September 2nd, 2005
Oh man, Katrina is driving me nuts.
I've talked to so many people today who are blaming Bush for all of this. I can understand blaming FEMA. I can even understand blame on the state of Louisiana, but to all appearances, Bush did everything he could here. Note that Bush declared a state of emergency 2 days prior to landfall. In fact, Katrina was a Category 3 storm at the time. Somehow, despite this, people seem to have the perception that Bush has mismanaged the situation. The claim that he's spent his time on vacation is only partially true. He cut the vacation two days short as things started to get a bit hairier. I can't help but notice that Michael Moore appears to have had a greater impact than he should have with Fahrenheit 9/11.
FEMA, on the other hand, seems to be doing a less-than-stellar job. From cnn.com:
"I think everyone in the country needs to take a big, collective, deep breath and recognize that there are a lot of people in this state, in Mississippi and Alabama who are living under conditions that, quite frankly, I doubt any reporter in this room is living under -- no food, no water, it's hot, it's sticky, their homes have been destroyed, they don't know where they're going to go next."
But there was perhaps no clearer illustration of the disconnect between how emergency officials view the situation at a distance, and how it is viewed by those actually living it on the ground, than Brown's comments to CNN's Wolf Blitzer Thursday evening about the evacuation of hospitals in the city.
"I've just learned today that we ... are in the process of completing the evacuations of the hospitals, that those are going very well," he said.
Shortly after he made those comments, Dr. Michael Bellew, a resident at Charity Hospital, where more than 200 patients were still waiting to be evacuated, described desperate conditions. The hospital had no power, no water, food was running out and nurses were bagging patients by hand because ventilators didn't work.
Earlier in the day, the evacuation from Charity had to be suspended for a time after a sniper opened fire on rescuers.
At another local hospital, Memorial Medical Center, a small fleet of helicopters was brought in to evacuate patients and staff after hospital officials were told "by officials on the ground to take the matter into our own hands," said Trevor Fetter, president of Tenet HealthCare Corp., the hospital's owner.
The mayor of New Orleans had an interesting bit to say. He's hopping mad and rightfully so about this whole incident.
It's amazing to read the stories of what's going on out there and how quickly people have reverted to rather uncivilized practices in the name of survival. Reading accounts of what has happened at the Superdome (http://www.bugmenot.com can find you a free login) are simply incredible.
Now that they're moving people out to Texas and better prepared shelters, I wonder what they're going to do with the Superdome. It's become a monument to the disaster that poor planning has made of an already bad case.
I was somewhat pleased to hear Brown (the director of FEMA) place responsibility for their fates on those who didn't evacuate. It's rare to hear an official speak an unpopular truth like that. The reactions I've seen have been complaints that many in the area are too poor to afford a car. Had they walked a mere 20 miles North (in the space of at least the two days before landfall), they'd have their lives at the least. It was precisely what people said about those in Asia who suffered through the tsunami. Many of the tsunami victims would have escaped with their lives had they walked a mere 20 to 30 minutes away from the coast. I suspect that an aggregate 8 hours of walking (assuming a pace of 2.5 miles an hour) would have saved many of the victims in Louisiana.
Now there's reports of an oil leak. I'm not horribly surprised given the number of refineries that were hit by this. My understanding is that Gulfport, LA was the only harbor on that coast which could unload a so-called "supertanker". Make no mistake: this will have an effect on the already growing oil crisis, but I think that the impact and fears are out of proportion at the moment. Bush immediately opened the federal oil reserves, so it's difficult for me to see the current gas prices as anything but reactions to hysterical paranoia and not an indication of current supply. Filling up for near $2.50 a gallon was already bad enough. Here's an interesting site graphing gas prices from 1978 until now.
I wish I'd had the foresight to list gas prices in this journal when I first began it. There are two gas stations in the immediate area of the apartment. There's a block difference between the two and most of the time the farther of the two is the cheaper one (usually by 10 cents or so). The farther of the two was up to 3.09 last night. I took a few gallons at one down Soquel to keep myself just this side of empty last night at $3.09. I noticed a cheaper station a bit later which was at $2.79. This morning, that station was the cheapest gas I could find, easily the most crowded (someone nearly ran down a pedestrian that I paused for to slip behind my van as I tried to back into a space), and up to $2.89.
The time may be nigh when public transit (and the drastically increased time associated with it) to work becomes less expensive than my vehicle. I get approximately 18mi to the gallon. It's 40.4 miles to work, according to google, though slightly shorter with my route. That puts the cost of one way travel to $6.49 (including that pesky 9/10s of a cent on all gas prices). I believe it was $10 when relsqui took public transit up here. This is up from approximately $5.59 per trip at the $2.49 cost of gasoline.
Of course the bus strike doesn't help any.
That does limit times, but the point is just economic feasability. If it costs me roughly 2x as much to take public transit and more of my time, it's not worth it.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 12:33 am (UTC)|| |
Called national emergency two days prior, but severely downplayed and underfunded the much needed disaster security/relief funds two years prior. Ho-hum.
Okay, I'd better slap myself for saying that. As a matter of fact, I was toying with the idea earlier today to update my journal soley to tell these people [the Orleans is Just Another Bullet in the Anti-Bush List people] to go fuck themselves, mostly because the COULD THIS HAVE BEEN PREVENTED crap that's been cropping up is ENTIRELY premature and should not be the focus of the media, which it half seems to be. But there are not nearly enough people down there to control the mobs, and they NEED NEED NEED to send the army or whathaveyou to break them up and control the panicking citizens.
People aren't just acting out of survival down there. It's fucking Lord of the Flies.
Bush has deployed 40% of the Louisiana National Guard in Iraq, and mostly I'm wondering if anyone at all had attempted to replenish the much needed personnel, or have yet. I'm not going to argue whether or not Bush should have shipped off our national guardsmen in the first place, just like I'm not going to argue that the Administration has greatly downplayed the need for New Orleans disaster relief funding, but, I just gotta ask, who is filling in for the National Guard? I'm not asking rhetorically; I'm actually wondering, because I haven't heard very much about it.
Of course, there is incompetence on all levels here, and I'm not going to push the blame on Bushy any more than anyone else. Near as I can tell, this is just a big giant pot of Murphy's Law.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 12:48 am (UTC)|| |
Also, RE: Walking out of the city:
Even people who did have cars couldn't get out. The evacuation started I think in the last 24 or less hours and hell if everyone could get out of New Orleans with their cars. And how reasonable exactly is it to walk out of the city in a level 5 hurricane? Walking 20 miles takes a day, at least, Jesus. What the hell would you do? Walk out of there or wait expecting the relief effort that you believed was sure to come? Either way it would be a hard decision and I don't goddamn think people should be blamed for staying put.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)|| |
Oh and PS sorry for using a bit of a blunt tone, I hope you don't mind. I get a little belligerent sometimes... it can't really be helped, unfortunately. So I hope you just ignore it. :(
Oh, I don't mind 8) I know you only do it because you want to have my children.
The formal evacuation may have started then. It was known that the hurricane was coming up to 48 hours beforehand. It was known that it was going to be a bad one.
So, either suffer through it, knowing that the reports say that there will be major structural damage and flooding...or walk away from it and wait for it to pass. That's a pretty obvious expected value case there.
In the words of friends on the Cult of Father Darwin mailing list, that wasn't 20 feet of water coming over the levee, but chlorine for the gene pool.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 03:44 pm (UTC)|| |
The evacuation order hardly came in a moment after it became a category 5 storm, and anyway this was all largely assumed it was going to happen eventually there and it's perfectly reasonable for people to think they were, you know, prepared for it, as they would have been if [cough bush cough cough].
But seriously, Christ, did you see the photos of this? 90% of the people wadding through the flood waters are poor or old. What would you do if everything you had was there? What were they going to do? Where were they going to go? New Orleans has a HUGE district of lower middle class. They're too goddamn poor to go anywhere else. And before you say that they could have saved their lives at least, well, maybe, and I'd agree with you if they outright ignored the orders to evacuate, as many people admittedly did. But under the circumstances it was perfectly reasonable for them to stay until evacuation orders came in, and by then it was TOO LATE.
Blaming it on them was just as a bullshit political move as anything else. You have to understand, in matters like this it is the government's responsibility to its citizens that's there to save individual lives, NOT the individual themselves. As much stupid Darwin bullshit as anyone might want to pull out of their asses to argue otherwise, this is still a basic principle of government and it's one that had failed.
The question is... walk away from it, and go where? Most people would have had to wait for official evacuation to start, and by then it was too late for most to get out. People tried to take planes out of the city, and the flights were canceled. Poor people cannot just skip town without much money; food, transportation, and hotels are expensive. Leaving on foot was also not an option for the many, many impoverished elderly people and cripples who are not necessarily up to a day's walk, and I'm guessing that family members would have been reluctant to leave them behind. People with or without cars were probably (rightfully) concerned about looters and opted to stay with their property. The bottom line is, many of the people left behind probably couldn't leave ahead of time, and evacuation efforts were too little too late. The stories I have heard from some of the people on television are heartbreaking.
To the best of my knowledge, most of the destruction ensued *after* the hurricane hit, when the levee (which was supposed to protect the town from flooding, but didn't) burst. The city simply wasn't prepared for this type of catastrophe.
The FEMA guy's comments were probably an attempt to take some of the blame off of FEMA. I can't respect an authority figure who makes such callous comments. It's one thing to hear that from on-lookers; quite another to hear it from someone who's supposed to be rescuing people.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: Go where?
Go where? North, of course! It's very difficult for me to have sympathy for people living in an area next to the one of the largest rivers in the country, famous for flooding and requiring heroic efforts on the part of the Army Corps of Engineers. That it would flood was no secret; our housemate even made a crack about that the night before: "Hey, anyone want to visit Lake New Orleans next summer?"
With a two day head start, there's no reason anyone should have been left behind. There's even less of a reason for anyone to have been trapped in an attic or on a rooftop.
The elderly and crippled are another story. It's for them that places like the Superdome and Convention Center were set up. Although, those shouldn't have turned into the mess that they did. Of course, it's not exactly inspiring (but indicative of the lack of forethought) when the mayor of New Orleans referred to the Superdome in the press as "an experiment".
FEMA's (rightfully) taken a black eye on this to be sure, but unpopular or not, that's a simple truth about the whole thing. If that offends your sense of political correctness, then I'd suggest moving back to the real world.
Yes, I'm sure going North with no shelter would have been a brilliant idea just days before a hurricane struck, especially for people with small children and no money. Even people who did try to evacuate in cars were stopped on the roads. This has nothing to do with political correctness; this is just a matter of looking at the facts of the situation and what alternatives people had.
Incidentally, one half of the children in Louisiana live below the poverty line (that was before the storm hit). The timing of this hurricane was particularly bad, as many people were probably running out of money toward the end of the month (nevermind whatever you may think about Welfare; poverty is epidemic in this region).
Something I heard: the single type of emergency that FEMA had prepared for was exactly what happened, which makes their poor response all the more curious.
Now I wonder, what will happen to all of those displaced people? Will they be able to return to their homes? Will they get compensation for what they lost? Will they be able to return to the lives they were living, to have jobs?
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 10:24 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: Go where?
It's very difficult for me to have sympathy for people living in an area next to the one of the largest rivers in the country, famous for flooding and requiring heroic efforts on the part of the Army Corps of Engineers.
You know what's funny?
I didn't build my city, and yet I live here.
Because I was born here, and I'm too poor to leave.
And I'm not even that poor. My family is upper-middle-class.
Yeah. Apathetic bloody planet, I've no sympathy at all.
I have to admit, I think they'd be idiots to rebuild New Orleans. I probably think the people who built it in the first place were idiots, too. But the people who live there now? No. They aren't idiots. They're poor people who had no choice in the matter. I mean, could they have gotten out before it hit? Maybe. I don't think it is really reasonable of you to expect them to before mandatory evacuation, but maybe. But please don't blame them by saying that they shouldn't have lived there in the first place. Most of them didn't have any say in the matter.
And besides, saying that it was inevitable (and it WAS, too; no denying) only makes Bush's cuts more, ugh... negligent.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 03:09 pm (UTC)|| |
It is interesting that the parts of the levy scheduled for repair and reinforcement had their funding diverted to the war on terror under the Bush regime. We will never know if it could have saved the city, but it does lay some blame at Shrubs feet.
Also, deployment of much of the National Guard and all of their best equipment to Iraq definitely did hamper the rescue effort. That is all Shrubs fault.
If you really want to go out on a limb, you can also look at the fact that SUVs should have been put under tighter fuel efficiency standards a decade ago. Half, and the worst of those years belong to Shrub. This of course contributes to the ongoing energy crisis.
If recession and stagflation follow the disaster, again, Shrub is your man. How many hundreds of billions of dollars have we charged for the war in Iraq? The $50,000 of Iraq war debt owned by every man women and child in the states certainly makes us less economically resilient.
Did I miss anything?
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 08:41 pm (UTC)|| |
Maybe a bit.
|(Link)|"US Northern Command is the command that coordinates the military support for our federal and state agencies. They call up and request a capability and we try and provide that capability, whether it's medical resources, search and rescue helicopters, food, water, transportation, communications; that's what we provide. Right now we've got 4,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marine and coast guardsmen supporting this. They've delivered more than 9 million meals, I can't remember how many millions of liters of water. It's those "meals ready to eat".
NorthCom started planning before the storm even hit... We had the USS Baton sailing almost behind the hurricane so that after the hurricane made landfall it's search and rescue helicopters would be available almost immediately. So we had things ready. The only caveat is, we have to wait until the President authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion, we have to wait for the President to give us permission."http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/9/3/115611/4051"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson offered Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco help from his state's National Guard on Sunday, the day before Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday."http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050903/ap_on_re_us/katrina_national_guard
And, though I'm sure the President wasn't directly responsible for this and might not have known about it:"Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush’s visit to New Orleans, officials said."http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/09/breaking-bush-visit-to-new-orleans.html
|Date:||September 4th, 2005 02:28 am (UTC)|| |
Re: Maybe a bit.
Thanks for the info.
|Date:||September 3rd, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC)|| |
awen_dreams new lj .. had to ditch the drama ..