Five O'Clock Somewhere

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Friday, September 02, 2005

What a hurricane can do

Gradually, we’re learning more about how totally devastating Hurricane Katrina has been. We’re seeing images on the television, and we’re getting reports in the newspaper. We’re hearing scary statistics, such as that there are a half-million people who have been left homeless in New Orleans alone, and even more in Gulfport and Biloxi and many other places.

Many of us may be directly affected, or know someone who is. Two of my students in my Thursday evening class have family in the affected areas; one has been able to communicate via cell-phone text-messaging and has found out that all of her relatives are alive, but they have all lost their homes; the other hasn’t been able to make contact and doesn’t know whether her family is dead or alive.

New Orleans itself is especially hard-hit. There’s almost no way to get food and water and other important supplies in, and there’s almost no way to get people out. And once the people get out, there’s the question of where to put them. Texas and Texans, bless them, have been as generous as only Texans can be, providing refuge for the refugees and help for the helpless. And many people from many other states and all over the world have been providing help. But the needs are so overwhelming.

I have a link here that shows a whole lot about the devastation in New Orleans.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jomatt/sets/863536/

Yes, I lived through a hurricane, but Alicia was a mere Category 3, and by the time it got to where I lived in Houston, it was Category 2. It was scary, and at the time, it was the hurricane that caused the most dollar-value damage ever – the first hurricane to exceed a billion dollars. Alicia wasn’t anything like Katrina. After Alicia, there was a week or two of repairs, and Houston was up and running again.

Katrina’s effects will be around forever.

5 Comments:

Blogger Pat said...

I posted something on http://desertsea.blogspot.com that just might offend a few folks who might be in need of offending. Certainly the Tejanos are doing a great job of being good neighbors.


One little example -- Rice University in Houston is "adopting" Tulane students. "Green Wavers" who caught chased out by the deluge can take, on a space-available basis, Rice classes at no additonal cost this fall.

Fri Sep 02, 11:39:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

_got_ chased out

Fri Sep 02, 11:39:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

One of the ways in which the powers-that-be in New Orleans failed the citizens, especially the lower-income citizens, was the "plan" for dealing with a hurricane. People who had cars, or who had money to by plane or bus tickets out of town, would evacuate, but those who didn't have a car or the money to purchase a ticket out of town were to go to multi-story buildings and get on an upper floor. That was the extent of the plan. There were no arrangments to have food or water or other necessities available. That strikes me as most thoroughly irresponsible -- if the plan is that people are to stay in the city, shouldn't the plan also include arrangements for those people to have supplies for survival?

I think back to the days of the Cold War, when all families had assigned space in fallout shelters, which were stocked with sufficient supplies that, in the event of a nuclear attack, all of the people assigned to a particular shelter would have enough food and water to last until the radiation subsided.

Admittedly, that system fell into disrepair long before the Cold War ended, but it did have a secondary effect of providing excellent storm shelters in Oklahoma and Kansas and other places where tornados are a problem. I would guess that the fallout shelters saved hundreds, possibly thousands, of lives in Tornado Alley by giving them a good place to take shelter.

Yes, now those fallout shelters are pretty much a thing of the past, and whatever food and water is stored in them is a half-century old and probably not in terribly good condition. In addition, in New Orleans, those shelters might have been flooded. But what would it take to have a similarly equipped shelter system, including a good store of food and water, in case of hurricanes rather than nuclear war?

And before the hurricane hit, what would it have taken to get at least some of the lower-income out of the city? Might the city have some buses, or senior-citizen-center vans, or other vehicles, with which the poor folk might have been transported to safety?

Sat Sep 03, 02:00:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

Carol Anne now has a NOLA hurricane Katrina survivor among her students.

New Orleans had about 1,000 city and school buses. Most of them sat in their parking lots as the hurricane approached. None of them were used to evacuate people outside the city -- until after the hurricane when one of them was commandeered by a survivor to drive other survivors to Houston. The city of New Orleans did nothing to evacuate medically fragile people to suitable places or to provide anything like adequate supplies or staff in any of the "shelters of last resort". The mayor of NOLA hemmed and hawed and didn't issue the evacuation order until the storm was knocking on the coast. The city cared so little about it's poor and fragile citizens that it told them to head for the attics and hope for the best.

After the disaster hit, the mayor and his friends then had the gall to pretend to be blameless and bitterly critized the president and federal administration in a vituperative attack with unprovable and unwarranted accusations of racism.

That's worse than merely passing the buck and biting the hand that's feeding them. It's more the mark of a desperate degenerate who hopes to focus blame elsewhere to obscure his own guilt.

The federal relief effort had its problems, but to criticize it and ignore local failures is self-serving and hugely irresponsible.

And, a lot of help that tried to come to the rescue was delayed, not only by federal agency bungling and stupidity, but also by sniper fire from armed NOLA thugs who weren't restrained by local authorities. Apparently, a few of NOLA's finest (police) were among the looters and others simply deserted the force, leaving a much-overworked remnant of officers to try to police the streets in spite of having no provisions made by local officials to provide any support for them.

NOLA's leaders claimed they didn't have money to evacuate folks, buy water for their shelters, or even a porta-potti for the cops, etc. Never mind the fact that they have money rolling in by the ton from one of the country's biggest tourism industries, hotels, casinos, bourbon street, conventions, cruise ships, superdome, etc. Never mind all the money that comes in from having one of the most important ports in the nation and extensive petrochemical processing.

Maybe the money got diverted somewhere so it wasn't available to take care of the people that this boss hawg and his cronies claimed to love so dearly?

FEMA has done enough stupid, clumsy, obstructive, bureaucratic, boneheaded things to be criticized on its actual merits and demerits without being sniped at by out-of-control, rabid partisans and venal politicians who see an opportunity to score points while corpses float through the poisoned waters.

These people disgust me almost as much as the armed looters who merrily piled up tv sets in their homes in between shooting at rescuers. The only real difference is that the political thugs were using the news media instead of bullets.

Fri Sep 09, 01:32:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Don't forget Arkansas in adopting their neighbors. Our state schools are igonoring out of state tuition to folks from LA, MS and now TX. Little Rock and North Little Rock have opened most churches and any shelter to folks.
Conway has a one stop shopping shelter where folks can come in an get health checkups, education or job leads, family searches, supplies, housing leads and so on.
It is incredable the amount of people that no longer have a home.

Tue Sep 27, 10:44:00 AM MDT  

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