the ongoing horror show

I tend to assume that the stories of looting and armed gangs are blown way out of proportion; if there are 10,000 people "looting" bottled water and bread, and one guy hauling a television, the guy with the TV is the one who's going on the front page. And cops "looting" stores for food and guns tends to sound to me like "cops doing their job". But OMFG:

Anarchy disrupts US storm relief:

Medical evacuations from the Superdome stadium have been disrupted after a gun shot was fired at a rescue helicopter. Suspending the helicopter rescues at the Superdome, a spokesman for the Louisiana ambulance service told the BBC the crowd had grown unruly and he was concerned for the safety of his staff.

Canada has not been allowed to fly supplies and personnel to the areas hit by Katrina:

On tonight's news, CTV (Canadian TV) said that support was offered from Canada. Planes are ready to load with food and medical supplies and a system called "DART" which can provide fresh water and medical supplies is standing by. Department of Homeland Security as well as other U.S. agencies were contacted by the Canadian government requesting permission to provide help. Despite this contact, Canada has not been allowed to fly supplies and personnel to the areas hit by Katrina. So, everything here is grounded. Prime Minister Paul Martin is reportedly trying to speak to President Bush tonight or tomorrow to ask him why the U.S. federal government will not allow aid from Canada into Louisiana and Mississippi. That said, the Canadian Red Cross is reportedly allowed into the area.

Canadian agencies are saying that foreign aid is probably not being permitted into Louisiana and Mississippi because of "mass confusion" at the U.S. federal level in the wake of the storm.

Condi Rice Continues to Shop Up a Storm:

Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes. A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice's timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!" Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.

Lots of good linkage and commentary from Tom Tomorrow:

We've all made a lot of jokes about the Department of Homeland Security over the past four years. But apparently, the Department of Homeland Security has absolutely no plan for dealing with devastation on this scale, which is supposedly the thing we've all been worried about for four years.

interdictor runs an ISP atop a highrise in New Orleans, and is posting regular horrific updates:

National Guard shoving water off the backs of trucks. They're just pushing it off without stopping, people don't even know it's there at first -- they drop it on the side in debris, there's no sign or distribution point -- people are scared to go near it at first, because the drop points are guarded by troops or federal agents with assault rifles who don't let people come near them, which scares people off. It is a mess.

Interesting thoughts from Charlie Stross about the global economic impact this will have: Katrina aftermath and The real end of the 20th century?

But the economic damage from closing the Port of Southern Louisiana for up to three months is huge -- plausibly equal to 5% of the US balance of trade with the rest of the world. I can't put a figure on that total, but I'd be surprised if it isn't an order of magnitude more than the $25-30Bn insurance costs, and possibly even higher than the cost to date of the Iraq war and occupation ($200Bn).

What are the likely consequences (locally and globally) of blowing a 5% of GDP sized hole under the waterline of the US economy?

Coming up next: cholera!

Tags: , ,

68 Responses:

  1. kyronfive says:

    I am so horrified and outraged right now it is beyond words.

  2. madeleine says:

    I love that Condoleeza Rice story. So . . so Bush Administration

    Just to help the incredulity further, there's proof that the Bush Administration actually diverted money away from funds the US Corps of Engineers needed to improve and strengthen the New Orleans levees back in 2004 and the spring of this year - because he needed the money for the war in Iraq and Bush's tax cuts. Article is here But here's a quote:

    The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

    To put it another way, New Orleans is a casualty of the war in Iraq. I'm sure the citizens of the area will be thrilled to find out that things didn't have to turn out as bad as they are now.

    • st_arbirix says:

      The second part you posted is quite interesting, but I'm a little curious about this whole Conoleeza Rice thing and why everyone's paying so much more attention. What does the Secretary of State have to do with this matter?

      True, it's a little uncouth to be out shopping at a time like this, but I'm curious to know what Michael Leavitt is doing since this he's the guy who'd be in charge of this sort of thing.

      • Well, as the US's top diplomat (where by "top" I mean "appointed leader", not "best"), she would be one who theorically ought to be talking with to foreign aid agencies to get their help (like the aforementioned Canadians we're not letting in).

      • It's symbolic. If she can buy thousand-dollar shoes, perhaps she should consider slumming it with a pair of five-hundred dollar shoes and donate the difference to Red Cross. Sure, maybe it's unfair to verbally abuse her for being a selfish asshole, but anyone serving the Bush Administration has at this point earned 3.77[1] metric assloads of unfair verbal abuse at this point.

        [1] As of the July 2005 Report from the Bureau of Karmic Retribution

        • mamaslyth says:

          But wasn't the shopper also buying stuff.

          It's been my experience that you don't find high priced shoe stores around bargain places. You usually find them around other very high priced boutiques.

          So, I think the shopper probably isn't one to speak...

          • zandperl says:

            Actually, lots of tourists go to 5th Ave to window-shop. I'm not even a tourist and I do it myself. And to watch the tourists - they're so cute, can I keep one?

            However, I totally understand having the Secret Service or whoever restrain the other woman. Yelling is a threatening gesture.

            But I agree on the "WTF" for the $1k shoes. Sure administrators have to look good for the camera, but doesn't she already have decent shoes? Or does she just not have any that cry out "thousands of people are dying in New Orleans because of my administration's incompetency"?

            • mamaslyth says:

              I agree on shoe prices. For $1000, those things better be more than just pretty.

              I personally have never paid more than $70 for a pair of shoes and those were leather shoes designed for being worn in a lab.

      • spampy says:

        What does the Secretary of State have to do with this matter?

        Given that a member of Spain's parliament was stranded at the convention center and that local authorities were resisting the spanish embassy staff's efforts to extricate her and her family, i would think it's state's problem to at least try to investigate.

  3. mark242 says:

    That there are people still inside the city waiting to be evacuated speaks more to the gross ineptitude of the federal government far more than any anti-war protestor, Michael Moore film, or MoveOn e-mail ever could. But maybe we can code the levels of security around NOLA with that DHS cutesy color-coding scheme? Red for people in need of immediate rescue, orange for people who are only in impending danger of being raped and murdered? Let's have a few meetings about this.

    Everyone should have been out of the city on Tuesday.

    • harryh says:

      I think you underestimate the logistical difficultly of moving 50,000+ people out of a flooded city with severely damaged transportation infrastructure.

      • mark242 says:

        It has been 48 hours since the levee break. The FY2005 United States military budget was $420.7 billion dollars. Each and every one of those evacuees could be riding in 50-foot yachts with gold-plated bathroom fixtures and kobe beef steaks served to them on Ming Dynasty era flatware, each yacht individually delivered via C-130 airdrop within 2 hours of the first levee break, and it still wouldn't make a dent in our total expenditure.

        No, this is not a logistical problem. This is a red-tape-fuckup of astronomical proportions, the likes of which will haunt our country for years to come.

        • harryh says:

          The FY2005 United States military budget was $420.7 billion dollars...wouldn't make a dent in our total expenditure.

          Money doesn't do much to help solve logistical problems. 50,000 people would require what 2,000 school busses? Where are they going to come from? Where are you going to get the fuel to get them to NOLA and back. Keep in mind that you prolly can't fill up the tanks anywhere near the cities. Where are you going to get drivers for the busses? What happens when they get to NOLA and the highways are impassable due to either damage or flooding?

          What do you do about the security issues? You're prolly going to need some sort of armed escort.

          What do you do when busses arrive at the superdome and surging crowds of people riot to get on the busses? Gonna need even more security for that.

          These are not easy problems to solve no matter how much money you have. Saying they should have been solved by Tuesday is not realistic.

          • They should have been solved, with the solution in the form of a PLAN, two or three YEARS ago, not this Tuesday.

            What if terrorists blew a hole in the levee, rather than a hurricane?

            • dasht_brk says:

              It does seem like homeland security hasn't yet achieved its mission of teaching regional first responders how to self-organize in the face of something like this.

              That needs work, big time.


            • harryh says:

              It's unclear to me if problems of this scale are really solveable with current technology. You're talking about the forced evacuation of 100,000 people on 24 hours notice.

              You might not be asking the impossible, but at the very least your asking for something that has never ever been done before.

              • It's been done for men with guns and packs, with other men with guns and packs shooting at them, into fortified very unfriendly areas, again and again, and again.

                A fleet of Jolly Green Giants, with ten in the air at any one time, could get 200 people in stretchers 50 miles away to staging areas every hour, easy.

                (Based on 10 helicopters, 22 people per trip, and a one hour round trip.)

                That would represent 20% of the type fleet, and that's only one heavy lifter type, and only one transport method.

              • I'm not talking about forced evacuation - you wouldn't have to "force" anyone out of the 'Dome at this point. I'm not talking about a one-layer solution. I'm not talking about an impossible solution. I'm talking about having a playbook to solve the obvious, forseeable problems, and following the playbook.

                The initial evacuation order was IMO reasonably successful - 80% of the people in the city got out. That's excellent compliance, particularly given that they get hurricane warnings year after year. I've no problem with that. Score one for the good guys.

                Dropping multi-ton sandbags onto breached levees is obviously possible, since they started doing it eventually. There should have been a plan in place to do so, it should have been put into action, and there's no reason whatsoever that it should take more than, let's say, four hours from breach to bags dropping -- maybe 8 if the plan isn't executed correctly. How long did it take? Score one for the forces of fuckuppery.

                Dropping packages of food and water rations is obviously possible. We did it in Afghanistan, halfway around the world. We should have huge caches of airdroppable emergency food & supply (first aid, hygiene, hand-cranked radios, flares, bungee cords, duct tape, and whatever else an emergency management bureacracy can think of) in waterproof pods ready to go near military or NG airbases. Two hours to make the decision, 2 hours to get the first wave loaded, 4 hours to get to the target, again, there should have been manna falling from heaven at the 'dome 8 hours after the breach. Babies are dying in there right now. Score one for the forces of fuckuppery.

                While we're at it, why don't hurricane-prone regions have stockpiles of self-inflating life-rafts cached inland? You fly over with a helicopter that needn't be equipped for rescue, spot people waving from atop their roof, drop a couple rafts, keep moving.

                The loss of civil control and the chaos that's going on in there now? Also entirely fucking predictable. Nowhere on the planet is more than about 6 meals away from a riot. There should be a plan in place to get National Guard troops and trucks in there -- to all the spots that aren't underwater -- in less than 24 hours, and more food and supply kits should go in with them. How many days did that take? Score one more for the forces of fuckuppery.

                I'm sure you can pick holes in those plans, but this is what one guy can come up with in 20 minutes. Why can't DHS and FEMA come up with something 100 times better in, oh, look, it's been almost fours years now, hasn't it?

                • harryh says:

                  I actually agree with pretty much everything you said. It does seem like there should have been more plans in place for this sort of thing. So why weren't there? I don't think it's really an issue of funding or incompetence on any particular level. I think people are just really bad at planning for rare events like this. And I mean that both in terms of individuals1 and larger organizations. I can ony begin to imagine the administrative nightmare that it would be to coordinate the types of plans you envision among fema/the military/dhs/medical personel/etc.

                  I just keep going back to the fact that no one has ever successfully pulled off the kind of operation you envision on such short notice (admitedly there haven't been many opportunities). Should we expect such hurculean tasks to be pulled off? Maybe. Should we be that surprised when fuckuppery happens. Not so much.

                  1. What would you do if you came home from work tomorrow and your home and all your possessions had burned in a fire? Personally I'm not really sure, I'd just try to figure something out. I suspect most people are the same as me.

                  • The active duty military does this kind of thing, or structurally analogous things, all the time. They train for it. They make a planbook, they run the exercise, they see what didn't work right, they revise the plan, they try again.

                    FEMA should prove they can bring one enormous sandbag to the levee on 8 hours' notice twice a year. They should prove they can bring one helicopter-load of emergency supply pods to a randomly selected city twice a year. If they can't do it, their plan sucks and needs to be revised.

                    I think bureaucracy is the problem. This sort of thing has to coordinate local municipal government, state government, local police, National Guard, Federal armed forces, FEMA, and now DHS. That admittedly isn't easy, but if it can't be done, we shouldn't be spending money on it.

                    If I came home from work tomorrow and everything was gone, well, I'm more fortunate than most in my available resources:
                    0. Note that this is my plan, and my wife is far better at crisis management than I am, so in practice I would consult with her and a plan at least as good as this would come together
                    0. Try to figure out if the cat survived.
                    1. Call (using cell phone or neighbor's phone) friends in next neighborhood over, ask to crash for the night
                    2. Call insurance company
                    3. Establish first-night base of operations at friend's house. Blog about it. Sleep.
                    4. Next day: Establish longer-term housing plan: first candidate, Mom's house - closer to wife's workplace, equally close to my workplace, plenty of empty bedrooms. We have a lot of friends in the area, none of whom I'd feel good about imposing on for months, but any of whom could put us up for a night or two.
                    5. Call work, tell them not coming in due to house all gone.
                    6. Go shopping. Clothes, toiletries. I have credit cards on me. If I had lost my wallet as well, this step would be a lot more complicated - DMV for replacement ID, I guess, then to bank? Borrow money from friends in worst case.
                    7. Be really pissed that all my stuff-on-computer is gone. After the cat, the contents of the hard disk on my laptop is the #1 precious-to-me thing in the house. Which means I probably need to back it up off site. Like, right now.

                    You probably didn't really need to know that.

                  • awooster says:

                    "I think people are just really bad at planning for rare events like this."

                    One of my high school teachers (Astrochemistry and Geology) used to cite New Orleans as the canonical Bad Place to Live, because this scenario was pretty much guaranteed to happen eventually. The federal government spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last decade alone trying to prevent just this from happening, so I don't think it's out of line to expect someone there to have developed a contingency plan for when things went wrong.

                  • Actually, I guess it's slightly more interesting to note that from time to time, when driving home, I occasionally ask myself "what if I saw the flash of a nuclear fireball in SF right now?" and plan my response. Don't call me paranoid. <lj user="crisper"> works up contigency plans for Zombie Day.

                  • awooster says:

                    Funnily enough, I work with crisper.

                    What that says about our company's collective paranoia, I won't say.

                  • Well, it's not like his job description involves preparation for Z-Day.

              • dasht_brk says:

                I'm specifically talking about the spreading reports from the ground (in NOLA and among responders) of "chaos -- nobody in charge".

                In other words, a lot of responders are running around like chickens with their heads cut off (according to reports).

                I wouldn't expect handling of the situation to be smooth and all hunky-dorey but the reports that suggest responders are individually or in small units just "winging it" points at a gap that homeland security should be fixing.

                Their (HLS) mission shouldn't even be to be the boss in these situations -- far from it -- but to train the various responders to have programs in place to self-organize when things like this happen.


        • king_mob says:

          It dismays me to say it, but you're making the same mistake that whoever's in charge of the fuckup in NOLA did: "When we decide to get them out, we can do it quickly and smoothly." There aren't 60,000 C-130s. There are finite amounts of materiel available to do the job right now, and at this point in the process, hours count.

          Ultimately a lot of this seems to be because of DHS absorbing FEMA. FEMA used to have extraordinary powers to walk up to damned near anyone in the field and say "You work for us now." (Remember? Fox Mulder used to get all bent out of shape about FEMA for just that reason.) That kind of immediate authority is completely absent here. There is an enormous helicopter base at Fort Rucker, AL; I think it's the training center. But it's regular Army, and apparently the Guard doesn't want the RA involved, and no one's overriding the Guard.

    • dasht_brk says:

      What's a matter wid de regional responders? They got a brain cramp or sumpin? Oh.. wait, if its fed's fault you can bash bush. ok, I get it.


      • king_mob says:

        I have every expectation that we will find that the government of the city of New Orleans, and the state of Louisiana, were a bunch of ineffectual chimps. But I don't vote for any of them. Later, if the survivors of this clusterfuck want to hang them from such trees as remain, that's their lookout.

        I vote for and employ the members of the federal government. I expect them to earn their wages. My current read on the situation is that they've fucked up royally and tens of thousands of people will die as a result. (Not the people already dead. The ones stuck in the city. The ones still to die on Headline News.) It is possible that my read on the situation will be wrong. That would be very, very nice.

        • dasht_brk says:

          There is a tractability of management issue here which you
          should not overlook.

          Yes, you pay for the feds but the scope of their domain
          is vast. You wouldn't like living in a society where
          they had the degree of control you seem to expect of them.

          Given what was predictable in NOLA, the locals should have
          taxed the f out of themselves starting many years ago and
          spent a lot of personal time watching their gov't to make
          sure those taxes were well spent. Instead, regional govt in
          that area was commonly reduced to a kind of ol' boy chucklefest.


          • king_mob says:

            You wouldn't like living in a society where
            they had the degree of control you seem to expect of them.

            Bet me. I've been boned over one hell of a lot more times by local corrupt officials than by the Feds. I live in Columbus, where the Feds under Clinton sued the city because the police force was, uh, beating us a lot. Bush took the federal government off our back. The police department's back, rather.

            Remember Raymond Chandler. "You can only by a piece of a big city. You can buy an entire small town." That scales.

        • dasht_brk says:

          And speaking of people dying on headline news .....

          There's a private source of transport, communication, and
          capital that could and should be mobilizing to drop food


  4. king_mob says:

    I have a few hypotheses about the "shots fired" thing, but it's all just speculation. The thing that's really weighing on my mind at the moment is the possiblity that 50k +/- 20k people are about to die of thirst. On television.

    Nobody on the ground there seems to have any faith in the evacuation efforts, and doing quick Fermi calculations as to how long it would take to evacuate everyone if they started now and moved fast are making my blood run cold.

  5. pfrank says:

    I would not be surprised if zombies started crawling out of the bayou.

  6. dasht_brk says:

    Let's understand the extreme embarassment of the NOLA upper and ruling classes at this mess: their long-standing indifference to the underclass and their stunning unwillingness to self-tax to prepare for this inevitable disaster are now laid bare for the entire world to see.

    What a pleasing distraction, then, for their representatives to be able to spin a yarn about how unreasonable the suffering are.

    Don't get me wrong: I don't think these folks are any different from folks elsewhere in the U.S. I don't think they *intend* to be racist and classist. I think they simply inherited institutions and attitudes emerging out of intentional racism and classism and were ineffectual in critical self-examination and response -- so now the rest of the world gets to do the post mortem.

    Gee, I wonder how prepared my region (the bay area) really is for The Big One. Probably just about as well. We certainly equipped with a comparable neglected underclass.

    My favorite impolitic CNN moment is the one where the McMansion owners, ordered to evacuate when there is forseeable congestion, happily report their "wisdom" at packing the SUV with mom, the kids, and snacks for a day or two while dad saves the car as a single-occupancy vehicle. Way to go!


  7. nugget says:

    I'm sure that we're blocking the Canadian Red Cross aid for fear that they might bring us some of those dangerous and unsafe Canadian Prescription Drugs. We can't have that!

  8. carus_erus says:

    I just posted this to my own journal... I think it sums up my frustration: (And I'm aware the situation is more complicated than this, lack of communication and information is a major part of the problem...)

    A few days ago the US Army Corps of Engineers was dropping 1,000 pound sandbags to try to fix the levees after they had broke.

    Today, they're using 3,000 pound sandbags to try to fix the levee.


    The thought occurs that perhaps a few 3,000 pound drops of foodbags might be significantly more effective, considering that the levee's are already broken and even if the levees were completely fixed, it would take weeks to empty out the city. Yes, there would be some people hording the food. At this point, that is called overhead. Just keep dropping the food until everyone has enough to last a few days.

    Fixing the levees should have dropped off the immediate priority list days ago when it was obvious the flooding couldn't be stopped. The priority should be getting food, water, and medicine to these people NOW, and evacuate over the next week.

    • strspn says:

      The sandbags and preformed concrete both failed to help (some claim they actually made the damage worse in places), and once the water leveled with the lake (now essentially equal to the Gulf, since its seawall has also breached) they decided to use more traditional means of repair before trying to resume pumping. Speaking of which, fixing the pumps and getting power back to them is supposedly a month-long problem. For example, he local nuclear reactor is still off-line, not because it's damaged -- it is not damaged at all -- but because the roads to and from it are impassible, and regulations require that be fixed before turning the thing back on.

      I met a guy today who has an aunt and her family in the Superdome. They report that food and water were available and plentiful, but temperatures were in the mid-90s most of the past three days, and the toilet facilities they had access are just improvised boards-with-holes over holes to water filled stairwells, which the resulting stench. However, the authorities have managed to get rationed telephone service out, so the rest of their family was able to learn that they're going to go to the Astrodome. So, the Astrodome, at least it will have running water, power and a/c and sanitation, and perhaps even showers. There is also talk about a big telecon center being set up with 1,000 shared phones and clinics.

      Of all the comments above, I have to agree with the "why didn't they have supplies of zillions of inflatable rafts at the ready" the most.

      • harryh says:

        why didn't they have supplies of zillions of inflatable rafts at the ready

        Why didn't individuals go out and buy personal inflatable rafts? I'm not really sure either, but I think the answer to my question is the same as the answer to yours.

        • They don't go out and buy personal inflatable rafts because they have an expectation that their tax dollars are doing something useful.

          Now that I know my tax dollars aren't doing shit for disaster preparation, I have to go out and buy a ton of bottled water, canned food, and other emergency supplies. (I live in San Franciso.)

          • dasht_brk says:

            Free advice:

            Take this opportunity to go knock on ten neighbors doors
            and give them written invitations to form a group preparation
            effort. Redundant and (even slightly) geographically
            separated, quarterly monitored caches of supplies are
            better than one personal stash in the corner of your
            living space. A plan to evacuate en masse is better than
            each of you scrambling to your separate vehicles, etc.


            • dasht_brk says:

              Now you begin to understand the "duck and cover" and "let's build a bomb shelter" mentality of your parents or grandparents generation.

              "We can do it!"

          • strspn says:

            Providing for the common defense is so passe. These days, the federal government works on the common offense.

    • dasht_brk says:

      I speculate that no small part of the reason not to
      drop the sandbagging effort is because the environmental
      disaster (which includes additional hazards to human
      life, on many scales and via many mechanisms) dwarfs
      even the crap you see on tv from NOLA now.

      Triage thinking does seem to be playing at least some
      role here.


      • king_mob says:

        Someone or other described the river of sewage with its rainbow coat of petroleum products that now fills Lake George as "the new biggest Superfund site in the country." Dwarfing even my liver, I understand.

  9. ioerror says:

    I'm just so shocked that the federal government has dropped the ball.


  10. latemodel says:

    What are the likely consequences (locally and globally) of blowing a 5% of GDP sized hole under the waterline of the US economy?

    5%... that number rings a bell... it's coming to me, just a second...

    Right! That's the amount we spend on national defense.

  11. captain18 says:

    Looks like there actually was an attempt to prepare for this in 1977 that was scrapped due to environmental impact protests.

    Which forces me to admit schadenfreude at this comment to that blog: Wonder how they like the impact on the environment NOW?

  12. baconmonkey says:

    what also worries me about this, is how much people will welcome, if not Demand increased federal secuity presence. Clearly this failure illustrates that we have not surrendered enough rights, as disasters can still occur.

    I'm also rather dismayed at the focus on stopping looters vs. rescuing people, when faced with the follwing:

    1. whatever it is, it's probably going to rot, decay, or suffer harsh water damage if it's left alone.

    2. what good is a stolen, water-damaged Plasma TV in a city with no power, food, or roads?


    In contrast, some residents of the French Quarter appear comfortable, well-fed and relaxed. About 150 New Orleans police officers have commandeered the Royal Omni Hotel, part of the international luxury chain of Omni hotels that is housed in an elegant 19th century building, complete with crystal chandeliers and a rooftop pool. "All of the officers that are here, I can tell you in a classical sense, are gladiators," says Capt. Kevin Anderson, commander of the Eighth District of the NOPD (French Quarter). "To be able to put your family's concerns aside to protect the citizens of New Orleans, it's just an awesome job," he says.

    Across the street from the Royal Omni at the Eighth District police department, several police officers keep a wary eye on the street with shotguns at the ready, while some fellow officers grill sausage links over charcoal barbecues. They are under strict orders not to communicate with the media. Capt. Anderson does confirm, however, that locations where officers were housed came under gunfire on Tuesday night. No officers were injured. "It is a very dangerous situation that we're in," Anderson says.

  13. momomoto says:

    DART = Disaster Area Response Team, i.e. people trained to assist in situations like this. Of course you don't want them there!

    • flipzagging says:

      Funny, when the tsunami hit, the Canadian government was much criticized for delaying a DART mission. This time, they're ready immediately and being refused entry.

      Why do they have to wait for permission? Would any air traffic controller stop them?

      But I suppose they would also need refueling and other logistical support so they can't just wander in without a plan.

      • momomoto says:

        Hearsay has it that G.W.B. turned down the phone call from Anne McClellan because there ain't no woman in the world gonna tell the president what he has to do. But that's just what I've heard, y'know?

        Sure, you need a plan, but isn't it best to at least get the people to the zone and then think of the plan if you're in a situation such as this?

  14. capo_mojo says:

    Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes. A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice's timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!"

    Of course the "fellow shopper" at Ferragamo was buying shoes for the dying and homeless, right?

  15. darkengobot says:

    I'm in Jackson, MS, which under normal circumstances is a major evacuation center for coasties. The problem here is that Katrina--a stone bitch--was still a Cat 1 hurricane when it passed over Jackson--160 miles inland from Gulfport. Even now, 4 days later, half of Jackson is still without power. (I still don't have power at home myself. Luckily I do have power at my studio.) This has caused major problems, such as the 100+ car line I waited in yesterday to fill gas tanks destined for the coast.

    I'm not sure how this gets to be the fault of the Federal gov't. Well, I guess since they take our taxes with the promises that they'll take care of everybody, that's how it becomes their fault. But realistically, for the Mayor of New Orleans to bitch about help not arriving in a timely fashion... what did he expect? It's his goddamn city, his responsibility. Where was his plan? (As for our city, when our Mayor noticed that a line of cars were lining up for a gas station without power, he arranged to get generators sent there and installed.)

    I guess it was "talk a lot and then point fingers", which is a shitty plan.

    If I have a point (and I'm not sure that I do--every thought I've had this week has been disjointed and fleeting, and secondary to my main goal of collecting fuel, water and supplies for my family on the coast in Ocean Springs), it's that Katrina was fucking incredible and unprecedented. Near-total destruction from Slidell, LA to Mobile, AL from the shore to 1/2 mile inland has never been expected. However, FEMA wargamed a hurricane strike on N.O. a year ago. What happened to that? Who did or didn't do what? Too late now: playing pin-the-blame-on-the-donkey won't help, and when the first cop who saw a looter failed to shoot that looter--which should have been posted and generally known public policy in the city in case of a disaster--the officials there lost the initiative and allowed the ground rules to be set by the wrong people. And now we have thousands of troops sent in to police a handful of malcontents. The worst form of waste in this situation is the waste of human participation in rescue and relief efforts, and policing is horribly wasteful of human resources.

    • heybritney says:

      I guess it just makes people angry - at least it makes me angry that no one did anything about it. It was so many people's responsibilities - the federal government, homeland security, city and state governments, and i'm sure various other governmental agencies probably had it under their jurisdiction, so why is it that of all these people who should have done something, absolutely nothing was done?
      If the government doesn't learn to start anticipating disasters before they occur, instead of freaking out about them after, they're just going to be burning holes in their pockets...

  16. badc0ffee says:

    The US has accepted a Canadian offer of 4 ships, "equipped with divers, small boats, helicopters, electrical transformers and other equipment", according to this story: Canda Sending Four Ships To Aid Katrina Victims.