Hurricane Relief, Part Three
August 29, 2006
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.