This Week's Issue: Hurricane Katrina

You and I don't know each other very well yet, but in the hopes of starting off this relationship with an element of trust, I'm going to reveal one of my darkest secrets.

I am a Weather Channel junkie.

There, I said it. And now that it's out in the open, you'll understand why I spent all day Sunday glued to the television, taking in every bit of Hurricane Katrina coverage and growing increasingly concerned that this was more than just the typical over-hyped storm.

On Monday evening, I started to think I had been unduly swayed by all the breathless reporting and dire warnings. Parts of New Orleans were under several feet of water, but it hardly seemed to have become the new Atlantis and relieved evacuees thought they would soon be able to return home. Less than 24 hours later, water was pouring into New Orleans from neighboring Lake Pontchartrain -- the result of at least two breached levees.

As the water levels rise, the debate intensifies over how the storm will affect our already sky-high gas prices, what government can do to prevent such extensive damage from future hurricanes, whether the National Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers are equipped to handle the emergency and what global warming has to do with all of this, if anything.

Several newspapers had editorials about the hurricane in their Tuesday editions, meaning they were written on Monday, while the storm was still busy devastating parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. With so much still unknown, a lot of what they had to say was just speculation, which might help explain why certain editorial pages -- the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times among them -- didn't offer their assessments right away. Unless the writer is right in the thick of things -- like at the New Orleans Times Picayune -- it seems to me it's reasonable to avoid spouting off until the effects of the storm are better understood.

One Tuesday editorial that was substantive as well as timely was the New York Times lead editorial, rightly chastising the House of Representatives for cutting $70 million earmarked for New Orleans out of the Army Corps of Engineers' budget -- money that could be used to rebuild the infrastructure protecting the low-lying city. (Salon.com's Tim Grieve points out that $70 million could also be used to pay for the War in Iraq ... a whole nine and a half hours of it.) The Times urges the Senate to restore the funding, and suggests the Bush administration dedicate more resources to restoring the barrier islands and marshlands that once protected the city from big storm surges. Writing in the Style section of the Washington Post, Ken Ringle explains in chilling detail how these crucial barriers have been decimated over the years.

Post columnist Eugene Robinson, figuring that New Orleans is unlikely to relocate, focuses on the need to improve the levees and pumps in place to keep the city dry. He also posits that it might be wise to avoid building homes and businesses on fault lines, mountainsides, or in the shadow of volcanoes. Robinson and Eric Holdeman, an emergency management official whose op-ed appears on the same page, both raise concerns about the focus on funding terrorism preparedness at the expense of natural disaster mitigation, a subject I'll get into more deeply in a later post.

I'll continue to explore Katrina-related issues in the coming days, some of them (hopefully) raised by you. So, if any questions come to mind, don't hesitate to comment.

By Emily Messner |  August 31, 2005; 5:20 AM ET  | Category:  This Week's Issue
Previous: The Facts: Hurricane Katrina | Next: Hurricane Katrina: Going Overboard

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Emily -- join the ranks of us who watch the Weather Channel (WC) like it's a TV show!! I have often thought I wanted my 3rd career to be as a meterologist. Watching the Post.com headlines and following the WC, I can help but think the devastation in the Gulf Coast is a grim reminder of how ill-prepared this country is for disaster. If we don't have enough aid, troops and emergency professionals to deal with a natural disaster, what of man-made ones, which, unfortunately, we've studied a lot less because as a country we erroneously thought we had more control over that variety. My thoughts are with the residents of Gulf Coast daily -- I don't have any family or friends in the area, but I do have friends that do and what touches one of us touches all of us. This is also a reminder of how many of us live our lives in the margins, personally ill-prepared for disaster. We have much work to do in our own country -- our focus needs to be shifted here.

Posted by: D. Daniel | August 31, 2005 08:45 AM

Emily--one of the things that has impressed me the most about the coverage of Katrina is how the Web has become a crucial component in the media mix. For example, the New Orleans Times-Picayune managed to keep its online edition (www.nola.com) up and running with continuous updates throughout the storm. They did finally have to evacuate to a safer location on Tuesday after the levees were breached, but they got right back online from there. In a similar manner, WWL-TV was running continuous live online video streaming of their local programming from borrowed studios in Baton Rouge (they were apparently doing an uplink back to their transmitter in New Orleans.) This storm has demonstrated how robust the Internet is and what a valuable resource it is when other methods of communication fail. (It also demonstrated how some TV reporters will do anything to make themselves look macho, crawling out into 100+ mph winds and, in one case, literally getting blown flat on their rears. This encourages irresponsible behavior on the part of amateur daredevils of all sorts.)

Posted by: Scott | August 31, 2005 09:36 AM

I know this is stupid and essentially logistically impossible. Nevertheless, we aren't going to do what is logical. Logic would dictate not reclaiming a city that is below sea level. We aren't going to do logical things. We are going to do stupid things (e.g. given global warming and bigger storms, given Katrina not being a direct hit, we are going to reclaim and rebuild New Orlean below sea level. So finding away to reclaim/rebuild New Orleans above sea level is a logistically stupid idea, but....

Posted by: dwight petersen | August 31, 2005 10:03 AM

Scott -- re: your comment above about the power of the Web, I couldn't agree more. What I personally found most striking was the bloggers who kept posting throughout the storm; when the power went out, they figured out ways to keep the updates coming. The blogs added a whole new dimension to my understanding of what was happening on the ground. I'll be writing more extensively about this in an upcoming post, so be sure to drop by again soon!

Posted by: Emily Messner | August 31, 2005 10:05 AM

Regarding the adrenaline junkie on-the-spot weather reporting. Does anyone else find it annoying how gleeful they are that this great massive storm is approaching. At first (several years ago when I first became a Weather Channel addict) I thought it was amusing to watch my fellow geeks let their excitement out. Now it is just annoying. We KNOW its a big storm and all the elements came together to make is really spectacular. We KNOW they won't be hanging around for clean-up. I just wish they wouldn't show such glee. Especially with hurricanes since they are so destructive. They can prove the size of their manly organs elsewhere. I agree that the local internet sites and blogs showed true innovation in the heat of Katrina and her aftermath.

Posted by: Sarah | August 31, 2005 10:21 AM

Weather is important,
it steers much of our daily activities.

What if Global Warming lives up
to the dire predictions?

Shouldn't we treat this as a possibility?
Most of the industrialized, educated world is -- why not the US?


some links from concerned scientists:

Latest Climate Change News:
--------------------------

Global warming will bring fiercer hurricanes

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/mg18625054.800

Oceans are hiding climate time bomb:

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/mg18624984.100


Latest Scientific Reports:
--------------------------

International Scientific Study Finds Arctic Warming Rapidly
Much larger warming trends are projected, affecting global climate

http://usinfo.state.gov/gi/Archive/2004/Nov/08-21489.html


Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA)
Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

http://amap.no/acia/


It time to treat this issue seriously.
The Future has started.

Posted by: James Siebert | August 31, 2005 10:45 AM

Instead of comparing Iraq to WWII (which is reprehensible) --- Bush should have been in Washington -- mobilized Troops & cargo planes and ships to react immediately --- instead of 48 hours later --- he is actually returning 24 hrs early from vacation, poor baby --- his actions are not the same as they were in Florida.

Now I read that they are busing people to Houston -- isn't there a better way to get all these people there and wouldn't it have been better to have done this before what Thursday, Friday next Monday, etc (how many buses)??
If this is how we are prepared to face any disaster, God Bless Us All Everyone!! Forget Iraq's infrastructure, let's concentrate on the U.S. ---
A quick note, how about giving these people the jobs that the illegial immigrants are doing to help subsidize the help they will need once they are removed from the New Orleans area??

Posted by: Paulette | August 31, 2005 10:46 AM

I am amazed how unprepared the city, state and the nation is to face a disaster like this, look at the Netherlands, they are below sea level, but they have a system in place to prevent anything like this to happen, us Americans are too lazy and not willing to spend the money to prevent something like this, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of salt, or something like this, and in addition we are seeing that, again , the poorest people are suffering, the upper class have insurance and money set aside, but the working class will be screwed really bad, let's get the nation behind and spend the money that is needed without looking how much it is.

Posted by: carlo buscemi | August 31, 2005 10:47 AM

A very simple and workable solution to this humanitarian crisis is to have the Governor of each State set up an aid center. Encourage churches, synagogues, and mosques to contact the aid center and inform them of how many people they could house on a temporary basis. Limit the housing term to 10 days per host family, with 20 days off before they would host again. Those members of the congregation that did not actually host could assist with meal preperations, taking up collections for medicine, and getting the refugees clothed. Even if each church could look after one or two families, their are thousands of churches in the surrounding states. Mobilize the National Guard to get those people out of New Orleans and into homes around the country.
Finally, set up a communication center through the Capital in Baton Rouge where all the refugees could report in and where friends and family can check on the status of those who they have lost contact with. This center should also post daily reports so that the refugees around the country could be kept up to date on the conditions of thier neighborhood. None of these steps would put undue strain on the congregations and people would begin to realize that we can achieve amazing results by working together in a cooperative manner. If we wait for the government to come up with solutions we may be waiting quite a while.

Posted by: Robert Graham | August 31, 2005 10:56 AM

The thing that strikes me about the whole Katrina disaster -- and maybe I'm just hopelessly cynical -- is the story of total human failure that it represents.

- The city really ought not to have been in such a vulnerable location in the first place, though we can hardly blame Bienvelle in 1700 for that, but

- The city and the country were woefully unprepared for what people have been talking about for years. Parts of the levees, I'm given to understand, weren't even completed. It's amazing that the pumps weren't hooked up to some kind of backup power. It's equally amazing that almost no attention was paid to the wetland erosion in the years and years that this country has had to prepare for this hurricane.

- Before Katrina hit, the city apparently did very little to evacuate the poorest residents. How do you order an evacuation and then not make serious provision to get buses running (there's a picture on the Times-Picayune's website of dozens of school buses, unused, sitting in floodwater) to get the poorest residents of the most vulnerable areas out, instead of cramming them into a football stadium? Why are they only now mobilizing resources to get the poor out? Why wasn't that done on Sunday? Maybe I'm wrong, maybe they tried, but from all accounts I'm reading, Mayor Nagin just ordered everyone who had the resources to get out to do so, without offering much hand for those without cars etc.

- And then there is the looting. I lived in New Orleans for a year, and I can't say that the looting surprised me, as horrifying as that sounds. Although the photographs of looters seem incredibly racist (I'm sure there's white people looting too) the basic level of -- I can only call it depravity -- of some, 5% or so, of that city is just beyond the pale. How do you steal televisions from a wal-mart when your city is under water? (Where do you put them?) How do the police participate in some of the looting? How do you shoot a cop who tries to stop it? How do gangs of looters lay siege to a CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL?

- From the Times-Picayune: "The expected surge stems from a failure to execute a plan to dump sandbags via helicopter into the 200 yard wide breach. Nagin offered up no culprit but promised to investigate the matter.

"I thought everyone understood this morning that that was the highest priority," the mayor said. 'It didn't get done. Now there's nothing to slow down the pace of the water.'"


This whole horrible scene says something deeply nauseating about humanity.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | August 31, 2005 11:03 AM

With regard to the poster who referred to the Netherlands, they're having their problems too. Engineers have been telling them that the system of polders which has worked for decades is now at its limit and will not be able to cope with the stress which is expected due to global warming. The Dutch are particularly concerned about increased rain falling on the continent which must pass thru the large rivers which make their way thru the country. It is sobering to consider the implications for this country, as we are now seeing so tragically demonstrated in New Orleans.

Posted by: Brent Zenobia | August 31, 2005 11:06 AM

Hundreds of thousands of people are now probably permanently homeless, their lives traumatized beyond imagination, and what's the big worry for the rest of the country? Gas prices are going up. What an incredibly shallow, greedy, and inhumane nation we've become.

As Bush not responding as quickly to the crisis in Louisiana and Mississippi as he did to the hurricanes in Florida -- he doesn't have a brother running either of those states.

Posted by: Nancy Mannikko | August 31, 2005 11:19 AM

Hundreds of thousands of people are now probably permanently homeless, their lives traumatized beyond imagination, and what's the big worry for the rest of the country? Gas prices are going up. What an incredibly shallow, greedy, and inhumane nation we've become.

As Bush not responding as quickly to the crisis in Louisiana and Mississippi as he did to the hurricanes in Florida -- he doesn't have a brother running either of those states.

Posted by: Nancy Mannikko | August 31, 2005 11:19 AM

I can't begin to say how appalled I am by this situation. Having lived through Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina when I was 10, I feel especially close to the situation. (Although Hugo pales in comparison to Katrina). The way the local, state and federal governments are handling the growing crisis leaves me stunned. The fact that President Bush had to "cut his vacation short" - and the media reported on that - made my jaw drop. Shouldn't he have returned to Washington when it became apparent that a Category 5 hurricane was going to hit New Orleans on Sunday? Shouldn't the mobilization of troops and aid have happened before now? A "task force" meeting at 4:00 today? You've got to be kidding me!

My brother is in the Coast Guard, stationed in Georgia. He is trained on SARs (search-and-rescues) and is qualified to drive all sorts of boats in rough waters. (He actually was in one of four units of the Coast Guard to serve in Iraq in 2003). But he hasn't been deployed yet to the stricken areas, and says that he doubts he will be.

I just simply fail to understand why we are not throwing all of our resources, all of our know-how, at this situation. If we can set up a tent camp and hospital in Iraq, why can't we do the same here?

As for me, all I can do is donate as much money as possible. I have no rescue training, no nursing skills. If I had the opportunity to open up my home to a family that needed shelter, I would. But I don't know anyone, and I'm too far away, as of yet.

God help all of those who have survived this storm, and those who haven't.

Posted by: Peyton in Virginia | August 31, 2005 12:12 PM

How gracious of the President to cut his vacation short. I'm sure the residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama will be counting their blessings that the President deems them important enough for him to cancel his last couple days of his extended vacation.

If he were a corporate CEO on vacation, and his company had as many problems as this country currently does, he would have been ousted by the shareholders long ago. Too bad voters have such a higher tolerance for indifference and inadequacy.

Posted by: Chevy Chase, Md. | August 31, 2005 12:22 PM

The NYT editorial doesn't mention the steep Bush cuts in federal flood protection funds, dating back to 2003. The cuts were a direct result of the need to finance the war in Iraq.

Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues

http://www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001051313

Posted by: ws | August 31, 2005 01:06 PM

Responding to and endorsing Robert Grahams suggestion to have state governors set up aid centers and encourage community organizations and centers to accept and care for displaced families and people. As my assumption is it is wiser to place people as close to their home base as possible certainly those in other parts of the nation would support this effort through church, mosque and synagogue affiliations. Perhaps we each need to contact the central organization of the community to which we are affiliated and encourage such an action. Surely they can move quickly to organize such a rescue operation.

Posted by: SWB in PA | August 31, 2005 01:08 PM

What Bush needs to do now is bring the men and women back from Iraq and save us. Start building our future and let the Iraq's build theirs. Bush's rating is in the toilet right now, this would help. He has done nothing to strengthen us as a Country. Paulette, your comment that perhaps the residents can get some work now instead of the illegal alians is an interesting thought. Based on what I've read and seen on the news, our fine young Americans wouldn't take the jobs that are going to be neccessary to rebuild. They would rather wait until some one else puts in the blood, sweat and tears and steal that.
"President" Bush, please get off your behind and do what needs to be done here in the States. You have a National crisis on your hands right now!

Posted by: Towson, MD | August 31, 2005 01:11 PM

When Ivan whacked our community, we were thankful for the outside help.

I am proud to say that, despite being a middle-class family in an economically depressed area, we NEVER waited in line for an MRE or free water, but there are many who did.

Folks laughed at me for preparing ahead, but then traded me rum for a can of gas when push came to shove!

Too late to worry about that now, but we are responsible for ourselves, our families and sometimes our brothers and neighbors who don't plan ahead.

When it comes down to it, folks, we need to watch out for ourselves and stop depending on the Government to do it for us! And for those who didn't learn this lesson in time, my check is in the mail to the red cross and our prayers are with you.

Posted by: Pensacola | August 31, 2005 01:13 PM

I've set up a fundraiser/concert at the Velvet Lounge for this Sunday evening at 9 pm. Proceeds go to the Red Cross. While I hope FEMA can handle most disaster assistance, I understand that private donations will be vital.

Don't forget to give blood.

Posted by: Beau Finley | August 31, 2005 01:54 PM

I feel I am witnessing something happening in a third-world nation. I cannot believe that so little thought and planning by government officials into a possible disaster like Katrina has happened. It seems like government officials were totally caught by surprise and are floundering. A possible hurricane like Katrina has been predicted for a long time. Government officials should have at least had an evacuation plan ready to implement. The fact that so many people were left in New Orleans to fend for themselves is a disgrace for the mayor and governor of this state. Government officials keep asking everybody to pray. I would suggest after praying, people start to get angry at their government and start asking questions. Where was an evacuation plan? Where was a plan to co-ordinate a relief effort in case of a terrorist attack or natural disaster like Katrina? Why were so many poor and sick people left to their own fate in such a rich nation like the United States? What is America doing about global warming and the mountain of scientific evidence predicting more hurricanes with an increasing ferocity? What is America doing to safe guard their oil supplies and help reduce an ever-growing appetite for oil in America? Wake up America! Start asking all levels of governments hard questions. By the way, watching CNN, the biggest leak being plugged is the huge line of government officials taking the microphone trying to talk their way out of their total failure.

Posted by: Ontario, Canada | August 31, 2005 02:03 PM

I am originially from Mobile and graduated from Tulane. My family is safe, but is without power. I am shocked and devastated by the damage to my favorite city in the world - New Orleans.

To respond to "Pensacola," some people actually do have to depend on the Governement. I'm sure the elderly man living in the 9th ward in NOLA would love to have been able to jump in a car, drive himself to the grocery store and the gas station, and stock up on survival essentials. However, he likely didn't have the car, the money, or possibily even the physical ability to do so. Also, even if he had been able to "watch out for himself," as you put it, most of what he stocked up on would likely have been swept away by the 12-15 FOOT WALL OF FLOOD WATER RUSHING DOWN HIS STREET.

And could this hypothetical man leave town? Where would he go? How would he get there? How would he afford it? I didn't see New Orleans organizing busses for people to get out of the city. They provided the Superdome, but many people couldn't even get that far. And now the city is a watery graveyard.

This is a huge national tragedy, and, when it comes down it, we need our federal government for aid and funding, "Pensacola."

Posted by: Tulanian | August 31, 2005 03:01 PM

Responding to Nancy M. I, too, had the same thought on my drive to work this morning. On the radio, everyone was complaining about the high cost of gas and not one person mentioned the complete devastation and trauma being experienced by those in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama. So gas is up to $3.19 here in Michigan. So what? I still have a job and a home to go back to and a car to drive on a road that hasn't been ruined by a hurricane and flood. The high cost of gas should be the least of any of our worries compared to the terrible circumstances of those affected by Hurricane Katrina. I cannot even imagine having to live through that kind of situation. My heart, prayers, and whatever else I can send go out to all in those ravaged areas. And tonight, I'm counting my blessings.

Posted by: JR Michigan | August 31, 2005 03:46 PM

Will the Washington Post please do a story on how President Bush rejected multiple requests for more funding to beef up the levees in New Orleans and instead used the money for "homeland security" and the war in Iraq? Does the Post consider these facts relevant to the broader story of the degree to which this President, and his priorities, have done long-term and possibly irreversible damage to our nation?

(from http://www.newhousenews.com/archive/alpert083105.html):

"The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House. Ultimately a deal was struck to steer $540 million to the state over four years. The total coast of repair work is estimated to be $14 billion.

In its budget, the Bush administration had also proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need."

I consider myself a moderate and hold no more truck with Democrats than Republicans, but I think it's time to start seriously asking if we need to get rid of Bush and get someone in there who gives a damn about the job and about the safety of Americans who aren't sitting in the Green Zone in Iraq. I am furious and fear for the future of my country.

Posted by: Mateo SF | August 31, 2005 07:05 PM

Check out Salon.com on how the Bush administration drastically cut funding to the New Orlean's district of the US Corp of Engineers since 2003. Salon.com states that in 2001 FEMA predicted a direct hurricaine hit on New Orleans as one of the three most likely disasters to strike the US, yet by 2003 most federal money for flood control had evaporated. The money was needed to fund yet another disaster. This one man-made. Or should I say Bush-made. It's called Iraq.

Posted by: Dan Fout | August 31, 2005 08:37 PM

What amazes me is that I've yet to hear anyone raise the question of whether Global Warming played a role in this unprecidented storm.

Posted by: Anthony Damiani | August 31, 2005 10:06 PM

Holland's dikes have repeatedly burst even to the modern era. The sea has often reclaimed vast tracts of land, in the process killing tens of thousands. In 1530, a dike burst without warning, killing over 400,000 (not a typo).


Bush's classic inattention to detail--an afterplan for Iraq, the Osama memo, and now slicing funding for New Orleans' protection at the beginning of a well-known 16-year extra-fierce-hurricane cycle, combined with a 48-hour delay in reaction--should earn the submerged New Orleans a new name: "Bushville."

Now all our funds to help are lost to fiscally irresponsible tax-cut giveaways that benefit the rich and corporations, even as government costs skyrocket. Clinton's surplus could have been put to good use here, but it's long gone.

Bush has effectively defunded the Federal Government. Conservatives claim Reagan's spending brought down Russia.

Who is Bush trying to bring down? US?

Posted by: Gene | August 31, 2005 11:13 PM

Lord, what a whining bunch of sniveling losers this column attracts. How in the world did all of you come to believe that the government (federal, state, or otherwise) was your mommy? Or, more precisely, the mommy of everyone dense enough to hold-up in a crumbling low-income corruption-infested city residing beneath sea level in the face of a category 5 hurricane?

Clearly this situation sucks, but so do many other things in life, but government is not the solution. It wasn't before the hurricane, and it isn't now. The only "amazing" thing, "appalling" thing, "unbelievable" thing is that so many people believe that it is, and in believing it is apparently make it so, and in making it so now feel compelled to bitch that it isn't everything they dreamed. In reality the problem is your insane liberal government-knows-best belief system. And the solution is personal responsibility and self sacrifice.

Regarding some of the other stupid comments above:

- Have you heard of the telephone? I'm sure the President has, and I'm certain he's been on one since the hurricane was hovering off the coast daring French Quarter drunks to run.

- Are the nuts who keep spouting about "if only he had returned from vacation" really so stupid as to believe the President alone runs the federal government's entire emergency services personally?

- Contrary to you global warming goofs, hurricanes are not getting stronger. In fact, they've been trending down the last century:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastdec.shtml

"The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3,4,5) came in the decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, when such storms averaged 9 per decade. In the 1960s, there were 6 such storms; in the 1970s, 4; in the 1980s, 5; in the 1990s, 5; and for 2001-04, there were 3. Category 4 and 5 storms were also more prevalent in the past than they are now. As for Category 5 storms, there have been only three since the 1850s: in the decades of the 1930s, 1960s and 1990s."

Someone called for a day of prayer, and that's probably not a bad idea. But I believe only part of it need be directed at the "victims" of Katrina, who made they're beds and are now swimming out of them. What's really needed are prayers for the sanity of this poor nation and the gobs of miserable government-dependent liberals it has unwittingly nurtured. God save us all.

Posted by: Sad For America | September 1, 2005 04:35 AM

While you all continue to groan on in idiotic fashion about how "if only all our money wasn't being spent in Iraq then New Orleans could have prepared better", perhaps you should factor in these additional sources of wasted Louisiana dollars:

http://www.lpb.org/programs/LApublicsquare/topic009.html

"Nearly one adult in four living in Louisiana is obese. ... Annually, Louisiana spends about $1.4 billion on obesity-attributable medical expenses."

"The National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) in their 10th Report to Congress on Alcohol and Health [June 2000] estimated the economic cost of alcohol abuse in Louisiana at $2.989 billion in 1998."

"Alcohol is a factor in 32% of Louisiana's auto crash costs. According to national Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] estimates, alcohol-related crashes In Louisiana cost the public about $2.9 billions in 2000."

"Louisiana ranks in the bottom five states on six of the 18 measures used by the United Health Foundation to rate the healthiness of states. One of the six measurements that Louisiana scored so poorly on is 'Prevalence of Smoking [Percent of population]'. ... The total cost during 1999 for Louisiana that was attributable to cigarette smoking was estimated at $2.81 billion."

Wake up.

Posted by: Sad For America | September 1, 2005 04:52 AM

Should they rebuild New Orleans?

One of the tough questions that has not yet been publically debated is the worth of rebuilding a city that lies below sea-level and undoubtedly will face natural disasters like Katrina again in the future. Given the magnitude of the destruction and the significant amount of money including Federal funds that will be required to resurrect the city, taxpayers and politicians need to consider this daunting question. With global warming and ever-rising sea levels, perhaps this is the right time to abandon this historic city and move to higher ground. As the Mayor orders 100% evacuation--an unprecedented event for a city in modern history--it may also be the right time to say goodbye to the city below sea-level.

Posted by: John Morrison | September 1, 2005 09:13 AM

Sad in America -

I have just one thing to say to you: judge not, lest ye be judged.

Posted by: Peyton in Virginia | September 1, 2005 03:34 PM

I have no relatives or friends in New Orleans. However, just like everyone else who is concerned and devastated about the destruction I am glued to the news every chance I get. I can't keep my eyes off it. Only someone who has been through a hurricane,can really undestand the real heartache, pain and misery involved. All I can do as a citizen of our United States who, like anyone watching with a heart and compassion for human life, grieve right along with the victims, rescuers and all involved.However what bothers me the most when watching the news is this. They will be rescuing a child, showing clips of the devastation, etc, and go to a comercial. Then what I see is a comercial for a motel or something stupid, and all I can think of is those poor people that haven't slept, ate, or had anything decent to drink for days, and I get mad. Here is my personal opinion. We all know where a motel is if we need one, and that Bob is doing well with his male enhancement etc. My point being. Wouldn't it be amazing if all the Big Corporations, Busineses, and everyone who can afford the money they spend on these commercials, stop, for just a few days and donate that money to the evacuation and relief fund. I'm not forgetting that commercials is how television stations make their money. However in this time of need, I can't help but believe that it would not bankrupt them. It could be their contribution. Myself, if I had the money I would't hesitate a minute, however unfortuanetly all I can do is put money in canisters at Walmart and other busineses because they are supposed to match whatever is donated.

Posted by: Patty Tyson | September 1, 2005 03:58 PM

There is no difference between a terrorist attack and Hurricane Katrina--one is human and one is nature. There is one big difference and that is we knew Katrina was coming. This just shows that the U.S. is no more prepared for a terrorist attack than we would be for a martian invasion. All those millions/billions spent on the Dept. of Homeland Security and what do we have to show for it--NOTHING! Bush should be impeach for this situation and the War in Iraq--both are travisties! What a terrible disgrace for our nation. Another wonderful example of "moral values"--giving everything to the rich while the poor drown in New Orleans.

Posted by: Lora Meisner | September 1, 2005 04:08 PM

What I find so offensive is that it took Bush 2 days to respond, but least we forget about the 7 minutes he sat reading with the children after being told of the attack on our Nation, this really shouldn't surprise anyone. This Nation is unprepared for any large catastrophe. But again, I remember how fast Bush responded when the hurricane hit Florida, so he could stand by his brother!!! As I watched CNN this afternoon..too much, and the majority affected, the working poor. Heaven help us...

Posted by: rosemarie | September 1, 2005 05:34 PM

Any President not physically present in the White House when a disaster of ANY type is threatening the U.S. has no business in office. Shame on him. Compare the delayed response of our federal government now to its aggressive relief of the survivors of 9/11. What explains the difference? The public appears to have been deceived regarding our government's ability to deal with disaster of any kind.

Posted by: Chris | September 1, 2005 07:03 PM

To Sad in America,

Natural disasters rarely respond to political positions- whether this hurricane is part of a global warming trend of hurricanes of greater magnitude or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that by changing the direction of public policy from a policy based on the governments responsibility to the governed to a policy of "every man for himself" the current crop of "conservatives" have significantly diminished the government of "all the people," to serve them in times of great joint need where individualism is an inappropriate response. John Wayne is not going to march into New Orleans with his six gun and clean this mess up in an afternoon and neither is anybody in "W's" administration because they have spent the last four years destabilizing our governments ability to deal with anything- demonizing the poor is not an answer to why we weren't better prepared for this disaster or actively working on the problems of a threatened low lying coastal city that has been at risk to this type of problem since its inception. Bashing liberals doesn't put families back together, save lives or rebuild New Orleans. May God help the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and the USA because our government has been made into an ineffective instrumnent for the task by foolish, selfish and short-sighted policy making.

Posted by: Kevin | September 1, 2005 09:39 PM

Lord of the Flies meets the Emperor's New Clothes.

Posted by: Steve | September 2, 2005 07:51 AM

I see "Sad in America" has found the real problem for the disaster in N.O. It's because those Louisianans are too fat, drink and smoke too much. It's good to know that George W didn't have anything to do with it and after all, he did come home from his month long vacation 2 days early.

Posted by: Sharon | September 2, 2005 09:37 AM

Interesting. When there is a fire out of control all firefighters from all over the U.S. go to that one area to help their fellow firefighters. Here is my thought--the cruise ship industry should at least offer to help evacuate people out of New Orleans. After all, they are equipped to handle and feed thousands of people. Just a thought.

Posted by: Danielle | September 2, 2005 03:51 PM

Emily, you have shown a lot of courage by opening up to me with your Weather Channel confession. Its true, we barely know each other. I hope you don't think I'm moving too fast, but I must confess that I am a sucker for Taxi reruns. There, I said it.

Seriously, you are right to point out (pp 5) that a number of issues have now been brought to the forefront.

Great strain exploits weaknesses. This week we have seen this in levees as well as our national policy priorities.

From this disaster we can learn much. Clearly, 1-the diversion of the $70M earmarked for disaster prevention is clearly an example of misplaced; 2-the dangers of an oil-reliant energy system and our vulnerability; 3-ramifications of not taking global warming seriously; and 4-the inequities of disaster adaptability among the rich and poor (facinating coverage on this subject by the Post, by the way).

Will we learn?

Posted by: ao | September 2, 2005 04:17 PM

Does anyone know why the New Orleans paper is named the Picayune. What an odd name for a newspaper. Did the word have a different meaning in the nineteenth century (or whenever the paper was founded)? Or did it just not have particularly high aspirations as to the import of the stories it planned on reporting?

Posted by: Sonny | September 2, 2005 04:43 PM

I have family and friends that are close to these areas and it frightens me that they could be in this situation, be it natural or a terrorist disaster!!!!! Remember. This is not political! I drafted this letter to my Governor "Rod R. Blagojevich" as to the horrifying way citizens of our country were treated and asked all my family and friends to write their officials and send this to their family and friends if their feelings on this issue are of like-minded and are as appalled as me. It is the responsibility of all government officials, Republican, Democrat, Green Party or whatever from City, State and Federal to ensure our Security within our own boarders. When will they come together for our sake?


Would you and the other Governors of this GREAT COUNTRY address the issue happening in all the Katrina affected States with the President?

Where is our Homeland security?

If the hurricane or levy breakage had been an attack by terrorists the outcome on the citizens of this country would have been the same.

These Questions should also be asked of our Federal Government:

1) On the first day or at least the second day of the breach in the levy, why was there not triage setup outside the affected area to handle the sick and Injured?

2) Why was there not a food triage and tent city "with all the tents the military possess" created with port-a-potties, portable showers, a feeding and processing center setup outside the affected possibly in a state park or of like area so the citizens could be evacuated from the cesspool until a more permanent place could be found for the affect people?

3) Why was our military not ready to be deployed within our own boarders within minutes/hours especially after Sept. 11?

4) Instead of locking them into those 2 buildings, why weren't these things done? What does it say about our Country when the Red Cross will not go into an American City because they fear for their lives? But they operate in Iraq and other dangerous places in the world? Why could we not protect them and that City from the small percentage of lower elements in our society that thrive during events such as this? It seems to me because we could not saturate the area with security to protect the Red Cross and our own citizens who have been trapped in some places for more than 5 days. Imagine if we had 2 disasters (natural or terrorist) on 2 different coasts of this nation.

After first 3 steps, the 4th assembly of questions and many others that are now being asked would be moot!

Yes, I know hindsight is 20/20. But this must be asked if it is to "NEVER" occur to any U.S. citizens who are our Babies, Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers and Cousins, OUR FAMILY on U.S. soil again ever again.

Daniel Fresas - Monee, Illinois

Posted by: Dan Fresas - Monee,Ill | September 3, 2005 12:51 AM

Quick to condemn. Some things to consider.

No natural disaster has been reported in real time on this scale in history. This disaster has been reported before it occurred. Listening to the news response seems to hane been expected as the hurricaine was in full force. Press reporting of natural disasters of this magnitude normally begins after first response reaches the victims because the news media has to get to that part of the world and most significant events have unfortunately been in the developing world.

It is only the wealth of the United States that has prevented this from simply being a burial mission. There is now and we will likely continue to learn of significant loss of life. It is unfortunate but only the nation's wealth has prevented more. Compare this response to any significant response to a third world catastrophe -- then complain about victims not having air conditioning, medication, or food or water for four days. We are not immune to the ravages of nature our wealth only can mitigate it.

Who of you have ever watered, fed, transported, housed temporarily, and provided medical aid for 100 people?? -- now multiply that by at least 5,000 in NO alone. Then add in the tens of thousands in the Southern third of Mississippi and Alabama. Okay now you've done that where do you put them and oh by the way there are still several million self-evacuees in the South all competing for the same resources.

Why were people still in New Orleans? when before the storm did the mayor ask for transportation help to force people from their homes or evacuate the willing? Why -- now we can discuss politics. Where were any of the mayors representatives at the Superdome or the Convention Center or wherever his people needed help? If they were there why didn't they come forward to speak with reporters or identify themselves to their citizens? Why didn't he evacuate the hospitals? Where was the mayor? Did he desert his city? Was he even in New Orleans? (Seems we've been condemning the President for not being there so this is a fair question) I heard a mouth from the south but never saw his face in New Orleans with his people -- citizen's or their publec servants -- unitl the President showed up.

When did CNN, NBC, MSNBC, FOX, bloggers etc. place their reporters and or communication network at the disposal of local government when it became clear that communication was a major problem?

Save a life or retrieve a body? Which do you do? Evacuate a terminally ill patient or one that will survive? Terrible to see a body floating but you can't save the dead only bury them after the living are helped.

To have the response you all seem to be demanding would require placing significant numbers of first responders, materiel, second responders, and their equipment in the danger zone -- good chance you would then call them victims wouldn't you? You also can't flow in significant help until you can support them because after about 24 hours of effort you have just added those numbers to your problem they are spent without life support. By the way most of the responders also have day jobs.

When were the roads open? air operations capable? etc. How much National Guard, Law Enforcement, Local, State, or Federal Capacity, military installations/capacity destroyed or debilitated?

Is the press really prepared to cover this story and form public opinion -- I give them an F for trying to get facts and an A for sensationalism and destroying citizen's faith in government. The reporters and anchors and pundits and supposed experts have done a terrible job factually reporting and have only shown how truly ignorant they are and inept at reporting this story. Change their name to chroniclers or court jesters. Sending a live image is not reporting it is taking a picture of a small piece of a puzzle without context. Only once did I hear a reporter say I can only tell you about the very small part I see. Certainly some of the pictures have been horrific but of mostly people alive but in some discomfort/distress. I also wonder if the media had helped with communications (because of their adeptness at getting the story out) could lives have been saved and could the true magnitude of the damge (which I do not think we yet know) have been appreciated sooner? Hard for a local official to watch CNN when they have no power.

Me first -- who makes that call? Cannot move 50,000 or more people at once. Can't get them food and water all at once. Can't rescure them from roof tops all at once.

The Governors and Mayors are responsible for the safety of their citizens and the planning to protect them. The federal government is back-up and that is what they are doing. I haven't heard a Governor yet say Mr. President you are in charge I relenquish my State Authority to the Federal Government.

The people are suffering in large measure from uncontrolled development of the coastal plain and continued development of an already sinking city and significant urban infrastructure under sea level -- generations of poor development decisions for the most part not made in Washington. No amount of Corps of Engineer money or effort on leveess could ever counter those poor local government development decisions. Now the rest of the country will pay for these local decisions without a vote so a few of us could live and or play on the beach!

Complain if you want, is there room for improvement -- always is, is the suffering terrible -- certainly, have peoples lives been irerevocably changed of course, but this is a success story we could be reading about or seeing images 100,000 or more dead. I am also sure it will never be reported as a success story because no real news reporting any longer occurs in this Nation only sensationaism because that sells.

Just a few thoughts from a citizen looking for sanity and perspective not sensationalism.

Posted by: A. Citizen, Shelocta, PA | September 3, 2005 02:03 AM

James Siebert,

I remember in the 1970's the scientists were claiming the world was having a mini ice age. Books, papers and common dialogue at the time was screaming about the Earth was cooling.

So what has happened? Those scientists had their data, had their ideas, even proposals. What happened in 30 years to turn everything upside down? It's too short of a time period for man-made destruction in itself (climatic change by man takes much longer).

One thing lay folks don't seem to understand about science is it's an egotistical profession. All these theories (from a gigantic meteroid extincting the dinosaurs; to some "big bang" just had to create the universe [as Occam's Razor is always right in solving the most complex ideas -- much like levees and pumps are simple and correct ways to keep an under sea level city high and dry]) are sprouted by folks seeking their 15 minutes of fame. They'll spend their entire lifetimes ***defending*** their theories, despite if new data comes along to question the old ideas/mindset. They'll just entrench and become bitter rivals (just look at the scorched Earth mentality between the Big Bang proponents and alternative theorists for an idea of how stupid scientists can become themselves -- and as juvenile [egg throwing and poems to discredit, for example]).

Global warming may in fact be occurring, but it also can be a periodical flux, compounded by sun activity; more volcanic eruptions; and other global factors -- much more complex than just man's industrialization. Until more data is found and discovered, all anyone can say is that XYZ is occuring, what no one can factually state is, what's causing XYZ today. For that would be making the same mistake those scientists made back in the 1970's warning about the next Ice Age.

And no one is going to go back and live like the Romans of 2000 years ago, either. Just try to demand folks to give up their cars and their air conditioners -- "ain't happenin'".

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 3, 2005 06:16 AM

A. Citizen,

Very well said. :)

I'll give credit to CNN for, yes, even reporting about fire ants (as information is essential, no matter how stupid someone in a editorial office may think it maybe -- get bit by 11 fire ants [from a hidden mound that's hit with a weed eater] and see if you think it's stupid, or how much those critters will try to survive no matter how much pesticide you POUR on them! -- and no they won't be killed by toxic sludge, they'll just come back). CNN was there directly confronting the FEMA director, who was showing how disconnected he was to reality. You'll notice that FEMA (and Bush) were more interested in gladhanding the bigwigs on their media tours (also notice aide finally came AFTER Bush came??), than connecting with the people who's currently living in depravity. CNN was making pointed commentary that is good -- and I hope more MSM outlets will continue doing so. What we're watching and what the officials are telling us are totally different. Words can't describe the hell those New Orleans citizens have and are going through -- it's a literal hell on Earth, and it's a damn shame all we're getting is officials congradulating others on their failures to prop up their egos -- while thousands maybe dead.

And to the media: how about doing your job? Nagin was doing his job, and said it as it is. How much whitewashing will you continue while thousands suffer? Where is YOUR reality check? Where were you to pound the drum to get aid -- not just a camera and a mike, first mouthing it's okay, then sitting there in disbelief and going to town on looting coverage? Where were you to ferry goods in (if the CNN doctor can get in and report from a walled in hospital, where's a truck load of supplies to go with him too??). Just a couple bottles of water could save lives, and we had how many reporters (who weren't dehydrated and going without) like vultures there?

It's days like this I'm ashamed to be an American. To watch our own die and be forced to become animals, while the country just watches like it was some stupid reality TV show.

Let the MSM live with those in the Astrodome for 3 months (not in some Hyatt), and let's see how THEY fair. Maybe next time they'll do what they can to ferry supplies in -- just a bottle of water could save a life for pete's sake!!

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | September 3, 2005 06:42 AM

To A. Citizen - very well said!!

Posted by: Layne | September 3, 2005 02:59 PM

To A. Citizen - very well said!!

Posted by: Layne | September 3, 2005 03:04 PM

A. Citizen--wow!! right on target.

Posted by: Willy | September 3, 2005 03:43 PM

Excellent commentary, A Citizen! We need your voice on the airwaves!

The people of New Orleans were abandoned by their own local, elected officials...chief among them is Mayor Nagin!

I experienced Hurricane Charley...our city had no electric for 7 days...there was no looting or street gunfire or violence among the displaced etc.

Unfortunately, the troubles in New Orleans go well beyond Hurricane Katrina and the breaks in the levees. It goes deep into the core of each person; and, some of those cores are just, plain rotten.

Posted by: DM | September 3, 2005 06:52 PM

This isn't to you but to everyone who will can and will read. I just about threw up my supper listening to Christianne Ammanpour on Larry King Live tonight talking about the world's general impression that the Katrina response is a racial issue. I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. If that is the best Ms Ammanpour can do then she needs to GET OFF THE AIR. If the world's impression is that somehow the American government has shortchanged African-Americans in the Katrina response, then that is because the television media, CNN in particular and Anderson Cooper specifically has made it so. They made it so by continuously reporting on one tiny speck of the disaster to the exclusion of all other areas, totally ignoring the tens of thousands of square miles of devastation that knew no color boundaries. They made it so by not giving any context, perspective or background WHATSOEVER as to why there are a large concentration of African-American survivors in and around the Super Dome. NONE. No intelligent or even objective analysis as to why this might be so. No perspective on municipal plans that might have pre-ordained that condition, little to no parallel reporting on the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama communities that were just as hard hit so that there might be an accurate portrayal of the extent of this disaster. Just a constant diet of Superdome. And Ms Ammanpour is surprised that caring people around the globe gradually conclude there are human rights violations visited upon one segment of the American population by a seemingly uncaring government. To me, and I live in Pensacola so I've seen my share of hurricane damage lately, this has been at once the best--the cameras...when allowed...when allowed to display all the damage throughout the gulf coast...have left an unmistakable image of how extensive this devastation is--and at the same time the most shameful display of television reporter narcisscism and irresponsible demogoguery I have ever seen. If there are misperceptions across the globe, and they are msperceeptions if not outright slander, they are entirely the fault of the US media coverage. Where else does anybody get their news? I have read numerous calls for accountability throughout these threads. I hope everyone watches the media reporting from here on out with a more critical eye and takes the television media to task for it. To me Ms Ammanpour, once a favorite for her ability to get anywhere and report, has lost all credibility in my eyes by showing up in New Orleans for a few minutes with conclusions already drawn and then using her considerable world recognition to lend credence to an incomplete story that misrepresents the truth to a believing world audience just to keep her face refreshed on the world's TV screens. Shameful.

Posted by: Willy | September 3, 2005 09:55 PM

A. Citizen,SandyK,Steve,Sharon

Guess what? You are all correct in some aspects. This directed to A. Citizen-Ain't it great to live in America? I'm fat, Black, do not drink, but have property all over my state, and net income over $1,643,000.00 in 2004. Had I been in N.O. would I have deserved such inhumane treatment? Just asking because your stats put me somewhere in between. You Idiot!

Posted by: Regina | September 4, 2005 06:48 PM

New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will be rebuilt with our tax dollars even if rebuilding a city that resides below sea level defies logic. The rebuilding could be an opportunity to implement a model of energy independence by providing the infrastructure for hydrogen, natural gas, ethanol, vegatable oil (diesel) etc.. It is time to get the oil monkey off our back.

Posted by: Liz | September 5, 2005 09:14 AM

Y'all, we have similar carry-ons around here about whether the taxpayers of Escambia county should pay to rebuild the beaches (mostly inhabited by people who can afford beach houses!) after three storms in 12 mos have caused major erosion of our coastline.

But my family enjoys the beach, many of my friends and family enjoy the casinos in Biloxi and New Orleans is a favorite weekend spot and our family home. Now we have an opportunity to make this area like the bionic man (better than it was before. . . ) Shoot, yeah, we should rebuild!

As for my earlier comments about the preparedness thing, sometimes I feel like one of those doomsday types with my pantry full of canned goods and bottled water in the garage, extra gas cans, a generator - but if I had to live a week or two or three without assistance or Wal Mart, I could.

I think the folks in NO, in retrospect, may have been a bit complacent about watching out for themselves. Then, when the government didn't show up, they became frightened and angry (and many took advantage of the situation and went THUG.) It doesn't make it any less awful, but we need to learn to be prepared if we can!

As for it being a matter of race, c'mon, don't do that. It seems like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are always the first to show up and scream racism. While I have never been black, I have been poor. I have cleaned houses with a baby strapped to my back to earn enough money for groceries while my husband worked 12-hour days. I know what that is like! I treat all people with respect, but it seems that people try to use color as an excuse. There are Vietnamese shrimpers in Bayou La Batre, Al. and Biloxi, white Baptist ladies in Pass Christian, hungry children of mixed race in Ocean Springs, who had to wait just as long if not longer for the troops to come in.

We were able to load up our gas-guzzler and take a load of diapers and water to our neighbors before anyone else showed up. There are people who criticize me for driving an SUV, but it got the goods where they needed to go! Of course, now I don't have any gas and can't go anywhere - but there is no way we'd have driven into NO with conditions what they were!

I guess the point is that you can always find some excuse if you look hard enough. Right now, instead of focusing on the silly stuff, there are people who need our help - whatever your politics, whatever your skin color or theirs - our neighbors need us. Do what you can to help.

Posted by: Pensacola | September 5, 2005 05:35 PM

They used to say you knew it was going to be a bad day if you showed up for work and a crew from 60 minutes was waiting on your office door step.


Now, if you turn on The Weather Channel and Jim Cantore is reporting from a beach in your home town, you know it's going to be a REALLY BAD DAY and you best get up off your a** and haul it out of town!

Posted by: gbchriste | September 6, 2005 04:56 PM

Re: Willy--Funny, I don't recall hearing Anderson Cooper making a big deal about race in his live reports, which seemed to be delivered mostly from Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Louisiana away from New Orleans. And I've been watching CNN (or listening to it on XM Radio) for days. He did do one thing that I liked a lot, which was to get into it with some posturing politician (I forget who), when she started in on yet another round of thanking and congratulating all the other politicians and bureaucrats for all they were doing to help New Orleans. NOT! As far back as Tuesday, there was already an epidemic of mutual back-slapping among this crowd while citizens of all races were starting to die on the streets of N.O. on worldwide television. And who can forget Bush's remark on Friday to the bumbling head of FEMA, Michael Brown: "Doing a great job here, Brownie!" Thank goodness we have journalists like Anderson Cooper who call it like they see it.

Posted by: Scott | September 6, 2005 06:27 PM

I don't understand why conservatives are attacking the concept of the City of New Orleans. Did they believe that Manhattan should have all its skyscrapers leveled because the New Yorkers had thoughtlessly built these huge terrorist targets?

This nonsense is what's wrong with the governance of the United States under conservative leadership: there is no vision of a unified American people working together to achieve the nation's goals and "preserve, protect and defend" the people of the USA and their Constitution. The vision is a fragmented interweaving of a culture of greed and graft with a nonsensical constant PR campaign to "inform" the American people how great they are doing while we are in the middle of a no win war in Iraq, terrorism preparedness is a joke, venal and viscious public officials use the government for their own financial and political gain, etc...

I am nauseated by the state of poverty in this country and the total lack of concern the US government under the Bush administration has for the average American. Nothing could have demonstrated more of the contempt for the poor and the hard heartedness of this government than their actions in New Orleans.

Conservatives shouting "Wake Up!" are laughable, since 1972, there have been two Democratic Presidents, the Senate has been under the control of the Republican party for the last six years and the House has been under control of the Republican party since 1994. Almost 75% of the Federal Judiciary has been appointed by Republican Presidents. So who's in control, if you ask a Republican its the "liberals." This is more Orwellian than 1984. To blame local zoning boards and developers for the situation on the Gulf Coast is partially correct; however, why is there no mention of the fact that almost all of these governmental agencies in the South are dominated by Conservative Republicans? What party is the party of "laissez faire" are the liberals secretly controlling the "Solid South?" This is again more Republican nonsense.

I am incensed by the Government's non-response to Katrina and by the Republican excuse machine trying to spin its way out of responsibility for poor planning, folow up, communication and relief efforts. It is shameful.

Posted by: Kevin | September 6, 2005 09:59 PM

In cased you Weather Watchers have missed it, tune into the internet site: www.nhc.noaa.gov. You might become addicted to viewing tropical depressions that form into full blown hurricanes. What a site. Katrina took up the whole Gulf of Mexico. I tracked it on the Loop movement as it crossed Fla. to point O. Excellent edu. site also.

Posted by: KATH | September 7, 2005 01:46 AM


One last question:

Would a person taking food from a store in New Orleans, because of starvation, be considered an "insurgent" by Neocon Bush?

hummm, makes you wonder why it is soo easy for bin Laden to recruit, huh...

Posted by: Frank | September 7, 2005 11:37 AM

This post addresses the question ... 'Should New orleans be rebuilt ?'

My wife and were there some years ago (even though it's a long way from the UK !!) and we loved it.

There's a strong case for rebuilding New Orleans and creating a properly constructed - with deep pile bores and all that stuff; new canals; elevated and sunken freeways; multi storey underwater car parking and warehousing etc. etc. - version of a 'Venice in Louisiana'.

It will probably mean destroying most, if not everything, that's there and starting from scratch; and it must certainly include providing better accommodation and work opportunities for the poor and low paid than they've ever had before.

The key infrastructure is there, like the roads, electricity, drainage and the airport - and over time they would need to be re-engineered to raise them and better protect them from the elements.

And the 'soul' of New Orleans will never fade.

Even more so ... a key part of this concept is also there - the waters of the Mississippi - kept clean and managed so that they can safely and softly flow through and past the new 'Venice of the South'.

Spread the city north, west and east; knock down all the old stuff and re-create it the way it should have been made in the first place.

That will bring back a new prosperity - and bring back all those businesses and industrial heavyweights who have left over the past 25 yeras.

Do it guys ... and encourage the recreation of all the good that was in the old City.

That'll show those misguided souls in Iraq (and in plenty of other places too ...) just what the US can do when there's a will for something to be done well !!

For me - I'd rather see America spending $1,000,000,000,000 on raising a 'new, New Orleans' than any similar amount spent on airplanes, tanks, rockets and spaceships.

Just stop for a moment ... and think about how much the whole world would benefit from the technology fallout that would derive from it.

Think about how much we could all learn from solving the problems of living in a wetlands' high risk environments.

We should not be spending our lives trying to protect people from the 'dangers' of the land/water interface. We should be learning to live with it.

Think of how much better off some of the world's most deprived nations would be if their populations could live closer to the sea.

Close to an unending supply of desalinated water, with good water pumped inland for farming and living purposes as well as industry. With easier water based communications. Think of the stunning tourism opportunities.

My blessed mother was misguided when she told me, as a young man, to 'Buy land, they aren't making any more of it'. She just could not imagine what we would be able to do.

Your erstwhile, beleagured, President wasn't completely wrong when he once again put his foot in his mouth and spoke of enjoying a seat on his political friend's new verandah (porch).

As ever, he just wasn't seeing further than his nosehairs.

If he'd said he was looking forward to standing on the steps of the rebuilt New Orleans City Hall ... in the new 'Venice of the US South' ... he'd have been much closer to the mark.

He might have even motivated a couple of people to start to plan to do just that.

Enough of this ... Go to it People of Louisiana ... Show the world how to turn disaster into success !!

Posted by: Leacroft | September 7, 2005 02:45 PM

First of all, my hearth goes out to all them folks in the Gulf coast who were victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Second, we all need to be aware that contributing once is not enough. I mean, yeah, that's good, but not enough.

Third, misery knows no politics. There's plenty of blame to go around. From the director of public works in New Orleans up to President Bush himself.

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of president Bush. I did not like his father. His mother's remarks in the face of Katrina's devastation seem, well, just the right amount of plutocrat.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/07/national/nationalspecial/07barbara.html?ex=1126756800&en=fe39f2b204c6a1ef&ei=5040&partner=MOREOVERNEWS

Scott McClellan, the White House's spokesman, managed to find a synonim for 'poor': destitute.

So yeah, Mr Bush, Gov Blanco, Mayor Nagin, they all had 'destitute' performance.

One final thought.

If instead of a hurricane, New Orleans would have been struck by a small nuclear bomb -God forbids-, with a similar devastation, a similar amount of cassualties, and a similar response from the federal government, would George W. Bush still hold the office of president of the United States?

I would surmise that no, he would not. He would have failed to protect and care those who elected him to the office.

That's my impression, outside the US and outside New Orleans. He failed the people of the Gulf Coast. He failed the people of Loiusiana, Missisipi and Alabama.

So he deserves the heat. Let the journalists grill him on the preparedness of the US for disaster. Let Congress call for the heads of the directors of FEMA and the DHS. Let the Americans suffer and complain about high gas prices. Let the citizens denounce the inability of their own government to swiftly and efficiently, no strike that, swiftly and deliberately take care of its own, most "destitute" citizens.

Why on earth would you want to pay taxes to such a government?

Posted by: Ed Cervantes | September 7, 2005 03:13 PM

E.coli bacteria, waste from human fecal matter and dead bodies, oil, debris and God-alone knows what other toxins are now in the flood waters of New Orleans. Why then, did the EPA waive restrictions and why is our government so intent and so quick to approve the drainage of these environmental toxins into Lake Pontchartraine and the Gulf? Don't they realize these toxins can cause an environmental catastrophe, the likes we have never seen before?

Bush has already made too many mistakes. Let us not cause another unnecessary catastrophe in the wake of this storm. For now, as undesirable as it sounds, leave the water where it is and continue with the rescue and placement of the evacuees and pets. Once the city is completely evacuated, then have our scientists go in, thoroughly analyze the water and determine the most environmentally safe way to dispose of it.

Let's not make another unnecessary mistake.

Does anyone realize that more Americans died on their own soil because of Bush's negligence and inactions ever since he has taken office?

Posted by: Diane | September 7, 2005 03:59 PM

Ed Cervantes -

You asked: "Why on earth would you want to pay taxes to such a government?"

I don't, but I work/live in America; therefore, taxes come out of my already meager paycheck. If I had a choice, I wouldn't give a cent to the government that we now have. As it is I'm utterly and completely embarassed to be American at this point. I've never uttered these words in my life, but I am saying them now because the current federal administration just plain stinks and it has stunk for a long time now. America is being led by an overgrown frat boy who surrounds himself with yes-men and women. I didn't vote for Bush, but I'm also not a Democrat (in case you were wondering). Personally, I despise politics, but I have to keep tabs on the world in which I live and work.

This country is going down the tubes, and I don't blame Bush...I blame the American voters who were uninformed enough to vote him into office. Really, I was dumbfounded when he won. He isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and he proved (and continues to prove) that over and over and over again...but people still voted for him. Why? Well, because they are all as dim as he is - America is a country full of obese, lazy, spoiled, wasteful, numbnuts and I plan to leave here as soon as I can feasibly do so.

I totally understand why foreigners think the way they do about us...just look at who represents us and look at the media images we project (e.g. Jerry Springer, "Real World," all those lame reality shows, music videos, etc.)...how embarassing.

Posted by: XOXOXOXOXOX | September 7, 2005 10:56 PM

To X's and O's
Please don't leave the US..we need people like you. Who, indeed voted for that dim bulb currently occupying the White House..on a temporary basis I might add, as he seems to spend most of his time on vacation. It is truly shameful. I have been living overseas (job related) for almost nine years, and find it frightening what is happening to my Beloved country. Common sense and reason have taken a long holiday. Tunnel vision, special interests and the 'Christian Right' (are neither) have flooded America with toxic messages. We are rotting in our own waste..we pillage our environment, we neglect our own poor, and now we justify our judgemental attitude of each other, and other cultures, in the name of religion. That's not religion, it's hatred wrapped up in a pretty package. Wake up America!
Please reconsider staying, X's and O's. Things cannot improve if you abandon 'US'...

Posted by: Crying for My Nation | September 8, 2005 05:47 AM

It's not too late. Bush should and must be impeached. Americans must unite and demand an investigation into Bush's actions and inactions. He has been a failure ever since he stole the office.

As far as his re-election, when you have companies providing electronic paperless voting machines like Diebold, whose CEO swore that he would do what he could to get Bush re-elected, it makes you wonder.

Also, when you get someone like Rove who passed along a massive lie and scare campaign to churches saying things like, if Kerry were elected, he would take away their bibles. That also makes you wonder.

While volunteering at the polls on Election Day, a local doctor and town representative started talking to me. When he noticed my Kerry buttons, his face paled and his eyes widened. "Do you want me to lose my job?!" he said in a frightful voice. He was a physician for a local health care system. The look of fear in his eyes was genuine and unbelievable. Of course, he may have been concerned about Kerry possibly incorporating a socialized medicine program to ensure all Americans have access to health care. There is nothing wrong for all Americans to have health care access. Remember, this man is an educated physician and was actually believed what he was told. So much for higher education.

No, the scare tactics the administration used in their last election was the only thing they had going.

BUSH HAS MADE TOO MANY MISTAKES, COST TOO MANY LIVES AND MUST BE IMPEACHED.

Posted by: | September 8, 2005 06:53 AM

All the biased Democrat morons of the Media & Politics have to look at is the BUSES! The flooded New Orleans City & School Buses that WEREN'T used by the incompetent Democrat Mayor to evacuate the city residents who couldn't make it out on their own. The incompetent Dem Gov who dithered before asking for federal help & the general incompetence of the parasitic Landrieu family.

Posted by: Max Rugemer | September 8, 2005 07:08 AM

It is no surprise to me that Bush has been giving out federal positions to his friends regardless of their qualifications.
He appointed the worst slumlord in my hometown to be an Ambassador to a certain central European country.
While I would rather not mention this vermin by name, for he pursued me for 7 years for breaking my lease, even after the district court ruled in my favour.
What was my cause for breaking my lease with this slumlord?

Not having a working refrigerator,
Raw sewage from the unit above making the only bathroom unusable.
And harassment including vandalism of my car and threats from his employees.

America deserves more than "federal jobs for King Georges' friends and coke buddies".
Let the impeachment hearings begin.

Posted by: David | September 8, 2005 08:32 PM

I really do feel sorry for the people from the Gulf Coast and I am praying for them; however, the other day I found out some rather unfair news. I was talking with my friend that was at the Waldorf, MD Wal-Mart and she saw some rather misplaced people looking around. They stopped her and said "We are survivors of New Orleans and we are looking for the Salvation Army". My friend pointed across the street and "It is right across the street". They proceeded to ask her where they could get their food stamps from. She replied, "You will have to go to the Charles County Health Department for that and it is located either in White Plains, MD or LaPlata, MD". They thanked her for her help and as they walked to their car she looked at their liscense plate and in fact the car was from Louisiana. I am glad they found refuge, I really am; however, what I think is not fair that I am a single mother of 2 children. I have been on going with a divorce for almost 3 years. Two years ago I went to the Charles County Health Department for help because my ex-husband was not paying child support and my salary was around $ 30,500. I had to pay rent, a car payment, car insurance, credit cards, utilities, food, diapers, wipes, etc.I went for help and applied for food stamps, welfare, child day care vouchers, electricity vouchers, and WIC. I was turned down for all of that stating I made too much money; however, by looking at my pay stub the Charles County Health Department and Charles County Social Service agents saw that I was paying $118.00 every 2 weeks for health insurance with my employer (for a month it added up to be $236.00). Her response to me and I quote, "My suggestion to you is to cancel your health insurance with your employer and you will have the extra money to pay your bills, apply for medical assistance because we are giving that way". My response to that was, "That is fine well and good but that money is going to go right to Uncle Sam in taxes, I would hardly see any of that money". My question to you is why is there an injustice to a single mother working a full time job and being a full time mother and refused help from the state and for an unfortunate mishap of mother nature the refugees are getting all!? Free money! Free clothes! Free $2000 debit cards! Free food stamps! Free housing! Free living! Like I said before I really do feel bad about what has happened but where is the justice for us out there that pay taxes and are trying to make it on our own.

Posted by: kristin | September 8, 2005 09:22 PM

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