Ok Folks... There is an awful lot of finger pointing and blame being thrown around regarding how the entire Katrina situation could have and should have been handled.
Is Bush to blame for not sending help sooner? Is the Governor to blame for not issuing a mandatory evacuation sooner? Is the Mayor to blame for not making the mandatory evacuation... well... mandatory? Is Jessie Jackson to blame for adding fuel to the fire?
Who failed their people? Anyone? All three? No one? Should we stop this blame-game and get to work?
What have we learned from all of this? Do we really care? Who are the shinning stars?
should we be pointing fingers or saying what could we and can we do to prevent this from happening again. i do know that am general is doing all they can to help out. we just shipped out supplies last week to retro-fit the military humvees to deep water fording models, also sent skids of bottled water, gatorade, generators, and who knows what else. they are currently taking up a collection in all the plants to send down to help out however we can. no matter what you do though someone is going to say to little to late.
The way I see it the local government is to blame completely. Bush issued a memorandum the the Gov. asking the request for federalized help and military intervention. The Gov. refused. The Local politicians and Law Enforcement are a complete and total joke. Hell a sizable amount of the local police force deserted! Now they are saying they should give the LEO's paid vacation in Vegas or someplace during the very time they are needed most! Makes allot of sense to me.
Hell you have people looting, I even saw some video's of Police officers looting the local walmart.. Well at least that is what it appeared to be.
You have people refusing to leave. I guess the supply of 40" Plasma televisions, that everyone is collecting is still holding in there. Why in the name of God would anyone possibly want or even consider staying? It is going to take a minimum of three weeks to pump the majority of the water out of the canal's and the city, then it is going to take who knows how many more weeks to clean up all the sludge and debris (including bodies) from around that entire area..
Now they are talking about handing out "Debit Cards" loaded with $2000 on it to the victims.. Why didnt they do this when Ivan hit??
The federal government plans to hand out debit cards worth $2,000 each to families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Homeland Security Department Secretary Michael Chertoff, under fire for his agency's response to the disaster, held a conference call with governors of states with evacuees and described the plan. While many details remained to be worked out, the plan was to quickly begin distributing the cards, starting with people in major evacuation centers such as the Houston Astrodome.
I don't really understand the purpose of this. Many, many people have donated money to the various charities and can't they use THAT money? Why take government money, which is our tax dollars...
Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who participated in the conference call, said the cards will be offered "to people in shelters as well as people who are not in shelters but who have evacuated the area and need help." He said the hope is the cards will encourage people to leave shelters voluntarily. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is administering the program. FEMA officials said the program is aimed at those most in need, so not all families that fled their homes will be eligible. "For instance you may have some people who have insurance and insurance is meeting their living expenses while they have been displaced," said Ed Conley, a FEMA spokesman in Houston. "You have some people who may be looking at an option such as a cruise ship where all of their needs are going to be met. It is going to vary by family."
I hope they really look at who is getting these cards. And they should make sure the cards can only be used to buy food, medicines and clothing- not liquor and cigarettes.
It's unclear how much the debit card program will cost the government, but it could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars since hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski, a Republican, said he had concerns about the potential for abuse. "That's a lot of money. The question is how do you separate the needy from those who just want a $2,000 handout," he said. The cards will be issued on a one-per-household basis, said Natalie Rule, a FEMA spokeswoman in Washington. As a safeguard against fraud, FEMA will use aerial photographs of devastated areas to verify that the refugees were, indeed, forced from their homes in cases where they cannot provide documents to prove their losses or identities.
It is ALOT of money...I'm not sure I think this is a good idea. Time will tell. One thing, for sure, if they do this now, then they better plan on hearing complaints if they don't do it after every hurricane.
Lots of groups could have done things much better, but I think there is absolutely no way that the local authorities deserve most of the blame.
Not only should the levee's been maintained as well as possible, they should have been improved or replaced to where they could at least withstand a category 4 hurricane. I get quite bothered by this because my great uncle WJ Turnbull worked with the Army Corps of Engineers for years and designed those levees. I take offense on his behalf that the barriers he worked to put in place were not sufficiently maintained, and that our government saw no need to improve them in the last 60 years. It has been known for years that those levees would be vitally important for protecting the city in the event of a hurricane, and everyone had to expect that a big one would eventually hit close to NOLA someday.
I also take offense that Bush will leave his vacation spot at midnight to go sign a bill that panders to the far right religious fundamentalists on an issue that 80% of the American people don't think the gov't should be involved in, and then takes multiple days to leave his vacation when 450,000+ US citizens are in danger. I understand that he has enough communications equipment around him at any given time to do his job, but when it became clear that the hurricane was going to hit a populted area hard, he should have declared "I'm off vacation, my country needs me".
The vacation in Vegas for the LEO's was suggested for the members of their police force that have been putting in 18-22 hour days for a week straight. The point was to give them some time with their families when they need exaclty that kind of support. I agree that Vegas is a bad spot for actual r&r, given the incentive to deprive yourself of sleep while there, but the point of his suggestion was that those officers need a break from the stress and misery they are seeing everyday.
On the $2000 gift cards, I agree that will add up to a huge amount of money that will add alot to our excessively large national debt. However, when you consider that we've spent $11,500+ PER IRAQI CITIZEN on that effort, it seems silly to quibble about $2000 to taxpaying US Residents that have lost everything they're not wearing or carrying.
Not much traction with the abuse By Wesley Pruden Published September 6, 2005
George W. finally gets it -- in more ways than one.
The tardy president was back on the Gulf Coast yesterday, bucking up the spirits of the ****ed and stiffening the resolve of the slackers. He's getting it as well from his critics, many of whom can't believe their great good luck, that a hurricane, of all things, finally gives them the opening they've been waiting for to heap calumny and scorn on him for something that might get a little traction.
Cindy Sheehan is yesterday's news; she couldn't attract a camera crew this morning if she stripped down to her step-ins for a march on Prairie Chapel Ranch.
The vultures of the venomous left are attacking on two fronts, first that the president didn't do what the incompetent mayor of New Orleans and the pouty governor of Louisiana should have done, and didn't, in the early hours after Katrina loosed the deluge on the city that care and good judgment forgot. Ray Nagin, the mayor, ordered a "mandatory" evacuation a day late, but kept the city's 2,000 school buses parked and locked in neat rows when there was still time to take the refugees to higher ground. The bright-yellow buses sit ruined now in four feet of dirty water.
Then the governor, Kathleen Blanco, resisted early pleas to declare martial law, and her dithering opened the way for looters, rapists and killers to make New Orleans an unholy hell. Gov. Haley Barbour did not hesitate in neighboring Mississippi, and looters, rapists and killers have not turned the streets of Gulfport and Biloxi into killing fields. The drumbeat of partisan ingratitude continues even after the president flooded the city with National Guardsmen from a dozen states, paratroopers from Fort Bragg and Marines from the Atlantic and the Pacific. The flutter and chatter of the helicopters above the ghostly abandoned city, some of them from as far away as Singapore and averaging 240 missions a day, is eerily reminiscent of the last days of Saigon.
Nevertheless, Sen. Mary Landrieu, who seems to think she's cute when she's mad, even threatened on national television to punch out the president -- a felony, by the way, even as a threat. Mayor Nagin, who you might think would be looking for a place to hide, and Gov. Blanco, nursing a bigtime snit, can't find the right word of thanks to a nation pouring out its heart and emptying its pockets. Maybe the senator should consider punching out the governor, only a misdemeanor.
The race hustlers waited for three days to inflame a tense situation, but then set to work with their usual dedication. The Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, our self-appointed twin ambassadors of ill will, made the scene as soon as they could, taking up the coded cry that Katrina was the work of white folks, that a shortage of white looters and snipers made looting and sniping look like black crime, that calling the refugees "refugees" was an act of linguistic racism. A "civil rights activist" on Arianna Huffington's celebrity blog even floated the rumor that the starving folks abandoned in New Orleans had been forced to eat their dead -- after only four days. New Orleans has a reputation for its unusual cuisine, but this tale was so tall that nobody paid it much attention. Neither did anyone tell the tale-bearer to put a dirty sock in it.
Condi Rice went to the scene to say what everyone can see for himself, that no one but the race hustlers imagine Americans of any hue attaching strings to the humanitarian aid pouring into the broken and bruised cities of the Gulf. Most of the suffering faces in the flickering television images are black, true enough, and most of the helping hands are white.
Black and white churches of all denominations across a wide swath of the South stretching from Texas across Arkansas and Louisiana into Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia turned their Sunday schools into kitchens and dormitories.
In Memphis, Junior Leaguers turned out for baby-sitting duty at the city's largest, most fashionable and nearly all white Baptist church, cradling tiny black infants in compassionate arms so their mothers could finally sleep.
The owner of a honky-tonk showed up to ask whether the church would "accept money from a bar." A pastor took $1,400, some of it in quarters, dimes and nickels, with grateful thanks and a promise to see that it is spent wisely on the deserving -- most of whom are black.
The first polls, no surprise, show the libels are not working. A Washington Post-ABC survey found that the president is not seen as the villain the nutcake left is trying to make him out to be. Americans, skeptical as ever, are believing their own eyes.
On Friday night before the storm hit, Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center took the unprecedented action of calling Louisiana Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco personally to plead with them to begin MANDATORY evacuation of New Orleans and Nagin and Blanco said they'd take it under consideration. This was after a U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buoy located 240 miles south of Louisiana had recorded 68 foot waves before it was destroyed.
President Bush spent Friday afternoon and evening in meetings with his advisors and administrators drafting all of the paperwork required for a state to request federal assistance and not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, (PCA was intended that the Armed Forces be used in law enforcement only in those serious cases to which the ordinary processes of civilian law were incapable of responding) or having to enact the Insurgency Act.
Just before midnight Friday evening, the President called Governor Blanco and pleaded with her to sign the request papers so the federal government and the military could legally begin mobilization and call up. He was told that they didn't think it necessary for the federal government to be involved yet.
After the President's final call to the governor she held meetings with her staff to discuss the political ramifications of bringing federal forces. It was decided that if they allowed federal assistance it would make it look as if they had failed so it was agreed upon that the feds would not be invited in.
Saturday before the storm hit the President again called Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin requesting they please sign the papers requesting federal assistance, that they declare the state an emergency area, and begin mandatory evacuation.
After a personal plea from the President, Nagin agreed to order an evacuation, but it would not be a full mandatory evacuation, and the governor still refused to sign the papers requesting and authorizing federal action. In frustration the President declared the area a national disaster area before the state of Louisiana did so he could legally begin some advanced preparations.
Rumor has it that the President's legal advisers were looking into the ramifications of using the insurgency act to bypass the Constitutional requirement that a state request federal aid before the federal government can move into a state with troops - but that had not been done since 1906 and the Constitutionality of it was called into question to use before the disaster.
Throw in that over half the federal aid of the past decade to New Orleans for levee construction, maintenance, and repair was diverted to fund a marina and support the gambling ships. Toss in the investigation that will look into why the emergency preparedness plan submitted to the federal government for funding and published on the New Orleans' city government website was never implemented and in fact may have been bogus for the purpose of gaining additional federal funding as we now learn that the organizations identified in the plan were never contacted or coordinated into any planning - though the document implies that they were.
The suffering people of New Orleans need to be asking some hard questions as do we all, but they better start with why Governor Blanco refused to even sign the multi-state mutual aid pack activation documents until Wednesday which further delayed the legal deployment of National Guard from adjoining states. Or maybe ask why Mayor Nagin keeps harping that the President should have commandeered 500 Greyhound buses to help him when according to his own emergency plan and documents Nagin claimed to have over 500 buses at his disposal to use between the local school buses and the city transportation buses - but Nagin never raised a finger to prepare them or activate them.
This is a sad time for all of us to see that a major city has all but been destroyed and thousands of people have died with hundreds of thousands more suffering, but it's certainly not a time for people to be pointing fingers and trying to find a bigger dog to blame for local corruption and incompetence. Pray to God for the survivors that they can start their lives anew as fast as possible and we learn from all the mistakes to avoid them in the future.
I'm sure that persons who think critically will realize that blame falls at the feet of several persons, not just people at the federal level and not just some at the state and city levels. From what I've seen, heard, and read, I've determined that the blame can go up and down the ladder of command. Each person, and every person, in a position of authority should be asking not just "What did I do very well?" and "What did I do basically?" but also "What could I improve upon?" That question is important for the mayor, the governor, the head of FEMA, and yes, even Mr. Bush to ask. Only in this way can our emergency systems have a chance of working well.
Regrettably, there are not all that many members of the Forum who are tuning into this discussion. Sometime ago, I wrote an article called "The Black Fink." Half serious & half satire, it bespoke of the aftermath of a tragic nuclear failure. It's available on this site.
My problem, of course, is I couldn't foresee a simple hurricane replacing a nuclear disaster. Change the subject and the article takes the same course ... anyone care for a drink from Lake Ponchitrain?
And yet, unless we all act together, I fear this Government will embark course of action in all our history -- rebuild New Orleans.
This article written by a gentlemen with excellent qualifications pretty well summarizes the situation, in my opinion; unfortunately he isn't illiterate, a radical left wing democrat, or a member of the black caucus.
Time for a Tough Question: Why Rebuild?
By Klaus Jacob
It is time to swim against the tide. The direction of public discourse in the wake of Katrina goes like this: First we save lives and provide some basic assistance to the victims. Then we clean up New Orleans. And then we
rebuild the city. Most will rightly agree on the first two. But should we rebuild New Orleans, 10 feet below sea level, just so it can be wiped out again?
Some say we can raise and strengthen the levees to fully protect the city. Here is some unpleasant truth: The higher the defenses, the deeper the floods that will inevitably follow. The current political climate is not conducive to having scientific arguments heard before political decisions are made. But not doing so leads to the kind of chaos we are seeing now.
This is not a natural disaster. It is a social, political, human and -- to a lesser degree -- engineering disaster. To many experts, it is a disaster that was waiting to happen. In fact, Katrina is not even the worst-case scenario. Had the eye of the storm made landfall just west of the city (instead of to the east, as it did) the wind speeds and its associated coastal storm surge would have been higher in New Orleans (and lower in Gulfport, Miss.). The city would have flooded faster, and the loss of life would have been greater.
What scientific facts do we need before making fateful political, social and economic decisions about New Orleans's future? Here are just two:
First, all river deltas tend to subside as fresh sediment (supplied during floods) compacts and is transformed into rock. The Mississippi River delta is no exception. In the early to mid-20th century, the Army Corps of Engineers was charged with protecting New Orleans from recurring natural floods. At the same time, the Corps kept the river (and some related canals) along defined pathways. These well-intended defensive measures prevented the natural transport of fresh sediments into the geologically subsiding areas.
The protected land and the growing city sank, some of it to the point that it is now 10 feet below sea level. Over time, some of the defenses were raised and strengthened to keep up with land subsidence and to protect against river floods and storm surges. But the defenses were never designed to safeguard the city against a direct hit by a Category 5 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson scale) or a Category 4 hurricane making landfall just west of the city.
Second, global sea levels have risen less than a foot in the past century, and will rise one to three feet by the end of this century. Yes, there is uncertainty. But there is no doubt in the scientific community that the rise in global sea levels will accelerate.
What does this mean for New Orleans's future? Government officials and academic experts have said for years that in about 100 years, New Orleans may no longer exist. Period.
It is time to face up to some geological realities and start a carefully planned deconstruction of New Orleans, assessing what can or needs to be preserved, or vertically raised and, if affordable, by how much. Some of New Orleans could be transformed into a "floating city" using platforms not unlike the oil platforms offshore, or, over the short term, into a city of boathouses, to allow floods to fill in the 'bowl' with fresh sediment.
If realized, this "American Venice" would still need protection from the worst of storms. Restoration of mangroves and wetlands between the coast and the city would need to be carefully planned and executed. Much engineering talent would have to go into anchoring the floating assets to prevent chaos during storms. As for oil production, refining and transshipment facilities, buffer zones would have to be established to protect them from the direct onslaught of coastal storm surges.
Many ancient coastal cities of great fame have disappeared or are now shells of their former grandeur. Parts of ancient Alexandria suffered from the subsidence of the Nile delta, and earthquakes and tsunamis toppled the city's famed lighthouse, one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World."
It is time that quantitative, science-based risk assessment became a cornerstone of urban and coastal land-use planning to prevent such disasters from happening again. Politicians and others must not make hollow promises
for a future, safe New Orleans. Ten feet below sea level and sinking is not safe. It is time to constructively de-construct, not destructively reconstruct.
The writer, a geophysicist, is an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He teaches and does research on disaster risk management.
a politician from illinois made the same remark.(must have read your post before you posted it) he got booed off the floor in the senate or whatever the case was.
i can remeber back to my school days they said that some day new orleans would either be under water or be a island from erosion along the mississippi river.
a city out west was destroyed by flooding on the mississippi years ago and the town decided to move the city to higher ground to keep this from happening again. should they take this action? that will be a big question in the near future.
The politician from Illinois was Dennis Hastert, speaker of the house. I think part of the reason he got booed off the floor was that he said this last week, when we still had tens of thousands of people to evacuate from the city.
I think its a shame, but it only makes sense to do any rebuilding of NOLA on ground that is at sea level or higher. If we were talking about an inland spot that is below sea level that is one thing, but we're not. We're talking about an area that has sunk to ten feet below sea level, next to one of the largest lakes in the country, which opens to the Gulf of Mexico. Most all of the industrial parts of NOLA are necessary and ideally placed, given their proximity to a river that is one of the most important routes to the interior of the US. That doesn't mean that we should help hundreds of thousands of people put them selves in harms way by using gov't money to rebuild residences in what would naturally be a lake. The people who work at those industrial facilities will need a place to live, but I fail to see the logic in granting further corporate welfare to the oil industry by subsidizing their labor costs by paying for their workers residences. That would create artificially low labor costs. Some countries in Northern Europe have created livable conditions below sea level, but they don't have near the risk of violent storms that our gulf coast does.
You'll likely hear those of the liberal persuasion tending to say that we need to rebuild NOLA so that its residents can go back home, and conservatives saying it doesn't make sense to rebuild in a basin next to a lake that opens to the ocean. You'll also find that I tend to agree with the more liberal side of the political divide, but I don't think it makes sense to spend government money to recreate a hazardous situation. Here's a way of testing the viability of rebuilding NOLA: does private industry want to? I doubt it, I can't see how anyone would convince themselves its a prudent investment. I love all things cultrally New Orleanian, the food, the music, and the attitude, but it still doesn't make sense to put people in danger again by rebuilding the sunk parts of the city.
(While some may think that the fact that I will call myself a liberal means I am not worth listening to, I do have extensive training in economics and some in geology and soil mechanics. I am not in favor of our government being "larger" than it currently is, but I do think there is a lot of room for improvement in how it spends its money. Getting rid of most subsidies and corporate welfare that produce no net benefit to the American public and moving those funds into efforts that do benefit us gets me excited, not welfare for lazy people.)