Jump to content

The Federal Government and Katrina: Incompetent?

Recommended Posts

I'm gonna ramble a bit; if you need a cold drink or a sandwich, now is the time to get it...


Folks, let's not forget that 48 or so hours prior to the storm hitting the Gulf Coast, it was headed toward the Florida Panhandle. If my memory serves me correctly, the mandatory evac order was given approximately the same time the storm took a left turn. If an evacuation order had been given earlier, and folks headed east, and the storm continued over the Florida Panhandle, the evac order could still have put folks in harm's way. Catch-22.


Let's do the math on an evacuation: We've just witnessed it take SEVERAL DAYS to evacuate 25,000 some-odd folks from ONE CENTRAL location (Superdome) via bus. If EVERY school bus in that flooded parking lot was deployed in the poorer neighborhoods, without a central location, it would still take SEVERAL DAYS to evacuate all of those who WANTED to be evacuated. Let's say 25,000 folks again, 50 per bus.......500 buses. 100,000 folks, 2000 buses. Were there 2000 available, authorized, capable bus drivers (and buses)? Where would you take 100,000 folks for several days? If you start talking fewer buses, and multiple trips, then you start EXTENDING the amount of time required for an evacuation - which is part of what caused the timeframe for the Superdome evacuation.


Don't get me wrong - I am not being heartless or cruel. My heart truly aches for everyone in LA and MS. I've made my donations, and continue to say my prayers for all those affected - including a growing number here in Atlanta.


Yes, mistakes were made; in epic proportions; from everyone from the average citizen who ignored warnings, to city/state/fed authorities who either didn't know or didn't ask. This was Pearl Harbor all over again - we were sitting ducks, knew it, and still didn't take appropriate measures. The levees were known to have problems, and that's something that has been publicized for YEARS. Those who DID evacuate, and do what was proper, are STILL going to suffer anyway. It's a worst-case scenario that isn't going to be solved easily, quickly, or cheaply.


knottyfox, our prayers are with you. I think I speak for ALL of us here when I say that. You are truly in the middle of hell on earth, and we know that. Our "20/20 hindsight" is from shared anger, embarassment at our mutual authorities, and our anguish at the situation.

I don't think anyone here means to sound insensitive - myself included. Forgive me if I do.


As for "relocating" New Orleans because of potential natural disasters......well, let's just play it safe and relocate EVERY city that has the potential for a natural disaster. Gotta relocate LA and San Fran. Idaho, they're coming your way. Parts of Alaska have potential tsunami dangers - New Mexico, find room for them. The entire Mississippi basin is prone to flooding - all you "river rats" are on your own; find your own place to relocate. Snow up north can cause killer blizzards. Texas should suit those folks just fine.


My point there is that very few places in the US have NO potential climatological or other natural disaster possibilities. Relocating New Orleans physically simply isn't any more feasible than the other relocations I noted above. knottyfox, and the other Lousianans out there, RECLAIM YOUR HOME AND TELL THOSE WHO WANT YOU TO MOVE WHERE THEY CAN GO.


As for the political/racial overtones being thrown at this disaster/response; I for one will no longer listen to it, and have pretty much told a few folks at work today the same final point I'll make here:




Otherwise, we're only giving ourselves "the finger".......


soapbox retired.......


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 36
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic


Yup I feel that way. They knew what was coming. Maybe the warning could have come earlier. But I'll bet they were watching the Weather Channel for weeks & knew there could be a disaster & still they chose to stay. And there are some who still refuse to leave & expect to be supported! Sorry. My compassion only stretches so far. You have to know when to come in from the rain.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

Link to post
Share on other sites

I may be insensitive but I cannot make any sense of the choice of a half-million people that would willing live below sea level next to an ocean that has a yearly hurricane season and next to a large river that will inevitably overflow it's banks and will flood the below sea level city no matter how high or how long the levees are extended and next to a very big lake that will come in anytime the levees are breached in a big storm. The only back-up are the large pumps that are known to be able to take out an insufficient amount of rain water and if the rain is a little too much, the pumps will stop altogether. I am supposing that it doesn't make any difference to the people of that fair city or maybe the attraction and the fun of living there is worth the risk, I don't have a clue.


That being said, when I see a drowning person, I am going to figure out, find, work at or jump in and rescue immediately. I am not going to scratch my head and wonder about the reason they are in the water when I know full well that they cannot swim. My judgment must be suspended, if I am going to be of service. Now, it may take 48 hours to respond to a disaster but three days is a little slow on the draw by any standard and everyone knows it. Even if communications are mixed and few working radios are to found while politicians are jockeying with each other for a picture, somebody has to do something or the victim will drown for sure or maybe that is the idea, I dont know.


I also want to point out that after this is all over, there will be another massive effort at rebuilding a city below sea level next to an ocean with yearly hurricane season, etc., etc., etc. but I guess none of that is important.


Our family is and will continue to help.




Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that there seems to be plenty of blame to go around, but I have to say that FEMA does seem to have dropped the ball. Whether this is because of poor leadership, or because too many resources have been diverted to other DHS activities, I don't know.

But I think one thing this disaster has shown is that we really do need a swift federal response to major events like this--it became clear that troops were needed several days before they arrived in force. Imagine how much worse this might have been if it had been a terrorist attack with no warning--as one article I read said, what if terrorists blew up the levees? What happens if there is a nuclear or biological attack in a major city? I just thought we should have had our act together better than this by now.

By the way, I think arguments about the role of race obscure the fact that poverty was an important factor in what happened--it really doesn't matter what race the poor people were. But because they were poor, they were less informed, less able to evacuate, less likely to have a social safety net to rely on. I hope this event shows that an evacuation order is not enough--there has to be an evacuation plan with the means of evacuating large numbers of poor people.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to add a bit to Hunt's excellent post. A plan to evacuate the old, the infirm, and non-mobile has to be considered. Not everyone has a car and the resources to take off and leave the area. Not everyone has cable and gets the weather channel (Horrors)


And sadly, there also has to be public confidence that if they leave, there will be security so that possessions left behind will be there on return.


Many lessons learned, and we are just getting started.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For many people having a reason to leave does not always give them the ability to leave. Mnay of the people who stayed behind had little choice. Some did not have anywhere else to go, or a way to get there. Some I am sure had familiy members that could not be moved easily and they stayed with them rather than to abandon them. Others were being to ask to abandon evrything they owned without any idea of how they would ever replace it or begin anew and stayed out of pure desparation.


There is an old proverb about not judging others until you have walked in their shoes. To know whether a not a person COULD have left takes far more knowledge than saying they SHOULD have left.


As far as whether aid got there as soon as possible or not, I would like to hear comments from the posters here who are trained to respond to a massive disaster covering a geographic area larger than Great Britain where nearly all communications have been lost.


Where are all the people in need located?

Who gets help first?

What resources are needed?

What resouces are available?

What can you do with what you have?

Where will resources come from?

What avenue of delivery is accessible?

With no communications how do you find the people who need to do this and how do they get to the resources they need?


Katrina did not create an inconvenience, or a problem, it created a disaster! The size of which most people living in America today have NEVER personally experienced. To sit back and observe it through the comparativley tiny window of a TV screen and criticize ANYONE is outrageous.





Link to post
Share on other sites

I am waiting for someone to point the finger at the French for selling us Louisiana to begin with...(yes that was an attempt at levity)

no insensitivity here...there were some unfortunate circumstances edified by posters within this thread that clearly show some of the residents were not unwilling but not aware of just how much danger they were in and to compound it, the lack of opportunity to move out of the path.

But back to Kahuna's original post...can't help but agree with everything except the corruption and scandal (don't know enough about it to say) I know we heard about the police force scattering before, during and after the storm...but I wonder just how well these officers were able to handle the evacuation of their families if they were mandated to serve the city...tough call...but also noted was the apparent fortitude of the fire fighters...none have left or quit...what was the difference...or did we hear the whole story?

IMHO FEMA should never have been brought under the DHS umbrella.

My prayers go out to those who had to bear this disaster and to those children that had to endure this for many of us will never know the hardships that were presented in a time and day that thought only third world nations succumbed to nature.(off my soap box now...whew)

Link to post
Share on other sites

To take Kahuna's thought a bit further . . .a Congressional investigation into the non-response of the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. . . ? Me? I'd pay money to see that! Hoo-boy, cher', we pass a good time then, haa?

Pearl Harbor was mentioned. Let's not let ol'Dugout Doug (MacArthur) get away, either. Roosevelt sent him to the Phillipines to head the military preparations there in case of war in the mid-1930's. As soon as the Japanese attacked, ol' Doug put U.S. forces on half-rations and ran like heck for the Bataan Peninsula. Roosevelt had called ol' Doug "the second most dangerous man in America". Guess who was first? Sen. Huey P."Kingfish" Long, (D) Louisiana(!). Some things just don't change. Anybody care to guess why Roosevelt sent Macarthur to the Phillilines (you'll love it.)? It was another fine example of your federal tax dollars at work. Semper, you know this one?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think they should open all the rest of the Canals flood the whole shooting match, give every family 100K and leave the city to rot away. Seems like we never learn, here we go you and I are gonna have to pay to rebuild in the same below sealevel spot.

Link to post
Share on other sites

" I know we heard about the police force scattering before, during and after the storm...but I wonder just how well these officers were able to handle the evacuation of their families if they were mandated to serve the city...tough call...but also noted was the apparent fortitude of the fire fighters...none have left or quit...what was the difference...or did we hear the whole story?"


There are some basic differences between fire and police. Fire departments usually are quartered in a building which houses the trucks and equipment. Usually there are bedrooms, lockers, showers, bathrooms, and a kitchen since they are staffed round the clock. Often these buildings have generators. Fire fighters could store food and water at their station ahead of the storm. They have a place to return to after working that is relatively safe.


Police on the other hand use a patrol car as their office. Certainly there are police stations but they are designed as office space or cells for offenders. Not really any place to store extra supplies. Police tend to rely on their vehicles which have limited storage space.


In both cases, their families still need to be tended to. Both families are used to the worker being gone for periods of days due to the nature of shift work. This encourages the family to develop some of their own surival skills. My BIL is a ranking officer in a metro police force. In speaking with him over the years, he is primarily concerned with protecting himself while dealing with "bad guys". To him preparation is having more police around than bad guys.


Fire fighters jobs are more helping oriented vs. enforceing rules oriented. Most of the fire fighters I know and work with tend to be self reliant and gear junkies. Fire fighters tend to be problem solvers with limited tools and equipment. There job is to figure out how to accomplish the unbelievable with limited equipment in the worst conditions. Very similar to a military attitude.


I know that my upbringing as a scout taught me to Be Prepared. When I joined the Fire Dept, I learned they live the motto. As a rescue squad member, I learned many ways to accomplish tasks using only manual labor and limited tools. My garage is filled with supplies to allow my family to not only survive but thrive in emergencies. But if my house were flooded, I would be handicapped. Given the warning, I would have moved my supplies to higher ground. Evacuating is a scary thought. I hope I never had to make that decision.



Link to post
Share on other sites

There will be plenty of recriminations, I'm sure, before all is said and done on this, and it'll be years until it's all sorted out, I'd bet. But here are a couple of thoughts, without laying any blame at the feet of all the brave folks out there right now trying to make things right for the people of New Orleans.


We all share the "blame" to some extent for the response to this disaster. Why?


First, New Orleans only exists because of Federal taxpayer dollars being spent by the Army Corps to hold the waters at bay. The levee system around NO was built to withstand a Level 3 Hurricane. Why? Because of a cost/benefit analysis done by the Corps., which you can be sure took into account the political will of the American people to pay for this. If you're going to build something to protect an entire city, any engineer will tell you that you can't place bets, you have to build to the worst case scenario. The American people would have certainly balked at the cost; now, we'll pay to rebuild the city instead.


Second, the ability of rescue teams to respond is dependent, to some extent, on the kind of equipment they have and their transportation capabilities. If we, as a country, said through our votes that we wanted a response system that could respond almost instantaneously to any disaster, we could very well have it. The cost in manpower, technology, storage depots, etc, would be tremendous, but possible. To some extent, anyway. A large enough disaster will tax and overwhelm any rescue system.


One thing I've noticed very clearly during my voting years is that everyone wants everything, but nobody wants to pay for it.


Third, many in our country want everything done for us. In my earlier days as a climber/backpacker, I did receive some rudimentary training in rescue, to be sure, so that we could help each other when necessary. The attitude was that, to some extent, you had to rely on yourself when bad things happened. Many people seem to be poorly prepared to take care of themselves in case of disaster, whether it be their house burning down, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. People can only do so much on their own, of course, but if people with the capability to help themselves don't do so, it puts that much more burden on the rescue system, which should be helping those who really can't help themselves. Maybe it's an education problem. People need to understand that when a disaster happens, for some amount of time, they are likely to be on their own. Maybe the rescue system includes every family being educated on what they need to have in their home to survive the first 48 hours of a disaster.


So, did someone screw up in planning the response system? I don't know. There are plenty of stories around now. One said that FEMA and Homeland Security planning is being directed to respond to biochemical attacks and the like, rather than natural disasters. National Guard units are saying that because the Army is short on equipment in Iraq, they have to leave their equipment there when their deployment is over, hampering their response back home while they re-equip. Who knows? You can almost bet that whatever we plan for, the "other thing" will happen. It's Murphy's Law at work.


There will always be a contingent saying "this should have been better". We NEED those people to say those things so that improvements can be made, so those who can't stand the criticism coming out need to stand back and see why it's being said. Sure, some of it is for political reasons, but the main thing is that the information see the light of day.


If you absolutely HAVE to blame someone, I suppose you could go to your homeowners insurance. In there it says something about "Acts of God". Maybe that's as good a place as any to point the finger of blame if you have to do so.



Link to post
Share on other sites

My mother thinks New Orleans was punished for being a den of sin--I told her that's why it was smart to build Las Vegas in the desert.


About people not evacuating--I think we may find that a major factor in people resisting evacuation was pets. Unless you could evacuate yourself, you generally could not bring your pets along, and many people simply would not voluntarily leave them. I don't know what to make of this, exactly, but I've read a number of reports that support this idea.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...