Friday, September 02, 2005

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

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.


Lisa M. said...

I can not comprehend it. It is so wide sweeping.

Thank you for the links.

Stephen said...

Another good link:

Stephen said...

The Plano Children's Medical Clinic's report from service:


Just wanted to give you an update. 106 people were seen at Plano Children's Medical Clinic today. We had doctors and nurses from the Plano hospitals as well as fire personnel triaging. The City of Plano did a great job getting the staging done so it went smoothly. There were lots of kids and it was fun to give them Barbies, Dolls, Trucks, Cars and Books. These kids have been through a lot but we did manage to get them to smile. The first bus that came through were mostly families, the second bus had a lot of small children on it with their families and the third bus had mostly older people on it. They had to transfer 3 people to the hospital.

Everything went as planned. One thing we did notice is that these people need socks and shoes. Many have had wet socks on for days. Their feet were in bad shape. We had a few kids who just had on diapers and some that had t-shirts that were 2 or 3 sizes too big. One thing for sure - they are all so grateful and thankful and they give great hugs!!!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for publishing this. I'm glad the LDS is rising to the occasion so magnificently. I've often thought if I were colonizing a pioneer world I'd want them along, at least as logistics advisors.

Pat from Ozarque's blog and the Bujold list.

Stephen said...

Stephen said...

See also:

Anonymous said...

Where to Point the Fingers
In less enlightened times there was no catastrophe independent of human agency. When the plague or some other natural disaster struck, witches were burned, Jews were massacred and all felt better (except the witches and Jews).

A few centuries later, our progressive thinkers have progressed not an inch. No fall of a sparrow on this planet is not attributed to sin and human perfidy. The three current favorites are: (1) global warming, (2) the war in Iraq and (3) tax cuts. Katrina hits and the unholy trinity is immediately invoked to damn sinner-in-chief George W. Bush.

This kind of stupidity merits no attention whatsoever, but I'll give it a paragraph. There is no relationship between global warming and the frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes. Period. The problem with the evacuation of New Orleans is not that National Guardsmen in Iraq could not get to New Orleans but that National Guardsmen in Louisiana did not get to New Orleans. As for the Bush tax cuts, administration budget requests for New Orleans flood control during the five Bush years exceed those of the five preceding Clinton years. The notion that the allegedly missing revenue would have been spent wisely by Congress, targeted precisely to the levees of New Orleans, and that the reconstruction would have been completed in time, is a threefold fallacy. The argument ends when you realize that, as The Washington Post noted, "the levees that failed were already completed projects."

Let's be clear. The author of this calamity was, first and foremost, Nature (or if you prefer, Nature's G-d). The suffering was augmented, aided and abetted in descending order of culpability by the following:

1. THE MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS. He knows the city. He knows the danger. He knows that during Hurricane Georges in 1998, the use of the Superdome was a disaster and fully two-thirds of residents never got out of the city!!!! Nothing was done. He declared a mandatory evacuation only 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit. He did not even declare a voluntary evacuation until the day before that, at 5 p.m. At that time, he explained that he needed to study his legal authority to call a mandatory evacuation and was hesitating to do so lest the city be sued by hotels and other businesses.

2. THE GOVERNOR. It's her job to call up the National Guard and get it to where it has to go. Where the Guard was in the first few days is a mystery. Indeed, she issued an authorization for the National Guard to commandeer school buses to evacuate people on Wednesday afternoon — more than two days after the hurricane hit and after much of the fleet had already drowned in its parking lots.

3. THE HEAD OF FEMA. Late, slow and in way over his head. On Thursday, Sept. 2, he said on national television that he didn't even know there were people in the convention center, when anybody watching television could see them there, destitute and desperate. Maybe in his vast bureaucracy he can assign three 20-year-olds to watch cable news and give him updates every hour on what in hell is going on.

4. THE PRESIDENT. Late, slow, and simply out of tune with the urgency and magnitude of the disaster. The second he heard that the levees had been breached in New Orleans, he should have canceled his schedule and addressed the country on national television to mobilize it both emotionally and physically to assist in the disaster. His flyover on the way to Washington was the worst possible symbolism. And his Friday visit was so tone-deaf and politically disastrous that he had to fly back three days later.

5. CONGRESS. Now as always playing holier-than-thou. Perhaps it might ask itself who created the Department of Homeland Security in the first place. The congressional response to all crises is the same — rearrange the bureaucratic boxes, but be sure to add one extra layer. The past four years of DHS have been spent principally on bureaucratic reorganization (and real estate) instead of, say, a workable plan for as predictable a disaster as a Gulf Coast hurricane.

6. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. They have made it impossible for any politician to make any responsible energy policy over the past 30 years — but that is a column for another day. Now is not the time for constructive suggestions. Now is the time for blame, recrimination and sheer astonishment. MAYOR RAY NAGIN HAS ANNOUNCED THAT, AS BODIES ARE STILL BEING FOUND AND A PUBLIC HEALTH CATASTROPHE DESCENDS UPON THE CITY, HE IS SENDING 60 PERCENT OF HIS OFFICERS FOR R&R, USING CITY FUNDS - MOST ARE GOING TO LAS VEGAS HOTELS. Asked if it was appropriate to party in these circumstances, he responded: "NEW ORLEANS IS A PARTY TOWN. GET OVER IT." |

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Stephen said...

Washington Post article: