Friday, September 02, 2005

Anarchy in the Big Easy

As we watch the events unfolding in New Orleans this week from the other side of the planet, certain questions just must be asked:

1. Why did 100,000 people stay behind after the mandatory evacuation order from the mayor? While I can understand that New Orleans has a substantial poor population who may not have had methods of escaping the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, what's up with the rest of the people? A Category 5 hurricane, the greatest natural force (short of a quake) unleashed by nature is barelling towards you, you live in a city which is essentially a bowl, surrounded by Ocean and a major lake... yeah sure, just board up the windows and keep watching Oprah, nothing bad'll happen.

2. Why was New Orleans not prepared to deal with this since this exact scenario was predicted some time ago by FEMA. Doesn't take too too bright a person to figure out that a) New Orleans is substantially lower and Sea Level... b) Lake Ponchartrain is even higher than sea level... c) both the lake and the OCEAN are held back by an ancient network of levies... d) duh, something might happen. I mean come on! Even the Tragically Hip predicted this would happen in their song New Orleans is sinking... and that was in the 80s!

3. Why is it taking days and days to get military personnel in to the city? There must be at least 50 bases within a few hours drive of New Orleans. Conversly, why is it taking days and days to get the people out from the Super Dome... cops and rescuers are getting shot at? SHOOT BACK... that's what them fancy iron things hanging off your belt are for.

4. Why has it taken so long to declare martial law and that any looters or armed persons would be shot dead like the dogs they are? Reports of bands of armed men making their way through the refugee camps raping women seem to finally have gotten a rise out of the Governor.

5. Why did Paul Martin, our (Canada's) PM wait days before offering assistance? On that note, why the hell would anyone re-elect this dolt... which they probably will...

Just a few thoughts which crossed my mind as I watched the CNN reports of the horrendous situation down there. Americans must be ashamed, how sad...

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Blogger Dak said...

Hello again. The events in New Orleans are pretty scary. I don't know if I can answer all of your questions. Seriously, I'm not sure if anyone can answer all the questions. But here are some thoughts...

1) There was an interview done with many residents of New Orleans, and almost everyone interviewed said they'd rather die in New Orleans than leave it. So Those who had the means to leave, but decided to stay behind probably thought something similar to this, or didn't realize just how dangerous that storm was. Stupid thinking, of course.

But then you have those who did not have the means to flee. No transportation, sick or infirm, or the elderly...they could have gotten out. There are 2000 municipal, city, and school buses rotting in 4 feet of water not even a 1/2 mile from the Superdome. The Mayor COULD have used his power in this situation to use those buses to get another 20,000 people to safety, if not more if they could have made several runs. This not only was a possibility, but it was even part of their emergency plans written up in 2001. Why the Mayor failed to use this power, or did not know, is a question a lot of people want answered.

2) New Orleans *should* have been prepared. They had emergency procedures created for just such a scenario. But they hemmed and hawed and didn't act quickly. They announced the manditory evacuation far too late for it to be effective, and they failed to provide any food or water at the Superdome, the *ONLY* evacuation site opened. (Another part of that plan that was written up suggested opening the Airport as a shelter, which when interviewed by a news radio service, the mayor said "We don't need that." I heard him use those exact words. Had they done so, it would have been no problem to fly in supplies and fly survivors out. But they failed to do that...why?)

3) One air base which is home to many of the Hurricane Hunter planes was smashed by Katrina. 95% of their base was damaged or destroyed, and their aircraft left ruined. But according to several reports, Emergency response personel were gathering and organizing as early as Saturday night preparing to go in. The Governor should have activated the statewide emergency which would have moved in the National Guard before the storm hit, but she wrung her hands and did not request them until Tuesday or wednesday of last week...again, Why!?

But much of the delay has to do with the unknowns...they really had no idea just how bad the situation was there. I really think they prepared as best they could, but there was NO way to prepare for this.

As for why the cops didn't shoot back, I have no idea. IN this situation, if people are indiscriminately firing guns at rescue helicoptors and police officers, I think that they SHOULD fire back. Just like in the show Firefly "If someone tries to kill try to kill em right back!"

4) This is completely on the shoulders of the Governor. She should have declaired Martial Law the night the Hurricane hit. That would have activated the National Guard Immediately and set up a more secure situation in Post-Hurricane New Orleans. It is not something the President can declare, as opposed to what some people think.

5) I have no idea. Didn't even know who the PM of Canada was, to be honest. I know, I'm an hour's drive away from Canada, I should know these things. >.< Sorry.

I pray for the safety and well-being of everyone involved with this terrible disaster. I hope everyone can get back on their feet, rebuild their lives and someday, get back some semblance of a normal life again.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Dak said...

Oh, here's an interesting Katrina Timeline...don't let the site name fool ya.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

Thanks for the comments Dak! Nice to get your insight. I'm glad things are getting better out there, and I can certainly understand people not wanting to leave such a wonderful city as New Orleans, one o fthe most unique cities in America.

It's too bad I didn't get to visit before this happened, I would have been interested to see the mix of cultures there, and of course the amazing food!

9:34 PM  
Blogger Dak said...

My brother has been to New Orleans many times. He's most saddened by this. But it can also be said that they new a disaster was bound to happen. Like you said, they have a city built literally in a "bowl" that sits below sea level.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Why does anyone live in Tokyo? I mean, how stupid could they be?

12:18 AM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

Mark, While I understand your point about Tokyo and New Orleans both being faced with similar threats, I am not sure the comparison holds up all that well.

As Japan is a relatively mountainous nation, it's flat areas are where people are going to live... hence the population in the kanto plain in and around Tokyo. Not only that, but the natural destruction caused by the levees and flood control measure and landfill that Tokyo has required is not worth the cost in my opinion.

New Orleans could have been located in a better place.

12:39 AM  

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