Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two years after Katrina - All fouled up

It's time to look back at the lessons of Hurricane Katrina two years later. First response to any disaster is the responsibility of local government, not the federal government. Think about it: the feds don't know your city as well as your local police, firemen and government officials who live and work there. They can't. So it doesn't make sense to expect the outsiders to be leading the effort when things are bad. The federal government's role is to come in 3 days later with supplies and manpower to distribute them and to provide clean-up help, then rebuilding, etc. FEMA did an excellent job. They had substantial supplies at the outskirts of the city ready to go before Katrina hit. The aid provided by FEMA was huge and timely. Myth: "President Bush was on vacation and did nothing." False. He asked Mayor Nagin to evacuate the city; he asked two or three days before it hit. And he flew over the city within a day of the storm. Local government failed when it was needed most. But it was more than a failure of government. It was a failure of their society. Many people who needed help to leave didn't use what was available. (Many did, on the other hand.) Warnings went out days in advance, but they were treated like false alarms. Previous "close-call" storms deconditioned people from fear; they bet on another close call and lost. The city of New Orleans had hundreds of buses that sat and got flooded; they weren't used to evacuate people. Why didn't Mayor Nagin use them? Governor Blanco let out the secret a few days later she said in effect "Nagin can't get his drivers to show up for work on a sunny day. We knew he wouldn't get them out when a hurricane was bearing down." Of course she had to take back the truth when it embarrassed poor Nagin. The Red Cross brought supplies to N.O. before Katrina hit and offered to take them to the Superdome, but the city declined. The city was required to have a plan for a hurricane disaster and it had it. But they didn't implement the plan. People found the plan on the city's web site during the aftermath. It was interesting reading, but tragically sad, because they did not or could not implement it. It was just words on paper written to get some federal money. Governor Blanco had a hand in the mess also. I don't recall the details now, but she wrung her hands instead of taking action when she could have saved lives. The main-stream media They got every big story wrong. They made huge spectacles of stories that either were totally untrue or were overblown to 10 times the problem. - The Superdome was not overrun by gangs raping and killing. There were some crimes committed there, but it was not run by criminals. - There was no storage of dozens of bodies in a freezer at the Superdome. Again, a few deaths and a few bodies stored, but no more than 5. - Relief helicopters were not held off by a small army of criminal gunmen. The story was something like one guy had a gun and took one shot. Over blown by 10x. - And just about every memorable negative story they had wrong. The worst news The same spineless incompetents are still in charge. They have allowed armed bands of criminals to overrun the city - this is now!. Nicole Gelinas of City Journal's article is in the Wall Street Journal:
In fact, since Katrina, New Orleans's murder rate has been higher than that of any First World city. Depending on fluctuating estimates of the city's returning population, it's perhaps 40% higher than before Katrina and twice as high as the rate in other dangerous cities like Detroit, Newark and Washington. Families trying to make a home in this environment live in fear, even while many have taken to rebuilding their homes with their bare hands.
This is the because elected officials are not cracking down on crime. They must feel sorry for the armed robbers. "We need more money" Our generosity to New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Katrina victims is unprecedented. We are giving them more than the funding of the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II. More! But the Marshall Plan was for 16 countries. The Washington Times has the details. See Jonah 3 September: Jonah Goldberg has an excellent analysis today in the LA Times:
But there was one thing missing from the coverage of this natural, social, economic and political disaster: the fact that Katrina represented an unmitigated media disaster as well.

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