Comments for Friday, September 02, 2005

Chompy the Ghost (920 comments)
London's name could have been a whole lot worse. Imagine 4th grade with the name Asparagus Spears.
Ex-Roomie (845 comments)
^
|
|
HAHAHA!!
Rachel (250 comments)
Hate to say it Brian, but you're a bit of an idiot on this one. :)

While there are always some people who cheerfully ignore any degree of disaster warning with bloody-minded glee, most of the people who were left behind in New Orleans do not fall into this category. The people left behind are the poor who had nowhere else to go.

Where exactly do you go to when you can't afford accommodation, or even transit out of the city?

My impression is that government authorities made very little effort to provide free transport, and even more importantly, free accomodation, outside New Orleans for any of these people.

The only real suggestion seems to have been "shelter in the stadium", which has since been commuted to "rot in the stadium".

How exactly is it that after pretty much any disaster anywhere in the world, there are air drops of food, water and supplies within 24-48 hours, and yet (as far as I gather) there's been none of that in New Orleans?

Seriously, what the fuck is the problem here? Too much of the army overseas fighting wars? There must be civilian aircraft that can do it. How are you able to get armored personnel vehicles in there but not food?

Oh, but you were seeking to avoid a rant on this topic...
Rachel (250 comments)
Whoa. What the FUCK?! What the FUCK?!

OK, so before I was ignorant. I just did some proper reading of news reports and stuff and it's far WORSE than I thought.

And seriously Brian, you're welcome to your "I'm not political" take on life, but get the hell away from commentary on issues like this if you seriously think the people there have a significant part in the responsibility for their current misfortune.

If you really believe that, you are breathtakingly ignorant.

You know, AUSTRALIA could have relieved that city by now. When the Tsunami hit Indonesia, we pulled off a more signifact relief effort in less time across an OCEAN, on the opposite side of the country from where all our big cities are. AND we have a large chunk of our army off fighting your wars with you.
Rachel (250 comments)
America must surely be the only country in the world where authorities would put protection of MONEY AND PROPERTY over evacuactions and saving lives.
Rachel (250 comments)
Welcome to rantville, population: me.

Sorry for the comment spam. But I'm venting on all wavelengths at the moment, including to three separate people on IM programs.

This is the sort of fiasco you impeach presidents for. Not having your cock sucked by an intern.
Beavis (225 comments)
Wow!

I was going to comment on the Etch-A-Sketch Animator, but now I'm really depressed.
BU (1519 comments)
I never said that the people had a significant part in the responsibility for their current misfortune -- maybe my synopsis-approach to writing that fragment blurred my point.

The "blame" part of my post referred to the people who 100% stayed home and ended up requiring person-by-person rescue in the aftermath -- akin to the people who sit in their trailer in the middle of Tornado Alley, say "I aint movin because I've survived every tornado in twenty years", and then look surprised when one finally tears up their home. These people heard the warnings and chose to ignore them, and now feel justified in complaining about the response. Yes, they are victims, but that doesn't make them wholly blameless. Yet these are the people who are most vocal about their dissatisfaction with the speed of the recovery.

Even the poor, or the destitute could have made their way to a central shelter like the stadium or the convention center. While not the greatest options, at least it was a proactive step, and the aid response is now working as quickly as it can to take care of those centers. I do not think the people who chose to take shelter as they were asked are to blame at all -- maybe that's the part that came out wrong in my post.

As for the rest, the incoming federal aid is pretty laughable, and the people still stranded at various shelter points are justified in their complaints, but the complaints really aren't helping at all. Plus, too much of the local aid had to be diverted to save all the random people floating on rooftops, diverted major resources from the mass-mobilization efforts.

We can talk it up on IM if you'd like.
BU (1519 comments)
And yes, I am being an armchair-disaster-expert here for the sake of argument. But if someone came knocking at my door and said the biggest hurricane in history was about to hit my front door, I would get the hell out. Likewise, if I were the President and saw that a major disaster was virtually guaranteed, I would have had the relief effort waiting in the wings ready to spring into action the moment the hurricane passed. This is not something he needed to "see the results of" before he made a move.
Chompy the Ghost (920 comments)
I was in New Orleans last weekend. When they issued the voluntary evacuation we got the hell out of there and how much traffic was there? None. The fact is that everyone there was warned this was the mother of all hurricanes to hit New Orleans and people thought they could outsmart it.

While agree a lot more could have been done initially take into consideration the two main inroads (bridges) are 100% worthless, the ports are completely blocked my wrecked ships and the airports were underweater. That leaves only Rt. 90 in where hordes of gangs were shooting everything that tried to get into the city.

If blame has to be assigned, I would nominate the Mayor. A good sign of the severity would have come if he had released all the buses in the county for the evacs. He didn't.
Chompy the Ghost (920 comments)
I need to proofread.
Rachel (250 comments)
"Even the poor, or the destitute could have made their way to a central shelter like the stadium or the convention center."

Quite a lot of New Orleans sites are down, but google seems to be implying that estimates put the population of New Orleans at about 1.3 million.

The city must be of significant size. There were no fleets of free buses to get people across the city to the stadium. Are you expecting people to walk for several hours to reach the stadium?

Poor people are, broadly, more disadvantaged in the US than in any other Western country. This presents some unique problems, and exacerbates other problems:

* Lack of media access. You're assuming that everyone in New Orleans had full and frank warning of the scale of the Hurricane. I don't believe you can assume this.

* Lack of education. Education standards in the US are poor, and they're at the worst amongst people who can't pay through the nose for it. Even allowing for Hurricane warnings getting through, I don't think you can assume the entire population had the education to fully understand the implications of a Hurricane, and for instance how far inland disaster had the potential to reach.

* Economic reasons make it extremely difficult for poor people to travel significant distance without assistance. Little to none was provided so far as I can see.

* Healthcare in the US is even worse and more income dependant than the education. Sick and injured people will inevitably be at a higher percentage amongst the poor population of New Orleans - these people have further difficulties travelling, and that keeps healthy people back to look after them as well.

Relatively income-independent problems include:

* The warnings, while significant, were not sufficient. People might have reasonably expected severe storm damage, heavy rain, flash flooding, and so on. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the authorities never said anything like "the levees are likely to break resulting in long term non-retreating flooding of most of the city". Or, indeed, "well sit on our fat asses for several days and do (relatively) fuck all to help you after it hits".

* There is a cultural problem with money and property in the US. Egged on by the media, I'd bet there were a LOT of people more worried about looting than the Hurricane. They will never be available, but personally I'd be very interested to see statistics on the number of people who stayed to "protect my house/business/money/stuff". Even the RELIEF EFFORT had trouble with this. Resources that should have been concentrated on restoring levees and finding and evacuating people were instead diverted to stop looting. And nobody in control was shouting at the top of their voices "thats an unbelievably ridiculous thing to do". As if any amount of looting is going to be anything other than a drop in the ocean compared to the huge damage the hurricane itself caused. The paranoia about it is laughable, and very, very sad.

A sense of proportion about things is another huge cultural problem. Compare the money, effort and legislation being invested in addressing terrorism with the pathetic little being done about the road toll, or gun deaths, or indeed the crippling domestic poverty, all of which are far larger problems, all of which cost the US more financially, and all of which are directly killing far more people individually , let alone combined, every year. Including in 2001.

God forbid you should have to wear a seat belt. Or register your gun. Or wait a week, or even a day, to buy one. Or do something about millions of urban poor and the associated crime, other than sticking people in prison in record and disproportionate numbers.

* There is a history of choice in hurricane evacuations (and indeed in most other prior-warning situations). Historically, staying home, boarding up, and riding it out has been an acceptable, tolerated, and even encouraged option.

"As for the rest, the incoming federal aid is pretty laughable, and the people still stranded at various shelter points are justified in their complaints, but the complaints really aren't helping at all. Plus, too much of the local aid had to be diverted to save all the random people floating on rooftops, diverted major resources from the mass-mobilization efforts."

The complaints are helping. It seems to be pretty much the only thing that managed to get significant aid and relief moving on this.

Later the complaints will help bring down, hopefully, various governments and officials responsible for fucking this up. And rightly so.

Too much of local aid was diverted, not to stranded people (a worthy cause), but to stop looting (a stupid cause). And nothing local is "major resources" - major resources weren't diverted from or to anything. They simply weren't utilized at all.

Lastly...

I'm not of the opinion that when someone does something reckless or stupid, that they automatically lose all right to compassion, help or assistance. Especially when the consequences of their recklessness are far worse than they could reasonably have predicted or expected.

Surely in a country where you're willing to give one person several million dollars in compensation for spilling hot coffee on themselves and complaining it was "too hot", you can spare a little sympathy for people profoundly effected by one of the biggest natural distasters in the history of your country, regardless of the reason they were caught up in it.
Rachel (250 comments)
Oh, something I forgot to mention. The principles of triage apply to natural disaster relief as well as medicine. You treat the most serious and life threatening cases first, and that means the people stranded and drowning, not the people relatively safe in the stadiums.

That's no excuse for not evacuating the stadiums though, and it's certainly not an excuse for the lack of supplies there.
BU (1519 comments)
The actual size of New Orleans is only about 425,000 -- it's big but not monstrous.

I never said I was not sympathetic to the people's plight -- I just said that I didn't agree with their decision to stay put. Sympathy is independent of that. And I would not have been one of those people to award any one millions of dollars for hot coffee.

Stopping looting also equates to restoring law and order. You cannot expect rescue workers to do their jobs effectively when they are worried about the gangs of men roaming the streets with guns or snipers shooting at hospitals.
Rachel (250 comments)
"While agree a lot more could have been done initially take into consideration the two main inroads (bridges) are 100% worthless, the ports are completely blocked my wrecked ships and the airports were underweater."

The US is full of airports and planes. They don't have the leave from New Orleans or Florida to drop supplies there.

"That leaves only Rt. 90 in where hordes of gangs were shooting everything that tried to get into the city."

Gross exaggeration. Not to mention that the worst of the violence wasn't immediate, but came long after the relief effort should have been in full swing, and indeed the lack of relief probably was a direct and significant contributing factor in it.

Moreover, the relief effort should have been so large, with the army involved, that a few mobs with guns wouldn't have been an issue in any case.

"If blame has to be assigned, I would nominate the Mayor. A good sign of the severity would have come if he had released all the buses in the county for the evacs. He didnt."

I assume you're referring to the period before the hurricane hit. Many people have blame there, including the major, but I don't think it would be fair to rest all or even most of it on him.

In the post-hurricane situation, I think there proportion of blame attributable to the major is very small, if he deserves any at all (which he may well not).
Rachel (250 comments)
Relief restores law and order. And a large scale relief effort would have the resources to do both at the same time. The scale of the breakdown in law and order (which has been, I still think, exaggerated) is directly attributable to the lack of a proper response.

This isn't Iraq. There is no way a few mobs with guns should be getting in the way of anything. They're not going to be taking out armored personnel carriers with handguns. Or even shooting at one, I would think.

Why isn't the army at the front and centre of the relief effort? They are in every other country. It's their job to go into dangerous, life-threatening situations. If they can be risked in Iraq they can risked in New Orleans, for fuck's sake, regardless of any level of snipers or gun toting mobs.
Chompy the Ghost (920 comments)
I don't even know where to start with your comments. You clearly have never been to New Orleans nor really have even a fundamental grasp on how things are being handled there.

Many people have blame there, including the major, but I don't think it would be fair to rest all or even most of it on him.


I live in Florida. When Governor Bush says to evacuate he's frequently ignored. I don't really care for the guy but he knows whats going on with these storms. I was IN New Orleans when the evacuations started and Nagin did a deplorable job of notifying people. I agree that the word didn't get out but who moreso than the mayor should know the communication limitations of a city? When he was on TV he did nothing more than offer a vague concept of what *might* happen and say "this is not a test". He was not compelling in the least. AFTER the hurricane the first significant message was not even to his city--it was to the country at large saying: SOS, we have a desperate situation. He has done NOTHING at ANY point to show that he's any more than a glorified CPA.

The US is full of airports and planes. They don't have [to] leave from New Orleans or Florida to drop supplies there.


No shit. But there was no place to land them until yesterday. Now that a strip at the airport is open aid is flooding in all forms: troops, food, medicines, military police, you name it.

If you can't trust the remaining "citizens" to not loot the hosptails (which they're currently doing) you can't just randomly drop care packages in.

You put the looting as such a low priority but since last Monday 80% of the city and parrish police forces have quit. My girlfriends friend was a police officer but quit on Wednesday with dozens of other members after not being allowed to fire back after fellow officers were shot while trying to get to the people on rooftops. I'd quit too if I were trying to help people and these "people" were killing my friends trying to do the same thing.

It's really easy to criticize when you're not responsible for providing feasible answers. And I certainly put myself into that same group.
BU (1519 comments)
I'm presuming that the Army being mobilized in Iraq has affected the speed of the National Guard mobilization in Louisiana too.
Rachel (250 comments)
An air drop is when you drop supplies from the air (by helicopter or plane) *without* landing it - you don't need a local air strip. The whole point is it's the fastest way to get supplies in to places when all the infrastructure is wrecked.

They did it in Iraq and Afghanistan, if you recall. There was a big fuss over it because they'd made the packages they dropped the same colour as unexploded cluster bombs were.

As for the major, I don't think *anyone* local could reasonably be said to have had resources capable of a meaningful response after the hurricane hit. They didn't have communications, most of the stuff was flooded, and so on.

Perhaps mayors have more power in the US than I realise - but still it seems bizarre to me that he would be expected to be at the head of (or even significantly involved in) the relief effort after the hurricane.

I'm willing to grant you the point that the major didn't do enough prior to the hurricane to get the city evacuated. However, I've seen no evidence that anybody else, at a state or federal level, did anything at all about it.

And the complete inadequacy of the post-hurricane response can't be blamed on the evacuation problems prior to it hitting.
Doobie (577 comments)
wow, doobie is sweeter than kelley thought.
who knew?
doobie knew?
wkwdn? where's the bracelet?.com


Add a Comment

Have a blog or a Facebook page you would like linked to your posts? Need a new avatar? Email me at .