Glenn Reynolds: Katrina on the Hudson? Parallels Between Two Storms, FEMA Foul-Ups, and More

Glenn Reynolds has a USA Today col about the generally unacknowledged similarities between the response to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. A snippet:

Late warnings, confused and inadequate responses, FEMA foul-ups and suffering refugees. In this regard, Sandy is looking a lot like Katrina on the Hudson. Well, things go wrong in disasters. That's why they're called disasters. But there is one difference.

Under Katrina, the national press credulously reported all sorts of horror stories: rapes, children with slit throats, even cannibalism. These stories were pretty much all false. Worse, as Lou Dolinar cataloged later, the press also ignored many very real stories of heroism and competence. We haven't seen such one-sided coverage of Sandy, where the press coverage of problems, though somewhat muted before the election, hasn't been marked by absurd rumors or ham-handed efforts to push a particular narrative.

That, I suspect, is because Sandy happened in an area that reporters know. Media folks found it easy to believe stories about New Orleans that they wouldn't believe about their own area. New Orleans is full of black people and southerners, two groups underrepresented in the national media. Manhattan, on the other hand, is familiar turf. Count on the press to give its own milieu a fairer shake.

Read the full thing.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How. DARE. You.

  • ||

    Im in ur media, confirmin ur biases.

  • Almanian_||

    I can haz teh horrir storeez now. lol wut?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Fucking Bush.

  • JW||

    I blame the Donger.

  • fish||

    Double martini, two orives preeze!

  • ||

    Alt text proposal: "Oh new style American girlfriend!!"

  • Specail Sauce||

    What was he wearing? Well, uh, let's see, he was wearing a red argyle sweater, and tan trousers, and red shoes...

    Hmm? No, he's not retarded.

  • Brandybuck||

    Christie is twice the man Obama is!

  • deified||

    That picture is invaluable for the official NJ statewide pastime of "Guess Christie's Weight."

    So, I'm seeing a guy who I figure is about 5'9". And... I would guess about 280lbs? People, you gonna help me or you just gonna sit there with your thumbs up your asses?

  • Russell||

    Same suspects at the Republican National Committee, same scientifically clueless response-

  • PapayaSF||

    I sacrificed my time to visit this website so that none of the rest of you need to. Boring troll is boring.

  • Almanian_||

    Bless you, papaya - a grateful commentariat appreciates your sacrifice

  • Fluffy||

    I know the media was more than happy to push a narrative where "Obama did it right this time", but I think the mechanics of the storm coverage made this worse.

    With Katrina, the major cable news networks knew exactly where the storm would hit, and stationed personnel literally right on top of the story. The news narrative really blew up in W's face because Shepherd Smith happened to be hanging out on that freeway overpass.

    If Wolf Blitzer was in Staten Island, you would have heard another story. But the media, both the national media and the New York media, was in Manhattan and that's all they gave a shit about. So the story was "Bloomberg has a really cool sign language interpreter!" and "Subways might be out for a while, oh well!"

  • John||

    New Orleans is a sexy place. Everyone loves to go to New Orleans. And the media loves to cover stories about exotic ghetto dwelling black people.

    No one goes to Staten Island or Queens. No one cares about or finds white middle class people interesting. Media snobbery definitely played a roll.

  • Metazoan||

    So the story was "Bloomberg has a really cool sign language interpreter!" and "Subways might be out for a while, oh well!"

    Well, in upper manhattan, that's pretty much how it was.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There is one lesson in this, and that's that you don't need obviously incompetent local leaders like Nagin and Blanco. Deceptively incompetent local leaders in New Jersey and New York can do just as inadequate a job.

    And there was another difference with Sandy that perhaps Reynolds overlooked. There is a D in the White House this time around. That may have something to do with differing press coverage. (Journalists are less overtly racist this time around, also, so I guess that's a plus.)

  • PapayaSF||

    Reynolds did not overlook that, he just chose not to mention it. Perhaps he thought it was obvious. It's clear from his blog that he knows that.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I want to be spoonfed it.

  • Almanian_||

    nom nom nom

  • NoVAHockey||

    The biggest difference that I can tell is that I have to look for coverage of what's going on in NY/NJ. Katrina was wall-to-wall coverage for a long time.

  • ||

    Next time, they could use christie to plug the Lincoln tunnel.

  • fish||

    Yeah...just seeing that photo makes me want to spend an extra hour on the elliptical.

  • Ska||

    It makes me want to hit up Five Guys.

  • Tim||

    It will come out that New York and Sandy were exchanging sexy emails and a jealous Staten Island told New Jersey, who was hot for Sandy too.

  • Brett L||

    You know, while I feel bad for most of the people affected by Sandy, I feel distinct schadenfraude at the people who thought Katrina and other storms were so devastating because a bunch of dumb hicks couldn't handle a little wind and water.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I feel distinct schadenfraude at the people who thought Katrina and other storms were so devastating because a bunch of dumb hicks couldn't handle a little wind and water.

    And other than the shadowy hobglobins tormenting your own mind, just who are those people? Because, I'm in the Northeast and I've never heard anyone say that about the people affected by Katrina.

    I guess haters gonna hate and shoulders gonna chip.

  • Brett L||

    haters gonna hate and shoulders gonna chip

    Well, there's no arguing with that logic.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The term is "intellectual checkmate", my friend.

  • nicole just can't even!||

    I had to explain "haters gonna hate" to my dad recently. He wasn't getting it. I finally said, "IT MEANS YOU'RE A HATER AND YOU'RE GONNA HATE."

    Sometimes people just don't understand...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Sometimes people just don't understand...

    Usually, those people are parents.

  • nicole just can't even!||

    Exactly!

  • Paul.||

    You go to school to learn, it's not a fashion show...

  • SugarFree||

    nicole, sending him this might help...

  • nicole just can't even!||

    Hahaha. Best thing ever was when he finally asked, after we'd been casually calling him "b" for years, what it stood for.

  • Almanian_||

    "My penis is so big it reaches from A - Z on the keyboard!"

    PWND

  • Ice Nine||

    We haven't seen such one-sided coverage of Sandy, where the press coverage of problems, though somewhat muted before the election, hasn't been marked by absurd rumors or ham-handed efforts to push a particular narrative. That, I suspect, is because Sandy happened in an area that reporters know.

    What? Actually, Glenn, that is because Sandy happened with a president that reporters blow.

  • ||

    New Orleans is full of black people and southerners, two groups underrepresented in the national media. Manhattan, on the other hand, is familiar turf. Count on the press to give its own milieu a fairer shake.

    Manhattan/NY has also seen several extreme disasters without things descending into pure chaos (9/11, the 2003 blackout). This is not to say that reporters' coverage of Katrina wasn't retarded, but it could explain why their coverage of Sandy is far less retarded. As someone who was actually there during 9/11, I can say that Manhattan stays pretty damn calm during things like that. Surprisingly so.

  • nicole just can't even!||

    As someone who was actually there during 9/11

    More stories! But have you seen a baby liger?!? (HT to whoever posted this in ML)

    On a more serious note, I think this is true, but I'm also seeing a ton of some pretty classic style name-and-shame reporting because they are on their home turf and know who to shame. Put on Anderson Cooper any night (at least until Petraeus hit) and it's "so and so still doesn't have such and such resource, HEY GOVERNMENT AGENT/COMPANY, WE'RE CNN, BRING THESE PEOPLE SHIT." And then the next night, they report on how it worked.

  • ||

    You NutraSweeted your link, nicole.

    The morning of 9/11 was interesting, to say the least. Dragging my then girlfriend out of bed because I had just seen a plane fly into the Trade Center was just the beginning.

  • nicole just can't even!||

    That is the second time Chrome has betrayed me. Fucking a.

  • ||

    OH MY GOD ADORABLE

  • Paul.||

    Wow, no shit. I must have one!

  • nicole just can't even!||

    I want the bear. I want the bear so. bad.

  • ||

    Ursine never beats feline. Besides, bear tastes like pork, while I doubt liger tastes good at all.

  • nicole just can't even!||

    I know. I should realize that since the liger doesn't have a mamma, it means I could toss it in the air instead of just being envious of the bear mamma doing that to her cub.

  • db||

    Awwwwwwww.

  • Restoras||

    After hovering over the link I was expecting something else.

  • Paul.||

    Adultery!

  • R C Dean||

    Technically, bestiality?

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    The morning of 9/11 was interesting, to say the least. Dragging my then girlfriend out of bed because I had just seen a plane fly into the Trade Center was just the beginning.

    A case of lousy timing on my part:

    I was on vacation that week and one of our kids barely 4 years old. She woke me up complaining the cartoon channel wasn't there. I figured she was just confused between home and at the beach. Nope, 100+ channels of burning skyscraper. All day. All night. All week. We went anywhere to get away from it. Bought dozens of DVDs. I burned myself to a crisp on the beach, even with shade.

    My poor co-workers mentioned it the next week and got to hear, "I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANOTHER F[ester]ING THING ABOUT SEPTEMBER 11TH!"

  • Killazontherun||

    Worked at American Express Travel Services at the time. I had to go into work that afternoon at 2:00 pm. I was drafted into being a contact point for Manhattan employees for the next several days. One of those days, probably the 12th, I had to inform Bridget Ann Esposito's best friend she didn't make it out of the building. Pretty brutal.

  • Tim||

    Thank goodness Shepard Paine wasn't out sobbing in the street this time.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I'm sorry, but to anyone who has been through a actual devastating hurricane, the pants shitting about SUPERSTORM SANDY (which wasn't even a hurricane upon landing) is fucking retarded.

  • Mo||

    This article really minimizes the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Katrina had a confirmed death toll of over 1,800. Sandy's death toll is about one-tenth that so far.

  • mr simple||

    Well, Katrina was a Cat 5 storm vs. the Cat 2 Sandy. That has to account for something.

  • Mo||

    I agree, but the larger magnitude makes things like dropping the ball on evacuation orders a bigger deal. When the consequences of a fuck up is an order of magnitude more bodies, people are going to notice.

  • fish||

    Shit...that's three extra cats!

  • WTF||

    Katrina made landfall in NO as a Category 3.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Katrina made landfall in NO as a Category 3.

    And Sandy made landfall in NJ as barely a Category 1. Can you imagine if they had caught one of the big 19th Century storms that hit that area?

  • mr simple||

    And Sandy made landfall (in New Jersey) as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds (Cat 1). Still a difference. It was the category 5 winds that destroyed the levees and Katrina didn't lose Hurricane status until around Meridian, Miss, after three landfalls still a 3. It a tropical storm through Tennessee, with remnants moving all the way to eastern Canada. That's going to cause damage and kill people.

  • WTF||

    Well, all I can say is thank Gos Obama stopped by for that photo op. Things got so much better after he did that.

  • WTF||

    Gos = God

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    So? The Japanese tsunami/earthquake/nuclear disaster had a death toll more than 10 times as big, but they didn't have looting and mayhem. Culture matters. The Japanese have a culture of preparing for disaster, they even take one day off each year to train in emergency preparedness.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Yeah, but that doesn't happen here. Except when it does.
    Then we stop making fun of our "Preppers" for a few weeks. After that they're back to being a bunch of "End Of The Worlders."

  • DJF||

    The biggest foul up is that idea that FEMA is going to rescue people, is going to get the power on, is going to clear the streets, is going to provide food and water. FEMA mostly hands out checks, mostly weeks or months after the disaster. Almost all the stuff done in the first weeks will be done by local people or utility contractors brought in from outside.

    As to the difference with Katrina, one big difference is that with the New York storm once the storm serge dropped most of the water went away, while in New Orleans they were sitting in a hole with no place for the water to go.

  • KDN||

    According to the X-Files, FEMA has enough resources to take over the US at a moment's notice. Forgive us if we assumed that a little disaster cleanup wasn't beyond their capabilities.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    FEMA couldn't clean up against the UN troops in a fair fight. No offense meant to FEMA. By law they are very restricted in when, where and what they can do.

  • Steve G||

    "Barack Obama doesn't like white people"
    - Kanye West

  • Steve G||

    *doesn't care about

    knew I shoulda quote checked myself first

  • John||

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/n.....00dkcJNTZN

    Obama is going to keep Holder over the advice of his advisers. Man Holder must really know where all the bodies are buried.

  • Killazontherun||

    He buried them.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    He buried them.

    THIS.

    Obama and Holder are in it together. If one goes down, they both go down.

  • DJF||

    He needs to keep Holder in case something like Fast and Furious gets some media attention. Then he can throw Holder under a bus and walk away and the media can proclaim that the story is over.

  • ||

    Yeah, why prematurely throw out the patsy?

  • jester||

    Storms present fantastic opportunity to leverage your assaulton political foes. Since storms are completely apolitical manifestations of randomness, they serve all the better as a tabula rasa palette to paint whatever narrative you want. Better yet, weather is science and Republicans are science deniers and Democratics are science boosters...seriously the retarded anti-science partisanship that goes on in the name of Poseidon would be laughable except that the Republican party is too ignorant to defend itself and in that pathetic way they get their just desserts and we, the tax paying public foot the bill.

  • Randian||

    cool story bro

  • Ken Shultz||

    Katrina also involved failures by FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bush Administration was late to respond, at one point blaming their tardy response, ridiculously, on the governor of Louisiana not asking for help.

  • John||

    It wasn't ridiculous at all. The governor didn't ask for help. And they couldn't do anything about it without basically declaring federal rule over Louisiana.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Sitting in my house, I could tell they needed help--and the governor never called me either.

  • John||

    It is not that simple. There are these things called laws.

  • Randian||

    Don't talk to Ken Shultz about laws! Just because something's illegal doesn't mean it isn't a good idea, John! George Bush shoulda DONE SOMETHING.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You're turning into a troll.

    A boring troll, but a troll.

  • DJF||

    So the President of the US in Washington should know better what is going on in Louisiana then the Governor of Louisiana who was in Louisiana?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Everybody watching at home on television knew they needed help.

    Sean Penn knew they needed help!

    And he's as dumb as a rock.

  • LarryA||

    What the president knew is irrelevant. Federal law prohibits the federal government from acting inside a state until the governor requests federal assistance.

    Any competent governor would have the forms downloaded, partially filled in, and in his disaster kit at the beginning of hurricane season.

    The forms should have been completed, signed, and in transit to DC (with backup copies by alternate means) about the time the storm made landfall.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Federal law doesn't prohibit the president from saving people who are drowning in a flood without food or shelter.

    And besides, since when did the Bush Administration let something being against federal law stop them from doing what they wanted to do?

  • Ken Shultz||

    The Bush Administration showed its profound incompetence there. It was so bad, it made the American people start wondering if they knew what they were doing in Iraq, too...

    That was the inflection point. That's when it really started to become okay to criticize the president during war time--for huge chunks of the American people. Before that, for a whole lot of people, it was only done reluctantly.

    If Bush hadn't seemed so painfully incompetent to so many people through that, who knows? We might not have ended up with Obama today! It's hard to say...

    Anyway, show me where the Army Corps and FEMA under built levies to almost guarantee flooding, and I'll start believing that this hurricane that hit New York and New Jersey is as bad as Katrina. Show me where the Obama Administration sat on its hands and waited for some idiot governor to tell him what to do--while we're all watching the breech in the levy on TV?! And I'll believe that this is as bad as Katrina.

    Barack Obama is a socialist, shit-eating aardvark, but that doesn't mean I have to pretend the response to this hurricane was as bad as Katrina.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Barack Obama has something he wants to tell you:

    http://tinyurl.com/c86mt6q

  • Thelma Lenore||

    If you want to educate yourself about what really went wrong with the Katrina effort you should read the Great Deluge. It is a very even handed book that assigns blame to fairly to pretty much every government agency involved.

    However, one thing that people don't realize is that geography made all relief efforts very difficult. Road access from the east was pretty much destroyed. I-10 and the Lake Ponchatrain bridge were impassable. I don't think most people realize those are the main arteries into the city.

  • R C Dean||

    I nice one-sentence summary of nearly every fallacy about what went wrong with Katrina. Thanks, Ken, well done.

  • Belgian||

    Jesus, Christie is a fat fuck. I knew he was a big dude, but damn. He should not ever wear track pants. Stick to suits, a good tailor can cover most of that up. He looks like Dr. Robotnik.

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