Where’s the foresight? The sense of urgency?

There are a few things that make me mad.

Watching people die for no good reason is one of them.

And that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing the last few days from the New Orleans area. There are heroic efforts on the ground. This post is not about those true public servants, giving everything against impossible odds.

This post is about the federal and state governments.

Today — four full days after the hurricane hit — federal groups are finally arriving in meaningful numbers, though still obviously not enough. People were hungry in the streets; why did we not drop MREs (Meals ready-to-eat) from airplanes sooner?

The staggering lack of foresight in the state and federal governments in this country is maddening. It has come to light that, in years past, despite the efforts of the mayor of New Orleans, both the (democratic) Louisiana state government and (republican) federal administration did very little to help them improve the levees. Bush even refused multiple direct requests from the mayor to tour the area (well prior to the hurricane).

Louisiana emergency management officials went on TV earlier this week claiming that they couldn’t do much because their cellphones and blackberries were out. Think a little bit, folks — did you really expect cellphone towers to be a reliable emergency communication network after a hurricane? Ever heard of good ole’ 2-way radios? Shortwave anyone?

What about the gas prices? Perhaps if we had been investing more money into conservation and alternative fuel technology all these years, we wouldn’t be in such a mess.

And then there’s the staggering lack of a sense of urgency. After 9/11, federal and state governments countrywide sprang into action. After this hurricane, FEMA…. manages to have no idea where the victims are. Bush goes out playing a guitar. Other top officials seem to have a “life as usual” attitude. People are dying out there, and these officials see no need to try to make the bureacratic wheels turn faster to help them out?

FEMA was a particularly interesting case. On an interview with NPR yesterday, NPR reporters asked the director about all the suffering at the New Orleans convention center. The director flat-out asserted there was nobody at the convention center, accusing NPR’s reporters of being mistaken or lying. A staff member called NPR back half an hour later to say that they had now learned that there were people at the convention center.

But here’s what really takes the cake: FEMA officials saying that they shouldn’t do much because people chose to stay and their predicament is their own fault.

I think they need to get out a little more. They need to realize that many people have no means to evacuate, and no means to pay for a hotel once they’re gone. Some are too sick to move, or are caring for loved ones that are too sick to move. Some are too young or old. Many Americans don’t own a car, because they can’t afford it. Think about it: if you had no money, no car, and nowhere to go anywhere else, what would you do?

So yes, I am ticked at my government and extremely annoyed that my tax dollars are paying for a federal “response” that takes days to even meaningfully begin.

10 thoughts on “Where’s the foresight? The sense of urgency?

  1. had very similar feelings watching an update this morning. Harry Connick (sp?) Jr. is a famous N.O. musician. He literally drove to N.O., brought his own security force with him, and walked around the streets of N.O. on camera. As he walked, he was talking to the camera saying “if I can get in a freakin’ car and drive down here and walk around the streets of N.O., then where the heck is the government? Heck, I can DRIVE to the superdome with a car full of water and be there in less than an hour….” doesn’t make sense.

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    jgoerzen Reply:

    Wow. I’m just about speechless at that. Incredible.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Yeah, and if he did drive down there with a car full of water or food he would have been stranded there, if he wasn’t torn limb from limb or shot on arrival. They had to move troops in first. Fault them for not getting them in sooner, but you saw what happened when they tried to get in there without troops.

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  2. Yes, it’s maddening, but let’s not lose our common sense.

    Today — four full days after the hurricane hit — federal groups are finally arriving in meaningful numbers, though …

    Although the hurricane may have happened in one day, the devastation has been ongoing.

    … in years past, despite the efforts of the mayor of New Orleans, both the (democratic) Louisiana state government and (republican) federal administration did very little to help them improve the levees. Bush even refused multiple direct requests …

    Please provide a link. Can anyone confirm this? I don’t know about you, but these kind of claims always make me skeptical.

    And then there’s the staggering lack of a sense of urgency. After 9/11, federal and state governments …

    This is how the main-stream media’s been portraying it. I think it’s been over-hyped to get a reaction which is so typical of any news covered event.

    But here’s what really takes the cake: FEMA officials saying that they shouldn’t do much because people chose to stay and their predicament is their own fault.

    I interpreted this as their frustration with helping people that don’t follow the directions given to them. That’s completely understandable given that people are not in their most rational mindset after such a tragic experience.

    Peace and love to New Orleans, LA!

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Regarding the funding, here’s but one story on the subject.

    As for over-hyped, I think it’s been under-hyped. Take a look at some of these links. People are literally dying for want of food, water, and shelter.

    And as for this: I interpreted this as their frustration with helping people that don’t follow the directions given to them.

    NOT EVERYONE HAD THE MEANS TO EVACUATE THEMSELVES, and nobody helped them evacuate. A lot of those left are the poor. An order to evacuate means nothing if people have nowhere to go and no means to get there.

    FEMA has NO RIGHT to be saying that people that were offered no assistance to evacuate should have evacuated.

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  3. You get on a bus when you don’t have a car, like I do. It costs about 3 dollars to get out of New Orleans. It was a mandatory evacuation. Not having the money for a hotel is a ridiculous excuse to make for people who have to stay in refugee camps whether they got out before or after the hurricane.

    Many of the people who stayed did because they didn’t want their houses looted and they are paying the price.

    Of course there were some who were too old or sick to get out themselves and the mayor or governor should be held accountable for not evacuating them beforehand. But don’t tell me the majority of the people you see on tv couldn’t get their asses on a bus and out of there.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    “But don’t tell me the majority of the people you see on tv couldn’t get their asses on a bus and out of there.”

    ..agree, kinda-sorta! But let’s all show a little compassion even for those who made a stupid decision. The fact is that they are suffering now. Where is our humanity, or Christianity? Have you seen the desparation on their faces? Kick their asses AFTER we get them out? The whole world is watching the “great United States” display the what we have tried to hide for so long. How can we, the US, pass another disparaging remark about how another country treat their citizen. This is the worst of times. I am so embarassed for our country.

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    jgoerzen Reply:

    First off, not everyone has the $3. Sad, but true.

    Secondly, not everyone can just hop on a bus. There are people that are too sick for that. I know of plenty of elderly people that wouldn’t be able to make that.

    Not only that, but from everything I have heard, there were no shelters outside the city available beforehand. The city recommended that those without resources go to the dome. Poor choice on the city’s part.

    I don’t deny that there were some that chose to stay for whatever silly reason. That doesn’t make their plight any less desperate or their suffering any less real. They, and their children, still don’t deserve to die. They don’t deserve to be stranded in a place covered with urine and worse.

    Nobody does.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    “I don’t deny that there were some that chose to stay for whatever silly reason. That doesn’t make their plight any less desperate or their suffering any less real. They, and their children, still don’t deserve to die.”

    Ultimately (most) people are responsible for themselves, if you don’t take even basic actions to prevent yourself dying, you can’t go blaming the Government for not saving you.

    I dare say an individual can jump in his car, find a camera, and make a fuss. But he risks becoming part of the problem, unless he has the backup to get him out of there, including getting things like gas (gas pumps tend to need electricity).

    Sure there are some individuals whom you can’t expect them to look after themselve. And for whom you can’t expect their family and friends to look after them, and some for whom evacuation might have been unduely dangerous, but 10,000’s of such in a city of 500,000?

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Coppied= It appears that New Orleans had about 600 city and school buses that remained unused and most, if not all, are now flooded. As I have watched New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin excoriate President Bush and other federal authorities for their slow and inadequate response, it seems strange that no one in the mainstream press has asked why the mayor did not follow the disaster plan and use the buses to evacuate those lacking transportation. Could it be that there is some bias in the mainstream press? The only place that I have seen the flooded buses mentioned is in the Drudge Report and Free Republic. If 600 buses had a capacity of say 45 each, they could have evacuated about 27,000 persons/trip. There was enough time between the evacuation order and hurricane arrival to make several trips. Plus, if the buses had been used instead of allowed to be flooded, they would have been available as valuable resource in the post disaster recovery. Also, the cost of replacement would have been avoided.
    Here is the applicable part of the Disaster Plan: Louisiana disaster plan, pg 13, para 5 , dated 01/00 ‘The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating’…
    This was to be implemented by the Democratic Mayor of New Orleans. He failed at his job and lots of people died because of him. There,,,Boys, is where the blame lies. 600 buses were never used and sitting flooded.
    You will NEVER hear this from the maistream media and especially not a left wing organization like NPR.

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