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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina Shock and Devestation - Arial View

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Some of it depends on whether you have been to New Orleans, and I have.

More depends on whether you have friends living in the region, and I do.

Even more depends upon whether some have homes directly within the City of New Orleans itself, and some of my friends do and their houses are flooded out completely.

The shock of knowing this is numbing. I have no way of knowing how they or their family fared except one who I had the foresight to check on before the levee broke though his brother, his family so large that one of them was bound to be there, of course I was worried about their home town of Thibodaux, La, but the local newspaper the comet was online yesterday and assured me that all was well there.

In my last post, I had a cute little limerick that was my own way of staving off the growing anxiety about the event. I have been tempted to take it down, but have decided not to because it is a perfect example of how foolhardy we can be in our confidence before a storm that all will be well after it. Telling stories about previous storms, battened down far from any real sign of danger. Worse yet, Chicago has had almost perfect weather the whole week. Not even a trace of the storms power reached here. It all veered off well before coming north. That has not always been the case.

I took off a couple of days off in writing partly because a small surgical procedure and the post-operative meds pretty much have kept me sleeeeeepy since then and getting blogger to work properly was challenging. Looking back, I think I tried to blog at least once during a maintanence period. Who knew?

I was starting to think that Google's blogger servers were underwater. But no. More probably it has been the stress of all of wanting to know now the latest news about Hurricane Katrina survivors, resucue attempts, political blowups, media gaffs, stresses on the rescued, delays in the delivery of vital services and all of the other issues that the media have been quick to report and less quick to understand, hence the looters vs finders gaffe.

First things first, to take a look at the Katrina Google Map of New Orleans Images Right_Click Here That's Right-Click Please. It may be a little thing, but by right-clicking you open up the map in a new window.



I have the map set to check the conditions around St. Louis Cathedral and Jefferson Square, but who are we kidding? If you want to know how the French Quarter survived Hurricane Katrina look just two blocks west to Burbon Street and you will see that it is dry too. How ironic that of all places in New Orleans, it is the French Quarter that is dry......

From here you can use the scale button to zoom up and out and check other areas of the city, as you do so the scale of the disaster becomes clear very quickly, yet at the same time has an overwhelming element to it. The questions that are raised become self-evident.

Q: Where was the Louisiana National Guard early on in this disaster?
A: Probably mostly in Iraq where they are probably unbelievably frustrated as they watch the chaos that they signed up to prevent, and the aide that they could have given go unlent, twist in the wind, while Ossama Bin-Ladin still goes free.

Q: Is anybody really to blame for this? This could not have really have been forseen could it?
A: Of course there are people to blame for this - starting with the legislators who did not want to spend the billions in the 80's to rebuild the New Orleans Levy System as the Army Corps of Engineers insisted was needed at the time. So instead of paying $10 - $20 billion then, America is now faced with the deaths of possibly a thousand+ civillians and a $100 Billion damage cost - WITHOUT improving the Levee system that will still need to be done.

Who would be responsible for that? Republican legislators who fought the levee bills down tooth and nail as examples of Democratic Big Government, and President Bush for draining the nation's national guard reserves, designed for just such an emergency, to fight for oil in Iraq, while his Oil reserves on the Gulf coast go unprotected.

Q: If the Superdome was to be used as an emergency shelter, why weren't emergency supplies, that is concesssions, fit to be distribuited through the superdome's concession stand system, delivered to the dome prior to the storm hitting?
A: Maybe opening up the Superdome was a last minute decision, that's the only explanation that I can think of, but why at least a giant miliatry helecoptor or two could not have been filled from the Coca-cola bottling plant in Atlanta to at least get some carbohydrates and liquid to the people waiting and thirsty there is beyond me. This could be one of those situations
where I don't understand the number of people waiting vs the capacity of the facility.

Q: If Bush had gotten there earlier could he have put his finger in the dike until Cheney
got there with a roll of Duck tape and kissies to make it all better?
A: Of course not! Clinton might have been able to do something but he's promised Hillary not to anymore. Really, the seeds for Bush's part in this disaster were when he sent so many members of the Louisiana, Alabama, Missisippi, Florida and Texas National Guard (Hurricane states) who could have added a great deal of assistance in a very short time to Iraq. And you can bet That every Republican congressman and Senator up for election in the next cycle hopes
that America forgets that.

Q: Was it racist of the media to refer to black people taking things from stores as "looting"
while referring to white people doing the same things as "finding things".
A:Since I haven't seen the clips side be side, it would be predudicial behavior to say one way or another right now, but it shore do look like the media done bad on this one. Shame, shame, shame. You ought to know better than that. Now go to Aunt Bea and have some apple pie Opie, and don't you do that again, or Uncle Jessie and Uncle Al gunna punish you with their poetry again.

Q:Was that last answer racist?
A: I hope not. But I break even either way. I happen to love to listen to JJ, JJJR, AS,
CMB and especially our next VP Mr. Obama speak. If they get upset, I get to apologize in person and maybe and get their autographs. Sweet. Hey, with a little luck I can reconcile on Oprah on gift day! Whoopie!

Q: Why hasn't anyone speculated whether the levee, which broke late in the game,
didn't do so as a result of a terrorist incident?
A: Nobody thought of it? They thought of it but did not want to start a panic? They thought of it and it would be an admission of yet another Bush administration screw-up? They
thought of it but all evidence would have been washed away immediately? They are
hoping to pin it on Pat O'Brian's Cow? Swimming is not yet a module at terrorist
training camps? They tried, but the FBI caught a guy destroying pairs of Levis
in Fat City who seemed very confused at the lack of terror his actions caused.

Q: Will Mardi Gras be held this year?
A: Yes. In Mobile, Baton Rouge, all across the south. As you could see, the French Quarter
seemed dry. Whether the city will feel able to host Mardi Gras is a whole other kettle of
fish. You might want to consider sending the money you would have spent this year to the
city directly and having a nice basement. How long it will take for Mardi Gras to recover
depends on a lot of things including where the Krewes stored their floats in relation to the
storm damage. Never fear, you can always order a moon pie and some beads on the internet.
Oh, there is always Carnival in Rio.

There is also a rumor, just a rumor mind you, that Mahr Grass will be celebrated in a well known talk show hosts back yard that weekend. Hard to believe really that Bill would do such a thing or that Danny Bonnaducci already had plane reservations made for the event.

Q: Why did it seem that so many of the victims were disproportionately African-American.
Was there racism at work here?
A: Yes and no. To the degree that like many urban areas, large portions were occupied by
poor, and/or elderly, and/or disabled African Americans who were clustered together
in high poverty, high crime areas and therefore had fewer ways out of the city, yes there
seemed to be a race-based effect. However, if DC had flooded or the South Side of Chicago
you might have had similar demographics, with a few more whites and Hispanics
in Chicago - though the last two have far superior public transit systems and thus would
be more effective in moving people out of the city center in an emergency, a problem, in
New Orleans. At the same time there is tremendous poverty in New Orleans going back
how many years in some families? It could also be that camerapersons find it easier in times of tragedy and discord to focus in on high contrast African-American persons, rather than low-contrast cacasians, especially when shooting tape of a store being founded.

So, are these question and answers fair? Even handed? Probably not. I am just writing what I am thinking about. I hope there is not more bad news to come. This is a terrible situation and may yet get worse. Give what you can to the American National Red Cross, Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army or some other large and reputable group that will take money, food clothes. ETC. With all this ridiculous stuff I've been saying there have been some remarkable acts of charity made so far that I should be writing about instead.

So many people offering home space, food, clothes, education, anything to those who now have nothing. So many examples of American Charity at work. So many examples of heroism among those who ran boats, helicopters, buses far into the night and the next day.

And the prayers ringing out today across the land may be greater than those seen in a long, long time here.

And for any of us who thought our petty problems meant squat. We are humbled. Even ranting about Bush is no fun anymore. This situation is so bad that all we can do is whatever we can do, and not forget to turn off the newa every once in awhile and be with those we love.

If you worry about the whereabouts of those you love today, my prayers are with you.

Peace.

Peter
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