Friday, September 02, 2005

Assigning Blame

Forecasters predicted landfall and significant strengthening approximately 3 days in advance. Four out of five computer simulations showed a direct hit on New Orleans and they knew warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico would increase the hurricane to Cat 4 or 5. Given the topography of New Orleans, government agencies have known for decades that a direct hit by a Cat 4+ would swamp the area and possibly kill 40,000. Shortly before landfall, Katrina swerved slightly to the east so the strongest part of the hurricane struck to the east of New Orleans; the devastation could have been even worse. I do blame the federal government for their inability to respond both prior to and in the aftermath of the hurricane. I simply cannot understand why they didn't do SOME of the following BEFORE the hurricane hit: a) Commandeer every single bus in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and use them to evacuate people without cars. On the return trip, bring in supplies to the shelters in New Orleans and other coastal areas for those who aren't able to leave in time. b) Set up refugee centers in schools, auditoriums and military bases in areas safe from the hurricane, and bring in supplies and relief workers. c) Mobilize the national guard from other states. d) Commandeer supplies from ALL the supermarkets, sporting goods stores, etc. in and around New Orleans and Biloxi, and put them in the Superdome, the convention center and other shelters. e) Fill up every available container with water. For that matter, fill every bathtub in hotels near the Superdome, and other shelters. f) Put together a command and control center to be deployed immediately after the hurricane passes. BTW, doesn't FEMA have the equipment ready to go on whenever a disaster hits? If so, why did it take so long to implement it? Approximately 25% of New Orleans residents are below the poverty line and 50% of the children live in poverty. I have not seen ANY news reports that the poor were offered the opportunity to leave. Hundreds of buses are evacuating people now; why didn't they do that before? As it stands now, the lack of a timely response WILL result in a larger death toll if the news stories are accurate. CNN and MSNBC are reporting that many people in the shelters have gone without water since the hurricane hit, and there are people still trapped in their homes by floodwater. The emergency is going into its 5th day and the refugees aren't going to survive much longer without food, water and medical attention. Bush is getting a lot of negative coverage in the media. A lot of the national guard and the Army Corps of Engineers are in Iraq but it's unknown how that is affecting the relief efforts. Former goverment aid officials are severely criticizing FEMA for bungling the emergency, however. Congress is passing a bill for $10.5 billion for relief efforts but I'm suspicious that the money will be siphoned off to various corporations; I may be overly cynical but the Bush Admin hasn't shown much integrity in awarding government contracts. In any case, a recent opinion poll shows Bush's approval ratings on handling the crisis are very negative and gasoline prices are shooting through the roof which is not adding to his popularity. The bottom line is that federal and state emergency planning and execution was lacking. Even Bush is admitting that the government response has been problematic which is an amazing admission from a man who never admits errors or takes responsibility for anything. I also posted this comment on Pen and Sword: Several months ago, the NOAA predicted a heavy hurricane season, currently projected at 20 tropical storms and 10 hurricanes where 6 of them become major hurricanes. There's a distinct possibility that the gulf states will be hit by more hurricanes before the season ends on Nov. 30th.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9/02/2005 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9/02/2005 11:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessment of this whole mess. It was like everyone from the local mayor to the Govenor on up to the President had their head in the sand. If I can't see it maybe it won't happen.

9/07/2005 07:35:00 AM  
Blogger THIS! Christine said...

For some reason I find it less disturbing or blame worthy that the evacuation was botched (heaven knows I've watched enough evacuations with more lead time than NO received to be aware that until nature is tearing down your doorsome people simply will not be moved.) But I do have questions surrounding the delayed, disorganised and seemingly leaderless 'assistance' being offered by the federal agencies.
I'm now riveted reading journals of people actually there. The conditions and sometimes 'unauthorised' solutions they are coming up with, and I applaud them. One thing that keeps leaping out at me, since this disaster struck, and now that relief workers are there, is how utterly uncontrolled this relief effort is. Organisation A can't do this because the equipment is controlled by organisation B and B doesn't have the authority to assign their equipment for that task. Organisation B could get supplies to location XYZ, but supplies are controlled by organisation C and organisation C won't release said supplies to organisation B without prior approval. Need and ability to meet the need seem to be less important than following proper procedure.
Sorry for the long winded rant.
One last point. Even though the Govt is asking for and encouraging monetary donations, I'm seeing more and more opinions like, "if you want to send money, send it to an organisation like the Red Cross to ensure your funds are put to hurricane relief use." There seems to be a fear (perhaps inaccurate) that FEMA/DHS may use the money for purposes other than the donors intend.

Of course all of this is just my take from watching the news and reading blog journals for the past 12 days.


9/09/2005 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Tarantula Lady said...

Yes, I constantly worry about donating to the right cause and whether or not the money is well spent. I am sure that the Bush Admin is funneling money into the pockets of Halliburton and other corporations. The corruption has become unbelievably bad.

9/09/2005 10:27:00 PM  

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