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Friday, September 02, 2005 

My Big F'ing Hurricane Post

I just watched Geraldo freak out on live TV, so I figured that I might as well say something about this.

A lot of people are blaming the feds for this and while I have no love lost for the federal government, I think that the blame is directed incorrectly. Who was the most able to react to this, who was the most able to take measures before the storm hit? The local government. Why didn't the mayor order the city cleared, actually do something to clear it, and use these buses, now under water, to evacuate the people who couldn't get out on their own? Here is what a reader at The Corner noted:
I count 205 busses. When I was a kid, I remember that school busses could carry 66 people. If that is still the case, 13,530 people could be carried to safety in ONE trip using only the busses shown in that picture.

One trip.

EDIT: Check this out:
Louisiana disaster plan, pg 13, para 5 , dated 01/00

'The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating'...

To me, it seems like the mayor is doing his best to deflect any blame from himself that may come eventually. Why were there no evacuation or aid plans ready in this city, considering that it is hundreds of years old and (as far as I know) has been on the coast since then? Milwaukee has disaster plans. Milwaukee: the city built on top of bluffs, nowhere near a fault line or hurricane producing body of water. We have a public-private plan in place where companies are at the ready to provide food, water, and supplies to the city in case of disaster. Is New Orleans absolved of this same duty to protect their citizens? I don't think so.

EDIT: This article about a hurricane drill in New Orleans just popped up on the Corner (they are doing a great job with this stuff):
But one of the drill participants, Col. Michael L. Brown, then-deputy director of the Louisiana emergency preparedness department, told the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper that, in a worst-case scenario, there would be only so much government agencies could do.

"Residents need to know they'll be on their own for several days in a situation like this," Brown, who is not related to the FEMA director, told the paper.

So the city has dropped the ball, let's go up the chain to the state level. There has been a lot of talk about the National Guard. Some folks have been saying that they are all gone because Bush sent them to Iraq. Nope. Enough of them are still in state to handle the initial response until they get back up. What about timing? Well, the governor has to call up the Guard. By law, they can take as many as 72 hours to report so that they can get their affairs in order. They just don't appear at the flip of a switch. Governor Blanco dropped the ball. Take a look at this story from the 28th. Let me highlight the following:
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.

Remember that sentence. Remember it when the Blame Bush crowd really amps up.

Ok, so now we're left with the feds, the farthest removed level of government. They can't just will things into New Orleans. It isn't just snapping your fingers and the aid appears. How do you get it there? Trucks? Here's what a trucker sent to The Corner:
1) Large trucks (80,000 lbs. gross weight) almost always have to use the Interstates. For trucks attempting to come in from outside the area, most of those roads (approaching the disaster area) are either closed or have bridges out. The so-called secondary roads may be somewhat passable, but their bridges (over rivers and streams) are not built to sustain such loads. Simply stated, you can't get there from here.

2) Trucks domiciled in those areas (because that's where the companies traditionally serve customers) are still underwater, thus the equipment is not accessible;

3) Nobody in their right mind is going to take loads of gasoline and fuel oil into a city controlled by unfriendly folks carrying automatic weapons. A tank truck loaded with 8,000 gallons of gasoline can produce a very impressive fire;

4) Those local trucking companies can't contact their drivers. There's no power, thus (even) cellular is unavailable, and many of the drivers homes (in places like Kenner, Slidel, Metarie, etc) have been destroyed and families dispersed. I have one member with about 120 drivers and mechanics in that immediate area. To date, management has been able to contact 12. Those in the National Guard have been mobilized and are not available to drive.

5) Pumps -- needed to load the vehicles -- don't work because there's no power;

Another Corner reader pointed this out:
The Guard and military, for example, rely on local
authorities to provide some idea of where victims are, and, as we have
heard, Nagin's office didn't bother telling FEMA that Nagin had directed
people to the NO Convention Center.

The behemoth that is the federal government needs direction, or else it lumbers aimlessly. If the local government cannot provide that necessary information, how is anything going to get done?

EDIT: John Podhoretz has a similar view that I do. He also makes a good point about the changing of media coverage and how it confuses public perceptions.

Then we have the people who decide to use this situation. Jesse Jackson, Paul Krugman, the Congressional Black Caucus, pretty much everyone at HuffPo, Kanye West and many more have decided to use this as class/race baiting. I know I said I would be more restrained with my language on ED, but this is my message to them: shut the fuck up and do something to help. I don't care about your political ax grinding. Cut a check. I know Jackson has enough money that he can afford it.

I've been watching this coverage for most of the night. I feel horrible for the people who are stuck in New Orleans. I can't imagine the kind of fear and frustration that they are feeling right now. This is the biggest disaster that this country has ever seen. The incompetent city officials, the hesitant state officials, the plodding speed of the feds, and the armed and violent looters have not helped the logistical nightmare.

This is what Mark Levin said and I think it's on point:
This is a massive tragedy. An entire city is under water. 100,000 people either didn't or couldn't leave. For the first 100 hours, access was almost impossible. The entire infrastructure was obliterated. The nation is rallying. Every available governmental resource has been or is being mobilized. Individuals, charity groups and corporations are all rallying. Nothing is being spared. The president is doing that which any president, of either party, would or could do. It disappoints me that conservatives in particular, who supposedly understand the limitations of government, are reacting so callously to the unprecedented response in the name of compassion for the suffering.

The only thing that can overcome the failings of mayors, governors, and administrators is charity. Here's my pitch. I don't have nearly the kind of money that Orin Kerr at Volokh has to give (I wish I could give that much), but even I can come up with something. If I can do it, anyone can. Go to Amazon and throw down some cash. You can go without Starbucks for a week or two, you can not go out drinking this weekend, you can wait to buy that new pair of shoes. Whatever it is, you can wait. These people can't.

Dang, excellent points...

I just call 'em like I see 'em, man. Thanks for reading.

Funny...I just saw the same Geraldo freak-out. What a spaz.

I know he's frustrated with what he's seeing there, but he needs to stay in control of his emotions. It's not helping anyone get aid any faster. It just turns him into a human spectacle.

Nice Blog. Check this out, you can get a free iPod

I have an iPod. I want tuition money instead.

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  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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