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September 01, 2005

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"At least seven bodies were scattered outside, and hungry, desperate people who were tired of waiting broke through the steel doors to a food service entrance and began pushing out pallets of water and juice and whatever else they could find"

Just heard Scotty at the gaggle say that adequate supplies of food and water were available, and the President stands by his warnings to looters.

I think Shephard Smith of FNC may retire young. He is standing on I-10 watching people die right beside him. Heard Hume ask Smith about supplies. Smith:"Been here for four days, haven't seen one bottle of water."

Now I think we might really see water-based disease outbreaks. I'd hoped that it could be avoided. This is terrible.

water-borne.

"Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic orders?"

This livejournal is pretty horrific. It was via Brad DeLong, who also has this list of posts that are horrific in their own way.

Eric Muller has some links to the new shoot the looters meme.

A bit more cheery is this post about surrounding communities, with an unfortunately bitter aftertaste at the end.

From the AP article:

In a sign of growing lawlessness, Tenet HealthCare Corp. asked authorities late Wednesday to help evacuate a fully functioning hospital in Gretna after a supply truck carrying food, water and medical supplies was held up at gunpoint.

Unbelievable.

"You can do everything for other countries but you can't do nothing for your own people. You can go overseas with the military but you can't get them down here."
47 year old Daniel Edwards is obviously human filth and a malignancy to be utterly crushed.

I keep thinking of stories from people aboard ships in the Atlantic the night the Titanic sank. They said they could hear the screams from miles away - sound carries quite a distance on water - but they couldn't do anything about it.

We're watching one of our oldest, most beloved, most culturally-important cities die... for lack of luck made worse by lack of planning, and lack of funds to complete the projects that were planned.

And, other than give money to relief agencies, there's nothing we can do.

John Cole over at balloon-juice has made a pledge worth emulating. He's not only donating now, he'd going to donate out of every paycheck through the end of the year.


Folks, this is what life looks like when government fails. When government has been allowed to fail. When government has been intentionally set up to fail.

First Norquist wanted to drown government in the bathtub.

Then he got his wish in Iraq. Lawlessness, chaos, the rule of the gun. Private actors ripping off billions; poor individuals left without any safety net.

Now he is getting his wish in New Orleans.

This is what it looks like after small-government zealots, government-hating zealots, are allowed to take over the government.

And don't forget:

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"

Well, no fear of that in New Orleans right now. Reagan and his tax-cutting spawn made sure of that.

The four levels of hell of the Superdome.

Somebody explain to me how cases of bottled water couldn't have been stockpiled & made available to be parachuted in.

via Brad deLong:

Posted by Marty Schwimmer :

After CNN reported today that helicopters were diverted from plugging the levee breach on Tuesday, in order to rescue individuals on rooftops, I wondered what is involved in securing sufficient helicopters in a national emergency.

It took me two minutes of Googling to identify the Erickson Air Crane Company and obtain their email address and phone number. The Air Crane is one of the most powerful helicopters in the world (used for lifting trucks and putting out fires, for example).

I emailed them today asking if anyone had contacted them about the levee. They replied immediately that while they had put out the word to government entities, and while they are a DOD-listed contractor, they had not been contacted by any Government entity as of Wednesday evening.

The levee broke on Monday night. I assume that a governor, or a general, or maybe a President would have gotten the CEO of this company (and other companies like them) on the phone and said "get over there ASAP."

From Gary's link:

"With no hand-washing, and all the excrement," said Sgt. Debra Williams, who was staffing the infirmary in the adjacent sports arena, "you have about four days until dysentery sets in. And it's been four days today."
That's inside the shelter.

It's the gun thing that bothers me. You know, besides all the other stuff.

Radical libertarians (none here at Obsidians, that I know of, but courted assiduously by Norquist and company) first arm the citizenry and then when the citizenry turns, guns-blazing, radical libertarians learn to love the martial power of government over its citizenry, whom the government is supposed to protect but whom has had it knocked into their skulls that expecting protection from the government is a faintly pink thing, to be resisted, perhaps at the point of a gun, or demanded, perhaps at the point of a gun.

It's peculiar.

I hope things get better. A Federal employee friend and others are headed for New Orleans with FEMA, to watch the private contractors interact with the citizenry.

No further comment from me on this subject until things get better. I am now speechless about the unspeakable.

From Gary's link:

Glenn Martes, 13, had no plan, either, but he has a quick eye. As his family waded toward the Superdome from their destroyed home two days ago, he grabbed a football floating by, "something to calm your nerves," he said.

Inside on Wednesday, he was going long to try to catch a pass from Perrance Williams, 17, whose chest muscles gleamed under the generator lights on the field.

Williams looked good down there, as if a scout might be watching from the stands. "I play in the projects," he said. He never thought he'd be playing in the Superdome, but there he was.

Dignity in the face of suffering. It's enough to make one weep.

sorry--I hope it's clear that that last post was *entirely* a quote from Schwimmer, and that the "I" in it does not refer to me.

Wait a minute...I thought "An armed society is a polite society"

Wait a minute...I thought "An armed society is a polite society"

That is only true when there is a significant chance of the other side shooting back.

Like under circumstances where there's a decent chance that anyone else present may also have just looted a gun. Oh. Still doesn't work, you say?

The water and contaminants are a long-term problem.

"That is only true when ...."

No, it is simply never true. When the other side is likely to shoot back, a few losers stay polite, and everyone else shoots first, shoots more, shoots in the back, and buys more guns.

Look, "An armed society is a polite society" was always a stupid idea. It never had more than a 15-second, dorm-room plausibility to it. It has all the a priori splendor of saying "yeah, if there were no money then we'd get everything, like, for *free*, man".

There has never been a society that was polite merely in virtue of being armed to the teeth, or more polite because more heavily armed, or less polite because less heavily-armed.

We have had plenty of experience with armed societies, in Iraq, in Yemen, and elsewhere, and the results are in: this canard cannot be defended by appealing to special circumstances, it is just false through and through.

Ouch!

I just heard the President at the press conference announcing Bush Sr. and Clinton will spearhead a fundraising effort say:

If you don't need gasoline don't buy any.

That had to hurt.

Yes, yes, Evil, Evil Guns Are Evil, blah blah blah. Meanwhile, a disarmed society is a cowed, manipulatable society, and might not be all that polite either. People in the UK and Australia certainly still find creative ways to maim each other regularly.

Please tell me my fellow ObWiers, who I KNOW are smarter than that, aren't viewing the aftermath of a natural disaster and the attendant social chaos as a data point for gun control. Please.

The lack of leadership from our President over the last week has me speechless.


"That is only true when there is a significant chance of the other side shooting back"

I can tell a quip when I hear or see one.

But it might be true. Those guns are the only thing standing between me and murder, pillage and rapine. I'm so disincentivized.

It's hard not to let the thought drift idly through my head that if this were happening in, say, England, rescue efforts wouldn't be being disrupted by sniper fire.

Of course, taking into account that N.O. has got one of the highest homicide rates of any US city probably wouldn't hurt, either.

I don't think wild West towns were notable for their civility. Some, in order to improve the levels of civilized behavior, required everyone to turn their guns into the sheriff, or leave town. ABilene, for example.
God, I feel so sorry for those folks stck there. It's turning into Lord of the Flies.

Phil--

I'm not against guns. I don't think guns are evil. I have used and owned them. And I don't think society should be "disarmed".

But for all that, I don't like superficial cant, and "an armed society is a polite society" is superficial cant.

I agree with you that what is happening now in New Orleans does not provide much new data to advance or clarify debates over gun control. But *anything* would provide more data than a simple-minded a priori bumper-sticker slogan like "an armed society is a polite society".

And by the way--somebody train a gun on John Thullen--he's clearly in need of forcible restraint.

If I missed a quip from Mr. Holsclaw, and reacted disproportionately, then I apologize--marks off for my sense of humor.

Fair enough, Tad. I, on the other hand, have never owned a gun and have shot them perhaps twice, decades ago. I just don't want to see a silly tangent develop over it, so I thought I'd try to head it off at the pass.

FEMA's pulling out; the Army's moving in. For some reason, the technology to simply airlift food and water to the city is beyond our government's capacity.

Jesus H. Christ, it's a good thing Bush wasn't in office during the late 1940's, or West Berlin would have died in its cradle.

Of course, taking into account that N.O. has got one of the highest homicide rates of any US city probably wouldn't hurt, either.

This makes me worry about #3 on that 2001 worst-case scenario disaster list, my beloved Bay Area. San Franciscans are rather unlikely to shoot each other, but across the bay, there are some pretty tough neighborhoods. God, I hope coordinating lessons are learned from this debacle.

Phil--

Thanks. Tangent avoided. (Now that we're not on the tangent, does that mean we're back to going around the circle?)

Well, I was going to point out that the guy firing at the MILITARY helicopter obviously didn't get the memo explaining Sebastian's logic. But since everyone's made up now here at the saloon, I'll hold my fire and mosey on back to the Sheriff's office.

Barkeep, you send Billy here a running if these boys get out of hand again. Drinks are on me.

You know it's a really bad day when you think about 9/11/01 and say, "NYC didn't really have it so bad." Of course, I don't mean that the loss of two buildings and more to the point 3000 people wasn't bad, but just that compared to what's going on in New Orleans, the aftermath of 9/11 looks not so bad. The hospitals stayed open and were not overwhelmed, except by people wanting to donate blood. There was very little panic in the streets, even downtown. People evacuated politely. There was very little, if any, looting and certainly no armed gangs roaming the streets (well, except for the National Guard, but they were very polite and restrained). I lived two miles away from ground zero and continued to live there peacefully the entire time. If I'd called 911, someone would have answered and shown up to deal with whatever my emergency might have been. Stores reopened on Sept 12th. The NYSE reopened only weeks after the event. People from all over the country, including New Orleans, gave money and sympathy to NYC after 9/11/01. Time to return the favor.

By the way, Moveon.org is organizing an effort to match refugees from New Orleans with people with a spare room, bed, or couch. If anyone has one, consider going to their website and volunteering.

You know it's a really bad day when you think about 9/11/01 and say, "NYC didn't really have it so bad."

I'm a New Yorker, who was here for 9/11, and you're right -- I just had the same conversation with my husband. While 3000 were killed, very few were seriously hurt, and the uninhabitable area was comparatively very small. In comparison with this, for most of the survivors it was much more of an emotional blow and much less of a disaster that affected us personally.

I watched an entire briefing on CNN, where

Chertoff talked about the great job they were doing evacuating the Superdome (they had managed 3500 people in one day) and that their big priority was maintaining law and order.

The Coast Guard rep talked about rescuing 2900 people and the progress they were making on the oil and port infrastructure.

The DOJ rep talked about how they were dedicated to maintaining law and order and the court system and fighting price gouging.

The National Guard general talked about Guardsmen being activated all over the country and how they were all experienced law people.

The FEMA rep talked about they were in it for the long term and people should have patience.

Nobody said one word about when and where food and water would actually be available. So the people may die in the streets, but they'll do so in good order.

Chertoff talked about the great job they were doing evacuating the Superdome (they had managed 3500 people in one day) and that their big priority was maintaining law and order.

I don't understand this at all. If it's possible to get a bus to the Superdome and out, it should be possible to get 100. Say a bus holds 50 people. 20 buses holds 1000 people. 400 buses holds 20,000 people.

Aren't there 400 buses within a day's drive of New Orleans? What am I missing?

What am I missing?

The authority to do just that.

This article seems important:

"In storm, N.O. wants no one left behind; Number of people without cars makes evacuation difficult", Bruce Nolan, New Orleans Times Picayune, July 24, 2005.

City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans' poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own.

In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm's way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation.

In the video, made by the anti-poverty agency Total Community Action, they urge those people to make arrangements now by finding their own ways to leave the city in the event of an evacuation.

"You're responsible for your safety, and you should be responsible for the person next to you," Wilkins said in an interview. "If you have some room to get that person out of town, the Red Cross will have a space for that person outside the area. We can help you.

"But we don't have the transportation."

Officials are recording the evacuation message even as recent research by the University of New Orleans indicated that as many as 60 percent of the residents of most southeast Louisiana parishes would remain in their homes in the event of a Category 3 hurricane.

Their message will be distributed on hundreds of DVDs across the city. The DVDs' basic get-out-of-town message applies to all audiences, but the it is especially targeted to scores of churches and other groups heavily concentrated in Central City and other vulnerable, low-income neighborhoods, said the Rev. Marshall Truehill, head of Total Community Action.

"The primary message is that each person is primarily responsible for themselves, for their own family and friends," Truehill said.

In addition to the plea from Nagin, Thomas and Wilkins, video exhortations to make evacuation plans come from representatives of State Police and the National Weather Service, and from local officials such as Sen. Ann Duplessis, D-New Orleans, and State Rep. Arthur Morrell, D-New Orleans, said Allan Katz, whose advertising company is coordinating officials' scripts and doing the recording.

The speakers explain what to bring and what to leave behind. They advise viewers to bring personal medicines and critical legal documents, and tell them how to create a family communication plan. Even a representative of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals weighs in with a message on how to make the best arrangements for pets left behind.

Production likely will continue through August. Officials want to get the DVDs into the hands of pastors and community leaders as hurricane season reaches its height in September, Katz said.

I just heard the President at the press conference announcing Bush Sr. and Clinton will spearhead a fundraising effort say:

If you don't need gasoline don't buy any.

So, will NASCAR be asked to shut down for the rest of the year, or are their drivers still going to burn countless gallons of gas driving around in circles (or other closed loops)?

I'm listening to Chertoff in an interview on NPR right now. He's spinning in the wind as the anchor is pressing him on the lack of food and water for the "thousands" in the convention center. He keeping reasserting that food and water are getting to the Superdome and that the situation on the ground remains very difficult. I'm astounded.

I don't understand this at all. If it's possible to get a bus to the Superdome and out, it should be possible to get 100. Say a bus holds 50 people. 20 buses holds 1000 people. 400 buses holds 20,000 people.

As I understand it, they can't just drive the buses up to the Superdome, which is surrounded by water. Getting the people to the highway ramp appears to be a bottleneck.

Katherine, do you have a link to that article? I have someone who badly needs to read it.

sorry, no, it's on Lexis. It is quoted on this Atlanta Journal & Constitution article though.

Just a note about the whole "polite" thing. Canadians have very few handguns. And we're real polite.

The English are rude buggers though. (apologies to Jes)

Via Atrios, FEMA's 2nd rec. for donations is Pat Robertson&Co.

Recent satellite photo.

Jeez, I just heard that what they've been getting in the Superdome is two 9 oz bottles of water a day and two MREs. IIRC, you need at least a gallon of water a day in those temps to not get dehydrated.

Did the Air Force forget how to drop food and water from C130's after they did it in Afghanistan?

rilkefan: When I first saw your post I was heartened to see that Pat Robertson was the 2nd largest donor to FEMA. It never in a million years crossed my mind that he'd be the 2nd largest recipient...

[ObPedantry: Yes, I know it's not him personally but rather his charity. I'm not particularly convinced there's a meaningful difference.]

Yes we are rude buggers (is "buggers" allowed on OW?!) but we have no guns...

worse news from New Orleans,

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4206620.stm

Shorter Homeland Security Leadership: NOTHING TO SEE HERE. PLEASE DISPERSE.

Don't know how much he gets, but that people are getting directed to him by the govt over say Catholic Charities USA or United Way is just perverse.

Digby Some quotes, scroll thru the Bush firing Army Corps guy who gave him bad news stuff

"A bad time with Mother Nature can leave you digging out for a long time, but a bad turn in human behavior frays and tears all the ties that truly bind human being--trust, confidence, mutual regard, belief in the essential goodness of one's fellow citizens."
....Peggy Noonan, in a "looters are hurting commander codpiece mode, somebody shoot them please"

Digby answers with photos of corpses in wheelchairs, who chose not to evacuate I guess, wheeling themselves down I-10.

Indeed Peggy, my ties are frayed and torn.

Not that our plight begins to compare to that of those remaining in the city, but for the evacuees (myself included) having to watch our beloved city dismember itself in full view of the world is pure, living hell.

rcs--

You have my sympathy. There are a couple of cities around the globe that I love, too, and I know how I would feel if they were in this kind of shape. Let's hope things start getting better, soon.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert dropped a bombshell on flood-ravaged New Orleans on Thursday by suggesting that it isn’t sensible to rebuild the city.

"It doesn't make sense to me," Hastert told the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago in editions published today. "And it's a question that certainly we should ask."

via Times-Picayune

At Wonkette, an anonymous employee at the EPA says they have taken to calling the flooded parts of New Orleans "Lake George", after the man responsible.

I'm just up now, and tripping over my jaw from Katherine's article, which may indicate some problems with my own perceptions. Do churches in low income areas have DVD players? Did they really think this was an efficient way of distributing information?

The husband of a friend of mine is a big muckety-muck in FEMA. Actually he's in NO right now. anyway, the Bush years have been very difficult for him. I can't remember his job title, but he is high enough to be based in Washington D.C. Anyway the point is that during the Bush years any known Democrats at the top of FEMA have been made uncomfortable in various ways including, in his case, pressure to retire early to make way for Bush political appointments. He works in an atmosphere of near-harassment, where people make it clear that the sin of voting for Kerry renders one unfit for the job.

lj--

"Did they really think this was an efficient way of distributing information?"

And did they really think the right information to distribute was "if there's trouble, you are on your own"?

It's Bush's ownership society--no safety-nets, no sharing of risk. You're on your own.

I agree completely, Tad, and I am pretty horrified about the information delivered, but DVD delivery adds insult to injury, unless everyone has DVDs now. Somehow, I think that a lot of those people I am seeing in the Superdome and around the conventions center are not subscribed to Netflix. 'You're on your own, didn't you get the memo?'

As an update, I still haven't gotten thru to my folks, but there are no reports of casualties, and I'm sure that someone would have gotten in touch if there had been something bad. This blog is for people living in Picayune and Pearl River County. I'm a bit embarrassed to worry because there are people in a lot worse shape (Picayune has become a retirement area for people from New orleans, so there are a lot of elderly people with no family close by, whereas by brother lives next door to my parents)

It seems to me that it's Hastert's job to think about whether the country should rebuild NO given how vulnerable it would be to the next Katrina or to the next break-out of the river.

Okay. Does that extend to every city built on a flood plain, fault line, or volcano? Los Angeles and San Francisco, for example?

And where will New New Orleans be built?

Just saying.

It's going surreal now.

I went back with Harry Connick Jr. He spoke to them and told them he would do anything he can to help them. They seemed to appreciate that. He's the only person of authority - believe it or not, a musician -- to go in there and tell them that things are going to be ok.
Which it's not:
Dead people around the walls of the convention center, laying in the middle of the street in their dying chairs. ... They were just covered up ... Babies, two babies dehydrated and died. I'm telling you, I couldn't take it.

On the quotes and link I just gave, keep in mind that this is not the Superdome; this is the New Orleans Convention Center; a whole 'nother scene of death and horror.

Someone on my friends-list on livejournal said (and I must paraphrase and not link, because she is a civil servant and is not permitted to make political comments in public) - that the difficulty we in the UK have with understanding the US is that the US is really a hyper-rich Third World country. She offered this in response to my own (and other) stunned reactions to this disaster: that the US cannot deal with catastrophes on this scale because, in terms of national infrastructure, it is a Third World country.

The English are rude buggers though. (apologies to Jes)

Oh yes, they are. I'm Scots: no need for apologies...

I'm tired. I'm switching off. I wish I could think of something to say in response to all of this, but honest to God, all I wish is there were something I could do.

More on the surreal side. There's this from Alistair Leithead from the BBC this morning:

A few moments ago a man came up to me and asked if I was a journalist. He said: "Can you help me? I need to save the lives of 60 women."

Twelve blocks away there are 60 people in an old people's home and 30 staff who have been looking after them since the hurricane struck. He said they had enough water to last 12 hours, two of the women had died already and three more will probably die today.

"Who can I ask?" he said. I said I didn't know and he wandered off. The policemen wouldn't talk to him so he's gone off to try to find someone who might help.

That's just one isolated case and there are many more like that across this city. It is a desperate situation. There is a real feeling here that not enough is being done and certainly not fast enough.

And then there's this from a doctor at Charity Hospital:
Another physician at Charity Hospital said that -- despite the violence -- staff members and patients were eager to get out after three days with no water and electricity and little food.

"A single sniper or two snipers shouldn't have to shut down a hospital evacuation for two hours now," Dr. Ruth Berggren told CNN. "I look outside, I'm not seeing any military."

It's not just surreal, it's shameful.

Jesurgislac: I'm Scots

Jes is Scots? Profound apologies, I had assumed you were Sassenach.

"And where will New New Orleans be built?"

How about above sea level for starters? And maybe not in the middle of a fragile ecosystem?

As far as SF in concerned, if the marina goes then I think I'd advocate not rebuilding on sand.

Longer term, I'd like to see a much lower-population humanity living in better accord with nature, even if that means letting go of Santa Monica or reassembling Venice elsewhere or whatever.

keep in mind that this is not the Superdome; this is the New Orleans Convention Center; a whole 'nother scene of death and horror.

I'm really baffled by this. I pretty sure the Convention Center is the site of the 1984 World's Fair, which is on the river (you can see the signs that say 'Riverwalk' when they interview people), and it's been pointed out that the Mississippi will allow shallow draft boats, so there should be no reason why they shouldn't be able to take inflatables and either get supplies to the people or take people out. The mayor sent a message to CNN that was read as the Chertoff press conference was going that begged for assistance for the conference center (where I think the city government has moved to) and that people were going to start marching to the I-10 overpass in hopes of getting bussed out.

CNN's Chris Lawrence is apparently barricaded on a police station rooftop and Sanjay Gupta is taking gunfire at Charity Hospital.

I'm also wondering about reports of 'sniper fire'. How much of this is people shooting to get the attention of people and, after being passed over any number of times, start shooting at rescuers on the assumption that they are simply going to pass them by. (I suppose this is one of those problematic explanation/justification things. Nonetheless, I think it is something to think about)

Another long day for me, I guess.

But at least maybe you can get a date out of it.

Longer term, I'd like to see a much lower-population humanity living in better accord with nature, even if that means letting go of Santa Monica or reassembling Venice elsewhere or whatever.

Unfortunately, the trend is now for
infill housing, which has made the LA area have the highest population density in the US.

Three months ago, I attended a conference in the convention centre. It is indeed pretty much right on the river.

I am finding it difficult to reconcile the bland carpeted box in which I spent four days with the account Gary Farber linked to. How could these people get left in there for so long?

How about above sea level for starters? And maybe not in the middle of a fragile ecosystem?

That's a great idea! So...where would that be? My vote: Saskatchewan. They need a little Mardi Gras to spice up the winter. And the summer, too.

I think, though, that Hastert's comments were more in the spirit of "So long, and don't let the door hit you on the way out, New Orleans".

Bill Quigley

Another of those silly-proud people who chose to stay, well, actually 1300 in Memorial Hospital, tho the number is declining due to various unforeseeable acts of God.

What? New York City has about 26 million people per square mile, and Manhattan has 60+ million per square mile. L.A. is denser than people think but it's not as dense as NY. It's not real close.

High population density is GOOD for the environment, as a general rule. Less energy use, less water use, less total air pollution. Walking or taking public transportation instead of driving makes a huge difference, as does having less space to heat and cool, and apartments are much more efficient than houses. It also makes sense not to have a giant lawn you treat with pesticides and water in the middle of a desert, as does geographically concentrating development so that you have more land for open space, wetlands, forests, etc.

I mean, if you concentrate people in a dangerous spot you concentrate danger. But New York is pretty safe as these things go. And big cities are good for the environment. Look at how many people England sustains on that tiny piece of land.

I've been watching the tv news (I don't have cable; NBC is doing an hour, though), and they had a long horrifying set of scenes from the convention center. Dead people slumped in chairs with identifying notes attached. More dead people. Crowds chanting "help! help!" People pulling apart fighting people. Extremely old and sick people. A curled-up horrid-looking woman said to be one hundred years old. A young woman in diabetic shock while a nurse-looking woman screams for insulin. A guy caring for 18 young kids whom he'd taken out from his housing project on a boat; the mothers had to stay behind, and two days later, they've not been heard from, and he's taking care of these 18 little kids (like, five-years old) himself.

Scattered bits on some of the clusters of isolated people waiting and hoping for rescue; 200 at a church surrounded by water here; a dozen others there; twenty more over there.

But the convention center was a horror.

Katherine,
I was surprised as well, but the article has this

The urbanized area in and around Los Angeles has become the most densely populated place in the continental United States, according to the Census Bureau. Its density is 25 percent higher than that of New York, twice that of Washington and four times that of Atlanta, as measured by residents per square mile of urban land.

I'm also not sure if people concentrated is good in an overall sense. Certainly, economies of scale kick in, but it also make more inviting target. There is also the problem of heat islands and their effect on weather systems. If things are not planned for, any disruption can be much more deadly. I think that the benefits and costs can negate each other.

and it's been pointed out that the Mississippi will allow shallow draft boats, so there should be no reason why they shouldn't be able to take inflatables and either get supplies to the people or take people out.

The Convention Center isn't physically isolated, as far as I can tell. The elevated expressway (Hwy 90) you see in all of the Superdome views has an exit right onto Convention Center Boulevard.

They a) don't have the evac capacity and b) can't get what they do have in safely.

Just got a call from my brother by satellite phone at his work and everyone in my family is fine, but there probably won't be power or phone for the foreseeable future. Off to call all the relatives.

I came back with a vague notion that New Orleans had not made it as unscratched as was expected when I left. But I had no idea how bad things were. I sit here, feeling angry and terribly sad, not knowing how to respond - and in full agreement with Opus.

Living where I do it is not hard to empathize with the inhabitants of New Orleans - about 25% of the Netherlands is below sea level and our fight against water is a big part of our history.

But for crying out loud - you are the richest country in the world, highly technological advanced, highly militarized. I cannot understand how aid can be so terribly badly organized. Especially since the riscs were known well in advance - and since disaster plans ought to be pretty up to date.

Even the commenters at Redstate are wondering why aidrops aren't possible. These people at the convention center don't have water, last I heard.

Listening to Dr Berggren of Charity Hospital on CNN; she had the first set of patients evacuated today, but they just have been returned. No transport from staging ground.

She is losing patients hourly.

That's just how they define the Metropolitan Statistical Area. NY's includes some pretty empty places. Suffolk County, Putnam County--they get fairly rural out there, whereas as . I've never even heard of a bunch of the N.J. counties they include. Hunterdon? Pike? Don't even ring a bell. On the other hand some places in Connecticut, which really are part of the commuter belt, are not included.

L.A.'s MSA is just L.A. County and Orange County. It's not apples to apples. If you compare the cities themselves, NY is 3-4 times denser.

I don't really have the heart to get into this now, although the environmental, health and other benefits of big cities is a hobbyhorse of mine.

"Even the commenters at Redstate are wondering why aidrops aren't possible."

After a while Occam's Razor becomes a useful tool.

No, I had best go away for a while.

It is not so incidental that this is a preview of the level of organization and execution that we can, apparently, expect from DHS/FEMA in the event of another major terrorist attack on US soil under the Bush administration. What the hell have they spent four years doing?

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineux Blanco is a Democrat.

Lousiana Lt. Gov. Mich Landrieu is a Democrat.

The Louisiana state legislature is overwhelmingly dominated by Democrats.

Party registration in Louisiana is more than 2:1 Democrat:Republican.

All these Democrats in Louisiana are in charge of a yearly state budget of more than $17 billion.

* * *

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is a Democrat.

In the 2004 election, New Orleans went for Kerry over Bush by a margin of more than three to one.

All these Democrats in New Orleans are in charge of a yearly city budget of about $500 million.

* * *

Do any of these Democrats bear any responsibility whatsoever here?

In the 2004 election, New Orleans went for Kerry over Bush by a margin of more than three to one.

Care to explain the relevance of this to anything?

OK, Mr. President. You want to wage a war on terror? Well, do it. People are stranded and dying in New Orleans and they are terrified. Wage your war on terror in the Gulf Coast. You wanted a foreign war so we wouldn't have to fight terrorists here at home? Too bad. The terror has landed on our southern shore. Now get off your ass and fight it.

I think he's wondering why the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans have escaped criticism. If they in fact, have.

Though I don't see how this applies to "registered Democrats"

"It is not so incidental that this is a preview of the level of organization and execution that we can, apparently, expect from DHS/FEMA in the event of another major terrorist attack on US soil under the Bush administration. What the hell have they spent four years doing?"

As I said here:

I quail to imagine: what if this had been, say, a nuke from al Qaeda? Imagine the fury of the anger that would be called up to demand immediate revenge and retaliation against someone for doing this to Americans.

"what if this had been, say, a nuke from al Qaeda? "

But it's so hard to find someone to get revenge against when a hurricane destroys a city.

My gut feeling about this is that - in terms of the federal response/assistance we'd see - it's too bad this wasn't a major terrorist attack. Bush has demonstrated that he's up for fighting human enemies and for bringing the energy, focus and resources of the federal govt. to the aid of a city under attact.

But this was an act of god. (Gotta think things through really carefully before tackling the works of the Big Guy/Intelligent Designer.)

Re Bushco, I'm jaded, cynical and horribly, horribly disappointed. Re Katrina, just heartbroken. Crushed and heartbroken.

I've been to New Orleans twice, both times for conventions* so I know the convention center moderately well. It is bizarre to think of that sterile box as the site of the chaos and suffering described in the news. It is also right on the river. Why can't boats be brought up to rescue people stranded there? Or at least drop off food and clean water? There's also a mall and several hotels next door to it. I hate to side with looters, but it isn't like the owners are going to be able to claim any of the food and water in there...couldn't someone go get whatever's still edible there? I suppose they probably already have, in fact.

*I'd been planning to go there a third time for another convention this December. Guess that isn't going to happen.

I think he's wondering why the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans have escaped criticism. If they in fact, have.

Which is a fair question, although I'm not sure what resources they control that would be helpful. Still, why the state (whose elected officials are mostly Democrats) hasn't chartered every bus in a hundred mile radius to come pick people up is completely beyond me. It just doesn't seem that it would require that much.

Via Atrios, FEMA's 2nd rec. for donations is Pat Robertson&Co.

Well, the link now has America's Second Harvest second. Go figure.

I wouldn't contribute to Robertson even if he was on the top of the list. His idiocy aside, he's got no expertise in disaster assistance.

As for how Louisiana's government has done with all this, Jeb's looking more and more like an organizational genius in comparison. So it just might be a righty plot to put Jeb in the White House.

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