Sunday, 4 September 2005

New Orleans again

I know I've been banging on about this but the more I read and see and hear the more I find it incredible that this situation should have arisen as it did in the first place and then been so badly handled. Here's a report claiming that British tourists in an hotel in New Orleans were simply left by the police who came to evacuate people before the hurricane hit. A different newspaper and a different story, The Times claims that British Consular officials were refused access to New Orleans three times when they wanted to try and offer aid to "scores of British tourists" trapped there. One story sums up what was happening
Peter McGowan, whose sister Teresa Cherrie was trapped in the devastated area with her boyfriend John Drysdale, described yesterday how they had been reduced to looting to survive: "They are having to scavenge for food and Teresa is terrified," he said. "At first it was the gangs they feared, then it was trigger-happy cops."

The family told how Cherrie, 42, and Drysdale, 41, both from Renfrew, near Glasgow, had searched for food outside a supermarket after shelves were stripped by gangs.

The couple were eventually rescued yesterday afternoon from an apartment block in the French Quarter of Baton Rouge One New Orleans blogger in the city wrote yesterday: "Bunch of stressed out, trigger-happy police and military types driving by suspicious as all hell. It's not safe standing out on the street."
This editorial in The Times, entitled "When the levees broke, the waters rose and Bush's credibility sank with New Orleans" makes interesting reading and draws parallels between this disaster and earlier ones where natural disasters have highlighted inequalities and led to political change. The Johnstown flood in 1889 and the Galveston hurricane in 1900 are mentioned as is the 1927 flood which led to the rise of Huey Long.

Meanwhile the BBC reporters on the ground are saying that getting troops there is starting to make a difference. The BBC site also has a roundup of international press coverage of the disaster. Two things in pieces I've read today really hit home.
........ after the 9/11 attacks Fema was absorbed into the mammoth Department of Homeland Security, in the expectation that its expertise would be vital in the wake of another devastating attack.

The result, however, was that Fema became part of the counter-terrorism apparatus and its preparedness for natural disaster atrophied. When the Louisiana state authorities appealed for medical aid from Fema, the first delivery they received was a shipment of drugs and equipment for use in the event of a chemical weapon attack.
It took four days to begin a large-scale evacuation of people stranded in the Superdome stadium and to bring in significant amounts of food and water to an American city easily accessible by motorway.

Relief agencies took half that time to reach Indonesia after the Boxing Day tsunami. [My emphasis]
Both from Julian Borger writing from Baton Rouge.

Finally, there are some truly moving images at Truthout (thanks for flagging that site Mouseperson of Canada!)

16 careful considerations:

Rob Spence said...

...and it turns out that the boss of FEMA has no expertise in this area (yeah, we spotted that) and got the job because it was in the gift of an old college buddy. Great!
See http://www.themoderatevoice.com/posts/1125772483.shtml
among loads of othe places for the details

Angie said...

I spent all yesterday, and will probably do so for the best part of today, watching news on how inept our government is at handling this disaster.

It should not have taken as long as it did. And so many people should not have died while waiting for help.

Echo Mouse said...

Nog, you and I are equally obsessed about this. Thank God for that. I was beginning to feel like the only one out of my entire blogroll ;)

This is an excellent post! There will surely be negative repercussions within the USA as a result of how this was handled. It's starting and I can only imagine how bad it's going to get and how long that will last. With Rehnquist dying .... things are going to get even worse they say.

Such a tragedy.

Btw, you would probably like Matthew Good's blog. He's a musician here in Canada and writes exclusively on world developments (or lack of them). Just in case you're interested here is his link:- http://www.matthewgood.org/mblog/index.php

Nogbad said...

Mouse - thanks for the link, that site is a great find! I know I'm out of my blogroll! :-) I'm only obsessed about this in so far as being amazed that it's so simply screwed up and every day sees it deeper in the mire rather than being sorted. Were it not for those countless thousands, hundreds of thousands, suffering so terribly it would be funny in a grotesque way. This is Theatre of the Absurd being played out with human misery and it's sickening but it would be even worse if the world didn't learn from it.

Mike said...

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Congratulations!

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Nogbad said...

Thanks Mike! A ringing endoresment from a spamming ars*hole like you means a great deal to me. Can I just say that I think you are a complete scumbag?

Angie said...

You two really need more political people on your blogrolls then! LOL Cause those on mine are equally as obsessed as I am. And we've done nothing but talked of this.

Echo Mouse said...

LOL Nog at your lovely comment to the spammer :)

Angie - ok i'm heading over. Normally I avoid political stuff because it's not my thing really. But this is human tragedy. I wish I could help more :(

Angie said...

You've actually done alot with all your links. :)

TRT said...

As I purchased my newspaper from the shop at the weekend and the lady behind the counter was trying to flog me a EuroMillions lottery ticket, it occurred to me that the top prize in the draw was much in excess of the figure they asked for to sort out the problems with the levees in NO.

Nogbad said...

I saw that Rob - he was appointed as deputy to a bloke who actually knew what he was doing but got the job when the other guy went into industry. Sad that he gets found out like this!

GW - Yes, the sums involved are not that great when compared to the cost of war or the rescue effort (and this is in simple money terms rather than the wider cost of life and such like). For the want of a nail........

Squid Vicious said...

If the news reports weren't glorifiying the violence and the looting, it wouldn't took half as long to get the aid in there. It pisses me off that there are people out there who can sit in their comfy chairs bitching about how "THE GOVERNMENT SCREWED UP". Bullshit! (We) are currently undertaking the largest relief effort in US history. It took a few days to get there as they needed to establish what went where. THAT TAKES TIME, IDIOTS! Helicopter droppin' water over a 90,000 square mile area doesn't happen overnight...

kat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kat said...

I can't say that I agree with that sentiment Squid. A relief effort does take time but they knew this hurricane was coming and I think it was forecast long ago that the scale of the disaster would be this big if one ever hit. Shouldn't there have been some proper and efficient contingency plans put in place. A Plan! A Very Big and well prepared Plan. Helicopters and water ready to go. Didn't the president himself admit that the response had been slow? Weren't aid and rescue agencies from other countries turned away? I am not of course saying anything that hasn’t already been said. Personally, I would like to think that governments and aid agencies will learn a lot from this and that defenses and relief efforts for future generations will be vastly improved and coordinated throughout the world. There is always room for improvement and I think we should all push for it. Money and resources should be available for release and action should be as swift as possible. When people are dying the priority should be on saving lives and not the politics. I don't think there is anything wrong with telling politicians and governments throughout the world that we expect them to take more responsibility and assist the aid agencies rather than hinder them. If the only place that some of us can do it from is an armchair Squid, than so be it. I am not just referring to this disaster or to the US Government.

Countries may also wish to learn to respect and repair coastlines too. Save money or save lives, which is it to be?

When a disaster happens in a country or on a continent, it doesn’t just affect its citizens. Stuff politics or defending governments, let’s work together and save lives.

On the whole I think that news reporters do a good job of highlighting the need for help. Without them we probably wouldn't know that disasters had even happened. I don't think we can blame the fact that the government decided to tackle the looters before the need to save lives on the news reports. The government should have had there own means of accessing the area and assessing the situation.

Angie said...

kat, you have more patience than I do. I wasn't going to waste my time with explaining anything to squid. The government was too little too late. And they do need to be held accountable. But now is not the time. There is STILL people that need to be rescued. There is STILL people dying due to being trapped.

kat said...

Don't let it be forgotten. Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, famine - They are not ifs - they are whens. Home content insurance simply isn't enough.

People working in the rescue and relief services are the best and I hope that they will maintain sufficient and continued support and that the people of NO will be properly looked after and rehoused /re-allocated.