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No bullshit

Credit where credit is due

Still hesitant to engage much in the way of Hurricane Katrina commentary, but noting a couple of items:
  • First, a great use of Google maps and "Wiki"-style community contribution. Wicked smaht; I hope it helps many people.
  • Second, those wanting to make a hero out of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (especially while criticizing the response of other authorities) have some serious questions to answer first (via Nagin's Wikipedia entry):
    Nagin's performance in the Hurricane Katrina crisis has been criticized as well and Nagin has been accused of deflection. As mayor he was responsible for establishing evacuation centers and keeping local order. Yet apparantly there were no meals ready to eat (MRE's) stored at his designated evacuation center—the Superdome. There was no water purification equipment on site, no chemical toilets, anti-biotics or anti-diarrheals stored for a crisis. The mayor had not designated any medical staff to work the evacuation center. The city had not established a secure sick bay within the Superdome. The city had not sent police or other vehicles through the poorest neighborhoods with evacuation announcements prior to the storm. There were no functioning backup emergency communications police or fire-rescue radios available. Additionally, the city stored the school buses on low ground where they were flooded and then not available for evacuation.
    Dude. Duh. There's just no way to throw stones at FEMA, et al. without completely wrecking Nagin's glass house (something not well understood by self-absorbed grandstanders like Kanye West). While others take heat while also managing multiple priorities on state, regional, national, and global levels, Nagin had a single area of responsibility—New Orleans, the city that elected him—and biffed it in ways that contributed immediately and directly to the suffering residents continue to face. When the time comes to debrief and assign blame (not yet, Kanye—simma da na!), he would do well to prepare for a steaming helping.


Have you heard this Nagin audio interview?

I'm with you on individual responsibility first, radiating further and further outward as greater help than each "individual" can supply is needed. I definitely think they underestimated the security problem until it was too late and now they're stuck overreacting to the people that are merey paralyzed by the tragedy and the lack of basic needs supplied.

I also hear a lot of people complaining how long this response has taken (because, living in our country, we expect a lot). In other disasters it's taken this long (at LEAST) to respond as we have so far and we've never had a situation with these circumstances. Still, I understand the outright desperation of people being forced to stay in a dangerous and unstable situation (like the Superdome) without anyone coming in to help them until they could respond with significant force.

It frightens me when a situation that had some notice is this poorly responded to when we're all at risk of terrorist attacks and down here in CA we're gonna fall off into the ocean some day. I know there will be some looting and lawlessness here too, when that happens, but it's unlikely that the residents of the communities near me will react exactly the same as in a community that had as much crime and poverty as New Orleans. It's frightening for the good people there who feel they haven't been protected/helped at all.

And now hooligans are continuing and burning down their city.
I'd heard part of that.

I love how he fails to do what he's responsible for in advance of the crisis, then when it occurs, Nagin doesn't just want help, he wants more authority delegated to himself (yet later seems to understand that it's not going to happen). He let his school busses be submerged, then wonders why Greyhounds haven't been mobilized. He defends what he's done regarding requesting support and martial law, but when asked for specifics, he replies with generalities like "everything" and "everybody," then doesn't seem to know how anyone is responding. He's conveniently clueless in ways that absolve him of any responsibility for doing his own job well and right.

I'm sorry, but he sounds like a total asshat and I wouldn't want him leading me down the block.