A Simple Plan

Get people to higher ground and have the feds and the state airlift supplies to them -- that was the plan, man.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

Oy. Was anyone, at any level of this operation, not inept? I still think what I said a few days ago is right: We ought to expect that when a major catastrophe renders a locality incapable of providing the basic civil order that is supposed to be government's primary task, it may be necessary for the feds to temporarily step into the vacuum. But I hope there's some way to do that without increasing (quite so much) the likelihood of a vacuum in the first place.

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  • ||

    So, Sanchez, what is wrong with that plan? Remember, you picked a one-sentence summary from some other fingerwagger's opinion piece. And this was spoken by an exhausted man trying to do all he can to save his home.

    Maybe you would like to see the complete, ridiculous, detailed plan? Email the Mayor's office. He'll send you a copy. When he gets to it.

  • The Lonewacko Blog||

    Back on June 9, 2005, the Orleans Parish School Board was discussing getting their schoolbuses to higher ground. If anyone can find out what became of that plan, leave a comment.

    Houma was mentioned there, and also in Aug. 30's tale of an apparently partially failed plan to use schoolbuses to evacuate those Metarie.

  • Dave W.||

    If this incentive-for-irresponsibility thing is really a big concern, then NO is probably not the best example to use. Certainly there has been extensive fed involvement in much smaller catastrophes. We got 10,000 dead here. Not the best occasion to flex your Freakonomical muscles.

    On the other hand, Nagin seems to be admitting that getting ppl to high ground was his responsibility. Unless, I am missing something, the short quote is more of a shocking admission of his failed responsibility than a stinging indictment of state / fed lapses once the ppl were delivered to the high ground. (Although it seems to be both things -- and it *should* be).

  • ||

    The reason people ignore the possibility of a catastrophe has nothing to do with FEMA, Julian.

    People ignore the possibility of catastrophe so they can get out of bed and get through the day without having a breakdown. The river could rise! A plane could fall out of the sky! AAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

    The moral hazard, cost/benefit analysis process is of limited value here. It's the old problem of ignoring human nature and projecting rational profit machines into their brains.

  • R C Dean||

    The shocking thing about Nagin's quote is that he is admitting that his administration intentionally abdicated responsibility for food, water, sanitation, and public safety, even for those they evacuated.

    And he even lets you know why - because he could lay the cost of providing these basic services off on someone else.

    Even though FEMA is always very clear withe everyone that federal help is 72 - 96 hours away.

    So Nagin is admitting, right out in public, that the holocaust that happened in New Orleans happened because he planned it that way, knowing that federal help would be days away.

    What a despicable man.

  • tomWright||

    "...without increasing (quite so much) the likelihood of a vacuum in the first place."

    Well, that IS the problem, eh?

    As soon as 'they' know someone else will pick up the slack, 'they' will stop pulling their own weight. Happens all the time.

    I wonder if that was in Nagin's mind as he sat there admiring all the nice big yellow boats in what quickly changed from the the school motorpool to the school marina. He figured that if he sat there, the state or the feds would bail him out. Literally.

    Nero fiddled while Rome burned,
    what was Nagin doing while New Orleans drowned?

    Nagin = Nero

    Tom

  • ||

    Don't bad mouth the mayor. Sat. and Sun. were weekend days. He had to check into the Hyatt and secure his limo. He couldn't move those busses by himself on Sunday evening. Monday was a bad weather day. But Tueseday, he was ready to kick butt.

  • ||

    Tom

    Equating Nagin to Nero is completely unfair to the late emperor. Nero was 50 miles away when Rome caught fire; he didn't even know the city was burning until it was all over.

    There was absolutely nothing Nero could have done. Nagin, on the other hand...

  • ||

    Wow, exactly as the White House directed, the entire right half of the country is going Swift Boat on the mayor and governor.

    But especially the mayor. Oh, yeah.

  • ||

    It doesn't strike me that Nagin is "admitting" anything. He been doing what he could, since he was elected. I imagine he feels responsible, and also abandoned, and many other things. It's easy to read more into a sentence than was ever there.

    Wacko: Look into the budget and managment problems of the Orleans Parish Schools. They were having trouble keeping the buses rolling for regular school duty. From your link, it looks like somebody had a good idea that was working its way through bureaucracy. The school might have got their fuel and tires supported by some disaster fund, but whoever was in charge of the disaster fund wouldn't hand over the money until the schools showed that it wouldn't get lost (like their payroll records did recently).

    joe: I think you're right on. That's why, even if the buses were serviceable, not too many would have climbed aboard.

  • ||

    joe:

    I disagree. You can't take the moral hazard out of the equation like that. Another way of looking at it is why people felt they could afford to put it completely out of their heads.

    If people lived in an environment where every underinsured victim of Andrew were left to their own devices and they still didn't act, I'd find your argument more persuasive.

    Where I agree is that people are bad statisticians. They are likely to undervalue risk reducing measures out of an inappropriate understanding of the risks involved.

  • ||

    People ignore the possibility of catastrophe so they can get out of bed and get through the day without having a breakdown. The river could rise! A plane could fall out of the sky! AAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

    The moral hazard, cost/benefit analysis process is of limited value here. It's the old problem of ignoring human nature and projecting rational profit machines into their brains.

    joe, if you're going to take that tack, what's the no point in drafting catastrophe reaction plans, because to do so would be like, such a downer man, why you gotta be so negative all the time? By that line of reasoning, we should be happy that anyone managed to escape the maelstrom at all.

    In any event, I think it's worth noting your glossing over the key difference of "preparing for the worst while hoping for the best", the ideal view to take (to my diseased imagination, anyway), and that of "ignoring all possibility of catastrophe" as if to do so would be to sow the seeds of the very disaster one seeks to avoid. Yea, if anyone here is ignoring human nature, I'd say its you and your suggestion that planning for a (reasonably) orderly evacuation of a low-lying city in the path of a hurricane is somehow too much strain for the average human to bear. It's amazing anyone can manage the utter agony of buying insurance, at that rate.

  • ||

    joe

    It's just to provide balance for all the lefties who blame Bush for everything.

  • ||

    While y'all pile on Nagin, take a moment to look at his record as Mayor. He's the least corrupt Mayor the city has had in all your lifetimes (he might actually be not corrupt at all). He's been working to bring the city into the 20th, and in some cases the 21st Century.

    Before Katrina, with his reelection on the horizon, there were no challengers. He's got opponents, for sure, but none thought that they had a chance of beating him, given his record and popularity. Now, who knows...?

  • ||

    this whole thing has taught me one valuable lesson... I need a gun.

  • ||

    This whole thing has taught me one valuable lesson... I need a gun.

  • ||

    To be fair to joe, I think he was merely saying that your average person, not the government, ignores, or underevaluates risk to get through the day.

    You'd have to do similar if you lived in San Francisco...one of the reasons, I tell myself, why I haven't moved there yet.

  • ||

    f"joe, if you're going to take that tack, what's the no point in drafting catastrophe reaction plans, because to do so would be like, such a downer man, why you gotta be so negative all the time?"

    No, rafuzo, it's an argument that such plans are not going to be drafted by individuals trying to go about their lives who have a million other, more immediate things to worry about. It's an argument for putting the responsibility for those things into the hands of people who will actually make that their first and foremost priority.

    BTW, homeowners and businessowners are required to have insurance in order to close on their property.

  • ||

    I had a thought (a first this month!): instead of comparing the New Orleans mayor's performance to the President's, shouldn't we compare it to the performance of mayors from other cities, like Gulfport & Biloxi for instance? Honestly, I have no idea how they performed because I've heard so little about them.

    -- And before anyone says they're not comparable because NO has its own unique set of difficulties, I would remind you that every city has its unique set of difficulties (and advantages); it's a mayor's job to deal with them. --

  • MP||

    BTW, homeowners and businessowners are required to have insurance in order to close on their property.

    Only if they have a mortgage. This is a bank requirement, not a legal requirement.

  • ||

    JMoore,

    How about also instead of continuously complaining about how slow FEMA was to react to Katrina, compare FEMA's reaction in past major hurricanes. I've heard a 72 to 96 hours window thrown about, but I haven't found anything to back that up.

  • ||

    Wow, exactly as the White House directed, the entire right half of the country is going Swift Boat on the mayor and governor.

    Didn't you get the official memo, joe?

    Seriously, though, are you claiming them to be blameless in this affair? At this point trying to differentiate who gets the lion's share of the blame seems foolish, as it appears that the government at every level just plain fucked up and that includes the mayor and governor. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't think most people around here absolved FEMA and Bush for their part.

  • ||

    Wow, exactly as the White House directed, the entire right half of the country is going Swift Boat on the mayor and governor.

    Didn't you get the official memo, joe?

    Seriously, though, are you claiming them to be blameless in this affair? At this point trying to differentiate who gets the lion's share of the blame seems foolish, as it appears that the government at every level just plain fucked up and that includes the mayor and governor. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't think most people around here absolved FEMA and Bush for their part.

  • ||

    JMoore, "It's just to provide balance for all the lefties who blame Bush for everything."

    Maybe you should worry less about balance and more about truth.

    "And before anyone says they're not comparable because NO has its own unique set of difficulties, I would remind you that every city has its unique set of difficulties (and advantages); it's a mayor's job to deal with them." Well, yes, but that doesn't get rid of the apples to oranges problem. The unique set of difficulties facing Gulfport's mayor are not just different; they are much less severe - even as bad as they are.

  • ||

    No, rafuzo, it's an argument that such plans are not going to be drafted by individuals trying to go about their lives who have a million other, more immediate things to worry about. It's an argument for putting the responsibility for those things into the hands of people who will actually make that their first and foremost priority.

    Fair enough. But I don't see what that has to do with the point Julian was trying make, that this catastrophe was mishandled from top to bottom. The one thing they're all doing flawlessly is passing the buck back and forth between each other.

  • ||

    joe

    I do worry about truth. Here it is: Nagin's constituency is New Orleans. The governor's constituency is Louisiana. Bush's constituency is the entire USA. Who bears the greatest responsibility for protecting the people of New Orleans? Put it another way: whose only job--ONLY job--is to provide for the safety of the people of New Orleans?

    And, as was pointed out above, most of those of us who want to crucify Nagin do not grant absolution to Bush & FEMA either. There will probably be plenty of crosses made in the near future, but Nagin should the first to face Pilate.

  • drf||

    What you're all forgetting:

    no evacuation plan would work, as dem suth'rn'rz are against forced bussing.

    (glug glug)

  • ||

    Okay, alternate history time....

    August 28. FEMA chief Michael "Brownie" Brown announces that the local plan for the mandatory evacuation is completely inadequate for the threat New Orleans faces. In order to save the tens of thousands who are not getting in cars and driving out of town, he pushes to get Bush to declare martial law. The state and city capitulate and "ask" for FEMA to take responsibility.

    Brown federalizes all city buses, school buses, and private buses not actively being used for evacuation. He federalizes the Louisiana National Guard and hurries them to the New Orleans area to help with evacuation. Ambulances from a four state area are brought in for the difficult cases. Everyone who wants to leave can leave. Those who don't want to leave are allowed to remain with the warning that a curfew will be imposed and the streets will be patrolled. The Superdome is set up as an official response locale for the federal forces, but no evacuees remain there.

    August 29. Hurricane Katrina takes a hard right turn and loses significant power as it skirts the coast and hits Pensacola at category 3. New Orleans gets 5 inches of rain and no real damage. Twelve people taking advantage of the dispopulation of the city to commit armed break-ins are shot and killed by police and national guard.

    Discuss the media reaction. Note that in this alternate history Bush&Co. can point to the alternate alternate history where the feds did nothing before the storm and the hurricane did hit, swamped the levees, and drowned thousands in their homes.

  • ||

    joe

    I do worry about truth. Here it is: Nagin's constituency is New Orleans. The governor's constituency is Louisiana. Bush's constituency is the entire USA. Who bears the greatest responsibility for protecting the people of New Orleans? Put it another way: whose only job--ONLY job--is to provide for the safety of the people of New Orleans?

    And, as was pointed out above, most of those of us who want to crucify Nagin do not grant absolution to Bush & FEMA either. There will probably be plenty of crosses made in the near future, but Nagin should the first to face Pilate.

    [if this double posts, my apologies...having some trouble today]

  • ||

    Anyone wanna bet that once the $2K debit cards start going out, there will be twice as many "refugees" than previously estimated?

  • ||

    "Seriously, though, are you claiming them to be blameless in this affair?"

    Seriously, though, are you trying to change the subject?

    Stretch, I'm not making any claims about their performance. I don't know.

  • ||

    JMoore,

    "Nagin's constituency is New Orleans. The governor's constituency is Louisiana. Bush's constituency is the entire USA. Who bears the greatest responsibility for protecting the people of New Orleans?"

    That depends. Different levels of government have different degrees of responsibility for different problems.

    The New Orleans municipal government, for example, has absolutely no responsibility for repelling an armed incursion by a foreign military.

    The federal government bears no responsibility for confirming that homes built in the city limits have adequately sized floor joists.

    For the issue at hand, the complete and utter failure of the emergency management operations once the levees broke, the responsibility is primarily FEMA's, as it states on that agency's web page, as I quoted yesterday.

  • ||

    As you consider the "alternate history" described above, it may be useful to have the actual history at your fingertips.

    http://www.thinkprogress.org/katrina-timeline

  • ||

    joe, check your hotmail account.

  • ||

    Its interesting that the very same people who have a stroke at the thought of the FBI reading their library records are now shocked that Bush did not completely disregard the laws regarding federal and state responsiblity as well as the use of the military for civilian law enforcement and send in the 82nd Airborne on Sunday regardless of what Louisianna's elected officials had to say about the matter. The fact is that for better or for worse, disaster relief is primarily a state and local responsibility. All of the FEMA plans call for the locals to be able to handle the situation for anywhere from 72 to 96 hours before the feds arrive.

    Federalism goes both ways. States are free to have the government they choose for better or worse. I fail to see how the fact that the people of the State of Louisianna have managed over the last two hundred years to consistently elect the worst state and local governments this side of Nirobi is my problem.

  • ||

    Okay, alternate history time....

    When you're done fantasizing, get back to the real world. This was a fuckup at every level, and despite the administration's interest in SwiftBoating responsibility to the locals it's the feds who are ultimately responsible.

    These facts are irrefutable:

    1) On Saturday Aug. 26, two days before the storm made landfall, the governor of Louisiana asked the federal government to declare a state of emergency in Louisiana.

    2) On Sunday the 27th, President Bush signed that declaration, in which Gov. Blanco specifically stated that local and state officials were not equipped to handle the situation without federal assistance:

    "Pursuant to 44 CFR � 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster."

    3) On Sunday, Aug. 27, President Bush signed the disaster declaration, directing FEMA "to coordinate all disaster relief efforts" and "provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives, protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe."

    Text above is taken directly from the Press Release issued by the White House on Sunday.

    4) Days later, as people who weren't killed by the storm were dying from exposure and lack of critical medical and food supplies, FEMA was still turning away would-be rescuers with provisions and a desire to help.

    Yes, the locals were poorly prepared and poorly equipped to handle the disaster. Yes, there's plenty of blame to go around.

    But the fact is, they asked for help on SATURDAY, placed themselves under federal control on SUNDAY and then waited helplessly for FIVE DAYS while FEMA sat around with its thumb up its ass, and the President did a low flyover in Air Force One on his way home from vacation, then went over to Trent Lott's to reassure the senator that his mansion would be rebuilt.

    I have no political dog in this hunt. I loathe Nancy Pelosi and the jackasses on the left as much as I do Rick Santorum and the jackasses on the right.

    So I'm not making a political statement when I say Bush and his team fucked up. Or that he'd be a much better leader -- and seem much more human -- if he owned up to the mistakes and set about correcting them rather than unleashing the dogs to blame the locals...

  • ||

    joe,

    Did you read any of the supporting documents behind the timeline you posted? For example, the in asking for the president to declare a state of emergency stated: "I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster. I am specifically requesting emergency protective measures, direct Federal Assistance, Individual and Household Program (IHP) assistance, Special Needs Program assistance, and debris removal." She was requesting funds and help removing debris. Was there a request somewhere that I can't find to help in evacuation?

  • ||

    Mark,

    FEMA was in over its head and has been broke for years. That is a bi-partisian scandal. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security is a disasterous bureaocracy that has focused too much on terrorism at the expense of responding to natural disasters. You are correct that blame is to be apportioned all around, much of it on Congress, who has oversight over these bureaocracies but refuses to ever use it until its too late.

    That said, the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisianna had a dry run for this event in 1998 and in 2004 with Hurricanes Georges and Ivan. Both times, the evacuation plans were revealed to be woefully inadaquate. The state and local officials did absolutely nothing to fix these problems. I don't think the fact that they bothered to throw themselves at the mercy of the federal government excuses their failure.

  • R C Dean||

    Mark, the boilerplate that you quote is intended solely to get federal money flowing. The operative language is "coordinate" and "provide assistance."

    It is totally inadequate for the task of dispossessing state and local government of their police powers and miscellaneous law enforcement assets, declaring martial law, repealing the Posse Comitatus, and generally enacting a federal takeover of NO and LA.

  • ||

    John:

    I don't mean to excuse at all the failure of state and local authorities.

    I'm just sayin', the feds and their apologists shouldn't be allowed to deflect their own responsibility by rolling it all downhill to Nagin and Blanco.

    The disaster declaration on Sunday put the federal agencies in charge. They failed miserably. We need to figure out why, and fix it.

    And by "fix it" I don't mean a simple fix like firing that dumb SOB Brown, no matter how good in the short term that may make some people feel.

    And by the way, I don't think that simply firing that dumb SOB Brown is not the answer. We need to fix the bureacracies that have broken by the misfeasance and malfeasance of Congress, the administration, and bureacrats on both sides of the aisle.

    If we can't do that, we should give up the legal fiction of institutional disaster coordination, and just tell everyone that for better or worse they're on their own.

  • ||

    I see a clusterfuck at every level. These arguements are occurring, because there has been a fuck up at every level. If anyone can say something good about what they've done, they wouldn't be passing the buck.

    In a perfect world New Orleans would be self sufficient. They'd have no reliance on the federal government. They would have had their own plans, and would have made adjustments long ago.

    We don't live in that world. We live in one where we all pay money so the federal government can run bureaucracies like homeland security and within it FEMA. N.O. ain't off the hook by any means, but the levels of overlapping responsibility made the whole thing worse. If FEMA isn't up to the task, and Homeland Security isn't up to the task, then shut them down.

  • ||

    RC Dean,

    You are right. To this moment the feds do not have the authority to enforce state law and order. Bush did not have the authority to launch the military in there without the State asking for it. Further, the FEDS had told the the states for years that it would be 72 to 96 hours before any federal help would arrive. The State of Louisianna has a National Guard, fire and police departments. They further had been on notice for years that this was eventually goin to happen. There is no excuse for them not being able to handle the situation in the first 48 hours and the fact that they couldn't is not the feds fault.

  • ||

    RC Dean:

    I read the Stafford Act much differently than you do. It's not "intended solely to get federal money flowing."

    There are significant provisions empowering agencies of the federal government -- under the direction of the President -- to "provide assistance essential to meeting immediate threats to life and property resulting from a major disaster."

    These include "search and rescue, emergency medical care, emergency mass care, emergency shelter, and provision of food, water, medicine, and other essential needs, including movement of supplies or persons."

    Perhaps someone from the White House should have read the Act and understood its provisions before making the dceclaration. Is that too much to ask???

    For reference, text of the Stafford Act here: http://www.ohioema.org/robertt.htm

  • Jeff P.||

    It's amazing that even in the face of the direst emergency politicians still make time for sound bites.

  • ||

    I think Bush is responsible for the federal government's deplorable response to the crisis. I agree with what Kayne West said 5 days ago on NBC that Bush does not care about black people, and I think that influenced the miserable failure that is Bush's response to this disaster.

    Bush has never agreed to meet with the NAACP, and is the only President since Herbert Hoover in the 1920s that has been so insensitive to this organization for black people. He has nominated some extremely ideological conservative judges to federal district courts who have been hostile to civil rights and civil liberties such as:

    a.) Terrence Boyle, 4th circuit court judge who ruled for whites and against blacks in two voting rights cases-reversed both times.
    b.) Janice Rogers Brown, DC circuit court judge who voted to protect racist speech in the work place.
    c.) D. Michael Fisher, 3rd circuit
    court judge who voted to protect racist speech in the work place.
    d.) William Pryor, 11th circuit court judge who voted to promote states? rights over the rights of blacks who have been discriminated against.

    Bush has also repeatedly passed tax cuts that mostly help his rich 1% upper class friends while at the same time he has cut social services to help the very poor. Bush?s much-touted No Child Left Behind Act is inadequately funded and does not address the soaring number of poor, under funded, racially segregated public schools nationally. The Bush administration also backed white students in their effort to torpedo the University of Michigan?s affirmative action program. Bush backed so called ?race neutral alternatives? that cripple the fight for workplace diversity.

    In short, Kanye West is 100% right when he says that Bush doesn?t care about black people. Maybe if Bush did care about minorities he would have responded more appropriately to this disaster rather than commenting on how much he hopes that Senator Lott's mansion would be rebuilt so that he could BBQ on the porch.

  • ||

    The apologists are desperately trying to shift the discussion to the evacuation, because there is absolutely nothing they can say in defense of the days and days of delay in providing food, water, and medical attention to the desperate people trapped in the city by the flooding.

    Everyone knew there were people trapped in the Convention Center. Where the hell was the food? Where the hell was the water? FEMA, as per federal law and its internal procedures, was THE agency with primary responsibility for those tasks, and where the hell were they? That is the central truth in this whole story, and the desperation of those trying to talk about something, anything, else is becoming more and more evident.

  • ||

    Did anybody watch Nagin's pre-hurricane announcement of the evacuation of the city? I began worrying when I watched it. I'm no psychologist, and I'd never seen the man before, but what I saw was a man who was either depressed or extraordinarily tired. He seemed to be laboring to speak.

    Maybe he always talks that way. Even so, I would not look to that man for decisiveness in crisis.

  • ||

    1/800-wah-waah

    Mike, I think you're argument is completely off-base. I would like to see some hard evidence for your assertions. I mean specific things, like repealing lynching laws and ordering concrete walls built around the 'hood. All that affirmative action stuff is just cream-topping for the special protection crowd. Hate speech in the workplace? Who cares... Grow some nuts and tell the offender to f*ck off.

    Kanye West? C'mon, really.

    The hurricane response is NOT a white vs black thing. That's as ridiculous as saying that the exclusive use of white lab mice is racist.

    Live free, fall or fight and embrace colorblindness.

  • ||

    I can't tell if people got the point I was trying to make with that alternate history.

    Yes, FEMA and DHS are incompetent. Tell me something I don't know. They would be incompetent under Kerry, too. Yes, Bush filled positions by patronage and ignored the situation while he thought others were handling it. That's government in action.

    What I described was what a perfectly competent FEMA would do, trying to save the maximum number of lives: recognize that the local plan was inadequate and actively take control of the situation.

    Do you folks who think the blame falls on Bush really want some toady two levels down in the Bush Administration taking over a sovereign state? Because that's the only way I see that Bush could have done anything to save 95%+ of the people who are thought to have died.

  • ||

    I see that the DailyKOS brigade has arrived.

  • ||

    Heh, sorry I shouldn't have responded to an attempted thread-hijack...but I couldn't resist.

    Out here.

  • ||

    Does this fingerpointing exercise serve any point?

    joe, if you really believe what you say, then hasn't the federal government proven once and for all that they should NOT have sole control over a situation like this?

    Frankly, for the state and city to openly admit before the disaster that there was no way they could handle it speaks louder than any argument made on this board regarding federalism OR the obvious incompetance of FEMA. It WAS their responsibility for the last 50 years to have a workable plan in place to respond to exactly this type of disaster, and with their plea for help from the feds, they basically admitted that they've had their thumbs up their asses all these years.

  • ||

    Seriously, I'm really wondering if anyone else saw what I saw in Mayor Nagin's evacuation announcement before the hurricane.

  • ||

    People ignore the possibility of catastrophe so they can get out of bed and get through the day without having a breakdown. The river could rise! A plane could fall out of the sky! AAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

    Whew, thank goodness people don't think about disasters that could happen to them. The stress of things like, say, figuring out which is the sturdiest interior room in the house so as to have a place to shelter during a severe storm, would just kill people with terror.

  • ||

    Larry

    I didn't see the announcement you're referring to, but I think I get what you're aiming at. I did see the abhorrent performance of the Jefferson parish president on Meet the Press. Cry-baby leaders hardly inspire confidence. I would imagine a depressed leader would inspire little as well.

  • ||

    The apologists are desperately trying to shift the discussion to the evacuation, because there is absolutely nothing they can say in defense of the days and days of delay in providing food, water, and medical attention to the desperate people trapped in the city by the flooding.

    You're right, Joe. There's absolutely no defense of that. FEMA is part of the DHS, which is Bush's cabinet agency, and which he glopped together like a huge, mishapen mass of clay years ago. The problem is that Katrina stepped on the pedal and the damn thing flew apart under rotation.

    Howver, all of that does nothing to excuse the local and state authorities for abandoning thousands of the most vulnerable people because, uh, their neighbors will give them rides out of town, that's it.

  • ||

    Joe: It seems to me like you're the one trying to change the story - anything to take the focus off Nagin and put it solely on FEMA (which, for the record, is fucked up. And Brown is useless. So stipulated).

    Nagin - and every mayor before him - has known that there are (were) approximately 100,000 people in NOLA who did not own cars or otherwise have access to private transportation. Plans may or may not have been made to move these people - I've seen both claims made - but if there was a plan, it was not followed and if there was not, that's criminally negligent.

    Further. Nagin told the people without cars that if they couldn't get out otherwise, the city would transport them to the Superdome. Now, surely, the 100,000 people without cars did not occur to Nagin only when he declared the mandatory evac, did they? Did he make up the idea of Superdome-as-refuge-of-last-resort on the spot? No, he didn't. Then why was no effort made - no effort at all - to stock up on supplies, portable toilets, etc.? Because this is NOLA, a city so singularly fucked up as to make FEMA look efficient and, even though Nagin is much less corrupt than all the former mayors (hey, I'm much taller than most fifth graders) he still did nothing to prepare for a scenario in which a) a lot of poor people are stuck in the city and b) there's a hellacious flood. Neither of which were unlikely scenarios. So he told all the poor folks to get together with their neighbors and bring food. That's not really disaster prep, is it?

    I live in Houston. The Astrodome was made ready in under 48 hours.

    I haven't even addressed the question of why he waited till Sunday to declare a mandatory evacuation.


    And please don't claim that you can't make any claims about Nagin and Blanco's performance because you don't know. You do know. You are very well informed, you stay current on events, you've read the same newspapers and watched the same newscasts I have, you know about Nagin and Blanco's performances.

    To say that those performances were abysmally inadequate is not to absolve FEMA of any responsibility.

  • ||

    If I live in a city in a hurricane prone area that is ten feet below sea level, at some point I bear some responsiblity to have some way to get out in case of a hurricane. Its a different case for people who are too sick or too old to get out on their own, but any able bodied person left in New Orleans during that hurricane bears some responsibility for their being there. Further, the Superdome did keep people alive. It wasn't a pleasant existence but they did live. I don't recall anyone being turned away from the Superdome. Again, other than the sick and the lame, what excuse does anyone have for not going at least to the Superdome? As far as the life support provided there, no one died of hunger or thirst there. It was unpleasant but it got them through a terrible disaster alive, which is more than would have happened in most places in the world. If I see one more 400 pound woman on TV crying that she hasn't ate in four days, I am going to be sick. People do bear some responsibility for their fate. I find difficult to believe that I am in the minority thinking this on this alleged "libertarian" blog. I guess the daily Kos crowd really has taken over.

  • Phil||

    Its interesting that the very same people who have a stroke at the thought of the FBI reading their library records are now shocked that Bush did not completely disregard the laws blah blah blah blah blah . . .

    It's equally interesting that the very same people who believe that there should be no constraints by Congress or the courts on the executive power of the President, in his role as commander-in-chief, to torture cab drivers wage the war on terror now think that he should have to wait until every "i" is dotted, every "t" is crossed, every "Mother may I?" uttered and every magic word said before picking up the phone and saying, "Food! Water! NOW!"

    joe, if you really believe what you say, then hasn't the federal government proven once and for all that they should NOT have sole control over a situation like this?

    That presupposes that this snafu was a feature of FEMA qua FEMA, rather than FEMA as staffed by Bush and managed by Chertoff and Brown.

  • ||

    Just so we're all clear on the background of Nagin:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Nagin

    Cheers...

    William

  • ||

    Just so we're all clear on the background of Nagin:

    Ray Nagin

    Cheers...

    William

  • ||

    "FEMA, as per federal law and its internal procedures, was THE agency with primary responsibility for those tasks, and where the hell were they? That is the central truth in this whole story, and the desperation of those trying to talk about something, anything, else is becoming more and more evident."

    Seriously joe, when should FEMA take over? Hurricane Katrina was forecast to make landfall somewhere between Intracoastal City La and Pensacola Florida. Were they supposed to prearrange food, supplies, staff in all the cities and towns along the gulf coast? Or do they expect the towns and states to be prepared and then come in after they know what assistance is needed?

    Is it realistic to expect aid to reach 100,000 people within 48 hours after a hurricane does the kind of damage to infrastructure that Katrina. Remember that as of Tuesday a.m. almost everyone thought that New Orleans has dodged the bullet and Biloxi MS had taken the worst of it. The major flooding in New Orleans did not begin until late Tuesday morning. Airlifts had already begun on Tuesday afternoon. Try being practical.

  • ||

    The reason why evacuation should be first and foremost the topic of examination is because evacuation is the only means by which one could reduce fatalities by a substantial percentage. This battle was lost by Sunday morning, in terms of reducing deaths by a large percentage, and those who don't want to make evacuation the first order of examination are pursuing an agenda other than reducing future fatalities to the greatest degree. My greatest fear of what will come in the aftermath of this catastrophe is that the dunces we elect to Congress will make the evacuation of every major American city a federal responsibility, thus causing people to pay even less attention to the actions of their local and state governments.

  • ||

    Joe, you've been full of holes before, but this is the shit.

  • ||

    Someone needs to please explain to me why it is that George Bush or the Governor or anyone else is responsible for the deaths of a bunch of people who were too stupid, lazy or too interested in stealing to evacuate the city or go to the Superdome after they were told a catagory 5 hurricane was going to hit. There were some real horrors in New Orleans regarding nursing homes where people were left by the owners to die. Those nursing home owners ought to go to jail forever. But beyond the horror stories of people who were too ill to leave and were abandoned by their caretakers, I fail to see what the hell the government is supposed to do for people other than tell them to get out of the city and give those without cars a safe place. They seem to have done that by and large. Further, how is it that all of these alledged libertarians on here, refuse to even admit that people might have some responsibility to see to their own safety. Big momma government is supposed to come and solve all problems, even ones that have been building for nearly a century and if they don't it must have been because the President was racist.

  • ||

    John,

    Lots of people did go to the Superdome, just like they were told. They were left to die there, without food, water or sanitation, for five fucking days.

    God, I hate it when I agree with joe.

  • ||

    Steve,

    It was a huge disaster. No one had it well. None of those people died of thirst or hunger. I repeat, if I see one more 400 pound woman screaming she hadn't ate in three days, I am going to vomit. People were also told to bring three days worth of food and water to the Superdome and few of them did. They were too busy looking for a government handout. God I hate it that even alleged libertarians don't believe in personal responsibility anymore.

  • ||

    So we can air drop supplies in to every third world country in the world at the drop of a hat, but we can't for our own people, unless it cleared by the right bureau / department in triplicate. Pathetic.

  • ||

    Cliff,

    Air dropping supplies is very difficult and dangerous, you tend to mash the recipients. I don't think anyone wanted Americans being smashed by falling pallets on CNN.

  • ||

    "joe, if you really believe what you say, then hasn't the federal government proven once and for all that they should NOT have sole control over a situation like this?"

    No, it proves that we need to fix FEMA. There is no one else onto whom this responsibility can be shifted - only the feds have the resources for an effort this big, and when such an event occurs, any local government in its path is going to see a great deal of its capacity put out of commission anyway. If the Fire Department screws up and fails to put out a fire, you don't disband your fire department. You reform it, because you don't really have a choice.

    Eric, nice reductio ad absurdum. If you pretend that "people are inclined not to think about disasters" means "people never think about their own safety," your post makes perfect sense. I'm sorry the reality of the human psyche is inconvenient for your ideological preferences - that theme seems to come up quitre regularly, I've noticed.

    stubby, I've got no brief for Nagin or Blanco. But they're small potatoes here. The biggest screw ups - the failure to provie adequate food and water to the desperate crowds for days, the failure to provide an adequate military presence to preserve order - were federal failures.

    I knew the Bushbots would start to demonize the people hit hardest by the disaster as soon I saw the first report from the Conventin Center, but I never imagined anyone would argue that, since some of them are fat, it's ok that they weren't given food and water. No shame at all.

  • ||

    Strange, Joe, that you apparently believe that the one action that could haver saved the most lives, evacuation, is "small potatoes". Why is that, and what agenda do you wish to pursue other than preventing fatalities in the most effective way? Who are you apologizing for?

  • ||

    Will,

    The City of New Orleans doesn't have the capacity to evacuate all of its citizens, either. Once again, you're still talking about emergency operations that are well beyond what a municipal government is capable of, and requires a federal intervention.

    And as we've seen, no evacuation will ever be complete. Some fantasyland evacuation that doesn't leave many thousands of people behind, that receives absolute compliance, could have theoretically saved that many lives, but let's deal with reality here.

    An airlift and an earlier military presence, on the other hand, actually are within the realm of possibility, and within the capacity of the federal government. Unlike your dream evacuation, they could have been done. They just weren't.

  • ||

    But Joe - HOW early? You can't organize an airlift and a military intervention in 24 hours - in order for the military to have gone in on Wednesday, much less Tuesday, when the chaos actually started, they would have had to start preparing on Saturday or Sunday. Nagin didn't even declare the evacuation until Sunday. Are the feds to mobilize for intervention every time a dangerous hurricane is headed to NOLA?

    I'm much more concerned about the fact that, according to Red Cross officials, they were ready to starting trying to get food in on Tuesday, but Louisiana Homeland Security people wouldn't let them in; and FEMA, once on the ground, was turning away generators, food convoys and the like.

  • ||

    stubby, given all of the reports and planning that had been done, the potential need for massive airlift relief efforts was well known before the storm reached land.

    When Blanco declared the state of emergency, when the National Weather Service issued a report (pre-storm) that a levee break would result in water shortages that would create suffering unknown in modern history, the secret was out.

  • ||

    Joe, your titanic clash with the strawman is quite impressive, for it's persistance, if nothing else. First, you posit a world in which an evacuation is either 100% effective, or only 80 % effective. Why do erect such a false dichotomy? Who are you apologizng for? If 100% effectiveness is not possible, does that mean 90 or 95% effectiveness is impossible as well, or that those levels of effectiveness should not be goals to strive for?

    Next, you are simply wrong, intentionally or otherwise, regarding who controlled what assets available for mass evacuation of those without cars 48 hours prior to the storm coming ashore. Tell me, Joe, which political bodies (I'll also note that you convieniently ignore the state's capabilities in your post above. Who are you apologizing for?) do you suppose controlled the 1000 busses closest to the center of New Orleans on the Saturday morning prior to the storm arriving?

    Finally, I'll note the contempt with which you view the people of New Orleans and Louisiana, as evident in your assertion that they are not capable of self-government, and thus are unable to manage an effective evacuation.

  • ||

    John,

    It doesn't matter how fat you are, not eating for 3-5 days isn't going to be fun.

    Also, how about going 3 days without clean water?

    If the news vans could get to the Superdome, why couldn't trucks full of food & water? Why couldn't busses to get people out? Why did we get supplies to Sri Lanka 2 days after the tsunami, but it took 4 days to get them to people in New Orleans?

    Really, John, this situation doesn't strike you as an enormous failure of government at every level?

  • ||

    And joe, I wouldn't go so far as the say all the biggest screwups were federal. The failure to maintain basic levels of law & order in New Orleans was one of the worst fuckups of all, and the blame falls right on the mayor and the NOPD. Not using all the buses to get people out seems like a city fuckup, too.

    None of those people deserve to be tarred & feathered as much as Michael Brownie-Brown, though.

  • ||

    Joe:

    "Where was the Food and water?

    Right there in the city. The American Red Cross had pre-positioned relief stocks of food, water, blankets, etc. It was the State of Louisiana that blocked the Red Cross from entering, and distributing the supplies to the people in the Superdome and Convention Center. Here's the link. It's Hewett, but he has lots of further links to back it up.:

    http://hughhewitt.com/archives/2005/09/04-week/index.php#a000211

  • ||

    Hey, I just noticed that the headline is a "Simple Plan" refrence!

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