02 September 2005

Katrina and New Orleans

Here are some of the concerns and opinions I have heard voiced here in my own tiny corner of the UK, since Katrina decimated New Orleans.

I didn't say them, I am just blogging them.
  1. Neighbouring states are being asked to take refugees and are saying no, they've got no room. They can't even look after their own, the bastards.
  2. There was no organisation, the Government knew what was coming but left people to suit themselves.
  3. What the hell kind of country warns its people to get the hell out but doesnt send in the army to help the weak, those with nowhere to go or no way to get there
  4. America wants to sort out all the worlds problems but its too disorganised to help its own people
  5. This is racist and elitist, if New York had been hit, there would have been money put into the evacuation - and the clear up would be going three times as fast
  6. Who the hell builds a brick house on the sand
  7. They can get food and water to Iraq faster than this
  8. They can set up a refugee camp with medicine and water quicker than this in another country.
Me, I'm lost, I only know what I see on the news. I can only say that if any of the above are true, it sucks, and someone somewhere ought to be having trouble sleeping nights, in their comfy, safe bed.

Any comments or thoughts?


TJ said...

Through friends and business associates, I have become familiar with the UK slant on things, you all can be a bit rough on us, collectively. I appreciate your posts, and happily respond just to make conversation. Here's what I see from this side of the Atlantic.

Our government operates on several levels, always careful to allow people to make decisions for their area on their own. Our concern to 'decentralize' power is sometimes a oragizational barrier. We cannot simply 'militarize' any given part of American life on whim.

There is clealry a MAJOR breakdown at the state and local levels in Katrinas path. Preparations and contingency plans were woefully inadequate. Execution lacks any punch or leadership. That does have a lot to do with finance, which in some areas of the US, either looks like race, or actually is.

These are poor people (no matter what color they are), in an underfunded, mismanaged, and extremely vulnerable corner of our nation.

At the fed level, it acts in response to state and local request, Things being what they are, this is being further hampered by the one remaining working airport and one still passable road in and out of New Orleans. Driving a couple thousand miles through the desert of Iraq (which we did pretty well) means absolutely nothing if there's no land (have you seen the pictures?) whatsoever the last few.

Belle said...

Howdy, from Texas. I don't know what you're listening to, but I just wanted you to know it's not nearly as bleak as you've got it pictured in your blog. I live between Dallas and Ft. Worth, in north Texas,where refugees have fled. Houston, TX is also taking thousands in. So is the rest of this great state.

Why would you think we wouldn't take care of our own? We aren't heartless or disorganized. The money and goods that have poured out of us in just a few days is a testament to just how much we care. Sorry the rest of the world doesn't know this.

Stop by for dinner some day. I'll treat you to some real Southern cooking and we can talk about all of this at my dining table.


PS: My parents live in Louisiana. All my grandparents lived there. I love that state and its devestation is my devestation. Just so you know, I'm not being glib.

doris said...

I've wondered about how they came to be living in such a vulnerable area and then remebered that our own capital "London" has it own flood barriers with the Thames subject to severe flooding. I understand that the barriers are generally close to capacity so all it takes is a freak of nature - or a little more melting of the ice caps.

Throughout the world towns are in clear flow of live volcanoes, and so on.

I guess once communities start living in an area it is hard to pull up sticks and stop.

I'm also hearing loud and clear that it isn't only New Orleans that has been devastated and that they are getting an unfair share of the news coverage. Perhaps these neighbouring States have their own crises to deal with.

In any case, at times of emergency like this surely the stops should be pulled out and everyone helps everyone.

I'm horrified to hear that people escaping in vehicles were hijacked so that others could take their vehicles. Don't know if this is made up a la "War of the Worlds" (the latest movie) or for real.

I too in the UK heard President Bush's urge to evacuate and wondered if that was backed up by any real help for those who had no vehicles and the public transport system was overflowing.

It is an awful situation and my heart goes out to all those affected.

Cheryl said...

I just watched this:

I'm not ashamed to say I am very red eyed at that. And a bit hiccuppy.

zilla said...

These are very valid responses. There is another factor to consider. The news media in the US, compared to the news media in other parts of the world, has an extremely negative focus. Fear and anxiety sells, so we are not shown things like the kindnesses and heroisms that are surely going on in Louisiana (or Alabama or Mississippi). Jaded as I may be, I believe that the reasons for this are two-fold: 1- competition for news ratings (people tune in to hype and horror and drama, the more there is, the better they like it). 2- The US is hell-bent on spending, acquiring, consuming; keeping people in a constant state of anxiety leads to more shopping. Yes, I am dead serious about that. Portraying only the negative on the news means people will shop to assuage their unhappiness and anxiety.

The fall-out is that other parts of the world believe that all they see on the news is all there IS to see. The US media makes the US look bad.

I had my TV cable repaired yesterday after 10 months with no reception. I am afraid to turn on the TV. I know I'll get sucked into the anxiety generator just like I did during 9-11.

That would be BAD.

doris said...

That was a very interesting comment 'zilla and can see that is so!

ME Strauss said...

Everyone above is speaking the truth. Zilla took the words I was prepared to write. As wide-open and trusting as I am abuot most everything, I stop and become guarded with respect to the news. I've watched whole speechs in Congress and then seen them reported on TV--all the time saying to the television "That's not what he said. That's totally out of context." I've sat with a world traveled friend and had her ask "Aren't you afraid that all US school are filled with guns?" There were no guyns in any of my son's schools and he went to school in five states. But that's the news that makes TV.

My dad used to say, "Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see." That's kind of my approach to the US media. I don't want them to; I won't allow them to make my opinions, my decisions for me.

Sorry for rattling on like that. Wish I could have you over for a cup of coffee. Maybe next time I'm in the UK . . . Meanwhile thanks for the visit this morning. I answered your post there too.


ella m. said...

A few thoughts on your points....

1. From what I've seen/read Texas has been the best of the lot for providing housing to refugees on a minute's notice. I've have not heard too much about other states doing too much either way, but that may be to the thus far spotty news coverage, or sheer fucking apathy.

2. Several years ago there was a government report that quite clearly stated the damage a category 4 or higher hurricane could do to new orleans unless the levees were reinforced. Bush decided cut the funding for this effort to free up more cash for his war in iraq. In a city with a very high poverty rate all around, the local officials took whatever crumbs the federal twits were willing to give New Orleans.

3.The kind who's elected leader acts like an emperor and does not want his vacation disturbed or to pull soldiers out of iraq, thus admitting that there could POSSIBLY be more important issues for our military to attend to than his personal desert crusade.

4. Yup.

5. There are many racist and elitist elements to this whole event (i.e. how the news will portray a black person "looting" goods while a white person "finds" them) but the comparison is a bit off. New York currently has more already developed means of handling crisis due to it's array of high profile targets. I do agree that classism would have a part, in that federal money would have been allocated faster due to NY's higher profile and welthier citizens, but were such an event were to happen there, it would be just as much, if not more of a mess to clean up...simply because it's so densely populated. New York has 8 times as many people as New Orleans.
7. People who don't take potential threat seriously, because the human tendency is to assume that it "won't happen to them"
8. A lovely example of where the evil shrub's(bush) true priorities lie.

That said, myself and several other bloggers will be donating $1 per comment to relief charities for every comment made on our sites Satuday September 16th, so make sure to tell everyone to stop by and say hi. :)

Cheryl said...

Dear Ella
Yes, I came by and saw. When I dontate its exactly what I can afford, to the wire - but I think thast a lovely thing you are all doing.

Everyone else (and Ella too): I am SO GLAD I piped up and asked because I got such quality, honest and informed opinions; all valid and educational. Thank you.

TJ said...


Good show - you've created conversation! Impressive. Thanks for your visit to my blog, as well. I'll be dropping in often.

doris said...

I have the dubious pleasure of watching Bush live on Sky news now during his visit to the hurricane stricken area. It is very painful watching him as he doesn't seem to be able to hold himself up straight or look like a leader. Even Blair can be quite good at the leader-look even if his words are empty! But in any case, Bush knows he is being watched and scrutinised and this makes it even more painful to watch.

Before I saw this I thought to myself that I wouldn't be surprised that it is not Iraq that brings Bush down but the outcome of hurricane Katrina. It really highlights the poverty in the US and it is extremely sad.

It has been interesting to me to also read others comments on the subject. Thanks Cheryl for piping up!

ella m. said...

BTW typo...september 3rd is the correct date LOL

I hope you didn't think i was trying to strong arm you for donations :)(I re-read that and realized that's what it might've seemed), I'm trying to garner comments and am taking the money per comment out of my own pocket, so everyone stop by say hi and help me part with more of my money :)

My apologies if I worded it poorly :(

Cheryl said...

It was brilliant, inspiring, and I hope lots of people who would not have coughed up a penny, now play along and end up donating. I just didnt feel I could comment on your blog without volunteering to play the same game on my own blog so I kept quiet and admired from a distance :-)

ella m. said...

Nope comment away......it's just as helpful, particularly if you visit more than one of the sites and say hi, thus also relieving them of their money :)

doris said...

I'm glad it is the 3rd and not the 13th though money then would be just as useful!

I hadn't yet gotten to your blog Ella so would have sussed it out when I had done my mega catch-up tour.

Pol said...

I saw the coverage on TV about 9/11 and now about Katrina.

No matter how you say the press hype things up (which I know they most certainly do) there is no denying the difference in the govt. response to these two catastrophes.

When 9/11 happened EVERYONE stepped in - for Katrina victims its taken the govt. 5 days to ship in food and water !

fineartist said...

Powerful post and comments, looks like the topic has been thou rally covered too.

Times like these when we have to rely on OUR humanity to kick in….especially when it ISN'T being kicked in from command central. Priorities.

Cheryl said...

One thing I have noticed.
When the G8 Summit was coming and we had the chance to end, if not third world poverty, then our Governments' parts in it, when being blameless for leaving ordinary Africans to starve and dehydrate seemed possible to achieve - so many people came out of the woodwork to complain about their 'tax dollars'etc.
If there is a single good thing to come out of this latest disaster, perhaps its that some of them have understood now that we are all family, that it could happen to anybody and that the colour of your skin, the state of your government or what country you are born to doesn't change how awful it is.

Ayannali said...

Piping in a few days later -

Just an FYI for some - American Red Cross has now a figure of 43 million dollars raised for the relief effort.

There are counties in Louisana that have taken in lots of people where they lost thier homes and have provided much needed medical care to those who needed it. Also the schools in Louisana and Texas are preparing the local area for the thosands of children that need to go to school.

The Governor of Texas has vowed to help as many as possible and has said San Antonio is another area where the displaced can go.

About help coming in from other states, I know that local utility companies in my area (Conneticut) are sending crews down for two week stints at a time to help restore power and clean water.

I have even heard of stories of childen having lemonade stands and raising hundreds of dollars to donate for the relief effort.

Now we just have to get this intial charity to the victims and make sure there is a system put in place for the long term needs.

The Commentator said...

Unfortunately, as a Canadian, many simply do not know how America operates. Never mind its history. If they did, they would recognize that Bush is not really acting that diffrently from past American Presidents. People just have it in for the guy. The people who obsess over him resemble a teenager rebelling who fails to get what they want. In any event, the neighboring states have been open. Houston is bursting at the seams. The pro sports community is involved too. Americans support one another like no nation on earth. The relief effort is in full swing. All levels of govenrment, though slow to react, are involved. The American media is always out to pick out the negative. The left is always out to mukrake Bush. Hence, this list. Last, New Orleans was done in by TWO catastrophe's. No one could do anything until Army engineers figured how to secure and fix them. The fact is that sadly, the city was submerged UNDERWATER and it took a few days for FEMA to assess this extraordinary situation. People mistake this for incompetence. It has little to do with race. That's an absurd nation. Louisiana and bordering states are an integral part of the Union. To suggest that America would react differently in other areas is dubious. Once organized America will be fine. Once again, the most scrutinized society in the world can't escape the scrutinization.

Cheryl said...

I don't see US TV at all.
Whoever built the levees is in the wrong.
Whoever knew a 4 or 5 was going to hit levees built for a 2 and did not pre-arrange displacement camps is wrong.
Whoever ordered the removal for safety of people South of the river but 'to nowhere' leaving them in the streets of the North with no food or transport, is wrong.
I don't know who.
What I do know is the world sees the US Government in the shape of the army running airlifts and setting up barracks for thousands, practically overnight in Iraq, but not in its own country. Instant response is supposed to be something they are known for.
And if its the political system that stopped that sort of operation happening, thats wrong too.
We've had smaller floods round here. The water sits over the road drains - so it takes no time to be a sewage mix. A sewage mix in the heat. All I know is people are dehydrating to death, surrounded by a sea of poo. I don't give a hoot about the buildings, or the city surviving in the long term, what about the people.
The evacuation from the sports centre is hampered by the coaches being hijacked on the road. So why wasnt the army or anyone with helicopters like the coastguard in there doing airlifts instead, from the very first instant of a hijack?
There is a UK citizen in the dome, phoning home when he can. Are you saying structural isses were to blame for the anarchy and lack of water even there? The old and unarmed starving as if they were stranded in their homes, because the young bullies control the water queues as too little gets through? Women being raped? Men who try to get water by lining up being threatened with violence?
I thought if the Police couldnt do their job, there was room for military law - why did it take so long to even start to trickle in?
Ok if you say Bush only sucks as much as any previous President, you are saying the system sucks. On that point I completely bloody agree.