The latest installment of the Sanity Squad is up.

Here is yet another opportunity to drink from the Wisdom Waterfalls. The cosmopolitan Dr Sanity, the urbane Shrinkwrapped and the positively sublime Neo-neocon all offer up insight and wisdom found no where else in the blogosphere.
Really.

After the magnitude of the devastation Katrina wrought became clear, Mary Landrieu, senator from Louisiana called for the President to establish a ‘cabinet level post’ to direct relief efforts in her state. Why do you think she did that?

In fact, she she has made that extraordinary request so that federal relief officials can bypass and ‘go over the heads’ of state and local officials- officials that Landrieu knew were incompetent. Landrieu understood that dealing with local officials would only delay or prevent help from getting through.

We won’t even discuss what has been left unsaid. Who would want to see tens and tens of billions of dollars, administered by the same people that were incapable of developing and implementing a disaster relief plan? Why would anyone believe that people who could not bring water bottles to those who needed it, would do a better job of moving heavy equipment and concrete into the area?

We are repeating ourselves to make a point: The disaster was exacerbated by State, County and Local officials, who had no plan whatsoever. Despite years of assurances and studies, New Orleans had no disaster plans. It was a sham- all of it.

State and local officials had over a week advance warning- and in that time, virtually nothing was done.

To put this in perspective- 9/11 came without warning- and local and state officials did a magnificent job under incredibly tough conditions, before the arrival of FEMA and federal help.

Despite the reality of one weeks’ warning, the City of New Orleans could not manage to pre position stores of water. The only known New Orleans citizen that access to that precious commodity was the mayor himself, as can be evidenced in virtually every photograph of him during this crisis.
The Anchoress wrote in 100 Hours After Stormfall

But it is easy to Monday Morning Quarterback. That’s the easiest thing in the world to do, and also the most useless, so let’s not do it – let’s focus on what actually happened, for a little bit longer – we were talking about how New Orleans had seemed to have dodged a bullet.

When the levees fell and hell was unleashed, those emergency folk who were in place were faced with a disaster that they’d simply never encountered before. No matter how “prepared” they might have been, they were not – could not be – prepared enough. Suddenly they were not dealing with a mere disaster, they had a true catastrophe on their hands. A catastrophe is not something easily, and neatly managed. It is horrific and sprawling and deadly and by its nature, a catastrophe brings nothing good, leaves nothing good in its wake.

There are some folks out there who seem to think that a sprinkling of pixie dust is all it would take to make everything better, and that the president is being stingy with the twinkles.

As always, The Anchoress is too kind.

So the federal response were not adequate or fast enough for you?

Well, disaster relief and reconstruction aren’t reality TV. There are no quick fixes’ If you think there are quick and easy fixes, you need to get away from the TV set and start dealing with reality.

There is no more a quick fix for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast than there was for the disaster that were the 1997 floods that inundated North Dakota and Minnesota. To be clear, after six years, there has not been a full recovery in all the affected areas. See this, for a peek at what reality looks like. For some reason, the previous administration was not taken to task for FEMA failures in Red River floods.

Every administration in New Orleans and Louisiana knew that ‘the big one,’ would come. No one in state government, Republicans and Democrats alike, were unaware of what might happen. New Orleans and Louisiana fell asleep at the wheel. It was preserving Bourbon street and not preparing for the inevitable that occupied the time at City Hall the state house.

While they cannot be blamed for the disaster, they can be faulted for having absolutely no emergency planning. If there was, there would be evidence of that on our TV screens.

They knew what was possible and they did one lousy job of preparing for it.
We will repeat ourselves, again: The disaster encompassed 90,000 thousand square miles. To be clear, that is an area over half the size of Iraq.

NBC Nightly News reported that in a survey taken in New Orleans just last year, over one third said they would not evacuate, even if ordered to do so.

Nevertheless there were some that would have evacuated if they could.

Where were the city, county and state before the storm? Why did we see over 500 buses transporting New Orleans residents after the storm?

As The Anchoress words at the time are as relevant now. She said,

I had written earlier today that I really want to believe that the press wants what is best for America. I still want to believe it. The press understands the power of images – hell, we do not see too many good images from Iraq for a reason, right? If the press wants to filter news on the war because they don’t believe in it, that’s one thing. It’s not right, and it dishonors our men and women who come home with very different sorts of stories than we hear in the press…but it’s “one thing.” If they begin to filter out images of hopefulness and heroism – if they downplay what is positive in the recovery efforts after Katrina, they will not only hurt the president they hate…they will hurt the nation – they will deliver a deep and lasting wound to America’s spirit, its pride and its soul. And that would be unforgivable. We need some more of this, please.

The sad people who sit around like self-gratifying monkeys, constantly working their hate, working it and working it, are longing for release – for an orgasm that can only occur upon the utter political, personal and (for some) physical destruction of a human being named George W. Bush. Until they have that destruction, and that orgasm, nothing else matters. Nothing. And nothing can be seen by them, except through the prism of that hateful desire.

I wish I could talk to some of these folks – really talk to them – but I know I cannot. I know they have no openness to hear anything I have to say. I wish I could ask them – and folks like Jack Cafferty and Katie Couric and others who take the very easy way of simply “blaming Bush” for everything, and who are simply running on hate – where has your hate taken you? Where do you think it will take the country? Assuming you still want what is best for America, do you think unrelenting hate is what she needs at this moment – that it can be the catalyst for recovery and healing in our nation?

I know of no therapy that brings about healing through hatred…

Hate tends to consume the hater, and I read some of the remarks some folks are making and think…are you so in love with your hate that you cannot let it go long enough to say “let us band together and put politics aside, for now…” because this really is not the time to drive political daggers – it is not the time to try to figure out if the traditionally Democratic leadership in this state or that contributed to a city’s unpreparedness and vulnerability. It is not the time to sit and seethe with resentment or guffaw in anticipatory glee…

The Anchoress words really hit the mark.

Also courtesy of The Anchoress comes a link to The Katrina Video Congress Didn’t Want You To See, from Paul at Wizbang.

The implosion of New Orleans during Katrina was bigger than any Fourth of July fireworks display.

Hurricane Relief, Part Two

August 29, 2006

Before the upcoming ‘Blame Bush For Hurricane KatrinaFest,’ it bears remembering that the MSM, the very privileged and highly agendized group, have a rather poor track record when it comes to reporting the truth about Katrina.

Much to the MSM’s dismay (and Anderson Cooper’s tears), there were no mass murders or rapes inside the Superdome. Malkin has more debunked myths, including a retraction by a ‘civil rights leaders’ that blacks had been forced (by white folks, of course) into cannibalism. See The American Thinker, too. The war in Iraq has no effect on the federal government’s response to Katrine- much to the dismay of the MSM. Remember the MSM outrage at the FEMA for not allowing disaster relief into the area? Well, that was another well crafted MSM fabrication.

Former Oklahoma Governor, Frank Keating, has made clear that initial disaster relief and response efforts are the responsibility of the State. He pointed out that the Federal government ‘does not have jumbo jets on standby filled with doctors’ at the ready.

Governor Keating is no danger of being misquoted, of course. The MSM would have to acknowledge his remarks, clearly remarks they find contrary to their agenda. In fact, inconvenient realities have been ignored by the MSM.

Neither George Bush or global warming caused Katrina. Devastating hurricanes have been around for a lot longer than the internal combustion engine and biggie size fries, those great enemies of the people.

There have been hurricanes far larger than Katrina. Many of them predated the Bush administration and secret Yale fraternities.

If global warming exacerbated Katrina, that is because global warming issues predated George Bush. In fact, if global warming did exacerbate the hurricane, it is because global warming was ignored for decades. The global warming phenomena is not Al Gore’s karma coming back to punish us. The global warming frenzied mobs need to ask why Kyoto is not applicable to the worst polluters- China, India, and Brazil.

As we have noted, emergency preparedness is not part of George Bush’s job description. It is not Mr Bush’s job to keep a list of school bus drivers, ready to call at a moment’s notice. It is not his fault that the mayor of New Orleans and governor of Louisiana were incompetent.
The MSM are woefully ill equipped to make the determination that the federal government was more at fault than the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. Nor is the MSM responsible for blaming the administration because hospital and nursing home patients weren’t evacuated to safety. They know very well where the responsibility lies- and choose to ignore the truth.

The amount of money (mis)spent on levee construction over the last 30 years totals in the billions, at least. Where the money all went will no doubt remain a mystery. Let’s be clear. Even if the levee maintenance and reconstruction monies were reduced to zero, that in no way has any bearing on having an effective disaster/emergency preparedness plan. As we noted, if there were a real evacuation plans, hospitals, nursing homes, and the handicapped would not have been left behind to fend for themselves, as happened in New Orleans. Do the incompetent New Orleans city fathers think they can assign blame, with the help of the MSM, to the federal government for not having a plan to evacuate New Orleans hospitals and nursing homes?

It was and always has been, FEMA’s role to augment local disaster response and relief. It is not FEMA’s role to be the first responders to a disaster. That is the purview of the governor and mayors of the affected areas. As has been adequately pointed out, New Orleans and Louisiana were monumental failures in the appointed tasks as ‘guardians’ of the city and state.

No one should be surprised that if FEMA and the federal government are requested to perform what are the responsibilities of local government, it takes them a bit longer to respond. They must reconfigure their mission and plans, to accommodate the realities of their new mission- and the expectation that they must fill in for state and local officials.

The real lessons of Katrina are the spectacular ineptitude of Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco were transformed into magnificent competence with the arrival of FEMA, federal aid and federal troops.  As soon as the  National  Guard  under General  Honore left the area, and Ray Nagin, et al were put back in charge, reconstruction faltered or fell apart entirely. That has nothing to do with money- it has to do with planning. New Orleans and Louisiana were incompetent before Katrina and they are incompetent now. They cannot even manage to get the garbage picked up- and there is 33 billion dollars of federal aid that has yet to be spent. See The Mudville Gazette, here, for more on the fanatsyland that is New Orleans and Louisiana.

Of course, we have to look at the residents of New Orleans themselves. We noted in The Culture Of Disaster Or The NO Party To The Grave Plan,

Despite the expenditures of billion and billions of dollars in New Orleans in the hope that such a disaster might not ever happen, and the preparation of a response if the unthinkable did happen, there remained a significant number of people who never had any intention of leaving.

Some people just didn’t want to be subjected to some higher authority telling them what to do. Some people, having lived their entire lives in New Orleans, knew very well the credibility level of the people in charge and were smart enough to take anything they heard with a grains of salt…

It isn’t as if New Orleans were a geographically remote location. It isn’t as if New Orleans citizens didn’t understand the inevitability of a massive storm. On the face of it, New Orleans should have been one of the most disaster prepared cities in the world. Instead, it was one of the most complacent.

In fact, preparedness took a back seat to corruption, greed and dirty politics.

The weatherman says a storm is coming? Let’s go down to the French Quarter and party! Let’s go down to the liquor store and load up- have the neighbors over! This is New Orleans- party time!

There was never a culture of disaster preparedness. If there were, the citizens of New Orleans would have better heeded the warnings. Why were liquor stores allowed to remain open? Why was the French Quarter a hub of hurricane party activity? It was up to the city and state to impress upon people the importance of hurricane preparedness…

Rather than meet at the French Quarter to party, New Orleans residents needed to meet at school parking lots, to follow an established evacuation program.

Clearly, there is more to talk about than George Bush.

Had every single National Guard soldier been preplaced in New Orleans prior to the storm, the levees (victim of decades of Democrat neglect and fraud) would have failed.

Had every single National Guard soldier been preplaced in New Orleans, the 1100 buses would still not have been used to evacuate a single resident. Those buses were an integral part of the New Orleans city and state

Had every single National Guard soldier been preplaced in New Orleans, the Superdome would not have provided any better shelter than it did. Despite being a part of the state disaster plan, and then being designated a Katrina disaster shelter a shelter two days before the storm hit, New Orleans was unable to provide even the water the state plan called for. Presumably, the non existent water supplies were managed by the same democrats that oversaw the construction and repairs of the levees.

The 1997 flooding of the Red River- the floods that drowned Fargo, ND and tens of other communities, began at the end of March, 1997. The official response came on May 28, 1997. Clearly, the FEMA response to the New Orleans disaster under this administration, was far better than the response of the previous administration.

There is no doubt that many who chose to ‘ride out’ the storm will revisit that decision for a long time to come. That said, the poorest citizens of New Orleans were betrayed three times by their local government. Firstly, the was almost a week’s notice of the impending disaster. There could have been an orderly evacuation and transition. There were no efforts made to assist these poorer residents with an evacuation. Second, the evacuation orders and warning that came 24 hours in advance of the storm were also not accompanied by any directions or efforts to make that evacuation easier or more comprehensible. ‘Get Out!’ is not an acceptable disaster plan. Lastly, there was no community based disaster plan in place.

Every school and business has fire drills. Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Personnel have emergency preparedness drills.

In every Midwestern city and town, when the sirens or klaxon’s sound during tornado season, people know where to go and what to do. They know where the shelters are and families prearranged meeting places. Relief supplies are prepositioned and are available at a moment’s notice. These plans are available to the whole community, across the economic spectrum.

Imagine a city like Harrisburg PA, in close proximity to the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, not having a community disaster and evacuation plan. Imagine other cities, near other nuclear power plants or dams, not having a disaster and evacuation plan.

Harrisburg, PA is far less likely to experience a disaster than The City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana was to experience devastating hurricane.

Despite flirting with disaster for decades, New Orleans and the State of Louisiana could not be bothered to put a coherent disaster plan into effect.

Last installment, later.

Hurricane Relief, Part One

August 29, 2006

As the anniversary of hurricane Katrina approaches, the MSM has taken it upon themselves to ‘present’ a post Katrina evaluation to the American public. That would be an admirable endeavor if the MSM had a credible record when it came to reporting on Katrina. Sadly, they do not, Then, as now, the MSM’s record of is nothing less than atrocious (Our post, Hurricane Relief, Part One, can be found here).

Let’s take a short walk down memory lane.

The Katrina disaster impacted 90,000 square miles – unprecedented in modern history. No matter that the levee system in a sinking city was doomed to fail and no matter that even if for the last 15 years, all the levees in New Orleans were brought up to standard, we’d still have 5 years to go before they would be ready. There are those that are stupid enough to think that miracles originate in the Oval Office.

Many critics want to portray the Katrina relief efforts as a complete failure of this administration. Here’s a reality pill: FEMA’s mandate is to coordinate with state and local emergency response personnel to assist and augment state and local disaster plans. It is not the mandate of FEMA to be on the front lines of disaster relief.

The State of Louisiana received an extra 300 million dollars to assist in disaster planning and preparations. Still no word as to where the money went.

Of course, FEMA is not blameless in the ongoing Katrina debacle. It was and is FEMA’s job to coordinate with the states in advance, so as to be better prepared to help. What kind of coordination did they have with the State of Louisiana? When it became evident that Louisiana had no plan, what did FEMA do?

People in the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans need to be held accountable for the complete failure of the emergency planning commissions. Those planning commissions are the front line of defence in facing a natural disaster. The complete failure and implosion of those so called plans were inevitable. When the New Orleans and Louisiana disaster plans failed, it is unreasonable to expect the federal government to send fire trucks to the front lines.

The mayor of New Orleans didn’t do ‘his best,’ as he claims. Ray Nagin did nothing but wait for the federal government to respond to what was his problem- and screw up. Ray Nagin didn’t evacuate a single soul from New Orleans- and did nothing to help those who wanted leave, but couldn’t. See this, from The Anchoress. Critics of the administration- including the MSM- don’t like to be reminded of that.

Did we really expect an incompetent mayor and governor to miraculously find their mettle a day or two before the onslaught of a catastrophic event? Where were Michael Brown’s critics before Katrina? Why was there uproar as he oversaw 160 disasters FEMA responded to prior to Katrina?

The critics of the administration don’t give a damn about the victims of Katrina. The hurricane disaster relief efforts were no more than a platform for bashing this administration. Notwithstanding FEMA’s errors, critics demanded the impossible- they wanted this administration to provide miracles. For the critics, the politics are still more important than the needs.

When political gain can’t be had, the critics ignore reality. In Mississippi, a state that suffered horribly, the disaster relief program is working- not perfectly, but working- and that is why the critics refuse to talk about that state. Their own efforts and that state’s coordination with FEMA, was very different from that of Louisiana. They had a real plan. Louisiana did not. No one wants to talk about fabled Louisiana state government corruption.

Part of what made this country great was a ‘can do’ attitude. No problem was too big, no problems were insurmountable. America and Americans make things happen

Katrina has clearly shown that many Americans, even those in government, seem to be frozen, incapable of initiative and lacking the self motivation to ‘do for themselves,’ instead wanting and waiting to rely on ‘the government.’ It is this very inertia that serves as the fuel for terrorism. We appear as if we are incapable of responding to any kind of threat or disaster.

Critics of the administration are gearing up for an overtime effort. With all due respect, when have Harry Reid, Jesse Jackson Al Sharpton, et al, and an become experts on emergency readiness planning? Since when do Harry Reid and Jesse Jackson know more about Louisiana than Mary Landrieu? She has requested that a cabinet level post be established to oversee the relief and reconstruction, so that they they may “go over the heads of local officials.” Senator Landrieu knows what everyone else does- that local officials are corrupt and incompetent.

The critics want to play politics. Well, that goes two ways. The Louisiana levees were ignored for decades. Why didn’t years of successive Democrat administrations in the State of Louisiana, do anything about the levees? As we have noted, emergency preparedness is the responsibility of the state. What exactly did they do for decades with all that money assigned for disaster relief? Where are the water stores, for example. The was no water pre staged by the City or state. They had a full weeks notice- and years of pissed away planning, by both the city and state was revealed. Simply stated, New Orleans and the State of Louisiana screwed up.

They had no plan and the proof is in the pudding. They were incompetent- complete failures. The Feds were put in a position where they had to provide everything- a role that is not a part of their mandate.

The gnawing, lingering question remains: Why didn’t mayor Ray Nagin call for the school buses to assist with the evacuations? That has nothing to do with the levees. Nothing.

Let’s look a little closer at the politics.

Every governor in Louisiana since 1887, with three exceptions, have been Democrats. In other words, it would be very easy to blame Democrats for the failures of the infrastructures in New Orleans and the Louisiana coast.

It should be noted that in Mississippi, every governor since 1836 has also been a Democrat, save for five Republicans and one Union Democrat.

Alabama Governor’s Mansion has been occupied by Democrats since 1819, save for six Republicans.

It is the States responsibility to build, maintain, and support state infrastructure. It is also the state’s responsibility to to maintain local civil administration, emergency planning or emergency response. Those are the responsibilities of local governments.

The fact remains that is is the federal government that had to step in and clean up the mess made by the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana, two local governments that imploded.

Playing politics isn’t a one way street. There’s more really juicy reality bites. See So Much News It Can’t All Be Read!, from The Anchoress.

This is just the warmup. More later

Hurricane Relief, part two, can be be found here.

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