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Hurricane Katrina Items

This discussion on "Hurricane Katrina Items" is in the Off Topic section; This may belong in the Off-Topic section, but I think it is something that we ...

      
   
  1. #1
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    This may belong in the Off-Topic section, but I think it is something that we should share our thoughts and feelings about. [It does belong in Off Topic, so that's where I've moved it. MAB]

    First off, my prayers go out to all the victims of Hurricane Katrina and their families. I also hope for the best for those who survived, but are now stranded, and mostly homeless.

    Yesterday, when I was watching the coverage of the aftermath of the storm, I was struck by some unsettling parallels regarding the storm's impact and the Titanic: the fact that many of the people who were stranded in New Orleans were heard crying out for help, on Monday night, while the rescue boats were not able to come to their aid. I also found myself wondering how many of the people died in their homes, their bodies will not be discovered for some time; some of the people who were rescued might also succumb, as well; "time will tell", for that. I also think that there will be instances where whole family units were wiped out. I do hope, though, that I will end up being wrong on that last item.

    I hope nobody from ET was trapped or killed.

    Two friends of mine, who moved to Hattiesburg (MS), 80 miles north of the Gulf, were okay, thought their yard had some major damage. Fortunately for them, none of their trees struck their home or their cars; many of their neighbors were not so fortunate. Ironically, Hattiesburg is a designated evacuation town (people came up there to escape Ivan in 2004 & Dennis, last month).

    Again, to all Listmembers with friends and family, or who live or own property in the affected areas, my prayers will be with you.

  2. #2
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    My thoughts are with everyone in the area, too. Just been watching the news - so many people trying to save lives, and yet some looting - jeans and TV sets etc. Makes one despair, but one must concentrate on the good and the brave.

  3. #3
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    What a rampage the Hurricane has been. I've been reading and listening to stories about people being rescued from their roofs, losing their homes and basically just trying to survive.

    According to what I read in the newspaper this morning, the streets of New Orleans are flooded with debris fouled water and there was a report of a three foot shark that had been seen cruising the flooded streets. One person has been quoted saying that the damage was "potentially like the city of Pompeii." Mississippi was hit very hard as well, as their bridges and highways have been destroyed.

    There is talk of evacuating New Orleans, it's either that or die. No word on when the city will have their electricity or drinking water returned.

    My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in those areas as well.
    Jason D. Tiller
    "To be happy is to be contented in your own mind"...Harold Godfrey Lowe
    43° 44' 01" N, 79° 24' 16"W
    Author of an upcoming biography on Arthur G. Peuchen

  4. #4
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    Something like 80% of the city is under water, looting is rampant and the governor has ordered the complete evacuation of the city. They're not even bothering to look for the dead. They can't even bury them. (See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9142413/ ) The interest is to take care of the living first. Small wonder as all attempts to repair those breeched levees have failed and it'll be months befor anything can be fixed and the city made habitable again. Links to follow. Read for yourselves.

    http://dailynews.att.net/cgi-bin/new...carev00&src=ap

    http://msnbc.com/modules/mapview/katrina_no.asp (Note: This map takes a few minutes to load)

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9063708/...lf&CE=linkNext

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9139219/

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9106384/

    I have to say that it breaks my heart to see all this happening. I spent several months in New Orleans while one of my ships was being built at the Avondale shipyard over in Westwego. I became quite fond of the place.

  5. #5
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    The Mayor of New Orleans is talking about an eventual death toll of thousands. I could not imagine what it's like to be living under those conditions at the moment. A very sad time indeed.

  6. #6
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    >>I could not imagine what it's like to be living under those conditions at the moment.<<

    To a point, I can. I lived through the depradations of such storms as Agnus and Bonnie so I have the greatest of respect for what a hurricane can do. For all that, in the places where I was at, power was only out for a few days. In New Orleans, it'll be a miracle if it's on anywhere by the end of the month.

    Things are going to get a lot worse too. There are a lot of chemical plants along the river, petrochemical refinaries, there's no way of dealing with human waste, either sewage or trash, and then there's going to be the matter of dealing with thousands of unburied corpses. The health problems all this and more will cause is going to be a nightmare, and that's befor the clean up even begins.

    It's amazing how we take for granted all the minor things which make living in a city of millions a possibility...until it's all gone. Then such trivial conveniences as food, medicine, shelter, and utilities aren't so minor. We begin to understand just how important they really are.

  7. #7
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    Is there any truth in the rumour that Fats Domino and his family may be among the victims? Apparently he hasn't been heard from since Monday and he told friends he was going to "ride out the storm" in his 3-storey house with his wife and eight children in New Orleans ninth ward, which is now under water.

    Today's Metro carried pictures of a woman on a bridge, seemingly preoccupied with what looked like a carton of food whilst a body floated face-down nearby. A man who appeared to be asleep in a deckchair had died whilst all around him people are milling around not knowing what to do.

    There are reports of looters being helped in their quest by police. Although some police and looters are taking what they don't need, such as computers and TVs, others are basically foraging for what little food and water there is.

    Houston Astrodome is full and cannot accept any more New Orleans refugees.

  8. #8
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    The news reports detailing the privations experienced by all affected cannot but leave anyone untouched. The saddest commentary to date is that many disasters bring out the best in people but that in this instance there's the opposite so in evidence. It is impossible not to compare this with how many of our near neighbouring communities coped with the tsunami.

  9. #9
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    Boz: Fats Domino survived. The story can be found here.

  10. #10
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    Boz, Yes, eveything you mentioned is true. (Well, Fats Domino was rescued finally.) But the Horrors of the event are still unfolding even today (Friday). Trying to evacuate an entire city that is flooded, not to mention the expressways and bridges are washed out. No electricity or telephones. The bodies of the dead unfortunately pile up because the priority is getting the sick and elderly out first. I know there are alot of angry people pointing to the dead, but imagine how angry they would be if a military truck pulled up, carried away the bodies, then drove off leaving behind 50,000 starving people who don't have water or toilet facilities? It is going to be a long hard road ahead for these people. Not only did they lose their homes, they lost their jobs. For many there is no reason to go back. With the infrastructure destroyed, many people are saying they should just tear down what hasn't been washed away or burned in the fires. Fill in the city so it is "Above" sea level and start fresh all over again.

  11. #11
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    As someone who lives "next door," in a sense, to this disaster, let me say that I’m proud of the pledge of support and relief from other countries that’s come in.

    And of course, we here in Texas are doing our part. Not only Houston but San Antonio and Dallas (my neck of the woods) are taking in evacuees. We’re helping a friend and his family for a few days before they head to the West Coast. And 90 other people are being aided by a local church here. I would ask people who can afford to help, to please do so by contributing to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. Also, if you believe in praying, do that, too. This is a disaster of huge proportions, not just in projected loss of life, but in civic and cultural (and therefore economic) destruction. Personally we are grieving for the probable loss of a cousin but were cheered today to hear that old family friends made it to Fort Worth. My friend Jennifer Mills, who edited my book and is a contributor to this forum, has told me that her father is playing host to six friends from New Orleans at his lake house on the Louisiana-Arkansas border. So people everywhere are individually doing their bit.

    Below is a personal account from my former editor, Sarah Stephens, who was born and raised in Louisiana, and now lives in Alabama, another of the affected states in this tragedy. She’s a fine journalist with a heart like no one else and I know she’s doing her best to cover the aftermath of Katrina with accuracy and sensitivity. Her letter shows not only her own goodness, but the resilience of spirit of those caught up in the disaster:

    Sarah writes:

    "First let this be a message to you that I am fine. My
    family is fine. Mel's family is fine, but most of them
    are still out of power around the Baton Rouge area and
    closer to N.O.

    Here in Millbrook, AL we are about an hour and a half
    from the devastation. The coast from Alabama to
    Louisiana is in utter devastation.

    There are millions of stories out there.

    I met a woman today named Leslie Price. She, her
    husband Donald, and their three kids left their beach
    front home in Pascagoula before the storm. They
    returned home this week to nothing except dead bodies
    of their former neighbors.

    They came back to Prattville and have been staying at
    the Comfort Inn. She called me because she wanted to
    get the word out to our area how much the refugees
    appreciate everything.

    Restaurants here are feeding the refugees throughout
    the day for free. Businesses are giving them clothing
    or whatever they need. Private individuals are opening
    up their homes to take in families.

    Mel and I will do the same tomorrow. We have moved out
    of our old house into the new one, but will pay rent
    through September. I imagine we can take in at least
    three families with pets because we have a fenced back
    yard. They won't have furniture, but I can provide
    food, AC, a refrigerator and a phone. I have to do
    something. I just feel so helpless.

    Leslie and her husband Donald are leaving tomorrow for
    Pascagoula. The kids will be shipped to Tennessee to
    stay with family. They are ages 12. 11 and nine.
    I asked Leslie what she is going home to.

    "That is my community. Those are my neighbors. I have
    to do something," she said.

    They will sleep in tents that were donated by area
    businesses. They are taking back as many supplies as
    possible and we are going to stay in touch with her as
    a point of contact to send them more as they are
    needed.

    This is just one family. We have millions of people
    out there right now who are homeless.

    I know that all of you have watched the reports and
    your heart is breaking. I don't have enough room to
    tell you all of the stories I am hearing from friends
    and family who have actually been in N.O. and got
    out, or those who are still there and were able to get
    one call out on a satellite phone.

    I ask you to pray. I ask you to do what you can when
    you can for as many people as you can.

    The Red Cross has apparently been taken over by FEMA
    and our local refugees are having a hard time getting
    something as simple as clothing vouchers, so we as
    individuals are taking care of them now.

    If nothing else, I believe good will come of this in
    the end. I keep holding on to that hope.

    Pray for Leslie and Donald and the thousands upon
    thousands of others. We will get
    through this if we all stick together.

    I am sure that in the coming days I will be heading to
    the coast to volunteer in some capacity. This will be
    months and months of cleanup and these people have
    nothing left.

    On the coast parents are being told it will be a year
    at least before schools are up and running again.

    I know locally, just here in Prattville, we are
    already enrolling new kids every day. People are
    looking for part time work because they have nothing
    to go home to in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    Know that we are physically fine here, and we are
    doing everything we can to help. I know that all of
    you will, too.

    God bless us all.
    Much love to all of you out there.
    Sarah Morrison Stephens"

  12. #12
    Susan Leighton
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    I, and so many others, am stunned and horrified to see and hear of the loss of life, property, and law that is obviously being beamed into every part of the the World following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In my writings, I have mused that when established societal laws break down, the laws of humanity and morality are presumed to occur for civilized people. For others, it appears they have reverted to the primordial savagery that is apparently inherent in their nature and they lack the restraints NORMAL to human beings.

  13. #13
    Noel F.Jones
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    Without wishing to detract in any way from the gravity of the situation with an injection of comparative trivia, I can't help wondering if Bix Beiderbecke's cornet is safe. I recall being in its presence in the museum on Dumaine Street.

    The area is old New Orleans and is presumably safe from inundation but it seems there are looters and arsonists about.

    Noel

  14. #14
    Laura Melinda Varjo
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    I too, prayed for the poor victims-who didn't take the Category 5 storm seriously and perished. Or, some, who are economically unstable were not able to flee their homes. Too bad, my mom almost went on a business trip to New Orleans and I yearned and begged to travel with her, but the Conference was moved elsewhere, so I never got a chance to see that beautiful city-as I was told so. Now it's all torn apart. When it's reconstructed, I'll go.

  15. #15
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    >>For many there is no reason to go back.<<

    And I'm sure some won't. They'll move on. For the rest, I they'll go back and rebuild. Whether it makes sense to do so can be debated but they will go back and it'll be boom times for the construction and home improvement industry.

    Keep in mind that even when you discount the history of the city (And you really can't) there are compelling economic reasons to do so. New Orleans is one of the busiest seaports in the world, and it would be easier to clean up, repair, and rebuild what's there as opposed to starting fresh in a different location. I just hope that it occurs to the people behind this that they need to do a better job of building and maintaining the levees which keep Lake Ponchatrain and the Gulf of Mexico at bay.

    Whether or not the lessons are both learned and applied however remains to be seen.

  16. #16
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    I, myself, have donated to a Federal Employee Assitance Fund, as well as to Catholic Charities.

    This weekend, I will see what groups need what items. What I am thinking of doing is donating all the small bottles of shampoo and lotion, which I brought home from hotels: they make for interesting souvenirs (I always know that I never need to pack soap and shampoo); however, there are probably many people who just need to take a shower. They can use these items.

    I will also look to see what other essentials I can give.

  17. #17
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    In a semi-topical development, it looks like FEMA has chartered three Carnival cruise ships to house refugees. See following link:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,168407,00.html

    --Jim

  18. #18
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    The Pilot Online has a link to the cruise ships story which can be read HERE. A couple more links of interest:

    The Big Disconnect On New Orleans

    A Topographical Map Of New Orleans This will give readers a good overview of just how much of the city is located below sea level.

  19. #19
    Wayne Keen
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    "In a semi-topical development, it looks like FEMA has chartered three Carnival cruise ships to house refugees"

    Given the number of displaced, and the time-frame that they are likely to be displaced over, housing will probably be a multi-phased, multi-sourced exercise.

    I mumbled on another thread about using a ship like the former "France" as longer term housing, knowing it would not be ready for months.

    This relief effort will probably still be ongoing *next* Christmas, so I hope people are thinking, and giving for the long haul...

    Wayne

  20. #20
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    An interesing opinion piece by Molly Ivins;

    FOR RELEASE: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2005, AND THEREAFTER



    AUSTIN, Texas -- Like many of you who love New Orleans, I find myself taking short mental walks there today, turning a familiar corner, glimpsing a favorite scene, square or vista. And worrying about the beloved friends and the city, and how they are now.

    To use a fine Southern word, it's tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people's lives.

    This is not "just politics" or blaming for political advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments do and do not do about their responsibilities. And about who winds up paying the price for those policies.
    For the rest, just go HERE

  21. #21
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    I think the disaster to the Louisiana and Gulf Coast area is more topical than many may think.

    First of all, apathy, fueled by deeply ingrained class (if not racial) prejudice on the part of some government agencies is responsible for the loss of many lives. Not to mention indifference on the part of these same agencies which allowed for the outdated and inadequate levee system in New Orleans to exist in the first place. Sounds a lot like the British Board of Trade’s laxity in 1912 which permitted ships to go to sea with insufficient lifeboats. And there’s a reminder, too, in what’s happening now of the class prejudice that permitted the rescue of Titanic’s first class passengers while steerage passengers were left to fend for themselves.

    CNN’s chief medical correspondent stood on the roof of New Orleans’ largest charity hospital, waiting with the staff of that facility to evacuate its most critical patients, but they were ignored by helicopters who instead were directed to save people from the high-priced private hospital across the street. The ‘copters actually evacuated non-essential staff at the private hospital before they attempted an air rescue of any of the charity hospital’s patients, several of whom died on the roof in the meantime.

    I also note what seems like a comparative indifference reflected right on this board. When 9/11 happened, this forum exploded in support of America; the same thing happened when the terrorists struck London two months ago; we Americans supported our British friends.

    I don’t see this happening here now, yet the death count will likely top 5,000, far surpassing any disaster of recent times, excluding the tsunami in Asia. I have friends and relatives caught in this tragedy, so it has hit very close to home. Maybe I’m just too sensitive to all this, but I think I’m mainly right.

    If this had happened in L.A. or Colorado or the East Coast, where white faces would be captured by the news media instead of primarily black ones, I bet more people in this country –– and abroad ––– would give a damn.

    I think it shows that humanity hasn’t much improved, even after all the lessons we should’ve learned.


  22. #22
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    Hi Randy.

    I also note what seems like a comparative difference reflected right on this board. When 9/11 happened, this forum exploded in support, the same thing happened when the terrorists struck London two months ago. I don’t see that happening here now...
    9/11 and the London bombings generated comment through the natural abhorrence people felt towards terrorist atrocities. Katrina, while devastating, is a natural disaster, so that abhorrence isn't present. Re: your other points; I am not qualified to comment, but the story of the hospital patients (taken at face value) is shocking.

    Personally, I feel a great deal for all those people (of whatever colour) who have lost their jobs, homes and loved-ones. On a slight tangent, another forum I frequent (Fark.com) has already generated a large amount of donations for the victims, and the media have commented on the phenomenon that Farkers have opened their homes to their fellow forum members who have suffered in the disaster; thus proving that online 'communities' are developing into exactly that.

    Perhaps humanity is getting better... slowly?

  23. #23
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    In point of fact, the hospital across the street from the New Orleans Charity Hospital is not a private hospital; it is the Louisiana State University Medical School Hospital (which can be confirmed by a simple look at maps.google.com). It's very possible that the State of Louisiana chose to devote its resources to first looking after its own interests (i.e. the state-run hospital), but the rescuer's decision to empty out one hospital before the other may have just as easily been rooted in pragmatism (a one-building-at-a-time mentality), or the hairy ethics of lifesaving that sometimes give priority to those who are most able to survive, rather than those who are in the most dire circumstances.

    I'm reluctant to attribute the lack of assistance to racism--Federal government programs are inherently slow and lumbering (unacceptable, yes, but nonetheless expected), and the New Orleans city government failed its citizens at least as badly as the state and federal governments did anyways (seen the video of all those flooded school buses that were supposed to be part of the city's evacuation plan?). Since the city government is dominated by minorities I think you'll have a hard time playing the race card until we get some more solid evidence.

    I will certainly concur that for some reason, Katrina hasn't captured my imagination the way that 9/11 or London has, but I don't think it has anything to do with race. I think it has more to do with the sheer unexpectedness and unpredictability of those events (whereas we knew Katrina was coming for several days before it arrived), as well as the "it could happen to me too" element that is not present for those of us who don't live in hurricane country. For many of us, it just doesn't evoke such a visceral reaction. This doesn't mean we don't contribute to relief funds and do what we can to alleviate the human suffering that's going on down there; we just don't feel as great a need to talk about it.

  24. #24
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    "….In point of fact, the hospital across the street from the New Orleans
    Charity Hospital is not a private hospital; it is the Louisiana State
    University Medical School Hospital (which can be confirmed by a simple
    look at maps.google.com)…."

    Evidently you didn’t read the website you Googled. Because the hospital is indeed private. It serves "the private patients of the Tulane University Medical Group." So Dr. Gupta on CNN was correct.

    "….Since the city government is dominated by minorities I think you'll
    have a hard time playing the race card until we get some more solid
    evidence…."

    The city government wasn’t in charge of evacuating the stranded people, so its racial makeup is a moot point. And I’m not playing a race card. I am not a Democrat or a liberal per se but I do believe there’s reason to be concerned about racism and classism playing a part in the hampered rescues. I base this belief not just on what I am learning now but on my own observations as a citizen of the Southwest and as a reporter.

    "…. For many of us, it just doesn't evoke such a visceral reaction….."

    Sorry the deaths of hundreds of people, probably thousands, don’t "capture your imagination." Your whole response is apathetic and that’s the kind of attitude I’m talking about. I hope your friends and relatives don’t lose all their possessions, their homes and jobs and then, adding insult to injury, have to listen to some cad pontificate about why their plight isn’t moving or fascinating enough.

  25. #25
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    >>If this had happened in L.A. or Colorado or the East Coast, where white faces would be captured by the news media instead of primarily black ones, I bet more people in this country –– and abroad ––– would give a damn.<<

    With all due respect, I think you'll find quite a few people here give a damn. I spent quite a bit of time in New Orleans (My second ship was built there and I was part of the commissioning crew.) and I aquired quite a fondness for the place. Having said that much, I had to switch away from the T.V. news because I was starting to burn out on it, and I doubt I'm the only one.

    The scope of this tragedy is enormous and it's all anyone can do to get anything in there to take care of the living, much less look after the dead. About the only way the destruction could have been worse would have been if somebody had dropped a nuke on the city.

    Check out how much of it is below sea level. Everything in that area is going to have to be rebuilt if not replaced outright, and it'll be a minimum of five weeks...assuming nothing else goes wrong...befor any of that can even be started because that's how long it'll take to drain the city. (It may well take longer)

    In the meantime, there's a potentially monsterous problem in regards health risks to those who can't go anywhere and those who have to stay either to take part in rescue operations, provide support for same, and just plain pick up the pieces. The industry along the river means that there's a lot of toxic chemicals ending up in the water, nothing can be done about sewage, and then there are the thousands of corpses that are going to have be dealt with. Think in terms of cholora, typhoid, possibly even malaria. We haven't seen the like in this country and well over a century, but we may be seeing it in the very near future.

    Right now, the immidiate problem is logistics and as somebody who served in a supply rating, this is something I understand all too well. It looks to me like whoever did the planning for this...such as it was...didn't take into account the problems that would be cause just by havng the roads in and out of the city destroyed or rendered impassable. They're going to learn some very tough lessons, but right now, the agencies responsible for the relief efforts are at the bottom of what's going to be a very long learning curve.

    This is going to be one long and ugly ride, and I think we all know this.

  26. #26
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    Hi Randy!

    Evidently you didn’t read the website you Googled. Because the hospital is indeed private. It serves "the private patients of the Tulane University Medical Group." So Dr. Gupta on CNN was correct.

    OK, I found my error--when I'd looked up the Charity Hospital it showed the hospital immediately across Tulane Avenue as belonging to Louisiana State University. Having identified that, I didn't notice that Tulane Hospital is across LaSalle Avenue, which borders the Charity Hospital to the east (my bad).

    Nevertheless, I stand by the points I made in my previous post about there being other possible explanations--not the least of which being sniper fire at Charity Hospital (at least on Thursday), medical ethics dilemmas, or the result of logistical decisions. I'm just saying, I think it's premature to leap to a "class prejudice" explanation.

    The city government wasn’t in charge of evacuating the stranded people, so its racial makeup is a moot point.

    I would take issue with that, since the City did have a standing procedure in place since at least the year 2000 that called for the use of school buses to evacuate stranded residents from the city in the event of an emergency. The simple truth is, EVERYONE fell down on the job. Until additional information becomes available, I don't think we can read a racist explanation into that.

    I do believe there’s reason to be concerned about racism and classism playing a part in the hampered rescues. I base this belief not just on what I am learning now but on my own observations as a citizen of the Southwest and as a reporter.

    I agree that it's something we need to be watching for, and there will be plenty of opportunity to examine the evidence later. But I don't think that a federal program's failure to prove more efficient than a local program, in and of itself, warrants accusations of racism against the people who have sweated blood to take the hurricane victims to safety.

    Sorry the deaths of hundreds of people, probably thousands, don’t "capture your imagination." Your whole response is apathetic and that’s the kind of attitude I’m talking about.

    I didn't mean to suggest that what's happening down there isn't horrifying, or that we shouldn't do anything about it. See the final sentence in my last post:

    "This doesn't mean we don't contribute to relief funds and do what we can to alleviate the human suffering that's going on down there; we just don't feel as great a need to talk about it."

    Nevertheless I submit that we react differently to calamities depending on what, for lack of a better term, I'd call the "that could have been me" factor. When something happens that you take as a personal threat (eg terrorism), you do what you can for the victims and then you take some time to talk about what's happened and try to get it off your chest.

    But all that discussion, when all is said and done, is more for our own benefit than for that of the victims. And if for some reason I don't feel compelled to spend hours discussing a particular calamity online, that doesn't nullify all the time, effort, and/or money I may donate to relief efforts and reduce me to the status of an insensitve clod.

    --Jim

  27. #27
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    I don't think one can feel the same sort of horror for a natural disaster as one does for an act of human wickedness, such as terrorism. The horror I feel in this case arises from trying to imagine the suffering of spending five days in such appalling conditions - the heat, the degradation, the fear and incomprehension, the breakdown of order, and the thirst. And all, for many, knowing that loved ones are lost.

    The other dreadful aspect is the realisation that the veneer of civilisation is so very thin, much as I have always suspected but hoped never to find out personally. I don't think I would be very good at fighting for survival. I think it probably true to say that in such circumstances, young, strong desperate males are always going to dominate the resources through violence - whatever their ethnic background. What does seem racist, is to caption black males as looters and white middle-aged females as survivors trying to find food. This, however, may be a reponse to the obvious potential power to intimidate of the one, as opposed to the equally obvious weakness of the other.

    Looting is an interesting phenomena which I'm sure many people could write about better than I. It seems to have irrational elements of fear, anger and opportunism in it certainly. After all, how stupid is it to loot plasma TVs etc. in a drowned and festering city, from which you are clamouring to be evacuated, and when you have no home to take it to anyway?

    I don't know, and I don't expect we shall ever really know, which of the authorities - if any - were incompetent or heartless. I only know that faced with such an overwhelming breakdown in the communications and amenities we take for granted - roads, power, sustenance, cellphones etc. - it must have been an almost unimaginable situation. I know disaster planning does try to do exactly that, but it still is only imagination. The reality must be different, and can only truly be known once experienced. If I'd been a helicopter pilot trying to rescue a handful of people at a time from thousands, I think I would have been rather apprehensive.

    As a foreigner, I am certainly getting the impression of the people of America responding with real assistance, as well as anger, often at a very personal level - taking the homeless in, raising money, providing clothes etc. For those of us outside the USA it's a fairly stunning idea to offer aid to the richest nation on earth, although countries are.

    Also stunning are the images. People believe what they perceived to be the evidence of their own eyes and, even though we all know perfectly well that all cities have their poor, the sight of thousands of the poor, black and dispossessed, in a major US city, have been almost unbelievable, I'm afraid.

    Maybe, as a result of all of this, we will all be able to plan and provide better for the welfare of those least able to protect themselves. I certainly hope so, and would hope it can be done without becoming a political and racial furore since, no matter who is in the right or wrong, such dissension rarely seems to help anyone, especially the victims.

  28. #28
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    I've been away for a few days. Spent a good deal of yesterday with some very good friends in front of the television, watching reports from areas affected by Katrina. The coverage in Sydney has been extensive. We've been drawing our own conclusions, and inevitably speculating, about factors that may have exacerbated the disaster's effects. I'm not comfortable expounding on these interpretations, however, because I just don't know whether I'm appraised of enough facts to do so. I don't want to speak out of ignorance, particularly at such a time. And I'm afraid my own words of sadness seem pretty meagre and inadequate in the face of the scope of the images we're seeing on TV.

    I do know, however, that we are profoundly saddened by what is happening. The Australian Government has already committed $10 million AUD to the American Red Cross. There is a sense that if this tragedy could happen in the most wealthy and powerful nation on earth, then large-scale natural disasters could happen anywhere. We are taking a long, hard look at our own preparedness.

  29. #29
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    "….For those of us outside the USA it's a fairly stunning idea to offer aid to the richest nation on earth, although countries are…."

    Were this a normal disaster, maybe your comment would be justified, Monica. But this is a catastrophe larger than any other that has happened in America in modern times. The tragedy is being called "apocalyptic" and "biblical" in its proportions and I don’t think those descriptions are exaggerated. This just isn’t about the expense of current rescue and recovery operations, it’s about the the hardship of looking after the needs of survivors, which is going to last for months, maybe years, affecting our national economy to a giant extent.

    So monies are desperately needed and it sure won’t hurt other countries that have benefited from US aid for decades, to chip in. America is criticized and Americans disrespected everywhere by other nations, yet those nations are sure happy enough to take aid from us or to call on us if they’re in trouble. It’s about damn time they give something back.

  30. #30
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    Australia is not a recipient of US Aid, but we assist other countries with humanitarian assistance...particularly when they are friends. We are, of course, a long-standing friend and ally of the USA.

    BBC article on the offers from the world that have been pouring in:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4210264.stm

    It is particularly poignant to see money from countries like Sri Lanka, itself still recovering from the Tsunami.

    Like the US itself, the rest of the world is still coming to terms with what has happened and is determining the extent of aid needed. These are some of the preliminary offers that have come in (from CNN):

    http://edition.cnn.com/2005/US/09/04...aid/index.html

  31. #31
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    Watching and reading the overwhelming, heartrending stories coming out of all the affected areas, from New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana through Mississippi and Alabama, I contributed to the Red Cross rather than contribute to this thread - until now.

    Randy, I interpreted Monica's comment as being about the incomprehensible scale of the disaster rather than any sort of implied criticism. I have also been reading about the list of 70&#43; nations that have pledged - and sent - support, ranging from Azerbaijan to Venezuela, including some of the world's poorest nations who were hit by the tsunami and understand like no others what the US is going through.

    Like those nations and millions of people pledging support, my immediate interest is in some way helping the human beings, ordinary people like me, devasted by this, not debating the politics. As Randy and others have written, it will take years for the people, the region and the local economy to recover. Even though I'm on the other side of the planet, how can I not be affected and respond in the best way I can? From what I’ve read of the comments above, this seems to be true for all.

    While the early days may’ve brought out the worst in some people (to paraphrase the Louisiana State Governor), we’re now seeing the best of so many, including the generosity of neighbouring states in providing refuge to thousands - and they know it’s not a temporary measure, but long term.

  32. #32
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    At the risk of adding to the potential for burning out on these events, if anyone wants to get a sense of everything that's been happening, tune into one of the CNN channels for continuous coverage. I've been doing that much and it does help in regards keeping track of things.

    I've no doubt that there's going to be plenty of room for criticising government on all levels from the local to the federal but befor we become too quick to jump on that bandwagon, I would ask that everybody please consider the logistical problems that the relief agencies face. It's amazing how we take for granted something as basic as a good network of roads but only when it's gone do we begin to grasp just how important it really is.

    The airport in New Orleans at least is functional so that makes it possible to get some of the largest transport aircraft in the world in there with such essentials as food, water, and medicine, but once you have it there, what then? How do you distribute it all quickly enough to do some good when the available helicoptors and boats are tied up in search and rescue or trying to plug up the bloody dyke and the few usable roads can only get you in the general area but not deep into the heart of it all?

    Distribution is only going to be as rapid as the available boats, helicoptors, and some motor vehicals that can navigate flooded areas will allow, and the problems caused by armed gangs who shoot first and don't bother with questions later, snakes, alligators and the threat of disease won't help.

  33. #33
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    Have I unwittingly caused a problem here?

    I was trying to say two only things. Firstly, that I would not criticise any relief effort in the USA - I have neither the right nor the information. And my own efforts to empathise with both victims and rescuers makes me doubt anyone's ability to get it absolutely right to everyone's approbation ... when it's never happened before in a particular society.

    Secondly, that to witness such a disaster in the USA, necessitating international help is, in the most basic sense of the word, stunning. As Fiona said, it was a comment on the magnitude of the disaster, and implied no criticism whatsoever. And the fact that so very many nations across the world want to help is, I think, the most heartening aspect of the whole dreadful business. It makes you realise that people can put their differences aside, and just desperately want to help their fellow humans.

    And, on an entirely personal note, I just wanted to enter a (maybe vain) hope that politics and blame would not get in the way of practical solutions to the now-apparent welfare and disaster issues, which actually apply to us all. It could have been us.

    I can tell you that Londoners are (again, but now more urgently) casting a speculative eye on the Thames flood barrier, as a result of this. It was built over 20 years ago in the expectation that it might have to be used about once a year. In the last few years, it has been used many, many more times than that, and it also needs to be heightened. Whether or not that's due to global warming, the fact remains that it is the only defence between the English Channel and the London Underground / subway system, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers each day.

  34. #34
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    I, for one, am thankful for all the offers of aid and support, from around the world, to help the people in New Orleans and elsewhere.

    Here in the US, "finger-pointing" and "the blame game" will be echoed for some time, and we will, eventually, see what reprucusssions occur. But for now, the urgency must be helping those we can.

    For me, I realized that "I was beyond crying", though "my heart aches" when I see all the people in such dire need. There is part of me that would like to head to New Orleans and/or the outlying areas, to do whatever can be done to assist. I know if IRS and other Agencies put the word to come out and volunteer (offering advice and assistance), I will be first in line.
    "We will see", though, first, as assistance may be offered at the places where people are being taken to. Los Angeles County is working to deal with refugees/evacuees, as are other areas of California.

    We will have to see "what the future will hold", for everyone.

  35. #35
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    >>But for now, the urgency must be helping those we can.<<

    I completely agree on that. The politicising of all this is beyond disgusting in my not entirely humble opinion. The people in New Orleans need help in the here and now. The recriminations can wait for when the very worst of the crisis is over. A photo gallary of the Navy doing just that starts Right Here.

  36. #36
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    Well, I just caught a little blurb on CNN that the New Orleans Superdome is so badly damaged it may have to be torn down. Also, the mayor has given authorization for anyone remaining in the city to be forcibly removed if nesseccery. Pretty harsh but then so are the conditions. E Coli is loose in the water and dysentary is starting to become a problem. Given the toxic witches brew of bacteria and chemicals in the water now, it's a wonder that worse problems haven't cropped up.

    A few links to read:

    Floodwaters Begin To Receed

    Mayor Orders Forced Evacuation

    Aid Offers Pour In From Around The World

    Chemicals Bigger Concern Then Cholera

  37. #37
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    Just another quick link to add, this one to a photo of the Navy Housing area at the Seabee base in Gulfport Mississippi.

    Navy Housing...What's Left Of it.

  38. #38
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    (Cross posting from T-T) Here's a story on a guy I can understand and respect.

    A native son takes charge in Gulf Coast

    Bluff general invigorates hurricane relief effort.

    By Patrik Jonsson | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

    CAMP SHELBY, MISS. – He's known for his searing one-liners; a relentless schedule that allows only two hours of sleep a night; and a growly, commanding presence. He's also in charge of the military's response to hurricane Katrina. If that superstorm now rivals the 9/11 terror attacks on the scale of national disasters, then First Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré has emerged as the Rudy Giuliani of the Gulf Coast.
    For the rest of the story, go HERE.

  39. #39
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    A wind howls through the early morn
    Telling us that
    A storm is born

    Stealthily it moves
    Across the sea
    Not a warning for
    You or me

    It gets stronger and stronger
    A merciless beast
    Not stopping until
    A life is ceased

    Ashore it roars
    An angry monster
    No remorse

    The land is reaped
    Destruction abound
    After Satan’s feast
    No one is found

    Then the winds calm
    The waves round
    Leaving nothing but splinters
    For miles around

    Hurricanes are another big obsession of mine (I've collected over 200 satellite photos of them!). Hurricane Katrina represents a scenario for a perfect storm: a Category 5 hitting New Orleans. Katrina nearly snatched the title. Out of top 5 costliest hurricanes, 4 of them have happened in the past 2 years (Katrina-1,Charley-3,Ivan-4,and Frances-5). Jeanne ranks 7th. We need to stop pointing fingers and get aid to these people. The heart and soul of America's jazz scene has been obliterated and we just start pointing fingers and whining like 2nd graders. Anyway, enough ranting. You know, after the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 killed 8,000 and completely (I mean COMPLETELY) leveled Galveston, the city rebuilt and built better than before. The same was done after the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 (250&#43; dead, Miami destroyed) and the Lake Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 (2,000 dead, 1000s of square miles of south Florida underwater). And Andrew, and Camille. We will rebuild. It's not American nature to give up. Nature has no mercy. This storm has shown us that even with high tech forecasting equipment, Nature is still several steps ahead. Like a terrorist that can bypass any security measure. I stand in sheer awe of Nature's raw power. http://www.1900storm.com/photographs/photo1.html -stunning Galveston pictures here.

  40. #40
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    And now it looks like Rita is going to go in and start causing problems.From the AT&T Newspage:

    By MICHAEL RUBINKAM

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Under pressure from President Bush and other top federal officials, the mayor suspended the reopening of large portions of the city Monday and instead ordered nearly everyone out because of the risk of a new round of flooding from a tropical storm on the way.

    "If we are off, I'd rather err on the side of conservatism to make sure we have everyone out," Mayor Ray Nagin said.

    The announcement came after repeated warnings from top federal officials _ and the president himself _ that New Orleans was not safe enough to reopen. Among other things, federal officials warned that Tropical Storm Rita could breach the city's temporarily patched-up levees and swamp the city all over again.

    The official death toll from Hurricane Katrina reached 973 across the Gulf Coast, with the number in Louisiana alone rising by 90 to 736.
    For the rest of the story, click on New Orleans Suspends Reopening of City

    Comment: Is even thinking of bringing back the population really such a swift idea? Sure, it would be nice to get everybody home again and start the recovery, but with no basics like water, very little electricity, no sewage service, and precious little food to be had, the city is a long way from being habitable.

  41. #41
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    Those of us in Texas who have helped evacuees from Katrina are now faced with our own potential disaster as Hurricane Rita, already a Category 4, heads for Galveston and the Texas Gulf Coast. Galveston is now under mandatory evacuation. My sister, Melinda, and her kids, who live on Galveston isle, came up to stay with us late last night, during voluntary evacuation. We are all hoping and praying a repeat of Katrina, or Galveston’s own nightmare past, won’t happen. With Katrina fresh in everyone’s minds, it looks like better evacuation plans are being implemented, and that people are taking heed this time and getting the hell out.

  42. #42
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    Unfortunately, Rita's been upgraded to a Catagory Five with winds up to 165 mph. If it's any consolation, This Article would tend to indicate that some lessons have been learned from Katrina and look set to be applied. In the meantime, getting the hell out of Dodge looks to be a wonderful idea. As tough as it would be, getting over losing your house will be a lot easier then getting over being dead.

    Some other stories:

    http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/12706536.htm
    http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/nation...y20050921.html
    http://today.reuters.com/business/ne...yID=nN21301199

 

 

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