation do tend to grab the high ground and also find it easier to evacuate (if they have warning).

Few individuals or governments are willing to spend enough on good disaster preparations; it's just too expensive to make it seem like a good deal until it's too late. Our current national priorities don't help either preparations or recovery, but then again neither does our long standing proclivity of presuming that we can build what we want where we want and the Corps of Engineers will make it safe by building levees or whatever.

I think that part of what I find most depressing about this is not that hurricanes do a lot of damage but that the poorer areas of this, the supposedly richest nation on earth, seem so similar to supposedly poor, third world places like Aceh Province.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:40 AM on September 1, 2005


Canada wants to help out but has not yet received permission from the US to do so.
posted by spacewaitress at 10:41 AM on September 1, 2005


“The United States Government and its People Respectfully Decline your offer of assistance and refer you to our previous State Department Bulletin (NCO:13788) in which we had stated that this remains an internal action.”

Russia learned the hard way when they lost the Kursk about the consequences of letting pride get in the way of accepting offers of outside. Notice they were much more agreeable this last time around with the Priz, and with much better results.

So I guess we just learn our lesson and 'go it alone' at the cost of increased loss of life and economic damage this time?
posted by crunchywelch at 10:41 AM on September 1, 2005


Sweet - the Department of Homeland Security website indicates that September is National Preparedness Month. I guess they were one fucking month too late!
posted by ericb at 10:42 AM on September 1, 2005


*offers of outside help

:/
posted by crunchywelch at 10:42 AM on September 1, 2005


One big difference between this and the tsunami case is this: The tsunami was unexpected and victims had no chance to escape it. Katrina was predicted in advance, and some 80 percent of the population heeded evacuation orders.

I don't know how many chose to stay in New Orleans ("Oh, I'll just weather it out."), but I have a little less sympathy for them. I have a great deal of sympathy for the losses everyone is suffering, and for those who did not have the capability to leave before the hurricane hit.

Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune has a thoughtful commentary in todays paper, from which I provide an excerpt relevant to this discussion:


"Much of the city is 10 feet below sea level and gradually sinking into the delta ooze. It's been a calamity waiting to happen for a long time, "a chin jutting out, waiting for a one-two punch from Mother Nature," as Popular Mechanics put it in a prescient article in 2001. "The fact that New Orleans has not already sunk is a matter of luck."

In June 2002, the New Orleans Times-Picayune published the journalistic equivalent of a called shot: "Washing Away," a five-part series that bore the sub-head, "It's only a matter of time before South Louisiana takes a direct hit from a major hurricane ... we grow more vulnerable every day."

The teasers and pull-quotes for the series show that this week's devastation was a shock to the region, but not a surprise: "Flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands ... even storms weaker than Category 3 could break through the levees ... The risk is growing greater ..."

The cost of fortifying our own little Netherlands on the Gulf has run into the billions, but what choice did we have? The cost of abandoning the city and relocating its inhabitants and enterprises would have been far greater.

Once we invested on the side of civil engineers in their battle with nature in New Orleans, we were committed, just like we're committed in cities that perch on geologic fault lines, rest in flood plains, stand defiantly in tornado alleys and along hurricane coasts or, as in Chicago's case, depend on rip-rap and artificial elevation to keep back lakes and rivers."

Here is the link: Zorn.
posted by Capt. Bligh at 10:43 AM on September 1, 2005


Reading the stories and seeing the images on TV it's easy to get pissed and wonder "WHERE THE HELL IS THE HELP" but think about it: what can be done? The highways are flooded. There's no power. People are shooting at helicopters and jacking rescue vehicles.

Let's face it: New Orleans sits in the middle of a hurricane zone and it's below sea level. It's pretty much a bad idea to have a city there because something like this will probably happen every 300 years or so.

So I think it's pretty unfair to blame Bush or Iraq any other person or issue for this. The situation is fucked up, it's a natural disaster and there's really not much anyone can do about it.
posted by b_thinky at 10:43 AM on September 1, 2005


...there is nowhere near enough manpower controlling the populace, fautly leadership mismanaging the efforts, and an administration that completely failed to recognize the severity of the situation and get enough resources there in time. - XQUZYPHYR

Ok, let's take those one at a time. What is the appropriate amount of manpower, and how would you have them control the populace? To what leadership are you referring, and how is it faulty? How would you have mobilized resources more rapidly - especially given your advocacy of the National Guard as the best resources to mobilize? While we're at it, what is the average message to move time of the National Guard in, say, Louisiana?
posted by rush at 10:45 AM on September 1, 2005


I don't know how many chose to stay in New Orleans ("Oh, I'll just weather it out."), but I have a little less sympathy for them. I have a great deal of sympathy for the losses everyone is suffering, and for those who did not have the capability to leave before the hurricane hit.

Except those who "decided" to stay and weather it out were mostly those with no cars or money for gas. The homeless, destitute, and impoverished are who's left. They shut down the Greyhound station by Saturday afternoon - how could these people have gotten out?
posted by salad spork at 10:46 AM on September 1, 2005


Smedleyman: Germany's Fischer Offers Help to U.S. After Hurricane Katrina, International community offers help, prayers, France May Mobilize Relief From Caribbean,10 to 12 nations offer aid in wake of Katrina, World reacts with compassion, shock....

It was all over our news before katrina hit, and the "donate to red cross now" ads have been running non-stop ever since here on Danish telly.
posted by dabitch at 10:46 AM on September 1, 2005


Yes, the situation there is horrible, but how could it be better handled right now?

It could have been handled better two fucking years ago, before Bush cut funding to NO to handle floodwater protection, and before Bush sent our National Guard — our homeland security people — to do colonial empire building in Iraq.
posted by Rothko at 10:47 AM on September 1, 2005


while I was hunting links as proof XQUZYPHYR said pretty much exactly what I wanted to say, but much better.
posted by dabitch at 10:48 AM on September 1, 2005


Armitage: I think by "breach" Pres Bush is referring to the fact they broke.

That distinction suggests a level of nuance in language that the President isn't particularly known for, but even if that's what he meant, it's just nonsense. I mean, in two minutes of googling "katrina breach", I stumbled on this article posted literally hours before the storm hit, which describes the current situation almost perfectly.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:49 AM on September 1, 2005


I wonder if anyone is making plans to air-drop water and food. It seems to me that might relieve some of the stress down there, assuming further rioting doesn't break out in the scramble for the dropped cargo.
posted by nyterrant at 10:50 AM on September 1, 2005




.. Bush drew no line between those
looting stores for survival supplies like food and water and those stealing
television sets that are of no use with electricity out in New Orleans.

"I think there ought to be zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an
emergency such as this, whether it be looting, or price-gouging at the gasoline
pump or taking advantage of charitable giving, or insurance fraud," Bush said
in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

...

He (Bush) said the United States could take care of itself and
did not expect to tap contributions from foreign countries.

From an interview on ABC's Good Morning America

With a dike improvement and repair program on Lake
Pontchartrain operating at 20% funding because of
diversion of funds to Homeland Security and Overseas
Adventures, it's more like Wake Up, America

I did laugh when I read the part about gasoline price
gouging. I wonder if some other socio-economic class
or nationality might be better behaved in this disaster
situation than our citizens are proving to be.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:52 AM on September 1, 2005


Leadership. A sense of leadership. And then actual leadership.

Read yesterday's editorial from the Manchester, New Hampshire Union - one of the most conservative newspapers in the state:
"Katrina already is measured as one of the worst storms in American history. And yet, President Bush decided that his plans to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VJ Day with a speech were more pressing than responding to the carnage.

A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease.

The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished. In its place is a diffident detachment unsuitable for the leader of a nation facing war, natural disaster and economic uncertainty."
posted by ericb at 10:52 AM on September 1, 2005


wakko, would you please enlighten us with some examples of how you think efforts could be more effective? Please provide supporting data and analysis where available.

Ignoring the obviously condescending tone of your question, I'd have to say that 28 thousand troops clearly isn't enough. The number of people on the ground simply can't handle a situation which is rapidly deteriorating into complete chaos. More troops would be a great start. But, where are the rest of them right now?

If this is going to be typical of our country's response to disasters of this magnitude going forward, I shudder to think what another one, or a widespread, effective terrorist strike against the mainland US would look like, a week after the fact.
posted by wakko at 10:53 AM on September 1, 2005


First it was Hurricane Katrina chasing them away. Now it's the fans of the Miami Hurricanes. Hundreds of storm refugees are being evicted from Tallahassee hotels to accommodate fans coming to Tallahassee for the Miami-Florida State game Monday night.

Unfuckingbelievable!
posted by ericb at 10:55 AM on September 1, 2005


Over 4000 LA Reserve and Guard are in Iraq right now.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:55 AM on September 1, 2005


Face it, no one knows why so many people stayed. It is the most important question that needs answering but there isn't enough information now. It seems, from the TV footage, that mostly poor people stayed. But we still don't know why, and jumping to conclusions at this point isn't very helpful. We need more information before we can start apportioning blame for this aspect of the tragedy.
posted by nyterrant at 10:56 AM on September 1, 2005


So I think it's pretty unfair to blame Bush or Iraq any other person or issue for this. The situation is fucked up, it's a natural disaster and there's really not much anyone can do about it.
posted by b_thinky at 10:43 AM PST on September 1 [!]


I absolutely blame Bush for wasting our resources in Iraq to the detriment of the poor in our own country. The chaos in New Orleans is directly related to the growing poverty nationwide.

I don't know how many chose to stay in New Orleans ("Oh, I'll just weather it out."), but I have a little less sympathy for them.

This is irrelevant now -- the tens of thousands of refugees who did heed the evacuation and head to the Superdome are seriously fucked now too. And from what I've heard about conditions in the Superdome, I really can't blame anyone for chosing not to evacuate.
posted by footnote at 10:57 AM on September 1, 2005


I keep thinking of Bilandic, Chicago and that '79 snowstorm.
posted by kgasmart at 10:57 AM on September 1, 2005


qwint, that blog is a crazy read. just unimaginable that this sort of situation can still be going on within our borders. it'll be interesting to see who gets saddled with the inevitable shitstorm of blame...and who gets off scott free.
posted by NationalKato at 10:58 AM on September 1, 2005



"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

"dike improvement and repair program on Lake Pontchartrain operating at 20% funding"


Wow - Just those two together like that.... It kinda sorta makes sense really...

Now all I want to know is when we're going to get a quote from Pat Robertson...
posted by Meccabilly at 10:58 AM on September 1, 2005


Let's face it: New Orleans sits in the middle of a hurricane zone and it's below sea level. It's pretty much a bad idea to have a city there because something like this will probably happen every 300 years or so.

It's dismaying to think that people who are ostensibly smart enough to realize this will still want to rebuild the place and live there, though.
posted by alumshubby at 11:01 AM on September 1, 2005


More troops would be a great start. But, where are the rest of them right now?

Over 40,000 are on ready. The emergency coordinators have decided that they would be more of a hindrance than a help at this time. What's the right number? Have you analyzed the implication of the network's increase in complexity? What is the ramp-up time and coordination overhead at this moment?

This "more troops" chestnut, inherited from political bias, as opposed to the science of emergency response, indicates a poor understanding of project management.
posted by rush at 11:01 AM on September 1, 2005


"It could have been handled better two fucking years ago, before Bush cut funding to NO to handle floodwater protection, and before Bush sent our National Guard — our homeland security people — to do colonial empire building in Iraq."

OK. New Orleans. Iraq. Totally seperate issues. Not related at all.

NO is a 300 year old city. That means every NO mayor, every LA governor, and every US president pretty much ignored this risk. It's pretty clear that if we were not spending money in Iraq none of that money would have gone to NO.
posted by b_thinky at 11:01 AM on September 1, 2005


NO is a 300 year old city. That means every NO mayor, every LA governor, and every US president pretty much ignored this risk. It's pretty clear that if we were not spending money in Iraq none of that money would have gone to NO.

So what you are saying is that ANY american in charge would have handled the many accurate predictions about the distaster in the same way and would have cut flood prevention measures - That American's are inheriently inept in this way?
posted by Meccabilly at 11:04 AM on September 1, 2005


That means every NO mayor, every LA governor, and every US president pretty much ignored this risk.

Uninformed comment. b_thinky, please read before commenting further. Thanks.
posted by Rothko at 11:04 AM on September 1, 2005


Kevin Drum:

A crony with no relevant experience was installed as head of FEMA. Mitigation budgets for New Orleans were slashed even though it was known to be one of the top three risks in the country. FEMA was deliberately downsized as part of the Bush administration's conservative agenda to reduce the role of government. After DHS was created, FEMA's preparation and planning functions were taken away.

Actions have consequences. No one could predict that a hurricane the size of Katrina would hit this year, but the slow federal response when it did happen was no accident. It was the result of four years of deliberate Republican policy and budget choices that favor ideology and partisan loyalty at the expense of operational competence. It's the Bush administration in a nutshell.

posted by kgasmart at 11:04 AM on September 1, 2005


From the article posted by Rothko

"It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
posted by Meccabilly at 11:06 AM on September 1, 2005


It's dismaying to think that people who are ostensibly smart enough to realize this will still want to rebuild the place and live there, though.

I know, especially since it's so easy to just have the magic pixies plant enchanted mushroom seeds a few miles north on higher ground and grow brand-new homes and industrial port city infrastructure for several hundred thousand people.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:08 AM on September 1, 2005


No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming
"In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.
posted by ericb at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2005


Also ... " A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken....In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late."
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on September 1, 2005


It seems, from the TV footage, that mostly poor people stayed.

Fats Domino is Missing in New Orleans
"The 77-year-old R&B legend, whose real name is Antoine Domino, told Embry that he planned to stay at his New Orleans house with his wife, Rosemary, and their daughter."

"Checquoline Davis, Domino's niece, posted a message on Craigslist.com Thursday pleading for information. Davis wrote that Domino, his wife, their children and grandchildren "didn't get out" of the second floor.

Domino, who has rarely appeared in public in recent years, has a home in the 9th ward, a low-lying area of the flooded city."


I'm pretty sure Fats had the means and opportunity to leave, so why didn't he?

People don't leave for lots of reasons besides poverty. Some simply believe they can ride out the storm ... that it would "never be this bad". Others are elderly or infirm, and despite having the means to leave they feel it is too difficult for them to do so. Yet others, I'm sure, stayed behind either to loot or to protect their property.

Why they stayed makes no difference. The government knew they stayed, and they knew thousands would stay. Thousands always do. To have failed to prepare for these people brings shame on our nation.
posted by anastasiav at 11:13 AM on September 1, 2005


In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City.

Anybody know what the third part of the President's latest trifecta is? California earthquake, I assume?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:19 AM on September 1, 2005


To have failed to prepare for these people brings shame on our nation.

Judging by the comments here, it brings either shame or righteous indignation, depending on who you voted for.
posted by wakko at 11:20 AM on September 1, 2005


The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished.

Christ, I know you gotta' back your pony, but give me a break. This president has been, and always will be, a coward. He passes responsibility whenever possible, indulges bullies at the expense of the innocent, has basically lived his entire life at a house on the path of least resistance. I'm simply astounded that it took an American metropolis falling into a state of anarchy with the dead littering the streets for them to finally recognize that the sky is fucking blue.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:22 AM on September 1, 2005


"I know, especially since it's so easy to just have the magic pixies plant enchanted mushroom seeds a few miles north on higher ground and grow brand-new homes and industrial port city infrastructure for several hundred thousand people."

XQ, you're being a bit uncharitable. All those homes and port city infrastructure have been pretty much destroyed anyway. The city will need to be totally rebuilt - and it will cost just as much and take just as much time to do it on higher ground nearby as it would to do it in the Bowl.
posted by zoogleplex at 11:22 AM on September 1, 2005


It could have been handled better two fucking years ago,
Try the last 45 years, since around 1960 is the when the government started pushing for better levees.

Now it's the fans of the Miami Hurricanes.
The US becoming crappier.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:24 AM on September 1, 2005


How 'bout both, wakko?
posted by NationalKato at 11:25 AM on September 1, 2005


"Why they stayed makes no difference. The government knew they stayed, and they knew thousands would stay. Thousands always do. To have failed to prepare for these people brings shame on our nation."

The mayor and governor appeared on TV about 24 hrs prior to the storm urging people to evacuate and telling those who could not to go to the Superdome. They said it may be days, weeks or months before rescuers could reach the city.

I feel terribly for the people stranded there. The Superdome is a mess and is being evacuated, but the vast majority of those inside survived. People should have listened. Sometimes Mother Nature hits hard and there's little to be done.

I think those in the "our gov't is failing us" crowd are understimating the severity of the problem.
posted by b_thinky at 11:25 AM on September 1, 2005


"The police are looting. This has been confirmed by several independent sources. Some of the looting might be "legitimate" in as much as that word has any meaning in this context. They have broken into ATMs and safes: confirmed. We have eyewitnesses to this. They have taken dozens of SUVs from dealerships ostensibly for official use. They have also looted gun stores and pawn shops for all the small arms, supposedly to prevent "criminals" from doing so. But who knows their true intentions. We have an inside source in the NOPD who says that command and control is in chaos. He reports that command lapses more than 24 hours between check-ins, and that most of the force are "like deer in the headlights." NOPD already had a reputation for corruption, but I am telling you now that the people we've been talking to say they are not recognizing the NOPD as a legitimate authority anymore, since cops have been seen looting in Walmarts and forcing people out of stores so they could back up SUVs and loot them. Don't shoot the messenger...."

Wow. It seems that adding more police/troops to the mix might not be as helpful as one might hope.
posted by cleardawn at 11:25 AM on September 1, 2005


California earthquake, I assume?

Yes:

#1 - Terrorist strike in New York City
#2 - Hurricane hitting New Orleans
#3 - Massive earthquake in California
posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on September 1, 2005


I still cannot understand why it's still lawless and people are dying.. NOLA is on mainland of the USA. This means me being in NY could've literally driven there with supplies to help.. So why couldn't Bush make orders for supermarkets or WALMARTS to send truckloads of whatever supplies needed to NOLA and promise them back money or tax breaks or etc?

This thing hit Monday.. today's Thursday.. They could've sent trucks from anywhere on mainland US to there by now.. I just dont understand..
posted by pez_LPhiE at 11:27 AM on September 1, 2005


"It's pretty clear that if we were not spending money in Iraq none of that money would have gone to NO."
b_thinky , obviously you haven't read earlier posts.


“No offense, but Jesus I'm getting sick of that question.”
No offense taken, XQUZYPHYR. I’m pretty sick of not getting answers from the media. As for the rest, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that.
kgasmart, et.al. though answered my question: “The United States Government and its People Respectfully Decline your offer of assistance and refer you to our previous State Department Bulletin (NCO:13788) “
Clearly if you’re not paranoid, you’re not paying attention. I can’t get over that.

“as opposed to the science of emergency response, indicates a poor understanding of project management.”
So what your saying rush is that this is being handled well? That the resources were in place to deal with this? That the response is adequate from the upper eschelons?
Clearly the people dealing with it know their jobs, but this was coming and coming and coming for a bit.
Bush was fishing. Not political. He's the CiC. Wingnuts (of the righty persuasion) keep saying ‘he won, get over it.’
Well, he’s the man. He should be doing the job. We need him.



“The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished. In its place is a diffident detachment unsuitable for the leader of a nation facing war, natural disaster and economic uncertainty."
How does “cool & confident” differ from detachment?
I’ve served with officers who appeared perfectly calm, but behind their eyes you could see their utter absorbtion in task.
Never saw that with Bush. Still don’t.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:29 AM on September 1, 2005


I just dont understand..

Neither did anyone in charge, apparently.
posted by NationalKato at 11:30 AM on September 1, 2005


I don't know how many chose to stay in New Orleans ("Oh, I'll just weather it out."), but I have a little less sympathy for them.
For some (the majority actually, given that New Orleans has a high poverty rate), it wasn't a matter of choice. Put yourself in these shoes for a minute:

- You're a single mom
- 2-3 kids
- Minimum wage job, living paycheck to paycheck
- No car, no credit cards.
- $15 in your pocket

You're told to evacuate. Tell me now how you're going to do that?
posted by afx114 at 11:30 AM on September 1, 2005


I know. The approaching hurricane has been all over the news for god knows how long and the feds are acting like it just popped up overnight.

This is negligent on an unprecedented scale.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:30 AM on September 1, 2005


My respect for the Army Corp of Engineers is severely diminished by their dubious efforts in regards to protecting flood plain areas near the Mississippi region during the late eighties and early nineties which were easily brushed aside by the rising waters. Then again, they have the unpleasant task of trying to shoe-horn in solutions to impossible problems.

You're a fool if you live somewhere where you can look *up* to the water level , the same way you're a fool if you live in tornado alley or near an active fault line. The fact that Federal insurance helps people rebuild in the same dangerous areas only perpetuates these problems for decades, if not generations.

As for this being all Bushes fault, no. He may have cut funding this budget cycle, but what about all the other Presidents before him? What about the Governors and Mayors of the state and city? They've had at least a decade to recognize this problem and fix it, and every single one has failed. In short, there's plenty of blame for everyone.

As for the preparation being inadequate, that's debatable. Short of their being a sudden influx of hovercraft, flat bottom boats and helicopters, the flooding has effectively crippled the ability to rescue most people or bring aid. The rioting and violence certainly doesn't help the situation, and while 4,000 more National Guard troops would be nice, there still is a lack of nearby centers for aid and care available to put most of these people in. It's also not surprising that many of the images look like third world footage, the South has been a poor region for a very long time.
posted by Vaska at 11:31 AM on September 1, 2005


XQUZYPHYR, sorry if I triggered your sarcasm detonator. Seriously -- do you think it's a defensible idea to rebuild in the same spot? If so, care to explain why?
posted by alumshubby at 11:31 AM on September 1, 2005


Rothko: Good call. Looks like I was wrong on the "not at all related" comment.

HOWEVER, I think the issue has been ignored by just about everyone for a very long time. The levies are important to NO's very existence, which makes me wonder why they didn't do more at the local or state level if their funding did not come through.

Local taxes get pushed through all the time to get schools and hospitals more earthquake proof. Why couldn't they do the same for the levies?

Because it's easier to ignore the problem until it becomes one.

Blame Bush if you want to, but I think it has nothing to do with him. Those who do are the irrational nitwits who blame him for all the world's ills, IMO.
posted by b_thinky at 11:33 AM on September 1, 2005


^ the same reason why California would rebuild after earthquakes
posted by pez_LPhiE at 11:34 AM on September 1, 2005


"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

Nobody anticipated this disaster? It was identified by FEMA as one of the top three likeliest major disasters to strike America. [via kos]

Typical Bushit is what I'd call that statement. And Red America thinks it's OK to have a stupid asshole for President!
posted by nofundy at 11:34 AM on September 1, 2005


b_thinky: Your opinion is contradicted by the public record.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:35 AM on September 1, 2005


This "more troops" chestnut, inherited from political bias, as opposed to the science of emergency response, indicates a poor understanding of project management.
posted by rush at 11:01 AM PST on September 1 [!]


Good point -- if only I had the teensiest bit of faith in our government's "understanding of project management" for largescale events. They're doing such a great job in Iraq, after all.

People should have listened.
posted by b_thinky at 11:25 AM PST on September 1 [!]

Factoring in likely psychological responses is a crucial part of emergency management. This isn't a question of personal responsibility, but rather of public health and safety.
posted by footnote at 11:35 AM on September 1, 2005


Blame Bush if you want to, but I think it has nothing to do with him. Those who do are the irrational nitwits who blame him for all the world's ills, IMO.
posted by b_thinky at 2:33 PM EST


Not all, just the many this Disaster President is responsible for, which I must admit that more often now seems like an overwhelming number.

So Bush is not to blame for the policies of his administration, which shortchanged necessary levee work?
posted by nofundy at 11:37 AM on September 1, 2005



So Bush is not to blame for the policies of his administration, which shortchanged necessary levee work?


Now you understand the American Resposibility System or 'ARSe'
posted by Meccabilly at 11:40 AM on September 1, 2005


Smedleyman: ""It's pretty clear that if we were not spending money in Iraq none of that money would have gone to NO."
b_thinky , obviously you haven't read earlier posts.
"

OK, what about all those years we weren't in Iraq and the levies weren't beefed up? This has been a problem for longer than we've been in Iraq.

Footnote: Factoring in likely psychological responses is a crucial part of emergency management. This isn't a question of personal responsibility, but rather of public health and safety.

Yeah, but they said it could be weeks or months before rescuers could get in. At this point, not much can be done. People are paying the price for not listening. Nobody wants to leave them there but literally, nothing can be done.

nofundy: My point is not to say Bush is a great president, but to say if you blame him for this, also blame Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter, along with every LA governor and NO mayor. Lots of people played a role in not reinforcing levies; not W alone.
posted by b_thinky at 11:41 AM on September 1, 2005


So why couldn't Bush make orders for supermarkets or WALMARTS to send truckloads of whatever supplies needed to NOLA and promise them back money or tax breaks or etc?
Because he is not a king…
Your request takes paper work that takes days weeks to generate. Plus, ever take an order with a government Purchase Order? Tons of paperwork and a large chance of never being paid in the end, because said paperwork done incorrectly.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:41 AM on September 1, 2005


OK, what about all those years we weren't in Iraq and the levies weren't beefed up? This has been a problem for longer than we've been in Iraq.

All american governments are universally inept...
posted by Meccabilly at 11:41 AM on September 1, 2005


Um -- righteous indignation comes from shame.

AnastasiaV is right. I grew up on the Jersey shore, and I've watched people making the stay/not stay choice. Some people always stay. Some reasons:

1. They have no vehicle
2. They have no money for transportation
3. They have nowhere to go - no connections outside the threatened region, no money for hotel
4. They are stubborn
5. They are not highly mobile or in chronic pain
6. They need services (regular insulin, dialysis, home care) that they fear will be too hard to get elsewhere
7. They're in the hospital
8. They're old, and not that with it, and don't quite get the seriousness of the situation
9. They are not fully cognizant of the danger -- low IQ to severely developmentally disabled
10. They want to protect pets
11. They fear their home/business will be destroyed and believe they can protect it best by staying
12. They are opportunistic criminals
13. They are afraid of missing work due to travel time when the storm is over, and running the risk of job loss
14. Someone they love can't or won't be moved
15. Having been through dozens of 'scares' that didn't pan out, they're skeptical of the information
16. Communications did not saturate the population (some people don't use the internets! Or watch TV. Or listen to the radio. Some live in isolation).
17. Bravado - a craving for adventure or having a good story to tell alter.
18. Xenophibia. This might be a big factor in NO, a city where 70% of the residents were born there.
19. Fear of the kinds of things that happen in emergency shelters: robberies, rape, fights, hunger and thirst, filth.
20. Illusion of security and control.

I could go on, but why? My point is that it's very easy for people with a lot of resources (financial, geographical, mental) to blame those who have stayed for their suffering. It just doesn't wash. Not everyone is as smart, alert, healthy, strong, or following the same line of logic as we are. So they should die?

As far as I've read, there were no coordinated neighborhood efforts to clear houses one by one. That's what it would have taken -- trucks in the street, soldiers knocking on doors, free transportation to the shelters, abundant food, water, and medical supplies, ambulances ready to transport those in unstable conditions; hospitals in other regions ready to recieve the sick; legions of volunteers to manage the shelters. That's the type of disaster plan cities really need, and the type that was clearly not in place here.

This blaming the victims stuff is just hampering our energies at solving the problems. It's not as though we won't have to clean it up if we shrug it off and say they deserve what they got. And often there are underlying implications of inferiority of ethnicity, region or race that need to be brought into the light to be addressed. I'm pretty sure if something similar happened in New York or Philadelphia, 10% would refuse to leave, as well. Refusal to leave is one of several standard, expected responses to a disaster. Dealing with it should have been part of the plan.
posted by Miko at 11:42 AM on September 1, 2005


So why couldn't Bush make orders for supermarkets or WALMARTS to send truckloads of whatever supplies needed to NOLA and promise them back money or tax breaks or etc?

They only do that for defence contractors...
posted by Meccabilly at 11:42 AM on September 1, 2005


Blame Bush if you want to, but I think it has nothing to do with him

Regardless of what you think, the fact remains that Bush has been in charge since 2000, and his administration cut drastically funding two years ago to handle this very issue. The severity of this disaster is a very direct result of Bush's ineptitude as a leader. This is fact, not opinion.
posted by Rothko at 11:42 AM on September 1, 2005


there's fingers pointed everywhere right now but I think the buck has to fall on the people that can do something now..

the government.. if there's lawlessness, bring in some armed guards and riot police.. borrow swat teams from neighboring cities and states

need water the order water and food from all surrounding markets.. compensate with tax breaks, money, whatever they need..

The reason why people are pissed at this situation but not by the tsunami is because we are the richest, most powerful nation in the world.. all the help is within driving distance and we have paved and maintained roads..

I want to help but I almost feel as though my donations shouldn't be required.. the country is rich and our government should take care of our people in need.. we have the means, we have the money and resources.. Don't get me wrong, I would really love to help these guys.. it's a tragedy no doubt but what the fuck is going on?

Bush, make some calls, pull some strings, call in some favors..
posted by pez_LPhiE at 11:43 AM on September 1, 2005


“Blame Bush if you want to, but I think it has nothing to do with him. Those who do are the irrational nitwits who blame him for all the world's ills, IMO.”

b_thinky, I concur with the above statements that there is plenty of blame to go around.
Bush gets the bulk of my ire much in the way a ship’s captain is responsible for whatever happens on/by/to the ship whether he’s sleeping, sick, or not even on it.
Call me an irrational nitwit, but I recognize him as the President of the United States.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term ‘ship of state’?

In any event I’ve given him credit where credit is due. If he’d been on top of this, I would have been the first to praise him.
Well, among the first. Certainly in line for it anyway.
But there is ample evidence of failure here whether .... aw fuck it. Why bother explaining shit & shinola?
Suffice it to say if it was Clinton, Gore, or Kerry, I’d be putting my boot in their ass as well.
...of course, two former presidents actually hit dirt there instead of just flying over didn’t they?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:45 AM on September 1, 2005


there's fingers pointed everywhere right now

Actually pretty much at one guy...
posted by Meccabilly at 11:45 AM on September 1, 2005


nofundy: My point is not to say Bush is a great president, but to say if you blame him for this, also blame Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter, along with every LA governor and NO mayor. Lots of people played a role in not reinforcing levies; not W alone.
posted by b_thinky at 2:41 PM EST


Aah. But that is NOT what you said and once again I quote: Blame Bush if you want to, but I think it has nothing to do with him. [my bold]
Thanks for the change in stance/clarafication at any rate.
posted by nofundy at 11:46 AM on September 1, 2005


the country is rich and our government should take care of our people in need..

I agree with you, but the government we seem to have allowed to come to power is one that will tell you directly it wants to get out of the business of caring for its people. Less money for disaster aid is not only a factor of a hot war; it also results from the cutting of the "fat" in the budget that Republicans like to complain about. Fat like disaster aid programs and public health.

So if anyone wants to help, take some of that $300 tax 'rebate' Bush sent you a couple years ago, and send it a 'faith-based initiative' of your choice. That's the Bush disaster plan right there.
posted by Miko at 11:47 AM on September 1, 2005


Just because Bush seems to be unable to do anything constructive doesn't mean nothing can be done.

So rescuers can't get to people because they're getting shot at? Move in the police officers. They aren't able to handle the situation either? Send in the National Guard.

This isn't rocket science, this is anarchy in need of some swift police action.
posted by bshort at 11:48 AM on September 1, 2005


This is like Bangladesh in the streets of the fucking United States of America. It feels as if there's a barely controlled panic with the horrifying reports coming out of NOLA, the lines at gas stations, some being shut down, the spike in prices, the general sense of helplessness.
posted by kgasmart at 1:19 PM EST on September 1 [!]

Bengali expat: "This would be a scandal even in Bangladesh."
posted by strikhedonia at 11:49 AM on September 1, 2005


nice one strikhedonia
posted by Meccabilly at 11:51 AM on September 1, 2005


Bush, keep the tax rebates and HELP THESE FUCKING PEOPLE!!
posted by pez_LPhiE at 11:51 AM on September 1, 2005


Quote from the press conference:

"Don't buy gass if you don't need it."
posted by bshort at 11:53 AM on September 1, 2005


"gas," even.
posted by bshort at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2005


the country is rich and our government should take care of our people in need

And isn't that government's job? I mean, isn't that the government's number one fucking priority, to be prepared and ready to help in the wake of a situation like this?

Listen, I'll concede that the situation in New Orleans is not, personally, Bush's fault, but goddamn it, this government is "protecting" us by waging a war halfway across the goddamned planet but can't protect the poor and the indigent who are sitting at the N.O. convention center, atop roofs or floating dead in the damned streets?

If the government can't fucking handle something like this, what good is it? Why do we even have it? And how the hell can anyone living in any metro area of this country have any confidence whatsoever that a disaster would be handled better where they live?
posted by kgasmart at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2005


the cutting of the "fat" in the budget that Republicans like to complain about.

They like to complain about it, but pork expenditures have increased to record levels since the Republicans took over. Which is reason #322 that I've had to abandon them.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:56 AM on September 1, 2005


Factoring in likely psychological responses is a crucial part of emergency management. This isn't a question of personal responsibility, but rather of public health and safety.

Exactly right, footnote. If your emergency management plan counts on everyone having a fully stocked emergency kit/supplies, everyone willing AND able to follow general orders from authorities, and everyone keeping calm and orderly and not panicking, then you don't have a plan. You have a pipe dream.
posted by pitchblende at 11:57 AM on September 1, 2005


So rescuers can't get to people because they're getting shot at? Move in the police officers. They aren't able to handle the situation either? Send in the National Guard.

They're trying, but with 40% of Louisiana's National Guard force (and also those of neighboring states) currently outside the nation, there's only so much they can do. The smart thing at this point would be to swallow that goddamn pride and accept the help from China, Russia, Venezuela, Netherlands, etc. But that involves swallowing pride, not something I've seen happen much in this administration.
posted by salad spork at 11:59 AM on September 1, 2005


Wait. They have oil down there, offshore...maybe we can invade...
posted by alumshubby at 12:01 PM on September 1, 2005


I think everyone needs to shut up about Iraq for a second and show outrage of what's being done to help these people.. save the chirping about Iraq after these people are saved.. total failure at all levels of government.. LA governor, senators and NO mayor too.. take care of your business.. if the people that should be helping you, aren't, CALL THEM OUT to the public.. we deserve to know who's asleep at the wheel..
posted by pez_LPhiE at 12:01 PM on September 1, 2005


the cutting of the "fat" in the budget that Republicans like to complain about.

They like to complain about it, but pork expenditures have increased to record levels since the Republicans took over. Which is reason #322 that I've had to abandon them.

I didn't say they were effective at reducing it -- I said they like to complain about it. It helps them get elected. Definitely, they do need to cross their buddies' palms with silver and even up the payback accounts a lot. But that's not the spending I'm referring to -- it's the cutting national health. welfare, and safety programs. Something they do well.
posted by Miko at 12:01 PM on September 1, 2005


“OK, what about all those years we weren't in Iraq and the levies weren't beefed up? This has been a problem for longer than we've been in Iraq.”
b_thinky, I don’t have the time or the energy to deal with willful ignorance. You’ve been given a multitude of links here (one said specifically: “In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.”)
I’ve already conceded the fact there was a problem here and that blame can be shared.
Ok, so Bush is the greatest man in the country. He’s just so good. What a great leader. I wish I served under him in combat. I would feel so safe. Then I’d bring him home so he could fuck my sister. And we’d eat pretzels and go chop wood and fish for weeks on end while the country ran itself because we don’t need someone at the helm all the time.
What the fuck about those years? It’s a shit sandwich. Duh. People should be working on it. Duh. They are and according to rush (who I’m willing to believe) they’re doing a good job. Ok. But the upper eschelons have manifestly had other priorities. The work bears this out.
You either like that or you don’t.
Apparently you like it.
We disagree as to what this country’s priorities should have been over the past few years, and probably a bit before that (Hell, I didn’t think we should have been in Kosovo).
But it doesn’t make me an irrational idiot to think Bush should be responsible for his actions. People wagged their purple fingers in support of Iraqi elections. If that is to his credit than this is to his debt.

It’s called responsibility. Leaders have it for those who follow them. People here are dead. FEMA said it was coming. FEMA is a federal agency. Who is in charge of Federal agencies?

End of fucking story.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:02 PM on September 1, 2005


Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary."
- Thomas Hobbes, "Leviathan" (1651)

Hobbes point, you'll recall, is that without the twin concepts of the government and the social contract, the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Our European tradition derived from this idea, and is mindful that individual liberty is only one of a spectrum of values that generate a good society.

No such thinking informed the American Revolution. That's why you have no infrastructure for responding at scale to civil disruption - you need taxes and "big" governments to build it and your value set excludes those. It's also why widespread looting has broken out - you need a culture that values association more than individualism to prevent it and you don't.

I hope the thoughtful amongst you will take a long, hard look at yourselves and ask why your society turned so quickly to barbarism at such scale the second the police left the streets. God knows what the Iraqi's make of the newsreels - they got invaded to have the same culture imposed on them that has barbarians shooting at rescue helicopters, and fucking each other over for looted TVs!
posted by RichLyon at 12:04 PM on September 1, 2005


I think everyone needs to shut up about Iraq for a second and show outrage of what's being done to help these people.

I'm saving my outrage for the next time it happens, if people who want to rebuild there get their way. Dad used to tell me, "There is no education in the second kick of a mule."
posted by alumshubby at 12:05 PM on September 1, 2005


"Send in the National Guard."

The who?
http://www.btcnews.com/btcnews/1093

http://abc26.trb.com/news/natguard08012005,0,4504131.story?coll=wgno-news-1
posted by Smedleyman at 12:08 PM on September 1, 2005


why your society turned so quickly to barbarism at such scale the second the police left the streets.

We know why (they're poor, desperate, undereducated, underemployed, armed, and drugged by consumerism) but I'm not yet sure we're going to deal with it.

You know what's a great story? My Pet Goat.
posted by Miko at 12:10 PM on September 1, 2005


From the current headline story on CNN (Under a banner headline "Scene of Anarchy"):

The Pentagon said that by next week 24,000 troops would be on the ground to assist in recovery efforts, including 8,600 National Guard members by Friday who could be put to work in law enforcement.

...

He promised a rapid federal response to the disaster.


A rapid federal response? Rapid? It's too f-ing late for rapid, idiot. You'll have 24,000 troops there next week? Why? Everyone will be dead by then; the troops need to be there NOW.

I heard a sheriff from one of the areas near NO almost break into tears on CNN or MSNBC last night because the rescuers kept bring the rescued to him, but he didn't have anywhere for them to go, any food or water, any toilet facilities, nothing. Just a little bit of dry land.

Maybe it's harder than I think it is to get a helicopter in the air and get these people out of there. The shooters aren't everywhere, and it seems there are little pockets of people waiting for ... something ... throughout the area.
posted by Jaie at 12:11 PM on September 1, 2005


^ then we shouldn't build another tower in NYC, no more cities in California, Florida is dangerous too let's evacuate there, Tornado Alley, any beach-side home, any home on a mountain top, or mountain bottom (landslides and avalanches)..

let's not apply Mule logic with the real-world
posted by pez_LPhiE at 12:11 PM on September 1, 2005


Exactly right, footnote. If your emergency management plan counts on everyone having a fully stocked emergency kit/supplies, everyone willing AND able to follow general orders from authorities, and everyone keeping calm and orderly and not panicking, then you don't have a plan. You have a pipe dream.

They said it could be weeks before the could get rescuers in. They meant it. I think they're doing everything they can, which at this point isn't much.

Mother Nature is powerful. This is not an easy task!

Smedleyman: WTF, not blaming Bush doesn't make him Superman.

This is a side-effect of having a democracy with term limits. Those in power have short term vision. They don't take into account long term risks. Sometimes it bites you in the ass. In the 90s we all knew a terrorist attack was coming sometime. But nobody wanted to be the one "wasting" money on prevention.

Humans are reactionary animals. We like to act when it's too late.
posted by b_thinky at 12:11 PM on September 1, 2005


Great. I hope you move to NO when they rebuild it.
posted by alumshubby at 12:13 PM on September 1, 2005


They're trying, but with 40% of Louisiana's National Guard force (and also those of neighboring states) currently outside the nation, there's only so much they can do.

Which is exactly the problem with using National Guard troops to fight a war outside our borders. They're needed at home.

Want to fight a war in another country? Use the Army, Air Force, and Navy. That's what they're for. The National Guard is for another purpose entirely.
posted by bshort at 12:14 PM on September 1, 2005


^no, i'll be in NYC by the new towers.. but instead of whining about how another incident will happen, we'll exercise precaution just like I'm sure NOLA will do once they rebuild.
posted by pez_LPhiE at 12:15 PM on September 1, 2005


Well, he’s the man. He should be doing the job. We need him. - Smedleyman

To do what? Emergency response coordinators have been explicit in their desires for him to maintain a calm demeanor, and stay out of the area until the situation is stable. This request was echoed by the governors of Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as both Louisiana senators, and the mayor of New Orleans. I really don't think any hysteria or heroics on his part would help. In fact, if you think that what is needed right now is George W. Bush, you're overlooking the needs of a city that does not have water, electricity, or safety.

I do agree with the sentiment that we could have been more properly prepared for this. Please do not make the mistake of confusing emergency planning with emergency response. Though both are painful and bureaucratic, they are different beasts.

Now, to answer your direct question, yes, I believe that this situation is being handled well. I also believe it's a terrible situation. I define "well" as greater than a five on the ten-point scale of what is possible.
posted by rush at 12:15 PM on September 1, 2005


It's been four years since the September 11 attacks. Bush created the Homeland Security Department in a massive overhaul of the federal government to prepare for terrorist attacks. What if the levees had been breached by terrorists, or there had been a dirty bomb attack? We had advance warning of the hurricane; we wouldn't have advance notice of a terrorist attack. Is this effort the result of four years of preparing to respond to a disaster?

Good thing the departments of Health and Human Services and Commerce are still urging federal employees to attend the Freedom Walk.
FEMA History:
In 1993, President Clinton nominated James L. Witt as the new FEMA director. Witt became the first agency director with experience as a state emergency manager. He initiated sweeping reforms that streamlined disaster relief and recovery operations, insisted on a new emphasis regarding preparedness and mitigation, and focused agency employees on customer service. The end of the Cold War also allowed Witt to redirect more of FEMA's limited resources from civil defense into disaster relief, recovery and mitigation programs.

In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Joe M. Allbaugh as the director of FEMA. Within months, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th focused the agency on issues of national preparedness and homeland security, and tested the agency in unprecedented ways. The agency coordinated its activities with the newly formed Office of Homeland Security, and FEMA's Office of National Preparedness was given responsibility for helping to ensure that the nation's first responders were trained and equipped to deal with weapons of mass destruction.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:15 PM on September 1, 2005


Canada should just send the search & rescue, disaster relief, army engineers and water purification equipment and not bother waiting for the Bush admin to approve it. Take care of the politics after helping the people down there.
posted by Stuart_R at 12:18 PM on September 1, 2005


XQ, you're being a bit uncharitable. All those homes and port city infrastructure have been pretty much destroyed anyway. The city will need to be totally rebuilt - and it will cost just as much and take just as much time to do it on higher ground nearby as it would to do it in the Bowl.

XQUZYPHYR, sorry if I triggered your sarcasm detonator. Seriously -- do you think it's a defensible idea to rebuild in the same spot? If so, care to explain why?

First of all, port location- you can't exactly build ports and naval infrastructure further inland- being on the coastline is sort of a necessity. Likewise, it's sort of a burden, both in finance and productivity, to suggest people can't actually live near that very infrastructure they work at.

Second, the idea that you can "shift" a city is sort of ludicrous. Are you imagining the end of that Simpsons episode or something? It's an entire city; it's not like there's a perfectly suitable 350 square miles off to the left. You're talking about the mandatory mass relocation of 1.3 million people. This will happen... how? And when? And where?

Third, the government and the media is actively not giving a shit about several thousand people who are still there- you think they're going to care about the plausible logistics of telling them to move?

Fourth, the logic of turning the area into a no-mans land after this incident defies all other natural disaster responses in history. Granted, this is arguably the most devestating disaster to ever occur on U.S. soil, but to me saying that we should leave NOLA to rot because of the hurricane is like saying we should relocate the city of Los Angeles because of the earthquakes, or that we should never build anything where the World Trade Center once stood. You make it sound like a hurricane destroys the city on a weekly basis- "oh no, not again. Honey, we should really move up the street!" If we were to declare that any city or area damaged by the elements was an unlivable wasteland, half of Florida and California would be Thunderdome right now.

Fifth- are you endorsing a law mandating people aren't allowed to live there or something? People settled and lived in New Orleans, and for that matter every other part of the country- because the land was there. There are people living in shotgun shacks and shitholes all across the nation; there are millions of people without a home at all, and you're asking why someone would be "stupid" enough to live in a perfectly livable area?

Sixth- the people of New Orleans were already "stupid enough" to rebuild and stay. The city burned to the ground in 1788 and 1795. Then they rebuilt it, this time less prone to fire. And to what I'm sure will be your surprise, people somehow had the silly notion of living there for another 210 years. Buildings will fall. Cities will burn. Peope will rebuild. We call this fascinating cycle "life."

The notion that we should "abandon" New Orleans is the same misguided logic of people who say we should "just nuke Iraq" or that we should just "print more money" or any other comedian-style "boy, aren't you stupid for not thinking of something so obvious" which wasn't thought because it's actually, well, impossible. To throw away a million lives because it might be to hard to plan accordingly and respond appropriately is probably the biggest insult to the history of American ingenuity.

This could have been handled better, and despite the Administration's insistence there were ample warnings about this. Laziness and ineptitude is why this disaster happened; laziness and ineptitude toward the rebuilding effort is inhumane.

And if you plan to continue this thread with snarky NIMBY assholery like "great. I hope you move to NO when they rebuild it," perhaps you'll tell me how many of these displaced homeless people you'll be boarding for the next ten years while a new location for their town is found. Until then, drop the condescending attitude of someone who thinks it's so easy to tell other people how to give up everything they have because it makes sense to you.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:21 PM on September 1, 2005


Good thing the departments of Health and Human Services and Commerce are still urging federal employees to attend the Freedom Walk.

Thanks for reminding me about the Freedom Walk. I'll be there with my t-shirt bearing a properly disrepspectful slogan. Anyone who wants to come along, email is in my profile.
posted by footnote at 12:22 PM on September 1, 2005


^ XQUZYPHYR, THANK YOU..
posted by pez_LPhiE at 12:24 PM on September 1, 2005


Federal government wasn't ready for Katrina, disaster experts say:
Being prepared for a disaster is basic emergency management, disaster experts say.

For example, in the 1990s, in planning for a New Orleans nightmare scenario, the federal government figured it would pre-deploy nearby ships with pumps to remove water from the below-sea-level city and have hospital ships nearby, said James Lee Witt, who was FEMA director under President Clinton.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:27 PM on September 1, 2005


Thank you, XQUZYPHYR, and I might also add:

I will live in New Orleans after we rebuild it because I love that goddamned city.
posted by rush at 12:28 PM on September 1, 2005


Listening to the chatter from the police scanner is frightening stuff...

An announcement was made that basically said, "Please don't call us reporting criminal activities--we've got too much to deal with right now."

I heard a CNN reporter was carjacked on the air.

Complete anarchy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:29 PM on September 1, 2005


Well said, XQUZSDFOHJWOGI
posted by bshort at 12:29 PM on September 1, 2005


(still waiting for someone to say Karl Rove engineered Katrina, with help from the pentagon, to improve W's ratings)
posted by cbjg at 12:30 PM on September 1, 2005


Which is exactly the problem with using National Guard troops to fight a war outside our borders. They're needed at home.

Want to fight a war in another country? Use the Army, Air Force, and Navy. That's what they're for. The National Guard is for another purpose entirely.


my point exactly. lack of ground services comes from having our national guard stationed guarding another nation. and the deployment of the national guard troops overseas was ordered by bush. therefore, bush is at least partly responsible for the reprehensible lack of action going on here.
posted by salad spork at 12:31 PM on September 1, 2005


You're a fool if you live somewhere where you can look *up* to the water level , the same way you're a fool if you live in tornado alley or near an active fault line. The fact that Federal insurance helps people rebuild in the same dangerous areas only perpetuates these problems for decades, if not generations.

Well, you're a fool if you're on the West Coast then what with the volcanoes, earthquakes, and mudslides. Forget the East Coast too. They have blizzards and hurricanes. The entire Gulf Coast is out, they get hit every single year in some way. Let 's see. We still have the North, although they have blizzards and tornadoes. That leaves us with the south that is known for flooding and .. tornado alley. I guess you should all move to Arkansas then. Sure, it'll be tough to find a job unless you're experienced in poulty production, but if you live anywhere else you're all just a bunch of idiots who are asking to die.

No.. wait. Damn, Arkansas has a fault line which produces quakes 2 to 3 times bigger than the 1906 San Francisco quake. It's not active though. Unless you count the earthquake we had on Aug 15th. Oh, and that 4.9 back in February.

Vegas it is.
posted by Ugh at 12:37 PM on September 1, 2005


...the reprehensible lack of action going on here. - salad spork

What lack of action?
posted by rush at 12:40 PM on September 1, 2005


Stuart_R - British Columbia has apparently dispatched its provincial urban search and rescue teams after Louisiana state officials requested aid. It doesn't seem like they're waiting for a federal OK to go ahead, they're just going. DART however still seems to be on standby. Perhaps there's a difference in clearance requirements when it comes to civilian assistance teams versus military ones?
posted by bl1nk at 12:41 PM on September 1, 2005


RichLyon, Miko got to my answer first, except I would modify undereducated and underemployed to uneducated and unemployed. Somehow they've been lulled into some kind of stupor such that they can't think or reason for themselves. They are living in the moment, incapable of making plans for anything more than 30 minutes away.

The poor in the U.S. have been living so close to the edge for so long I'm not altogether surprised some of them snapped.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of us in the U.S. who know how desperate these people are and know their situation is both deplorable and something that must be fixed. But apparently there are less than 50% of us with that understanding, or we'd have a different government in office. (Not that any government could just wave a magic wand and fix this, but maybe they at least wouldn't make it worse.)

I don't know how "they" (whoever "they" are) will deal with the people with guns in New Orleans now, unless they treat them as enemy combatants. (Not recommending that, obviously, I just don't see any other way. Glad I don't have to make the decision.)
posted by Jaie at 1:07 PM on September 1, 2005


"Smedleyman: WTF, not blaming Bush doesn't make him Superman."


- Main Entry: sar·casm
Pronunciation: 'sär-"ka-z&m
Function: noun
Etymology: French or Late Latin; French sarcasme, from Late Latin sarcasmos, from Greek sarkasmos, from sarkazein to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer, from sark-, sarx flesh; probably akin to Avestan thwar&s- to cut
1 : a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain
2 a : a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual b : the use or language of sarcasm




+ kirkaracha’s “Federal government wasn't ready for Katrina, disaster experts say” post.


rush - re: emergency response. I conceded that. I think there should have been different priorities. Not now, then. We seem to agree on that.
I disagree however that Bush cannot or is not needed to play a role in this crisis.
I suspect the most powerful man in the world could in fact have an impact on events surrounding this.
I also disagree with his leadership style. I can think of several recent Presidents who would be doing a better job. His father among them.
kirkaracha expressed it well:
“Is this effort the result of four years of preparing to respond to a disaster?”

Perhaps if Jean LaFette bombarded it again we’d’ve been ready.

...nah, that was kind of spurious. I just think Jean LaFette is funky.

posted by Smedleyman at 1:08 PM on September 1, 2005


airlifts, airdrops, etc. why aren't they dropping food and water in if they can't go by road????

I have never seen such a failure of leadership in my country--ever. People are dying on the streets of New Orleans.
posted by amberglow at 1:16 PM on September 1, 2005


Ugh: I live in the Bay Area, which makes me one of millions of fools out here, but it's my choice. I just happen to believe that if an earthquake hits and demolishes were I live, other tax payers shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of me knowingly living somewhere dangerous.
posted by Vaska at 1:20 PM on September 1, 2005


Another thought: How come we can send in an army of reporters, photographers, cameramen but can't just send simple aid like water, food, medicine? That's it, media outlets should be running the effort..

If it that our desire/ability to read [bad] news outweighs our desire/ability to help?
posted by pez_LPhiE at 1:20 PM on September 1, 2005


But we do have to shoulder the burden of providing assistance to you afterwards--it's OUR country together--if you're hurting, we're all hurting. This is unbelievably shameful.
posted by amberglow at 1:21 PM on September 1, 2005


airlifts, airdrops, etc. why aren't they dropping food and water in if they can't go by road????
Drop food and water into contaminated water = contaminated food and more contaminated water
posted by darukaru at 1:25 PM on September 1, 2005


Presumably, it would have wrappers on it.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:26 PM on September 1, 2005


I just happen to believe that if an earthquake hits and demolishes were I live, other tax payers shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of me knowingly living somewhere dangerous.

Because I know the region well, I have absolutely no doubt that last week, given three hours in a beach town on the Gulf Coast, I could have found 25 local residents who would have said the same thing.

Now that they're sitting hundreds of miles away absorbing the shock of having lost everything they own, they may have undergone a change of opinion.

Anyway, because you don't speak for everyone in your region, there'd be no choice but to make efforts to help you and your neighbors as a group. If the boat comes by while you're clinging to your floating cooler, and you don't want to get on, just give a little wave. We'll move on to the next guy.
posted by Miko at 1:26 PM on September 1, 2005


OK, fine, rebuild the city there. Stand on your pride. I'll even throw in my tax dollars to help (not that I have any choice).

I still think it's worth a look into how to rebuild the city somewhere other than FIFTEEN FEET BELOW THE LOCAL WATER LEVEL.

Now, you can call me stupid for living in Los Angeles where we could have a massive earthquake any day, but at least in CA we've built most of the buildings to take it, and it's unlikely in the extreme that this entire city would be wiped out and unlivable after a quake. We had one in Northridge 11 years ago, and it didn't level the entire San Fernando Valley.

So, you're gonna rebuild the city so it's designed to stand up to having all that water in it and still function? Great! That will probably only cost you 100 times as much as maybe moving it to somewhere less likely to be drowned. Put the whole thing on deep concrete pilings, why don't ya. Or make boat ownership mandatory, hey just an inflatable will do.

But you're just gonna do what makes your ego happy, so don't listen to me or anyone else who thinks that living where the river is above your head is inadvisable.

And yeah, you can laugh and snot off at me if LA is leveled by a major quake.

Meanwhile, let's finish rescuing the people who stayed, OK?

from way up: "the country is rich and our government should take care of our people in need"

Agreed - however the country itself is not exactly rich, it's the top 10% of people here who are really rich. The government only has as much money as we will give it in taxes. Hopefully some folks with a lot of cash in the bank will donate generously to help the stricken. I'm throwing in what I can.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:27 PM on September 1, 2005


I just happen to believe that if an earthquake hits and demolishes were I live, other tax payers shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of me knowingly living somewhere dangerous.

So I assume you carry no personal insurance for damage or loss, and don't belong to an HMO? I certainly don't want you affecting my premiums because you live somewhere dangerous.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:28 PM on September 1, 2005


I still think it's worth a look into how to rebuild the city somewhere other than FIFTEEN FEET BELOW THE LOCAL WATER LEVEL.

Once you figure out where that would be, let us know.
posted by agregoli at 1:30 PM on September 1, 2005


amberglow, dropping food and water is not feasible at this time. There are few good target areas for a food drop in the environment that would lead to food and water being delivered to the optimal number of people without contamination. It's sort of a density problem. The suitable areas have already received aid, and continue to do so. It's not wise to try to drop food and water on the roofs of submerged houses, and it would be wiser to utilize those resources in attempting to rescue people out of the submerged houses. Supply drops are pretty specific, and the focus right now is (rightly) on evacuating people.
posted by rush at 1:32 PM on September 1, 2005


Amberglow: In terms of rescue efforts? Yeah, I can understand that. I just don't think this disaster is wholly the current Administrations fault. This is a basic human unwillingness to prepare for the long term, or even be prepared in the medium term. Several decades of governments both local and federal have passed, and New Orleans has been left each time with nothing except some figurative bandages. The assorted politicians didn't think it was important, and the voting populace didn't vote anyone in who thought it was important so, to be cruel, they're getting what they they deserve. Voters set the agenda by picking politicians after all.

What should be done is have FEMA made a separate branch again with a full cabinet posting, then force the unit to go abroad to Bangladesh, China and Japan to learn from disasters and how those governments prepare. The big thing is that if we're going to avoid huge fuck-ups like this is the political willpower of politicians to make hard decisions to force everyone out of endangered zones by force, demolish areas for fire breaks, quick drainage sections, or what have you. FEMA would be best served by having amphibious ships, large medical frigates and hordes of ground transportation vehicles at a central storage facility that are ready to go at all times to be shipped somewhere.
posted by Vaska at 1:33 PM on September 1, 2005


^ country is still rich compared to almost every other nation.. we have HDTVs and Internet up the ass.. I can order a laptop right now and have it on my lap tomorrow.. but we can't send water and food? There are roads into NOLA.. the road outside all of our houses somehow connect to NOLA.. my point is the means is there.. so why aren't things being done..
posted by pez_LPhiE at 1:33 PM on September 1, 2005


For heaven's sake, the levees needed rebuilding long before the Bush administration. It wasn't like they were suddenly found deficient.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:35 PM on September 1, 2005


Armitage Shanks : Insurance and HMOs are voluntary, taxes are not.

Interestingly, most insurance companies will not provide flood insurance in dangerous areas because they don't want to encourage what they call 'an endless cycle of destruction and rebuilding' (From a radio interview on NPR)
posted by Vaska at 1:36 PM on September 1, 2005


The suitable areas have already received aid, and continue to do so.

That's not true--the Mayor just said there's no more food and water at the Superdome, and there are hundreds (thousands?) of people at the Convention Center who were directed and/or dropped off there by authorities and they've had NO food or water at all the whole time.
posted by amberglow at 1:36 PM on September 1, 2005


it's the top 10% of people here who are really rich.

Not really. By global standards, we're almost all rich. Forgive me if I suggest that what some of us consider necessities are actually the hallmarks of a high standard of living. In a country where even people with six-figure incomes consider themselves 'middle class', we need some perspective. We should definitely be taxing enough to manage this sort of situation.

Those of you who think NoLa is in a stupid location: It ain't good, that's sure. But it wasn't the product of sheer idiocy. The city grew naturally from the opportunities provided by the landscape. Once there was a certain amount of investment and infrastructure in place, there was a demand to protect it with the levee system. Once the levee system was in place, there was further willingness to expand the city and its economy. It wasn't one bad decision -- it was history unfolding.

For an excellent discussion of the gradual engineering of the port of New Orleans and the levee system, read John McPhee's The Control of Nature. It discusses exactly what happened this week, too.
posted by Miko at 1:37 PM on September 1, 2005


Look. I fully understand the logistics and distribution problems the Federal government is facing. (Though, say, wasn't a coordinating agency such as oh, Department of Homeland Security, supposed to help expedite things?)

But nevertheless, what really puzzles me is the White House's claims that the current dire straits New Orleans is in was unanticipated.

What do we pay these guys to run the country for? Hurricane come, take shelter; Hurricane go, everything back to normal. Is that the extent of their cognitive capability?! Like Iraq--sorry to bring this in, it is really not my intention to reduce everything to "bad, bad, Bush"--this administration has demonstrated to an astounding degree, their inability to realize that after Step One inevitably comes a Step Two.
posted by slf at 1:38 PM on September 1, 2005


i hate this shit.. all of it..
posted by pez_LPhiE at 1:40 PM on September 1, 2005


"Once you figure out where that would be, let us know."

I'm not an engineer, agregoli. Nor am I familiar with all the topography in the NO area. Surely there's SOMEWHERE nearby that isn't in a bowl.

Y'know, there's a fundamental difference here between living below water level and earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. Earthquakes don't keep shaking continuously for months, making rescue efforts and rebuilding impossible. When you live below water level, and the water comes over the rim of your bowl, it stays there.

Biloxi and Gulfport may have gotten blown out badly, but at least neither is 80% under water right now. People will be able to live there in a month.

"Not really. By global standards, we're almost all rich."

Very true, Miko. You'd think we'd understand that, and be willing to pay enough in to the government to be able to have the funds to handle disasters like this (or maybe not spend so much on a war).

"The city grew naturally from the opportunities provided by the landscape."

Yes of course. And now that landscape has taken the city away. Now, since the city is pretty much totally destroyed, would be a good opportunity to look at a landscape that won't fill up with water and stay filled until forcibly drained.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:41 PM on September 1, 2005


"OK, fine, rebuild the city there. Stand on your pride. I'll even throw in my tax dollars to help (not that I have any choice)."

That's just the thing, you don’t have a choice. Which is why I don’t understand folks who aren’t bitching about this. It’s my money. I earned it. I have a right to know it’s being spent well. I shouldn’t have to give money to charity when the government is supposed to take care of this, meanwhile they’re spending money they said they wouldn’t on the Iraq war.
...to paraphrase Thoreau.

Am I the only REAL conservative here? What the hell happened to change the meaning of that word from wanting your money in your own pocket and caring about nature conservation into this ‘let’s agree with whatever the party says’ crap?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:43 PM on September 1, 2005


(still waiting for someone to say Karl Rove engineered Katrina, with help from the pentagon, to improve W's ratings)

Something tells me W's going take quite a hit in his ratings from this tragedy.
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on September 1, 2005


XQUZYPHYR : I tend to agree with most of your generally thoughtful posts, but there are still issues with respect to the whole issue of re-building New Orleans. Of course, people will want to re-build and move back. That is understandable. That does not make it wise.

The problem is that we can keep building the levees higher, but with every passing year, this task becomes more difficult. As anyone who has ever taken a coastal sedimentology class knows, the Mississipi Delta is the textbook example of mis-management. Straightening the river, preventing the river from going down the Atchafalaya, routing the river sediment straight into the Gulf... all of these have led to the erosion of coastal marshes and barrier islands that normally damp the energy of a large storm. The on-going subsidence of the sediment starved delta is why much of New Orleans is below sea level. With every passing year, the city sinks, the levees subside and the vulnerability increases. Faced with this, is it really wise to have over a million people live there?

As others have noted, many places are vulnerable to natural disasters. If you are aware of these risks, you might chose to live there anyways. Many MeFites, for instance, are ok with living in the Bay area, despite the considerable seismic risk posed by the San Andreas and Hayward faults. Its not necessarily completely irrational.

If people want to live in New Orleans, I am guessing that directly or indirectly, they assume extra costs in the form of insurance and the diversion of tax money to the building and maintenance of levees and pumps. Perhaps if these costs were equal to the risk, then this would be a disincentive to move there, or perhaps, an incentive to move away and 1.3 million people would not have been living in harm's way. But so long as the necessary investments in emergency preparedness and civil engineering infrastructure are not made, then the costs are distorted.

Another question: should the society as a whole assume the costs when the inevitable occurs? In general, I have a strong aversion towards subsidizing people who chose to live and build homes on barrier islands (such as the Outer Banks) or on subsiding deltas on the Gulf Coast.

(Note that this is entirely different from wanting or feeling duty-bound to contribute towards people who are now in trouble).
posted by bumpkin at 1:45 PM on September 1, 2005


Smedleyman: I'm with you. These so-called conservatives didn't have the slightest qualm about confiscating my paycheck to kill people on the other side of the planet.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:45 PM on September 1, 2005


"...the levees needed rebuilding long before the Bush administration. It wasn't like they were suddenly found deficient."


Metafilter: ignore all upthread information. Then post!

/nothing at all personal Oriole Adams, lots of pple doing it.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:46 PM on September 1, 2005


Cafferty, CNN:

I gotta tell you something, we got five or six hundred letters before the show actually went on the air, and no one - no one - is saying the government is doing a good job in handling one of the most atrocious and embarrassing and far-reaching and calamatous things that has come along in this country in my lifetime. I'm 62. I remember the riots in Watts, I remember the earthquake in San Francisco, I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever, seen anything as bungled and as poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans. Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in the Superdome. What is going on? This is Thursday! This storm happened 5 days ago. This is a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching. This is the government that the taxpayers are paying for, and it's fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see, in the way it's handled this thing.
posted by kgasmart at 1:50 PM on September 1, 2005


I should state that I would have had absolutely ZERO problem at all with spending lots of Federal money on reinforcing the levees and other continuing engineering projects to protect the city before this disaster, in the interests of preventing it, as was the original plan. That would have been a very good investment.

It really bugs me that the money got spent on the war instead. That gamble didn't pay off at all, did it.

And now, I fully support using whatever Federal funds necessary to re-invest in New Orleans - I just don't think we should rebuild in that particular spot, is all.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:50 PM on September 1, 2005


whether the city will rebuild or not, will not be "decided" by anyone.. no one person says we will rebuild.. no group either.. it's the people.. the people will go where the opportunity is.. after the city is drained and if people feel there are opportunities there, then it will rebuild..

but to chastize the people that will live there if it does get rebuilt is... stupid.

It's just life. the city burned down once and since they felt it was best to rebuild, they did.. your attitude of there "has to be a better place" is very narrow minded.. the fact is you dont know if whether there is a better, and you're already giving the lecture.. the city was built there for a reason, the location must be terrific to foster such a great city.. and I just don't appreciate the daddy-knows-best attitude.. many members have shot down your retorts but you still can't see it in any other light.. the Mule has just kicked you again
posted by pez_LPhiE at 1:52 PM on September 1, 2005


airlifts, airdrops, etc. why aren't they dropping food and water in if they can't go by road????

I have never seen such a failure of leadership in my country--ever. People are dying on the streets of New Orleans.


At first, I was how could you provide {{{help}}} so quick after a disaster like this.
Now I agree. As there are too many bass boats in the south and they alone could have rescued the stranded and created a supply line.
Also, they said the poor could not make it out of New Orleans because of their lacking funds, no public buses?

I think the South’s segregations contributed to the chaos because there seems little teamwork. Yet, working over water is a challenge. The water from the Tsunami dissipated soon afterwards.

Another question: should the society as a whole assume the costs when the inevitable occurs?
What part of "help thy neighbor" needs analyzing.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:53 PM on September 1, 2005


"the Mule has just kicked you again"

Really? Didn't feel a thing.

Funny how even if you do decide to rebuild there, you'll still get my help, and gladly too.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2005


Now, since the city is pretty much totally destroyed, would be a good opportunity to look at a landscape that won't fill up with water and stay filled until forcibly drained.

You're not making sense. It's not like New Orleans is a po-dunk town that can just relocate. We're talking millions of people, tons of business, ports, etc. Where would you have that all go? Should everyone and everything just disappear? Like it or not, New Orleans will be rebuilt.

But whatever. XQUZYPHYR already made good points regarding this.
posted by agregoli at 1:58 PM on September 1, 2005


bumpkin: it's a complicated subject. Clearly NOLA has received federal subsidies but in the scheme of things I don't think they're disproportional... ~$3B/1M people = $3,000/capita.

Spending $10B on cat-5 protection would be worth it. As a Georgist/LVT proponent I have no major problem with property taxes, since as far as rents are concerned what the taxman leaves on the table the landlord collects anyway.

If we can flush $200-500B down the toilet in Iraq I think we can afford to rebuild the south better, and safer, than it was previously.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:05 PM on September 1, 2005


Oh and: "the city burned down once and since they felt it was best to rebuild, they did"

Yeah, but they didn't rebuild it completely out of wood, did they. Hmmm!
posted by zoogleplex at 2:05 PM on September 1, 2005


Really? Didn't feel a thing.

Thats because we're on the Internet. Your point of bringing up the Mule is that you should learn from mistakes. I believe more than enough members has pointed it out. Yet you still harp on the same point that I feel has been thoroughly refuted. You cannot move an entire city.

I think you're just not understanding of scale and size. And the logistics that are involved are just impossible to fully comprehend. Saying just move is very simple thing to say.. doing however is IMPOSSIBLE. [/kick]
posted by pez_LPhiE at 2:07 PM on September 1, 2005


Yeah, but they didn't rebuild it completely out of wood, did they. Hmmm!

They won't rebuild with the same levees either.. Hmmmm!
posted by pez_LPhiE at 2:07 PM on September 1, 2005


We can just pick the city up and move it five miles down the road! Duh!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:08 PM on September 1, 2005




It's just infrastructure, ya know?

New Orleans would, given enlightened government, be an amazing redevelopment experiment. Primo location (other than the suck climate and obvious hydro risks) for a nice city of 500k. Apparently it was mostly the crap low-level stuff that's gotten wasted anyway.

We can rebuild it. We have the technology. Now that existing improvements are largely scrape jobs, NO could be the next Canberra, or Brasilia (bad examples, I know).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:12 PM on September 1, 2005


You know, we could always give the Netherlands a ring and ask for a few tips. They have an entire freaking country below sea level and they're doing pretty well.
posted by bshort at 2:14 PM on September 1, 2005


That depends on what you consider crap. As a historic preservationist and a folklorist, I wouldn't call it crap that's gone, but a serious cultural loss, despite how much money people who lived there had.
posted by Miko at 2:16 PM on September 1, 2005


It's not a zero-sum game -- it's not "emergency resources" vs. "war in Iraq." Don't forget that Bush is still pushing a tax cut, and has gotten one passed every year he's been in office.

It wasn't Iraq that took the money away. Not all of it, at least.
posted by Vidiot at 2:17 PM on September 1, 2005


You know, we could always give the Netherlands a ring and ask for a few tips.

Heck, what do those furners know anyway?
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on September 1, 2005


a serious cultural loss

A Sad Day, Too, for Architecture
posted by ericb at 2:18 PM on September 1, 2005


Armitage Shanks : Insurance and HMOs are voluntary, taxes are not.

So you'd feel bad about all the people who had to help you out because of involuntary taxation, but not about all the people who had to help you out because of voluntary insurance premiums?

Seriously, I don't get it. Why are you comfortable with the fact that someone who has taken out insurance might have to pay higher premiums after you make a claim based on your choice to live in a dangerous area? Why do you make them decide between having no insurance or helping to bail you out when the inevitable happens in California?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:20 PM on September 1, 2005


The Dutch don't spend hundreds of billions on their military and projecting force around the world. They can afford to put their smarts into amazing engineering projects that keep their country dry.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:22 PM on September 1, 2005


Another question: should the society as a whole assume the costs when the inevitable occurs?

What part of "help thy neighbor" needs analyzing.


Sorry, that was poorly phrased. I am appalled by the disaster and feel guilty that I don't know a direct way to contribute and help, but instead am warm and dry and well-fed. I do think there is a distinction between the responsibility to help those in need, and subsidizing poor choices, as I tried to make clear. Know this: now matter how much money you pour into pumps and levees, that city will be under water. The average rate of subsidence is about 10 mm/yr, or about three feet a century (link).
This does not take into account global sea level rise due to melting ice sheets, etc.

Again, it is natural and understandable that people will want to rebuild and move back. And Katerina will probably spur the engineering of a considerably more robust system of levees and pumps than existed prior to the storm. The cost of this will be huge, and in the long run (decades to hundreds of years) will almost certainly prove to be inadequate.
posted by bumpkin at 2:22 PM on September 1, 2005


Dennis Hastert is now saying that "it doesn't make sense to rebuild New Orleans" and that "it looks like a place that should be bulldozed."

So what is the Republican position on this?
posted by bshort at 2:25 PM on September 1, 2005


Also:

As far as I know, on-going subsidence is not a problem in the Netherlands. I don't think there is an analogy there.
posted by bumpkin at 2:26 PM on September 1, 2005


quoting myself: "The Dutch don't spend hundreds of billions on their military and projecting force around the world. They can afford to put their smarts into amazing engineering projects that keep their country dry."

And isn't it frightening that the wealthiest nation in the world can't afford to invest in it's own vital infrastructure anymore - to the point where we lost an entire major (and critical) seaport city?

Appalling.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:29 PM on September 1, 2005


As far as I know, on-going subsidence is not a problem in the Netherlands. I don't think there is an analogy there.

Um, yeah, it's cute that you think that, but we're talking about a city of 180 square miles vs. a country where large parts of the country are below sea level. Still don't see the analogy? How do you manage to feed yourself?
posted by bshort at 2:31 PM on September 1, 2005


I lived in NO for all of the 90's. It is a place that can be very confusing to Americans who visit or have not spent a lot of time there. It is not like the rest of America nor any other city here. Think 2 parts Port Au Prince Haiti and one part Paris.

Many, many people are completely, utterly dirt poor. The punters who complain about folks not evacuating simply do not understand that this was not a possibility for a great many of the residents.

In the best of times, New Orleans is damn close to loot-central. In the best of times, the police are inefficient at best. (on more than one occasion I bribed my way out of minor traffic violations by offering to "warranty" Oakley sunglasses from the bike shop I worked for). etc etc...

My point is, there is no city already closer to martial law, (a stretch I realize... but there is truth in the statement) and I think strangely, she might be a little better prepared for some of this than a lot of folks think. It is not the end, it is not Armageddon for NO.

The town will undoubtedly come back, louder and better than ever. New Orleans has the very best and the very worst of everything.... the place has no middle ground... average does not exist there.
posted by hatchetjack at 2:32 PM on September 1, 2005


"Prime Minister Paul Martin is reportedly trying to speak to President Bush tonight or tomorrow to ask him why the U.S. federal government will not allow aid from Canada into Louisiana and Mississippi."

You know, you'd think that if the leader of the country next door, with whom you share thousands of kilometres of undefended boarder, wanted to talk to you that you'd pick up the phone.

Stuart_R writes "Canada should just send the search & rescue, disaster relief, army engineers and water purification equipment and not bother waiting for the Bush admin to approve it."

What do you suppose we do? Land without permission? Storm the boarder in cargo trucks?

XQUZYPHYR writes "Fourth, the logic of turning the area into a no-mans land after this incident defies all other natural disaster responses in history"

Lots of towns have been uprooted in the past. Either to allow for dams or because of natural conditions (I'm thinking of all the land that is in slo-mo flood mode up by the Manitoba border.)

Vaska writes "FEMA would be best served by having amphibious ships, large medical frigates and hordes of ground transportation vehicles at a central storage facility that are ready to go at all times to be shipped somewhere."

Actually you probably want them distributed around the same way fire stations are both for response time and redundancy. Imagine if NO had been that central storage location.
posted by Mitheral at 2:38 PM on September 1, 2005


Christ....can it get any worse?

Police say storm victims are being raped and beaten inside the New Orleans Convention Center.... Police Chief Eddie Compass says he sent in 88 officers to quell the situation at the building, but they were quickly beaten back by an angry mob. Compass says, "We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten."
posted by jaimev at 2:49 PM on September 1, 2005


pez_LPhiE writes "after the city is drained and if people feel there are opportunities there, then it will rebuild.. "

Rather than spending a lot of money draining to see if people will move back, why not just leave it flooded. Or before rebuilding haul in fill to raise the area above sea level. We can top mountians in search of coal. I've driven down an open pit mine so deep that it took an hour to reach the bottom. The technology and equipment exists all that remains in the will.

Or they could relocate residences to higher ground leaving the Deep Port facilities in harms way.
posted by Mitheral at 2:51 PM on September 1, 2005


Or before rebuilding haul in fill to raise the area above sea level.

It'll sink again. It's a salt marsh.
posted by Miko at 2:57 PM on September 1, 2005


Personally, I think one of the President's greatest strengths is that his child-like innocence supports an apparently infinite capacity for surprise.

LOL. Sshhhtoink! Bullseye!
posted by Toecutter at 3:11 PM on September 1, 2005




amberglow, they are delivering food and water to both locations you mentioned by helicopter.
posted by rush at 3:18 PM on September 1, 2005


...Blanco said Thursday she has requested the mobilization of 40,000 National Guard troops to restore order and assist in relief efforts.

Chertoff said that 4,200 National Guard military police would be deployed in New Orleans over the next three days, nearly quadrupling the overall law enforcement presence there.
...
(CNN, paragraph order reversed by me--even now, woefully inadequate response)
posted by amberglow at 3:20 PM on September 1, 2005


from that same story, rush: A National Guard helicopter delivered MREs -- meals ready to eat -- and bottles of water. The amounts in the first few drops, however, were far short of enough for everyone.
posted by amberglow at 3:21 PM on September 1, 2005


Miko writes "It'll sink again. It's a salt marsh."

Well sure, but I'm thinking haul fill so you're 100' above sea level. 30 centuries from now everyone will have flying cars so no problem.
posted by Mitheral at 3:30 PM on September 1, 2005


There is by now sufficient information on the Net to indicate the problems that New Orleans has had and was to have.

There are only two places in the US that are below sea level: Death Valley (appropriately named) and New Orleans. People do not live in Death Valley.

New Orleans was built originally on ground above sea level. And then began to spread to areas below sea level.

My guess is that the city will be rebuilt in some fashion, but I guess that any large business (bigger than local stores) will be reticient to locate there.

With time, there may well be some hearings held to determine all that has been involved in this tragedy, and it is I think a bit premature to go on record with a knowing statement.
As for the looting and shootings: Americans have the right to bear arms. And to have them around to buy or in places to loot.
posted by Postroad at 3:36 PM on September 1, 2005


I hope that when they rebuild New Orleans, they give it bionic legs and arms so it can run really fast with that cool boinnggggggg boinggggg sound.

Mitheral, the president's scared of one little war widow, you think he'd willingly speak with the leader of another country who wasn't, you know, one of his cronies? Actually, that he's not openly asking for help from those who want to help is pretty appalling.

But then, I've been appalled for years now because of his administration.
posted by fenriq at 3:39 PM on September 1, 2005


the place has no middle ground... average does not exist there.

On a Saturday night in NO just over 5 years ago I was walking around the quarter, just seeing how big it was. I found out pretty quick that it went from 18th century charm to Compton in pretty short order.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:49 PM on September 1, 2005


That depends on what you consider crap. As a historic preservationist and a folklorist, I wouldn't call it crap that's gone, but a serious cultural loss, despite how much money people who lived there had.

New Orleans is an important city culturally and the non human losses that are occurring are a tragedy in their own right.

"Canada will send the United States any help needed in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, Prime Minister Paul Martin told President George W. Bush today.

"If you need help, just ask and we'll be there," he told Bush in a 15-minute phone call that was to have been a sharp discussion of the softwood lumber dispute but instead became a call of sympathy and condolence.

Martin said Bush didn't ask for help, but predicted he will.
"

My god mother's step-brother is part of the Canadian DART team and they are dying to help, ready and waiting, but Bush won't answer the call, it's insanity. They specialize in getting fresh water and supplies to locations that would be otherwise unreachable. I don't know what they need to think over, when there is so much immediate need.


posted by zarah at 3:56 PM on September 1, 2005


The priorities of the US are defense, which actually means foreign war. That has been clear for a long time, and hasn't changed under any president-- Bush may have gone as far as possible in one direction, but it's not as if things changed significantly under Clinton.

The amount of money the US spends on foreign wars is apalling, especially when we see that we can't even afford to protect or help our own cities.
posted by cell divide at 4:25 PM on September 1, 2005


An aspect of the whole rebuild-the-city debate that I haven't heard much about is this:

If 80% of the city is underwater, then that's 80% of the building stock that will most likely need to be replaced. (Structures with flooding lasting more than a short time are hard to rehab--moisture wicks, you get mold/mildew, etc.) That's a pretty expensive proposition there, but, OK.

If the reports of toxic chemical levels in the floodwaters are accurate, however, you're also going to have to do soil decontamination before you rebuild, which (speaking from experience) is also a really expensive proposition, plus lengthy and complicated. But maybe we can come up with the $$ for that also.

But here's what I don't get: before any construction can take place, or before any real estate transaction can be closed, you have got to have someone who's willing to insure the property. And what I don't get is why any insurance company would be willing to underwrite new construction, or salvaged/resold property, in the New Orleans basin. Insurers are, I think, already beginning to realize how far out on the line they've got their necks with the amount of construction that's gone on in other hurricane-prone parts of the US (to say nothing of earthquake-prone).

I mean, clearly *something* will return/continue there; the site's too significant in terms of industry, shipping, etc. But I just don't see who's going to be willing to underwrite against the risks of something like this happening again, to the extent that would make it possible for a very large residential/commercial city will be able to be rebuilt. I'd love to hear from people who know more about this than I, though.
posted by Kat Allison at 4:34 PM on September 1, 2005



I hope that when they rebuild New Orleans, they give it bionic legs and arms so it can run really fast with that cool boinnggggggg boinggggg sound.


Actually, i've been thinking of Mieville's The Scar, and the floating city of Armada.
posted by amberglow at 4:36 PM on September 1, 2005


Well sure, but I'm thinking haul fill so you're 100' above sea level. 30 centuries from now everyone will have flying cars so no problem.

I know you don't mean me to take you seriously, but you must be from inland Canada. The more weight in fill you put on land that has water under it, the more wet, unstable mud you get. I'm no coastal engineer, but I have grown up amongst the wetlands. Some land you just can't fill.


There are only two places in the US that are below sea level: Death Valley (appropriately named) and New Orleans. People do not live in Death Valley.


That's only because there's no water in Death Valley. It's not because of the altitude.

My guess is that the city will be rebuilt in some fashion, but I guess that any large business (bigger than local stores) will be reticient to locate there.

Thing is, that's already true. NoLa is a city of small businesses. There are few major national corporations located there. A few, but not many at all. It's mom and pop all the way.


But here's what I don't get: before any construction can take place, or before any real estate transaction can be closed, you have got to have someone who's willing to insure the property. And what I don't get is why any insurance company would be willing to underwrite new construction, or salvaged/resold property, in the New Orleans basin.

I think you underestimate the greed of developers and the power of the brand that is New Orleans. New Orleanians have long speculated about whether the Mouse would eventually come in and redevelop the French Quarter. It's possible that something on that order could become the New Orleans of the future.

And the utility of the port will always be undeniable. Shipping costs (thus cargo prices) would rise if the port were located farther inland. I'm not saying that's not what will happen, it's just that New Orleans is where it is for a reason.
posted by Miko at 4:49 PM on September 1, 2005


Also, they said the poor could not make it out of New Orleans because of their lacking funds, no public buses?

Due to the Contraflow plan, the buses would probably not have been able to return.
posted by MikeKD at 5:01 PM on September 1, 2005


In addition, city buses tend to go, you know, around the city. Not out of the city to safer ground tens of miles away. For that, you're into Greyhound, and that's a limited resource that costs more than pocket change.
posted by Miko at 5:06 PM on September 1, 2005


I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.

The City in a Bowl, NOW with Bill Moyers, September 2002:
DANIEL ZWERDLING: Suhayda studies hurricanes. And he's brought me to the French Quarter to show what could happen if the most powerful kind of hurricane hits New Orleans.

JOE SUHAYDA: So this indicates the depth of water that would occur above this ground in a category five hurricane.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: It's hard to comprehend, really.

JOE SUHAYDA: It is really, to think that that much water would occur during this catastrophic storm.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: So basically the part of New Orleans that most people in the United States and around the world think of as New Orleans would disappear under water.

JOE SUHAYDA:: That's right. During the worst of the storm, most of this area would be covered by 15 to 20 feet of water.
...
WALTER MAESTRI: Well, when the exercise was completed it was evident that we were going to lose a lot of people we changed the name of the storm from Delaney to K-Y-A-G-B... kiss your ass goodbye... because anybody who was here as that Category Five storm came across... was gone.
...
WALTER MAESTRI: The hurricane is spinning counter-clockwise. It's been pushing in front of it water from the Gulf of Mexico for days. It's now got a wall of water in front of it some 30, 40 feet high. As it approaches the levies of the-- the-- that surround the city, it tops those levees. As the storm continues to pass over. Now Lake Ponchetrain, that water from Lake Ponchartrain is now pushed on to that - those population which has been fleeing from the western side and everybody's caught in the middle. The bowl now completely fills. And we've now got the entire community underwater some 20, 30 feet underwater. Everything is lost.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: Remember the levees which the Army built, to hold smaller floods out of the bowl? Maestri says now those levees would doom the city. Because they'd trap the water in.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:11 PM on September 1, 2005


Did anyone else catch Chertoff's interview where he denied that anyone was at the Convention Center. Minutes later a DHS retraction came through stating that the Secretary was mistaken.

Whoopsie.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:13 PM on September 1, 2005



Which is exactly the problem with using National Guard troops to fight a war outside our borders. They're needed at home.

Want to fight a war in another country? Use the Army, Air Force, and Navy. That's what they're for. The National Guard is for another purpose entirely.


Ah, but it's not that easy. Not only were they needed for pure number of boots on the ground, but the use of the Guard as a safe-haven for certain lazy playboys to avoid service in Vietnam resulted in the Abrams Doctrine. You can read about it here and here. While it is within GW's authority to override it the administration is already dealing with constant twitches from the public over the possibility of an overt draft rather than the subtle one accomplished by stop-loss orders.
posted by phearlez at 5:19 PM on September 1, 2005


New Orleanians have long speculated about whether the Mouse would eventually come in and redevelop the French Quarter. It's possible that something on that order could become the New Orleans of the future.

Shit, I already have trouble not crying over the state of things now. A Disney Bourbon Street? That's going to give me nightmares for weeks.
posted by phearlez at 5:22 PM on September 1, 2005


Fear the mouse phearlez!
posted by Pollomacho at 5:25 PM on September 1, 2005


What do you suppose we do? Land without permission? Storm the boarder in cargo trucks?

Paul Martin should call the mayor of New Orleans and tell him he's sending DART to help. They fly the planes to the nearest airport (Baton Rouge?) and drive in from there.

If a Canadian city was in as bad a situation as New Orleans, I'd rather the US get people there to help as soon as possible rather than wait 5 days while politicians dither, and people start dying and are pleading on TV for someone to help them.

So yes, if necessary, land without the White House's permission, save some lives and apologize for the horrible lapse in etiquette later.
posted by Stuart_R at 5:47 PM on September 1, 2005


> You know, we could always give the Netherlands a ring and ask for a few tips.

> Still don't see the analogy? How do you manage to feed yourself?
> erirb

AND THE LAST DUTCH HURRICANE WAS WHEN???
posted by dand at 6:12 PM on September 1, 2005


Not a hurricane, but the Dutch would understand - 1953. They have had levees break too.
posted by jb at 6:19 PM on September 1, 2005


In February 1953 the Netherlands faced disaster when the dikes protecting the southwest of the country were breached by the joint onslaught of a hurricane-force northwesterly wind and exceptionally high spring tides. The flood came in the night without warning, a fateful combination of freak high tides and gale-force winds that killed 1,835 people. Almost 200,000 hectares of land was swamped, 3,000 homes and 300 farms destroyed, and 47,000 heads of cattle drowned. ...

In 1995, meltwater from the mountainous heartland of Europe and extremely heavy rainfall downstream combined to burst the banks of the Rhine and the Maas and more than 250,000 people had to be evacuated.


There were no fatalities in the 1993 or 1995 floods.
posted by jb at 6:21 PM on September 1, 2005


I just watched some of the most powerful footage I have ever seen on Keith Olbermann on MSNBC - it will probably be re-run again in 3 hours and if you want a street-level view of NO, watch this show if you can. It takes the emphasis off the sniper/thug/flat screen tv looter, and shows the scene for what it mostly is: desperately suffering humanity.

Tony Zumbado, a cameraman. went into the convention center to speak to people and take photos, and rather than a brawling lawless mass, he saw a suffering community that is organizing to care for itself as best it can. These are all people who followed government dictates to go to an assigned shelter, and who then were totally abandoned. The cameraman watched people die before his eyes. He described the scene as utter horror. Thousands of families, babies, elderly, infirm - all begging for help.

He pleaded with authorities and leaders to help them, that he did not feel unsafe or threatened in their midst, he described a population that is desperate and pleading for help and open to that help. It was extremely powerful testimony.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:22 PM on September 1, 2005


Stuart, I think the CF DART is a military force, technically. If another country's forces entered the US airspace without permission, I can almost guarantee the Bush cabal would send fighter jets to either escort them out of our airspace, or shoot them down.

And I can't even imagine what brouhaha that would cause. Canada, bless her northern heart, is the rational one by not going where they're not being given permission to go.

The Cabal on the other hand, is just a reminder that MBAs should be clubbed like baby seals, rather than being allowed to be in a position where they have to make important decisions. Middle managers should never be allowed to rise to CEO positions.
posted by dejah420 at 6:23 PM on September 1, 2005


Should have previewed...but the I believe the story that MJJJ references can be seen at the msnbc site.
posted by dejah420 at 6:27 PM on September 1, 2005


I just watched some of the most powerful footage I have ever seen on Keith Olbermann on MSNBC - it will probably be re-run again in 3 hours and if you want a street-level view of NO, watch this show if you can. It takes the emphasis off the sniper/thug/flat screen tv looter, and shows the scene for what it mostly is: desperately suffering humanity.

Agreed. I saw that too, and started crying. It pierced right through any veneer of cynicism about looting and crime that I was trying to build up, and got back to what needs to stay the focus of reportage, concern, and effort. True scenes of heartbreak and horror, right here at home. And then a minute ago, scenes of the halls of the Superdome, with dead people lined up wheelchairs, some clutching notes they had written so their loved ones would one day know what happened to them.
posted by Miko at 6:29 PM on September 1, 2005


New Orlean's problems started well before the hurricane: New Orleans murder rate on the rise again. Homicide rate nowhere near ’94 peak but still 10 times national average.
posted by sbutler at 6:48 PM on September 1, 2005


From The National Post
Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defence staff, said he spoke with his American counterpart, Gen. Dick Myers, to offer assistance.

He said Myers thanked him, but said the Pentagon is still analyzing what is needed.

Hillier said the military's Disaster Assistance Response Team or DART, which can provide medical care, power and clean water, could head south on 48 hours notice.

He said Canada could provide transport planes or helicopters, electrical generators, water purification systems, small boats for navigating the waterways of the region and engineering equipment and expertise.

He said his staff are planning to load a selection of such gear about a warship to be ready in the event Washington asks for help.

It's best to be prepared, he said.

"We want to help. We believe that's what being friends and allies is all about."
I can't believe it's Thursday night and they haven't been able to leave yet. On the bright side:
The Canadian Red Cross was sending a team of 100 to 200 experienced disaster workers to bolster the American Red Cross staff in the region.
posted by Stuart_R at 7:01 PM on September 1, 2005


New Orlean's problems started well before the hurricane: New Orleans murder rate on the rise again. Homicide rate nowhere near ’94 peak but still 10 times national average.


Yes, New Orleans has for a long time had desperate poverty, corrupt city government, a police force for sale, and a high crime rate.

Now, your point?
posted by Miko at 7:06 PM on September 1, 2005


Yes, New Orleans has for a long time had desperate poverty, corrupt city government, a police force for sale, and a high crime rate.

Now, your point?


That its community wasn't socially prepared for this disaster. On top of all the physical destruction you have a group of people highly distrustful of the police and other authority figures; a group of people who are ten times more likely to murder each other than in other American cities. And you have a police force that is marred by corruption and brutality. It goes a long way to explaining the rapes in the Superdome, the violent looting, and the near hostage situation at the area hospitals.

It reminds me of Philadelphia (or was it Pittsburgh) during the Spanish Flu. The city officials were horribly corrupt and filled the city government with inept cronies looking for political favors. When the flu hit and thousands of people started dying the structure of the city fell apart. It was the old, wealthy families who finally took charge and formed an organized response to the crisis.

I'm not saying there is a direct parallel, but I'm less surprised now at the news coming from the area.
posted by sbutler at 7:21 PM on September 1, 2005


AND THE LAST DUTCH HURRICANE WAS WHEN???

dand, you still around? I have a question for you.
posted by Vidiot at 7:23 PM on September 1, 2005


blaming starving people for being poor and living in a corrupt city accomplishes what exactly?
posted by amberglow at 7:23 PM on September 1, 2005


blaming starving people for being poor and living in a corrupt city accomplishes what exactly?

Bitching on MetaFilter about Bush accomplishes what, exactly? I'm just trying to understand some of the horrible stories I read.
posted by sbutler at 7:25 PM on September 1, 2005


Yeah, I hear your facts, but SO what?!? It's a little too late for MacGruff the Crime Dog. You're absolutely right the city wasn't prepared for the disaster -- socially or otherwise. As I said upthread, you'd see exactly the same thing in New York, Chicago, LA, or Philly in similar circumstances. No doubt about it. It's a predictable human response to fear and the loss of all resources. Lord of the Flies. There's nothing particularly unique about the response of the poorest and most desperate New Orleanians.

It makes people feel a lot better to dismiss it ('oh, you know New Orleans -- it's crazy/poor/black/far away'). It helps us nurse the illusion that we would never find ourselves in such a situation. It helps us start to try and convince ourselves that anyone who dies or suffers somehow brought it on themselves -- absolving the rest of us of responsibility.

That ain't how it is. The blood's on all of our hands. This is our nation; we let it get this way. At this point, it's pretty damn cold to walk away cluck-clucking and dusting our hands.
posted by Miko at 7:26 PM on September 1, 2005


I'm just trying to understand some of the horrible stories I read.

You're just trying to find a way to let yourself off the hook of having to care about it is more like it.

Keep looking. Keep learning.

My brother and his wife lived in NoLa for years. It's a beautiful city with a lot of heart. There was crime, yes. There was poverty. There were also people of every race, income level, and persuasion living together peacefully, cooking incredible food, writing, fishing, making art, making deliveries, going to church, helping each other out. There are clearly some crazy people going nuts there right now. But there are also clearly many, many others who are trying just to hold on until help arrives.
posted by Miko at 7:30 PM on September 1, 2005


How come we can send in an army of reporters, photographers, cameramen but can't just send simple aid like water, food, medicine? That's it, media outlets should be running the effort..

Excellent point, pez_LPhiE - and thank god the media are there to record this shame and hold our *leaders* feet to the fire on this one. If we didn't see it, I doubt we would ever believe it, accounts would seem fantastic. The spinmeisters would be drowning us in glossy propaganda of numbers of guardsmen sent and pallets of food delivered, and photo ops of Bush hugging some black grannies and reading to black kids.

But if the media can get there, why can't bread and water get there too?

I am faulting the planning, not the first responders. There are many heroes who are on the scene - the doctors, the nurses, the coast guard, the cops, the ffs, the national guard, citizen leaders... but people are dying of dehydration. First responders are suffering terribly too.

Saw a segment on one station with a water rescue team from Colorado - there are still many many - perhaps thousands - of people still in and on roofs in pockets of the city. Time is running out.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:57 PM on September 1, 2005


Bitching on MetaFilter about Bush accomplishes what, exactly?

1. Because I think it's a bit appalling that his administration evacuated the bin Laden family out the U.S. almost faster than they're evacuating dying Americans out of drowning New Orleans.

2. Because some of us just have a hunch if these people at the SuperDome were well-to-do white Republicans they would have been out two days ago and lounging at the pool of the hotel the Admin arranged for them.

3. Because even if I didn't already loathe him, even if I actually liked him a little bit, I think I'd still be starting to get concerned about his level of disconnect from reality.

4. Because I looked at that image of him with Clinton and his Dad and all I could think was - Please someone, give Junior some toys and let the grownups run this thing.

5. And oh yeah, because he's the alleged leader of the country in which this is happening. It's on his watch. And during THIS enormous national crisis, instead of reading My Pet Goat, he was strumming a Presidential gee-tar. [Nero fiddled/Rome burned - Dumbya picked while New Orleans sank.]
--

Now, my question. N.O. is a port city. The Mississippi runs through it. Why can't large Naval and Coast Guard ships just go into the city, send choppers/planes out to drop supplies and troops and to pick people up? [Yes, this assumes the govt. had been on the ball enough to get the ships there sooner.]
And why aren't people being taken to the airport and flown out of the city instead of forced to endure a seven-hour bus ride?
posted by NorthernLite at 8:01 PM on September 1, 2005


Zumbado's full interview is buried a little in the msnbc link - there is a shortened version on the main page, but the full live interview is under the title "Desparation in New Orleans". The edited the footage, which surprised him - he says he had already not filmed the worst, and self-censored in the hopes of getting it all on air.

He is so adament that it's not too lawless - he felt safe in there, but the bus drivers won't go. More children will die of dehydration - some already have.
posted by jb at 8:02 PM on September 1, 2005


To get to more videos - go to the page numbers at the bottom.
posted by jb at 8:03 PM on September 1, 2005


We don't even let people die of thirst when we sock them away in Gitmo and/or torture them. :(
posted by beth at 8:09 PM on September 1, 2005


Bitching on MetaFilter about Bush accomplishes what, exactly?

Because, genius, one can't do shit about the problem, the other is the fucking president.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:13 PM on September 1, 2005


(re: bitching about starving poor vs. bitching about president, in case you weren't following)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:14 PM on September 1, 2005


NorthernLite: i don't get that either--food and water could have been there ages ago, and even barges with tarps on top would be better shelter and transportation than buses. i don't get it at all.

Time is running out.
Dysentery is next, they're saying. And i heard the field hospital they set up at the airport was overwhelmed a while ago.
posted by amberglow at 8:19 PM on September 1, 2005


Where the fuck is your President?
Where's your leader?
All I've seen him do is decline any foreign help and make comments about "zero tolerance" for looters and how citizens should "work together," when they're not dying in chairs in the road, holding signs and begging for help, from anyone who will listen.
I have zero respect for him.
The kid who stole a bus to drive a load of people out of there, for seven hours, is a hero. Bush can learn from him.

And please, let us in! (the other countries who want to, and can, help.) What the hell IS that, anyway?

My thoughts are with the people of that awesome, awesome city.
posted by chococat at 8:33 PM on September 1, 2005


Chococat: don't forget that he asked the private sector this morning to 'do its part, too'. What?! What part is that, exactly -- profit-taking on the fuel prices and rebuilding contracts?

WE're trying. THis might just have woken this sleeping nation up.
posted by Miko at 8:40 PM on September 1, 2005


I don't know what thread to post this in, but shortly after midnight Fri. a.m., CNN reported that the Astrodome is turning people away. That's right, no more people are being accepted at the Astrodome.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:20 PM on September 1, 2005


NYT says 25,000 people still at the Convention Center, and 30,000 at the Superdome (apparently the people who were in hotels moved to the Superdome, and word spread that buses are moving so more people from the city are going there.)
posted by amberglow at 9:23 PM on September 1, 2005


The officials at the Astrodome revised the plan because they do not want to re-create the conditions at the Superdome. I don't know where that means they're going - some to San Antonio, I'm sure. But that's a hell of a long way away.
posted by Miko at 9:29 PM on September 1, 2005


We're taking a bunch of them up here in Dallas, at Reunion Center. They've already started arriving. I hear Atlanta is getting some. Baton Rouge is setting up tent cities, from what I hear from folks on the ground there.

This is just crazed. Like these people haven't been through enough, now we're busing them around the country like toxic waste. How hard would it have been to set up facilities at a National Park nearer to their homes? This is just crazy.

There was footage on one of the channels where a woman was holding this poor little listless baby and she was saying "he just doesn't want to wake up..." oh dear lord, I'm weepy now again just thinking about it.

Four freaking days. It's been four freaking days. We can't get water and food to people who are at the locations where they were told to be? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, FEMA?

This has to be the worst handled disaster of any that I've seen, and I've had some practice. Growing up on the Gulf Coast, I'm not stranger to hurricane damage. This is just madness. And somehow, I know in George's head, he's just wishing he could find a way to blame this on the Axis of Evil, so the minions would all fall in line again.
posted by dejah420 at 10:54 PM on September 1, 2005


it really is, dejah--if this is the best we can do, we're all fucked.
posted by amberglow at 10:56 PM on September 1, 2005


You can plan for mistrust of authority, and for people staying, and the local government would have had it possessed the capacity. But it reported it didn't in June.

How do you the UN gets anything done? This kind of thing (dealing with resistance to treatment or procedures) is taught in public health classes, i assume it's part of many government plans.

by the way, the clinton administration started SELA after the mississippi flooded in the mid-nineties (St. Louis also got it pretty hard that year). I remember black water in the streets, and getting off of school for a week, and the excitement that comes with living in a National Disaster Area. SELA was the program to build new levees and pumps that the 43rd administration underfunded. clinton is an asshole and signed NAFTA, failed miserably on health care, etc. But his team gets credit for this one.
posted by eustatic at 1:05 AM on September 2, 2005


Heartbreaking report from the Convention Center from "Bigfoot" - a bar manager, Bourbon St. DJ and local icon via The Interdictor

Three days ago, police and national guard troops told citizens to head toward the Crescent City Connection Bridge to await transportation out of the area. The citizens trekked over to the Convention Center and waited for the buses which they were told would take them to Houston or Alabama or somewhere else, out of this area.

It's been 3 days, and the buses have yet to appear.

Although obviously he has no exact count, he estimates more than 10,000 people are packed into and around and outside the convention center still waiting for the buses. They had no food, no water, and no medicine for the last three days, until today, when the National Guard drove over the bridge above them, and tossed out supplies over the side crashing down to the ground below. Much of the supplies were destroyed from the drop. Many people tried to catch the supplies to protect them before they hit the ground. Some offered to walk all the way around up the bridge and bring the supplies down, but any attempt to approach the police or national guard resulted in weapons being aimed at them.

There are many infants and elderly people among them, as well as many people who were injured jumping out of windows to escape flood water and the like -- all of them in dire straights.

Any attempt to flag down police results in being told to get away at gunpoint. Hour after hour they watch buses pass by filled with people from other areas. Tensions are very high, and there has been at least one murder and several fights. 8 or 9 dead people have been stored in a freezer in the area, and 2 of these dead people are kids.

The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

The buses never stop.

posted by madamjujujive at 5:22 AM on September 2, 2005


Well, good morning Metafilter, just stopping in this thread to see if ANY of you big-pickup-driving, wife-beater-t-shirt-wearing, Bush-lovin', macho, mullet-headed fucktards are still stupid enough to deny that Bush, quite simply, is the worst, WORST, most incompetent, president this country has ever had and because of that, the federal response to Katrina has been an unqualified, sickening disgrace.

Sorry for the foaming, but goddammit, but for years now I've quietly endured big-mouthed jackasses like you spewing your loud, stupid, AM radio lies and distortions in my local diners and grocery store check out lines and I swear to Christ that henceforth, I'm gonna call you out. And I hope others, elsewhere, do the same because you've ruined this country.
posted by Toecutter at 7:08 AM on September 2, 2005


Miko writes "I know you don't mean me to take you seriously, but you must be from inland Canada. The more weight in fill you put on land that has water under it, the more wet, unstable mud you get. I'm no coastal engineer, but I have grown up amongst the wetlands. Some land you just can't fill. "

Actually I'm serious to the point that if they refuse to relocate they should at least fill to a significant level above sea level. The 100' was overboard but I'd say at least 7' above high tide would be appropriate. At 3 feet per century of sinking that would give you 200 years of above water + a foot of slack. I'm not a civil engineer but this is a doable engineering project if there is the will. For example the Japanese have built an island by dreging the sea big enough for an international airport.

Miko writes "In addition, city buses tend to go, you know, around the city. Not out of the city to safer ground tens of miles away"

One would assume that the city would have the power to divert those buses.

dejah420 writes "Stuart, I think the CF DART is a military force, technically."

No technically about it, organizationally they are like the Army Rangers to the regular army. And each DART crew can create drinkable water from a mud hole for up to 10,000 people per day.

"Now, my question. N.O. is a port city. The Mississippi runs through it. Why can't large Naval and Coast Guard ships just go into the city, send choppers/planes out to drop supplies and troops and to pick people up? [Yes, this assumes the govt. had been on the ball enough to get the ships there sooner.] "

I've been wonering the same thing. Is it a fear of debris in the water or a possible change in underwater topography? It would seem that an aircraft carrier with support group pulling in to the port could make quick work of both securing the area and evacing those that need it.
posted by Mitheral at 11:18 AM on September 2, 2005


« Older Something Rich and Strange   |   Start a new life. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments