Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina and New Orleans.

I had not planned to post anything about Katrina, but after watching coverage (CNN) as much as I could over the past week, I feel the need to comment on it. Not that I’m saying anything new, or that anyone needs to hear what I have to say. I just feel the need to get my thoughts out there. Seems that’s one function of blogs.

Why has it taken so long for the real help to arrive in New Orleans? And I’m not buying Republican Trent Lott’s excuse that they had to cut through downed trees and waters were too high. It does not take that long to cut down trees. And large military helicopters should have been mobilized to be ready for immediate needs. We have known this large hurricane was headed toward the coast for over a week now. Starting to mobilize the National Guard on Tuesday and Wednesday, then saying it takes a while for them to actually get there is not acceptable. Even if this had not come close to New Orleans and it was not as strong as it turned out to be, aid should have been mobilized and ready to head in once it had passed. It seems there are really only two reasons for the lack of response. Either the president was waiting it out to see what happens, or we do not have the resourses because they are in Iraq.

The day after Katrina passed, everyone was relieved New Orleans did not take a direct hit because they were worried the city would be flooded. Then after the levees did break, many people acted as if it was unexpected and unforeseen. As if their lack of response was because no one thought the city could be flooded.

On whether everyone should have been evacuated from the get-go. That’s a tough question. That would have been a massive undertaking to evacuate those who could not due to their physical or economic abilities. Also, some people are stubborn enough not to leave. But there should have been a plan ready to get them out. Everyone seemed to know there was the possibility that the city would be under water. Also why didn’t the city or state have a plan in place after years of hurricane near misses.

Regarding the looting. These are impoverished people who are now in a more desperate state. I would not question their actions since I don’t know what it’s like to be in their situation. Again, a substantial law enforcement presence should have been there in place within a couple days, not to mention aid that would have put people more at ease. You probably would not loot if you had eaten in the last few days. To blame it on the looters I feel is misdirected. Shooting and lawlessness is another matter. Looting a grocery store for food is one thing, but shooting at evacuation helicopters is completely another.

I am very interested to see what happens to the city in the future. In my first graduate architectural design class, we rebuilt the cities along the Illinois River that were flooded in the summer of 1993. Our first task was to work for FEMA and do damage assessments. It basically consisted of entering homes and noting how high the waters had risen. The mold, mildew, and fungus that had taken hold in the interiors had rendered many homes uninhabitable. So it is hard for me to fathom that at least a quarter if not a half of the homes in a city of 500,000 to be condemned.

Also, the gas situation. Oil companies that are already making profits from the high prices are claiming that the supply is almost gone when only 8% of the oil refineries were taken out by Katrina.

Is the lack of response due to race? I would prefer to agree with the leader of the black caucus who said it is more economic status. Unfortunately, the vast majority of poor people in the south are black. And the poor did not have the means to escape. So now they are the ones that need to be rescued.

Lastly, I am disappointed as many other are at the response of the current administration to the catastrophe. I have not been a fan of either Bush. When I was in Europe during the first’s presidency, I did not get a favorable impression of him from the news I was getting. Along with the occupation of Iraq and the reelection of the current president it makes me embarrassed to be American. It is sad how quickly the reputation of the US has been trashed in the eyes of the rest of the world. And it was probably at it’s height after 9.11.2001. Come on, he’s making photo ops with two Republican governors and patting the FEMA guy on the back when aid still hadn’t arrived in New Orleans five days after the hurricane hit.


Anonymous said...

F-I also liked the photo op with Bush siting on a pile of rubble with his arm around one of the towns people. What an a$$hole.

Shockingly there are still people out there that buy into this administrations garbage.

Unknown said...

I feel there is a big travesty regarding the Republican party. It is no secret that they by and large are looking out for the rich and big business. But they take have taken on conservative views that mesh with those of the religious poor. So the poor elect them to power in order to maintain their conservative views like pro-life. I get this bad feeling like the GOP are throwing them this bone in order to stay rich and maintain power over the poor. And they elected him to save unborn babies while he sends their young sons and fathers off to die. I am disturbed that it is playing out like this. Then in addition to the delayed response to Katrina, he gets to pick two judges, maybe more given some of their ages.

I probably could have lived with McCain. This guy just takes the wrong steps or extreme views way too often.

John Hill said...

The new staged photo with the firefighters is another priceless one.

What amazes me is that Bush does all this lying to the American public (and the world) right out in the open. He must be counting on the fact most of the US won't hear the fact the photo was staged (with firefighters flown in from Atlanta, no doubt!), and the fact a lot of the US just doesn't care.

Anonymous said...

You hit it on the head. Things that are obvious to us just fly by the general public (The sheep). Frank-find us a place...we are moving to Canada!

Anonymous said...

One school of thought suggests that because of our commitments abroad, and the comcommitment of the national guard towards such foregn adventures, new orleans simply lacked the manpower necessary for natural disasters. And this despite the fact that the army corp of engineers, tow years prior to this tragedy, had asked for more resources to stave off a levee failure following a hurricane of katrina's magnitude.

And as for the looting. I feel that the full story remains untold. recall that police officers had commited suicide. Why? because they felt overwhlemed? The nypd and nyfd, despite the magnitude of 9/11, performed their duties above and beyond for what was called. I'm sure the new orleans police would have done the same. I'm surmising that they were cuntenacing the horns of a dilemma--do you shirk your duties: (1) towards the law, or (2) towards your fellow citizens who steal a loaf of bread to stave their hunger?