New Orleans: Doomed

|

Here's this week's evidence.

A mock evacuation that was supposed to be part of a two-day statewide hurricane preparedness drill was canceled after a misunderstanding about who had jurisdiction over a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer park.

Reason's Hurricane Katrina analysis from the December 2005 issue is here. And in lieu of a real segue way, here's an amusing link.

NEXT: No Crap

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The worst thing that will ever come out Katrina is the domestic deployment of the military.

    I believe that’s the reason why the following scenario is palatable to the American public:

    It is going to be O.K. to delare Martial Law based on the slight chance that a disease that affects another, completely fucking different Taxonomy Class may, possibly, maybe, mutate to affect humans.

    *taktix starts taking canned goods down to the bomb shelter*

  2. I thought New Orleans was doomed because they re-elected Mayor Ray Nagin.

  3. Is it wrong that I’m hoping for a Cat5 to hit New Orleans head-on, scour out what’s left of the city completely, and put it out of my misery once and for all?

  4. It is hard to have much sympathy for New Orleans after they re-elect Nagin. Just think, another hurricane could hit this fall and it will be all the federal government’s (read federal tax payers’) fault. Just give them another 90 billion or so and everything will be just fine.

  5. “It is hard to have much sympathy for New Orleans after they re-elect Nagin”

    can’t tell you how many europeans have expressed that sentiment about the US in 2004…..

  6. The 31% of the country that still thinks George Bush is doing a hell of a job will never forgive Ray Nagin. The Republican Noise Machine put him squarely in their sites to deflect the bad press given to the White House, DHS, and FEMA in the aftermath of Katrina, but he’s still standing.

    As we saw with Bill Clinton, that is the unforgiveable thing.

  7. Well, Joe considering that 99% of what the press said about Katrina and New Orleans was an absolute lie, perhaps you might want to reconsider your view of Nagin. The post mortum on Katrina has pretty much been that the military and state national guard did fantastic jobs facing a huge disaster. It was Nagin and the city that didn’t have an evacuation plan, the State actually managed to evauate over a million people from other parts of Louisianna, it was the city police who were asleep at the switch, not the National Guard. All of this of course will never get any attention in the national media because they were too busy talking about 10,000 deaths and baby rapes in the Superdome.

    “can’t tell you how many europeans have expressed that sentiment about the US in 2004…..”

    Considering that Europe has an out of control Muslim population, 12% unemployment, low growth, an EU constitution that no one will approve, no military power to speak of, non-replacement birthrates and is increasingly irrelevent in the world compared to real powers like the U.S., China and India, exactly who should be sympathetic to whom?

  8. can’t tell you how many europeans have expressed that sentiment about the US in 2004…..

    Of course, we’re not asking the Europeans for nine-figure bailouts, either.

    I was really hoping Rita would whack New Orleans last year, just to drive home the lesson that trying to rebuild it “as was” is idiocy.

    Since NO will get whacked again, the sooner the better, before more money gets wasted there and more lives get put at risk. Put me down for $20 in the Cat 5 for NO in 2006 column.

  9. Nagin: Crappy Mayor
    Blanco: Crappy Governor
    FEMA: Crappy, useless federal agency

    I think that about sums it up with respect to Katrina response.

  10. Say, so long as we’re on the subject, can anybody find that news story or any mention of those survivors/evacuee. being turned back by those hick cops, and getting their fresh water stolen to boot? I’ve been searching for a while and I can’t find mention of this.

  11. glad to see you missed the point.

    you still understand that the CH isn’t in the EU, right? (you can look up what “CH” is, since you probably don’t know)

    it’s just funny watching the misunderstood uber nationalists get all uppity about “they deserved what they get” when it comes to voting. when they can’t take the same comment about their choices.

    so there. neener.

  12. Is that Switzerland by any chance?

  13. As long as we keep around a stupid federal agency to bail them out, why not keep rebuilding over and over again? It’s so fair to have people in Missouri and North Dakota help finance their lack of disaster preparedness.

  14. If only we could get the right people in office.

  15. John,

    Could you remind me again what my view of Ray Nagin is? Because I didn’t venture an opinion about him.

    A worse case of ‘liberal in your head disease’ I’ve never seen.

  16. Nagin is the peanut in the chocolate.

  17. But who is the lime in the coconut?

  18. Actually, joe, I had the impression that you were supporting Nagin, too. Do you think otherwise? Personally, I think he’s a tool 🙂

  19. Considering that Europe has an out of control Muslim population

    Tells us what you really think, John.

  20. Don’t let joe fool ya. He’s been arguing that the responsibility for disaster preparedness lies with national agencies headquartered in DC the whole time. See, joe’s a firm believer in central planning and that the job of gov’t is to swoop in and correct all problems everywhere. As centrally planned and centrally executed by experts like him.

    Funny thing is, in 2001 when I was taking part in disaster preparedness exercises in Shreveport, Louisiana (near the Texas border) their plan explicitly stated that they (the locals) didn’t expect FEMA or even THEIR OWN STATE’S National Guard to swoop in for at least the first 72 hours.

    If Shreveport, with its miniscule resources (compared to NOLA),is planning to handle everything from an Ebola outbreak to a natural disaster on their own for the first three days, why do would the NOLA locals expect instantaneous response from federal troops and FEMA?

    It wouldn’t have anything to do with the city’s storied tradition of corruption, graft and incompetence, surely.

    Why do I also get the feeling that if this had happened under a Democratic president, joe would be the one trotting out documents that show the locals are responsible for hte 1st 3 days of disaster response?

  21. John is being generous giving national media a 1% accuracy rating.

    Y’all still forget the enormous size of Katrina when distributing blame. Some problems are bigger than even the best combination of market and state to solve in a few days. And, please, don’t forget to blame (or at least hold responsible) the bulk of people who were wilfully ignorant and did nothing to get themselves out of town. You see the pictures of flooded buses; you don’t seem to notice the 20,000 autos that weren’t used either.

    For all the carping about Nagin, can you see that his experience has taught him things? No longer offering a “refuge of last resort” drives home the importance of finding a way out yourself.

    Hell, the FEMA story is a ray of hope. The more people see that government is not capable of saving them, the more independent they might become.

    76: Are you thinking of the humans stopped on the Chocolate City Connection by the Gretna police?

  22. Yeah, FEMA sucks. That’s not a new observation. As a Floridian, I can tell you that from personal experience. Still, I’d never heard anyone suggest that the federal government had the degree of responsibility for the handling of natural disasters imputed to it today until it became politically expedient for some people to do so. I didn’t blame Clinton for the hurricanes of the 90s, nor did I blame him for the evil practices of FEMA at the time.

    Frankly, this willingness to swallow every meme thrown at them is one reason the left disturbs me slightly more than the right. Though the right can do more damage these days, with its lockhold on power, and the left’s increasingly wacko beliefs may make that hold even stronger. Despite the GOP’s frequent suicide attempts over the last few years.

  23. Evacuation should be privatized. If rats had a government they would all die on the sinking ship.

  24. Yo Dogzilla!

    What would your privately run evacuation service have done about the thousands of folks in the Superdome who couldn’t afford to pay for a ride out of town?

    And why not privatize flood control while you’re at it? Everyone could build a 25-ft. high wall around their property, and those who didn’t would be left to drown.

    That should please SR, RC Dean, Todd, and the rest of the “Fuck New Orleans” crowd.

  25. Expect government to rescue you from the pathetic position of being under sea level, in the path of a hurricane, and without enough money to get out of the way–and you see the results. Apparently the residents of NO don’t expect any better, having re-elected Nagin.
    And your idea about privatizing flood control–brilliant! I pay $30 bucks a month to my HA and all they do is pick up trash.

  26. I don’t understand why bloggers who are so inclined to take every piece of news with a huge grain of salt, automaticly jump all over anything negative about Katrina, New Orleans or Nagin without even questioning it. Assumptions and connections are routinely made based on absolutely nothing. As an example I would like to point out that ?evidence? that your headline is based on is referring to a FEMA site in Baker, LA. That is almost 2 hours north of New Orleans. The New Orleans drill is proceding on schedule.

    John, you are absolutely correct about the Press but then you seem to be playing the misinformation game yourself. 90% of the population of New Orleans evacuated. Somewhere between 1.2-1.8 million people left the region in roughly 40 hours (the time when LA/MS was first included in the strike cone to the time when the highways started closing). The State police (not the city police) do evacuations because, by nature, they are multi-jurisdictional. I could go on but the other points are pretty minor.

    The complete evacuation of a major urban area was an unprecedented event in modern American history. While government should make a better effort to evacuate those who have no means on their own either for physical or financial limitations the vast majority of people who stayed in New Orleans did so of their own accord. At the time Katrina hit the city roughly 10,000 people were sheltered at dome. The superdome was established as the shelter of last resort where municipally owned buses picked people up and brought them there as part of the vertical evacuation plan. The purpose of that shelter was to give people a place to escape the floodwaters in the event of flooding. In that respect it did serve its purpose. At the time of the evacuation there was not adequate shelter facility outside of the affected areas to accommodate the total populace of New Orleans. There was no one at the convention center during the storm. The thousands of people who arrived at the dome, the convention center and freeway overpasses after Katrina passed, either of their own accord or delivered by rescuers, all had chosen to ride the storm out at their own homes or other places of their choosing. That includes everyone seen in video coverage at the convention center. The streets of New Orleans, to this day, are littered with flooded cars with the combined capacity that way exceeds that of municipal and school buses. Admittedly, the concept of vertical evacuation in hindsight was not the most appropriate remedy for a situation like New Orleans but no one accounted for the levee failures and the lack of outside federal response in the immediate period after the storm. The greatest failure in the evacuation of New Orleans and in fact all of Southeast Louisiana was a failing on both the public and private sector to accommodate the elderly and infirm in hospitals and nursing home facilities. Much attention and diligence should be paid to make sure that these types of tragedies don’t happen again. That said, each individual and family should be prepared to provide for their own safety and security without overburdening always limited government recourses. This goes for citizens in hurricane prone areas as well as anyone living in a location that may be subject to natural disaster. The same is also true in preparedness for any potential terrorist threat. Even at this date I would challenge any other metropolitan area in the county to have the foresight and logistical experience to manage such an overwhelming threat of public safety.

    Many of you are commenting on the re-election of Nagin. For once, New Orleanians chose honesty over corruption and Louisiana politics as usual. If federal funds ever do arrive we will all be thankful that choice was made. Landrieu outspent Nagin on this campaign by a factor of eight. Money was coming in, not as donations, but as INVESTMENTS because the good ol’ boy network is still in place, and there is little doubt that Landreiu would have awarded contracts accordingly. Of course Nagin has made mistakes and should wear some sort of a muzzle to keep some of his comments in check. To be honest, I did not vote for Nagin. Personally, I thought that having someone more experienced in the politial game would be worth the resurgence of corruption in City Hall. That being said, I am not distraught over his election in the least. I was very pleased with his performance before Katrina and hope to see him find our path back again.

    To those of you opposed to the reconstruction of New Orleans ? I will refer to the following?.

    http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.23951/pub_detail.asp
    Why New Orleans Needs Saving

    ??New Orleans is the busiest port in the U.S.; 20% of all U.S. exports, and 60% of our grain exports, pass through it. Offshore Louisiana oil and gas wells supply 20% of domestic oil production. But to service that industry, canals and pipelines were dug through the land, greatly accelerating the washing away of coastal Louisiana. The state’s land loss now totals 1,900 sq. mi. That land once protected the entire region from hurricanes by acting as a sponge to soak up storm surges. If nothing is done, in the foreseeable future an additional 700 sq. mi. will disappear, putting at risk port facilities and all the energy-producing infrastructure in the Gulf.
    There is no debate about the reality of that land loss and its impact. On that the energy industry and environmentalists agree. There is also no doubt about the solution. Chip Groat, a former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, says, “This land loss can be managed, and New Orleans can be protected, even with projected sea-level rise.” Category 5 hurricane protection for the region, including coastal restoration, storm-surge barriers and improved levees, would cost about $40 billion–over 30 years. Compare that with the cost to the economy of less international competitiveness (the result of increased freight charges stemming from loss of the efficiencies of the port of New Orleans), higher energy prices and more vulnerable energy supplies. Compare that with the cost of rebuilding the energy and port infrastructure elsewhere. Compare that with the fact that in the past two years, we have spent more to rebuild Iraq’s wetlands than Louisiana’s. National interest requires this restoration. Our energy needs alone require it. Yet the White House proposes spending only $100 million for coastal restoration.
    Washington also has a moral burden. It was the Federal Government’s responsibility to build levees that worked, and its failure to do so ultimately led to New Orleans’ being flooded. The White House recognized that responsibility when it proposed an additional $4.2 billion for housing in New Orleans, but the first priority remains flood control. Without it, individuals will hesitate to rebuild, and lenders will decline to invest.
    How should flood control be paid for? States get 50% of the tax revenues paid to the Federal Government from oil and gas produced on federally owned land. States justify that by arguing that the energy production puts strains on their infrastructure and environment. Louisiana gets no share of the tax revenue from the oil and gas production on the outer continental shelf. Yet that production puts an infinitely greater burden on it than energy production from other federal territory puts on any other state. If we treat Louisiana the same as other states and give it the same share of tax revenue that other states receive, it will need no other help from the government to protect itself. Every day’s delay makes it harder to rebuild the city. It is time to act. It is well past time.?

  27. “Don’t let joe fool ya. He’s been arguing that the responsibility for disaster preparedness lies with national agencies headquartered in DC the whole time. See, joe’s a firm believer in central planning and that the job of gov’t is to swoop in and correct all problems everywhere.”

    Because, you see, local and state governments aren’t really governments, and don’t engage in central planning.

    “why do would the NOLA locals expect instantaneous response from federal troops and FEMA?” Actually, it was five days after the storm hit that Michael Chertoff yelled at a reporter, live and on the air, for “spreading false rumors” by telling him that there were people without food and water in the Convention Center. Nice strawman with the “instantaneous” there, rob.

    Anyway, this has nothing to do with Ray Nagin, either. But thanks for proving my point about conservatives needing to hate on Ray Nagin because of the bad press the federal response brought down on King George.

  28. joe – Two questions for you…

    1) In what universe would I qualify as a conservative? This must be the famed “conservative in your head” you’re always arguing with.

    2) When you say that “local and state governments aren’t really governments, and don’t engage in central planning” you’re just trying to dodge the fact that you have yet to see a plan that consolidates power in the most central place possible that you didn’t like… In the Katrina case, that’s the federal gov’t – but you’ll just as gladly centralize zoning laws to the state or local gov’t if it’s a step closer to centralization than what currently exists.

    “Actually, it was five days after the storm hit that Michael Chertoff yelled at a reporter, live and on the air, for ‘spreading false rumors’ by telling him that there were people without food and water in the Convention Center.” – joe

    WOW. 5 whole days? Yep, every single person in New Orleans should have been taken care of within that time frame by the federal gov’t, right? Yeah, because the first 3 days of failure by the state and local gov’t wasn’t responsible for the dire straits that those folks were in? I’m afraid your partisan blinders are affecting your vision again.

    joe, you’re a gov’t guy – how long would you estimate it would take to get the Feds in position to do your job if all standard modes of transportation were taken out by a hurricane? How well would they do your job for the first couple of weeks?

    As long as people like joe believe that the federal gov’t has magical powers to solve any crisis, people will continue to get screwed. As long as they rely on their state and local gov’ts (staffed by guys like joe who think that their job should really be handled by the feds) people will still get screwed.

    I’m not “hating on” Nagin any more than I’m hating on Blanco or the most ridiculous guy of the bunch, Brown. And I’m not the guy to turn to defend Bush’s appointment of Brown – it was a high water point for nepotism.

    The bottom line: Trust the gov’t, get screwed. But if you think the Feds can handle your emergency better than the locals SHOULD be able to, you’re even more delusional than the guy who relies on the local/state gov’t to save them.

    BTW, if the locals don’t tell the Feds that the folks they located at the Convention Center are in dire straits, the only way the Feds are likely to find out is via the media. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who understands how this stuff is SUPPOSED to work, or that a gov’t organization might not know about something that another gov’t organization failed to pass on.

  29. Jaime: Yeah, you right!

    I liked Boulet, but Nagin seems the right man for this job right now.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.