Friday, May 26, 2006

Katrina aftermath

You all should know that I'm not the biggest Bush fan in the world - but I very much agree with this conservative editorial that appeared in today's Erie Times. It pretty much discusses how the Bush administration has been given undue blame and how the media has exaggerated a lot of what went on with Hurricane Katrina. I'm also reading an article in the current issue of Vanity Fair that kind of vindicates Brownie for his performance and calls him a scapegoat. Here's the thing: How many times have you been warned of a storm that never developed as badly as predicted? Happens in the winter here all the time. What if you never left your house every time they said a "blizzard" was coming?

The Vanity Fair article even recounts how the famous N'awlens drink "The Hurricane" was invented by some revelers waiting out a hurricane. Obviously, they didn't evacuate and lived to pass their drink recipe on to millions... I would say that 90% of the time, the best thing you can do with storms is wait them out. And after all, this is the "Big Easy" we're talking about. I think that nickname means that people there don't get too worked up about things. Truthfully, I think I would have reacted the same way the mayor of New Orleans did, who has received criticism for not wanting to ruin the tourist trade by shouting "hurricane" too early.

Okay, having said all that, there was a fuck-up with the levies. But that had nothing to do with emergency management. That was something that should have been fixed well in advance, because it's always better to prevent a disaster than manage one well once it happens. If Bush was responsible for not fixing those levies, than fuck him. But, I think that problem may predate him.



DocTorDee said...

Yeah, I always thought that blaming W. for every problem associated with Katrina was mostly bogus. I do agree that he's not a strong leader in terms of reacting quickly and decisively to a disaster, sot that's part of the problem.

Remember his reaction to 9/11? He looked like a deer in the headlightsas he sat in the classroom in Florida. His reaction--as the leader of United States--actually frightened me.

And the reason he appeared decisive as far as attacking Iraq in the name of the "war on terror" is because they had the Iraq war planned for a long time and they finally found their excuse. That's why he looked like a man in control.

But with Katrina, if anything, it involved sins of omission rather than comission. Now, we could certainly make the case that money should have been spent in the United States instead of in Iraq, but most people wanted the Iraq war, so you can't blame him for that.

As for FEMA's response, I don't know all the details, but I do know that a lot of effort was given to help people affected by Katrina--both by FEMA and by average citizens. There was a lot of money spent and a lot of National Guard were sent.

Did FEMA make mistakes? Probably. Was Brownie scapegoated? Probably. But this WAS a natural disaster and--check the record on this--people suffer and die in natural disasters.

I'm not trying to be mean, but people DO die in natural disasters, and Katrina was a big fucker.

Today, we live in an age where all the suffering and death are recorded by news crews in helicopters, so it makes it seem like somehow, someone should be doing something about it. It makes it more painful.

Besides, New Orleans--and I would love to visit the city some day--exists UNDER sea level. That's a dangerous bid from the get-go.

In 1996, I was flooded out of my home in Pittsburgh (I lived along the Allegheny River). It sucked--hard--and all of us wanted someone to come in and save us from our worry and fear.

The Red Cross did send buckets and mops and sanitary cleaning supplies, so that was cool. But, in reality, it was our mess to clean up. It took weeks to clean up the mud and silt and shit.

The ironic thing is that two guys from the Verona VFD sat in a firetruck in front of my house as the waters slowly rose. Luckily, my neighbor called me at 2am and said "Get the hell out." By the time I got outside (in January), the water was half way up the tires on my truck, and slowly freezing.

What were those fuckers in the firetruck thinking? Obviously, they knew the waters were rising. That's why they were sitting there: they were marking the edge of the water's rise.

So, why didn't they take the simple step of knocking on my door? Maybe they didn't have orders to clean the neighborhood. So why not? Who's in charge?

Do you see my point?

As I drove away from the scene, I noticed that the two dudes were sitting in the truck, one of them smoking a cigarette. I guess my point is that if I can't count on the local VFD to wake me up as the waters rise and engulf my home, how can we really have high expectations for the federal government to save us from our suffering without mixup or error?

We can't. We can try to help those who suffer---and I'm all about that. But human nature is just too odd and inexplicable for us to expect that everything should work out perfectly all the time.

As Ralph might say, "The patterns are sometimes just way too big."


Ralph said...

Right, and I think judging by the thousands upon thousands that die in some third-world countries when disasters strike - like this earthquake that followed a year or so after the tsunami in Indonesia, the U.S. is at least in the top half and maybe even bordering on a first-world country - whatever that is.