Posts about neworleans

Can’t have it both ways

Sorry, Podhoretz, but you can’t have it both ways: Last week, the White House et al were complaining that local officials in New Orleans didn’t yell loud enough soon enough to demand help and that’s why the federal response was slow. Now John says the locals yelled and begged too much:

But I submit the cause of the panic wasn’t simply the unprecedented horror we were witnessing. It also grew out of the shockingly irresponsible conduct of local and state elected officials.

Now, I’m not talking here about the failure of the mayor of New Orleans to deploy a bunch of schoolbuses to help evacuate the town, or whether the evacuation plan was followed and when states of emergency were announced.

The federal government has taken the brunt of the public criticism for seeming out of touch and uncomprehending in those first few days. But what Mayor Ray Nagin and Gov. Kathleen Blanco did and didn’t do was worse. They consciously and deliberately assumed an attitude of powerlessness and hopelessness in the face of New Orleans’ woes that directly contributed to the lawlessness, chaos and disorder.

And The Post editorial tries to — how shall I put this? — exploit the undead by saying, well, of only hundreds, not thousands, died then, gosh, it wasn’t so bad after all, was it? The full story of Hurricane Katrina is beginning to emerge, and turning out differently than the unmitigated disaster the early, oft-hysterical, reporting led America to expect.

And not just in terms of the death toll, now certainly to be far below the thousands predicted by a panicked New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

It’s also clear that indictments of President Bush for failing to provide effective relief were wrong, too.
Or perhaps you could say that the evacuation by local officials was more effective than the national officials said.

But I won’t make either statement. Both are off.

This was a disaster. An American city was destroyed. People were left for too long without water, food, security, and rescue. Dozens of dead old people were taken out of a hospital yesterday. Efforts to minimize this — by any side — are tasteless, dishonest, and irresponsible.

Both sides need to admit that both sides screwed up. Everyone has to give the dead the respect of saying that they should not have died. Everyone should admit that they don’t know what the hell comes next. And everyone — whether you’re attacking or defending Bush or Nagin or Blanco — should concentrate on learning lessons, not glossing over them.

Buck stops where?

What amazes me about l’affaire Brownie is that is reveals how indecisive the Bush White House is. Why torture the puppy and relieve Brown of his Katrina duties only to have him “quit” a few days later? What was gained versus just getting rid of him in one swift cut? Why be indecisive when indecisiveness is exactly the problem with the government’s response to the storm? If local and state governments hadn’t screwed up, too, I think the downfall of the Bush legacy wouldn’t be Iraq after all, but Katrina. There’s still time.

Biting the hand that flacks me

With all the ways people are using the internet after Katrina — for news, relief, advice, finding the missing (covered incompletely here), even getting rescued – – what angle does The Times Monday online column choose to cover: nutjobs, racists, and religious kooks and Katrina. Yes, I come to believe that there is an agenda at work: the old trying to belittle the new.

Recovery 2.0: Links

Just wanted to make sure everyone knows about a Katrina project that didn’t get squeezed into the On The Media interview. I’d blogged it before but wanted to link to it again: KatrinaList.net uses the collected, distributed power of people on the internet to gather and enter data on the missing and displaced so friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors can be reconnected.

On Recovery 2.0

Bob Garfield talked to me about Recovery 2.0 on On the Media.

40,000 volunteers

The Red Cross needs 40,000 volunteers:

About 36,000 Red Cross volunteers are currently providing food, shelter and other emergency help to about 160,000 people at 675 shelters in 23 states, an agency spokesman said. But many of the volunteers, who typically serve three-week stints in the field, will be going home soon and replacements are needed.

Nagin speaks

The Times-Picayune publishes/blogs a lengthy interview with Mayor Nagin by reporter Gordon Russell. Lots in there; judge for yourself:

: On the buses:

Federal officials have also faulted Nagin’s administration for not marshaling its own buses and those of the School Board to start ferrying the tens of thousands of evacuees stranded at the Superdome and the Convention Center out of town.
Nagin said perhaps some of the criticism is fair. But he said there were various logistical hurdles that made it hard to use that equipment, and the buses would have hardly created a dent in the size of the crowds anyway.
“It’s up for analysis,” he said. “But we didn’t have enough buses. I don’t control the school buses, and the RTA (Regional Transit Authority) buses as far as I know were positioned high and dry. But 80 percent of the city was not high and dry. Where would we have staged them? And who was going to drive them even if we commandeered them? If I’d have marshaled 50 RTA buses, and a few school buses, it still wouldn’t have been nearly enough. We didn’t get food, water and ice in this place, and that’s way above the local level.
“Our plan was always to use the buses to evacuate to the Dome as a shelter of last resort, and from there, rely on state and federal resources.”
Those resources took way too long to arrive, Nagin said – in fact, much of the help didn’t arrive until after the mass evacuations from the Dome and the Convention Center had occurred.

Well, there’s the first FOIA I want to see: Let’s see the plan. Let’s see all the plans: city, state, and federal. Who was supposed to do what?

On the federal and state response:

Nagin’s biggest frustration, and his biggest source of puzzlement, is the slow pace with which relief arrived. He said state and federal officials made repeated promises that weren’t kept….

“All I saw was a huge two-step, if you will, between the federal government and the state as far as who had the final authority. Promises made that weren’t really kept. It was frustrating. We’d analyze things, double-check them, and then, later in the afternoon, we’d find out that someone was changing the plan, moving resources around.” …

” I think the government ought to be asking itself, ‘What happened to the resources?
Why were people promised resources and they didn’t show up? Where were the military resources? Where was the National Guard? Why were we left with a city on the verge of collapse, fighting for the soul of the city, with 200 National Guardsmen and 1,200 police?…”

On the SuperDome and Convention Center:

The city’s hurricane plan calls for portable toilets at shelters, but none ever arrived. Nagin said his understanding was that the National Guard was in charge of providing them.
Also, he added, “Our plan never assumed people being in the Dome more than two or three days.”

On the worst he saw:

“I saw stuff that I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” he said. “People wanting to die. People trying to give me babies and things. It was a helpless, helpless feeling.
“There was a lady waiting in line for bus who had a miscarriage. She was cleaning herself off so she wouldn’t lose her place in line. There were old people saying, ‘Just let me lay down and die.’ It’s bull…., absolutely bull….. It’s unbelievable that this would happen in America.”

On whether people will return:

“I think some people will probably not come back,” he said. “You know, Texas is treating people very well, probably much better than we treated people.”

On blame: Nagin acknowledged…

…that he may have made some mistakes but said that he hopes others in positions of authority – including President George W. Bush and Gov. Kathleen Blanco — are scrutinized as closely as he and his staff have been.
“I’m not pointing any fingers at anyone,” Nagin said. “But I was in the fire. I was down there. Where were they? I’m confident the truth is gonna come out. But I want everybody’s record analyzed just as hard as mine….

“It was a serious breakdown,” the mayor continued. “Make sure that whether it’s Ray Nagin or the governor or the president, we take a serious look at this and make the changes that need to be made. I’m afraid some of this was a tug-of-war about who gets to spend the money at the end of the day. And I don’t appreciate that….

“Analyze my ass, analyze everyone’s ass, man. Let’s put the facts on the table and talk turkey. Why was there a breakdown at the federal and state level only in Louisiana? This didn’t happen in Mississippi. That’s the question. That’s the question of the day.”

Nagin told the T-P that he bought a house in Dallas and that his child will go to school there. He will live in New Orleans but doesn’t know where; his house was in a bad flood area.

Bye-bye now

FEMA chief Michael Brown is being relieved of his duties overseeing Katrina relief, says MSNBC. He’s being replaced by an admiral. Oddly, it doesn’t seem he’s being relieved of his job. That’s as decisive as the White House is these days: half-acts.

: Sploid’s favorite Chertoff quote: “Brown has done everything he possibly could … ” Well, apparently so.

: I was waiting for Andrew Sullivan to dance a victory jig. I’m dancing, too.

But Brown is still in charge of keeping the rest of us safe. And that doesn’t make me feel safe at all.