Time will pass, but I thought I would link to three discussions of the current disaster:
The shock and outrage over New Orleans' post-Katrina woes reminds me of that experience--and not just because of the chaos. What's just as striking to me is the unique scrutiny to which the local, regional and national disaster response infrastructure is suddenly being subjected. Thirteen years ago, when Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida to the tune of 25 billion dollars, a quarter of a million people were left homeless, and over a million stranded without power--a quarter-million of them for over a week--as looters ran rampant and government personnel at all levels struggled to maintain order and care for the victims. But I don't remember a national outpouring of fury at the authorities' slow and imperfect response to that disaster. (In fact, compared with the police failures during the LA riots earlier that year, the response to Hurricane Andrew was a model of smooth efficiency.) Rather, the nation's attention focused on the (largely private, charitable) relief effort, as millions in donations were raised to help the victims recover.
Then, for the other side Over the past few years in particular, a lot of money and thought was supposed to have been devoted to planning for rapid response to large-scale urban disasters in the wake of 9/11. While authorities in Louisiana and New Orleans are not as powerful as the Feds, they have known for years that a disaster of this kind was likely and were told in detail what it would do to their city. And yet. The reports of what’s happening convey little except how poorly-prepared, ill-coordinated and slow-moving the disaster response is. As Mark Kleiman comments, failing to plan is planning to fail. Kevin Drum provides a demoralizing chronology explaining why FEMA is being run by people with no experience in disaster management.
Finally, from someone who actually had a spouse there:
Also, the latest update from my husband, who's still helping at the temporary hospital at the New Orleans Airport: They were completely overwhelmed with patients on Wednesday, never less than 15-20 ambulances waiting in a line to unload patients, 2-3 helicopters at a time, too. More medical teams arrived on Thursday, and there have been national guard there to help keep everyone safe, so things started to get under control. The forestry service arrived Thursday night/Friday morning and set up one of their base of operations for the emergency workers, so they now have beds and showers and meals being prepared for them, which is helping morale a LOT. And what a coincidence, that things started to get under control about 72 hours after the disaster...
I'm just reading about it all, and very sad for everyone.
//////////////////// btw, what the LDS Church is currently doing /////////////
Storehouses Continue to Send Supplies to Hurricane Katrina Victims
By Nicole Seymour, Church Magazines
Two additional truckloads of humanitarian aid for Hurricane Katrina's hardest-hit areas along the Gulf coast are on their way from the Bishops' Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City. The semi-trucks, loaded Wednesday, are filled with supplies necessary to sustain the lives of Hurricane Katrina refugees. The cargo includes tents, sleeping bags, bottles of drinking water, and five-gallon gas containers. Meanwhile, Church meetinghouses across the Southeast continue to be used as emergency shelters. One meetinghouse in Metairie, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb, served as an American Red Cross Shelter and a destination for carloads of the state's refugee families, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report.
At a press conference addressing the Church's ongoing role in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Kevin Nield, director of Bishops' Storehouse Services, said the Church would continue to meet the needs of Church members and other community members who are seeking refuge.
Brother Nield, who has played a significant role in the management of the Church's response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, said a sufficient supply of drinking water is most essential. He said more water is in demand because of the potential for disease in local water supplies and also because thirst is greater than hunger among evacuees who are, to an extent, in shock. Brother Nield also said the five-gallon gas containers will serve as fuel tanks for generators and chain saws.
As 14 other trucks from the large central warehouse in Salt Lake have arrived or are near arrival among Hurricane Katrina evacuees, food, hygiene kits, and other emergency supplies preceded the latest shipment. Central bishops' storehouses in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia are sending vehicles and supplies to the hurricane victims. Brother Nield said some trucking companies are teaming up with the Church to help the regional storehouses to haul goods; some even contribute to the supply of aid. “It could be a bishops' storehouse in Slidell, Louisiana or it could be a chapel in Biloxi, Mississippi,” Brother Nield said. “It depends where the need is and the kind of requests that come forward.” He said the most urgent need is in the areas the media indicate: New Orleans, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi.
Volunteers from stakes neighboring the disaster are ready and waiting to help, Brother Nield said. “At the appropriate time, members will go in to help: to clean up and fix up and do what recovery could be done early on,” he said. “But again, it is too early in the assessment part of this whole process to know where they will be most needed and what they will be doing.” (For information about how to help with hurricane relief, visit www.providentliving.org).
Even though relief efforts are ongoing, the death toll continues to rise. New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, said Wednesday that he estimates the number of storm-related fatalities for his city to be at least in the hundreds, but more likely in the thousands. New Orleans has ironically flooded further in the wake of the storm because much of the city is below sea level. Eighty percent of the city is submerged because of the broken levees on neighboring, Lake Pontchartrain. To the east, Mississippi has a death count of 110; Alabama, 2; and Florida, 11—all victims of Hurricane Katrina. Also in the aftermath of the storm, 2.3 million people across the Southeast have been without electricity.
Federal officials have weighed-in on the disaster. Wednesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, who is a member of the Church, declared a public health emergency. Because of standing water in many areas, the threat of diseases such as typhoid and cholera is apparent. Leavitt said more medical personnel would be present in the hardest hit areas to counter the spread of disease.
Another good link: the other side of the story, still unimpressed with FEMA
Even better, Julie M. Smith's comments at Times and Seasons.
Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.
The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. . . Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said. consider it vis a vis this link cafe express.
BTW, for more on the head of FEMA how he lost his last job.
Finally, some blog thoughts on rebuilding, etc. New Orleans will be the New Orleans of the rebuilders.