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Katrina One Year Later

So it's the one-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina. We usually prefer to celebrate happy occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, not recall the devastation of several states and the death of more than eighteen hundred people. But we must remember Katrina, for so many reasons, not the least being that we must be ready for the next hurricane to hit us.

Back on September 2 and 3 of last year, I wrote about how Katrina developed, and what the response was.

In short, Katrina was the twelfth named storm of the season, following eight tropical storms and three hurricanes (Dennis, Emily, Irene) two of which were deadly and powerful but none of which did much to frighten Americans, even though the first hurricane, Dennis, smashed into Florida while still a Category 4 storm. I wrote last September about the mood when Katrina was forming:

"So, because there were eleven storms in the Caribbean during 2005 before Katrina, there was a kind of fatigue, a 'been there, done that' assumption. Also, since the three August storms before Katrina were less dangerous than expected, a false optimism prevailed."

As late as August 26th, the National Weather Service was announcing Katrina was weakening after hitting Florida as a Category 1 hurricane, and was expected to make landfall over Florida's panhandle as a tropical storm. No one at the time was noting that Katrina had become a tropical storm just one day after the tropical depression was formed, and gained strength to hurricane force faster than anyone expected.

On August 27, when weather reports began to warn that Louisiana and Mississippi were likely to get hit by the rain, the public did not take the danger seriously. A common response was one made by Fred Wilson, quoted as saying "The only dangerous hurricanes so far are the ones we've been drinking."

For those who want to whack Mayor Nagin, I agree that I find him an insufferable jerk, but as a point of record, Mayor Nagin suggested a voluntary evacuation Saturday evening, warning residents in low-lying areas "We want you to take this a little more seriously and start moving -- right now, as a matter of fact"

As for those morons who still want to blame President Bush, it is also a matter of record that he ordered a state of emergency for the state of Louisiana Saturday, two days before the storm hit, which specifically authorized FEMA "to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and to provide appropriate assistance in a number of Louisiana parishes, or counties"

I hate the blame game, but with all the noise from liars and jerks it is necessary once again to home in on responsibility. On the one hand, Mike Brown at FEMA should have done a better job of following up on his teams, and the lack of comprehensive planning for the scale of the disaster is an indictment of the process and the men who led the department. And there is no question that Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco were first negligent, then cowardly in their responses to the disaster. Nagin's refusal to use available busses to evacuate people ranks up there with Blanco's refusal to allow Red Cross supplies to the Superdome for stupidity, but the common link to it all was Bennett C. Landreneau, the head of Lousiana's Department of Homeland Security, who was directly responsible for communicating condition updates and rescue information to both Nagin and Blanco, and for coordinating the response from responders at all levels. In a truly immoral resolution, Nagin was re-elected, Blanco was untouched by her negligence, and the MSM has still not said a single word of criticism about Landreneau, who belongs in a jail cell for his actions, or rather their lack.

I mentioned a year ago the blunt fact that "Katrina came up faster than expected, did not go where expected, and hit harder than expected, taking out the infrastructure which is generally used by emergency services. The plans in place for refugee housing did not include provisions for the total collapse of the levies and the number of victims. It should be noted that no exercise in disaster management is possible for this scale of disaster, nor has anyone responded to a disaster on this scale in less than a week". Let's step away from the hype.

Here in Houston, we did right in a big way. We opened up our town, and I don't just mean the 'Dome and some cots. Companies went out looking for folks to hire, agencies arranged new residences. Shewt, even MORTGAGE COMPANIES, who are supposed to be heartless bastards, made some sweetheart deals to get Katrina relocaters houses and a solid chance to start again. For months, just about EVERYONE here in Houston went out of their way to help in every way they could. My family and I gave money, furniture, food, and support. When a Katrina evacuee stole my car a week later, I didn't blame the whole group, although my wife was really PO'd, and when my company hired Katrina evacuees, they were welcome just as anyone would be to our team.

What did we get out of all this? Well, yes, we had some problems, mostly because the N.O. gangs got into fights with H-town gangs for turf and drug territory. And that led to some murders and assaults and nastiness. Frankly, we've seen that before - I remember in 1995 when a couple Asian gangs got into a nasty war with the Latin Kings here, and it had zip to do with what city they were from. Same thing here, just one set of losers going after another. Yes, Katrina brought them here, but that's not N.O.'s deal.

So, what about the people who can't get jobs? To be blunt, a lot of people from N.O. have money and property. Those are the ones who could not wait to get back and rebuild; they have investments to get moving again. And people with strong professional skills had no trouble catching on. The problem is the same thing we regular folks always see with jobs at the floor level, no matter what industry and company - most jobs suck in some way. No, I'm not buying the "all I can find is restaurant waitering" excuse, that's a lie and you know it. Houston has some high-paying, solid opportunities. The problem is, finding a decent job takes a lot of work. The last time I had to go job hunting it took me three months to find the right position, and that was with a stable home situation and my family in decent shape.

Life is cruel sometimes. You get good, you get bad, and not usually because you deserve it. What most of us do is get by and try to get better, and sooner or later the folks who got hit by Katrina will find their way. It will be tough, and probably not fair, but in the end you get what you make.

You don't owe anybody, but NOBODY OWES YOU, either.

It's not your fault, but that doesn't make it somebody else's fault.

And even if you are having a rough go of it, spitting on people who gave you help and tried to be there is not smart or right.

Houston is still doing pretty well, and the problems that can be solved are being worked on. If you want a job, there's still a lot here to be had. And if you want a better job, they are also available, as open to people from New Orleans as to anyone who has lived in Houston all their life.

And by the way, you're welcome.


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Comments (10)

"I hate the blame game, ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"I hate the blame game, but with all the noise from liars and jerks it is necessary once again to home in on responsibility."

Indeed.

Ex-FEMA chief blames administration

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, who lost his job because of Hurricane Katrina, said Tuesday his biggest regret a year later is that he wasn't candid enough about the lack of a coherent federal response plan.

"There was no plan. ... Three years ago, we should have done catastrophic planning," Brown said, charging that the Bush administration and his department head,
Michael Chertoff, "would not give me the money to do that kind of planning."

As levees broke down at Katrina's strike against New Orleans and people were forced from their homes, Brown said he sought futilely to get the 82nd Airborne Division into the city quickly.

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, he was asked about positive statements he had made at the time about how Washington would come through for the storm victims, rather than leveling with the country about how bad the situation actually was.

"Those were White House talking points," Brown replied. "And to this day, I think that was my biggest mistake."

Brown said that at many intervals during the week the storm hit, he found himself asking, "Where in the hell is the help?"

"I have to confess ... you want to protect the president when you're a political appointee," he said, "so you're torn between telling the absolute truth and relying on those talking points. To this day, that is my biggest regret. "

Nothing's changed by the way - Katrina today would have the same result, today.

Let us all pray for our bro... (Below threshold)

Let us all pray for our brothers and sisters who suffered in Katrina. Let us pray that people are not yeat treated on the basis of skin color. It does not matter if people there are black or white -first thing is they are humans.
I wish governments treated black people the same way as whites. Because both are Allah's creations.

Let us all pray for our bro... (Below threshold)
PorkChop:

Let us all pray for our brothers and sisters who suffered in Katrina. Let us pray that people are not yeat treated on the basis of skin color. It does not matter if people there are black or white -first thing is they are humans.
I wish governments treated black people the same way as whites. Because both are Allah's creations.
Posted by: Muslim Unity at August 29, 2006 03:48 PM


I wish Muslims would treat Americans as they want to be treated, and learn to live, rather than kill. Also, I wish that ALL people regardless of color start to practice self-reliance, and not sit around waiting for the govt to take care of them.

The interview with Brown in... (Below threshold)
JimK:

The interview with Brown in last month's Playboy was illuminating. If HALF of what he says is true...we're screwed in any disaster, and Chertoff deserves a fair portion of blame for the aftermath of Katrina.

I wish governments treated black people the same way as whites.

Oh give me a frigging break. Try looking at some numbers. White folks died. Play the race card somewhere else.

Government doesn't see color. Government sees bank statements. People see color. Don't want the government to screw you? Bust your ass and get some money. Black white or purple-striped-with-pink-polka-dots...money talks.

The interview with Brown... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

The interview with Brown in last month's Playboy was illuminating. If HALF of what he says is true...we're screwed in any disaster, and Chertoff deserves a fair portion of blame for the aftermath of Katrina.

If anything that inept burnmark on the underwear of life says is true, I'd be stunned.
-=Mike
...Yeah, I'll listen to Mr. Bambi-in-Headlights when it comes to disaster preparation

As a New Orleanian, let me ... (Below threshold)
Cybrludite:

As a New Orleanian, let me say "Thank you!" to the fine folks of Houston & elsewhere who took in our evacuees. That said, the folks who're refusing to find jobs in Houston are the same ones who were refusing to find jobs here before the storm. You'll find the same in any US city that gets evacuated the way New Orleans was. We may have had more of them than most cities, but they're still there. Haul the population of Cabrini Green in Chi-town to Miwaukee in response to a disaster and see if they don't drive up the crime rate and trash the places well meaning citizens loan them.

MikeSC,Personally,... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:

MikeSC,

Personally, I think Brown got something of a raw deal. He performed very well in the past and from reading all the articles that finally corrected most of the sometimes deliberate untruths broadcasted by the Press, what went wrong was what generally goes wrong when something of Katrina's magnitude has to be responded to.

The problem is that I think he was completely unprepared to deal with a Press Corps - unable to comprehend what was happening, incapable of understanding the logistics of what needed to be done and lacking the intelligence to gauge whether or not progress was being made - that had become completely hysterical.

If that had remained the case, Brown would have been in the clear.

But before the day was done, the Press Corps realized that by placing the blame entirely on the Federal Government and carefully shielding the Democrat controlled state and local governments, Katrina would finally give them the opening they've been praying for to launch effective missiles at the Bush Administration.

Brown stood no chance after that.

Brown now knows that the real target of all that manufactured ire is Bush. And he has realized that the fastest way to salvage what is left of his reputation is to assist those who wrecked it in the first place in their quest to damage their target.

That's why the same Press Corps that dismissed him as an incompetent is the same Press Corps telling us that he should be listened to, now that he has learnt what they want him to say.

It was stupid to put FEMA i... (Below threshold)
Syntax:

It was stupid to put FEMA in the Dept of Homeland Insecurity anyways. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!! 9/11 proved that it wasn't broke as their response and coordination was on the mark.

Everybody keeps opining about these busses as if they're disaster responders with centuries of experience. Try to find 250 drivers for these busses in the middle of an evacuating city. Good luck! Maybe these school busses weren't being used but every single public transit bus was being used to transport people from the low-lying areas to the Superdome or Convention Center. I live in a hurricane prone state (Florida) run by Republicans and using school busses was never an option but mass transit busses were usually put into overtime just like they were in New Orleans. Get off the bus kick. Its a dried up tit.

So Nagin was re-elected because those that were actually there and not opining from a safe, dry distance saw things differently. 1800 is a hell of a lot better than 18,000 so somebody did something right. Blanco should be impeached because she was more worried about her image than she was about the disaster unfolding before her eyes. Talk about dear in the headlights. If that woman ever gets re-elected, the people of LA should be shot. Bush and Jerkoff...oops, I mean Chertoff mangled FEMA. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Oh yeah....evidentally the levees sucked!

"If anything that inept bur... (Below threshold)
JimK:

"If anything that inept burnmark on the underwear of life says is true, I'd be stunned.
-=Mike
...Yeah, I'll listen to Mr. Bambi-in-Headlights when it comes to disaster preparation"

You REALY have to read the article if you can get your hands on it. It was truly educational as to what the structure is in a situation like that...for example, no one has ever mentioned the role Andrew Card played in all of this.

Try to find 250 drivers... (Below threshold)
Martin A. Knight:
    Try to find 250 drivers for these busses in the middle of an evacuating city.

How about 10? What about asking police officers or firemen to do some of the driving? I mean, I simply do not see how the inability to find drivers for all the school busses means that each and every single one of them could not be used for the evacuation of the city.

And considering that school busses are mentioned as transportation assets in New Orleans own emergency evacuation plans I also do not see how Florida not using school buses somehow excuses New Orleans' authorities not even glancing at their own evacuation plans and using the assets they had at hand, especially when they noticed that the public transit bus system was getting overwhelmed.

I remember Nagin demanding Greyhound buses on national television, even as he had 250 buses that could serve just as well. Again, what does Florida being run by Republicans have to do with that?

    Get off the bus kick. Its a dried up tit.

No, I think the arguments supporting your demand that we ignore 250 perfectly serviceable buses being allowed to be submerged to uselessnes is the dried up tit (I like that turn of phrase, by the way).




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