Let's See...Bottled Water, Flashlight, Gun...
Let's set aside the notion that Hurricane Katrina grew so large because Bush wouldn't sign the Kyoto accords and global warming is making storms bigger. I don't buy that, or at least I won't buy it until actual scientists conduct actual studies and come up with actual evidence. Let's also set aside the fact that the Bush Administration proposed spending dramatically lower amounts on levee repair and other construction of hurricanne defenses than the various local agencies begged for. Let's set all this aside for now.
Let's look at how the people who are in control, who hold power in our governement, have responded to the disaster along the Gulf Coast.
Here's President Bush on Good Morning America
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."
That's odd, as I heard an expert on NPR that very morning saying that the levees could indeed be breached even after the main part of the storm passed. Plus there are the dozens of articles written over the last few years describing such a scenarion and FEMA's own disaster plans. Yet the President says nobody anticipated it.
That's what I heard on NPR Monday morning. Last night as I left work I heard Robert Siegel interviewing Michael Chertoff, the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Siegel asked Chertoff about the horrific scene at the Convention Center, which I'd been reading about at CNN. Here's what Chertoff, who, may I remind you, is the guy who is in charge of Homeland Security, had to say:
Robert Siegel: We are hearing from our reporter, he's on another line right now, thousands of people at the convention center in New Orleans with no food, zero.
Chertoff: As I said, I'm telling you we are getting food and water to areas where people are staging. The one about an episode like this is if you talk to someone or you get a rumor or an anecdotal version of something I think it's dangerous to extrapolate it all over the place.
Robert Siegel: But Mr. Secretary when you say we shouldn't listen to rumors. These are things coming from reporters who have not only covered many many other hurricanes, they've covered wars and refugee camps. These aren't rumors, they are saying there are thousands of people there.
Chertoff: I would be--I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water.
Michael Brown, the head of FEMA (that's Federal Emergency Management Agency, meaning Brown is the head of the federal agency that manages emergencies) said that the death toll would be high because:
"Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN. "I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans."
In other words, the folks who are trapped? It's their own fault. Of course, most of the studies and plans about New Orleans getting slammed figured that between 100-200,000 people wouldn't evacuate, with the majority of them people who were too poor, too old, or too infirm to get out. Which seems to be exactly what happened.
Brown also said, when asked what his biggest challenge was at the moment, said:
I think it's conveying to the American public just how catastrophic this disaster is.
Not saving people trapped by the flooding or bringing in supplies or restoring law and order. Nope, he needs to make sure we all know just how bad things are.
We need to ask a big question here--how the HELL did we allow people like these to have so much control over our lives? How did we as a nation sink so low that we could elect someone like George Bush President? TWICE
. This was a hurricane, we had 2 or 3 days warning. What would've happened if it'd been a dirty bomb instead? Or a biological attack? We now know that, not only are we completely unprepared to deal with a large-scale disaster, those in leadership positions are grossly incompetent. We are adrift, and there's no one up on deck to take the wheel.
Think maybe it's time to put together a little disaster preparation kit, since if the shit ever hits my particular fan I don't think I'm going to get much of a return on my FEMA/DHS investement. Some bottled water, a few packs of Ramen noodles, a flashlight, a transistor radio...and it looks like a gun would come in handy, too. A nice, big, loud gun.