Friday, September 02, 2005

"A national disgrace"

The lack of planning for and lack of quick response to hurricane Katrina is beyond belief; the title (a statement by the head of New Orleans' emergency operations discussing FEMA's lack of assistance; link) says it all. Pharyngula links to one of many stories from years ago anticipating the current problems, yet our president says this:
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." - GW Bush, Sept. 1, 2005
The news is just stunning:
"This is a desperate SOS. Right now we are out of resources at the Convention Center and don't anticipate enough buses. Currently the Convention Center is unsanitary and unsafe and we are running out of supplies for 15,000 to 25,000 people." - New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (link)
"Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals 'preyed upon' passers-by, including stranded tourists." (link)
"About 100 people have died at the Chalmette Slip after being pulled off their rooftops, waiting to be ferried up the river to the West Bank and bused out of the flood ravaged area, U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon, D-Napoleonville, said Thursday." (link)
People are dying because there are not enough boats, but after La. State Senator Gautreaux arranged for a 500-boat-large flotilla to travel to New Orleans, this happened:
"We were pulling a large (24ft) shallow draft aluminum boat that can safely carry 12 passengers and had ramp access which would allow the elderly and infirm to have easier access to the boat ...

We then specifically asked the DWF agent that we (and other citizens in the flotillia) be allowed to go to the hospitals and help evacuate the sick and the doctors and nurses stranded there. We offered to bring these people back to xxxxxxxxx, in our own vehicles, in order to ensure that they received proper and prompt medical care.

The DWF agent did not want to hear this and ordered us home. We complied with the DWF agent's orders, turned around and headed back to xxxxxxxx along with half of the flotillia." (link, via DU)
And even with all of this, the FEMA director says that things are going well:
"Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans -- virtually a city that has been destroyed -- that things are going relatively well." (link)
And while the State Department is now saying that "no offer that can help alleviate the suffering of the people in the afflicted area will be refused," (link) we see that:
  • "A Russian official said the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency had rejected a Russian offer to dispatch rescue teams and other aid." (link)
  • "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." (link)

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