On Katrina….

Kudos to my fellow bloggers who have done a hell of a better job than I in covering the tragedy and disaster of Hurricane Katrina and urging people to donate. Of course for the passed few days in which I have spent observing CNN’s coverage of the disaster and tragedy, I’ve noticed all the things I’m sure many of you have. One which is irking me, and certainly and rightfully so the locals and survivors in New Orleans–especially those in the Superdome–, is “why the fuck is it taking so long to get these people some serious help and aid?” And I sympathize with the mayor of New Orleans and his anger directed towards the Federal government and their apparent ‘slowness’ to respond.

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 2 – Fires and explosions jolted an area south of the French Quarter this morning, and the city’s mayor, by turns angry and sad, blasted Washington for what he said was its lack of response to the storm disaster.

An exasperated-sounding Mayor C. Ray Nagin did not hold back his anger in an interview with a New Orleans radio station.

“I keep hearing that this is coming, that is coming,” he said in reference to federal aid. “And my answer to that today is b.s. – where is the beef?”

“Let’s figure out the biggest crisis in the history of our country,” he added. After Sept. 11, he said, the president was given “unprecedented powers” to send aid to New York. The same response should be applied in this case, too, he said.

President Bush was scheduled to leave the White House this morning, and, after meetings in Alabama, and a walking tour of Biloxi, to take part in aerial tours of Mississipi, New Orleans and the Gulf state coastline.

This afternoon he was to make a statement on the hurricane recovery efforts at the Louis Armstrong international airport in New Orleans.[...]

And David Corn of The Nation has a few things to say about the Federal government’s response, the warning signs that were pretty much ignored, and the Bush Administration.

I just spotted Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, on CNN arguing with anchor Miles O’Brien. O’Brien was suggesting that the federal government dropped the ball in terms of preparing for Hurricane Katrina. Barbour kept defending the federal government–that is, the Bush Administration. He seemed to suggest that the hurricane was not that powerful when it first approached land and that there had not been enough time to do more preparation. Of course, Barbour did not note that before becoming governor of Mississippi he was head of the Republican Party and, therefore, not of a disposition to speak critically of an Administration that has gutted FEMA, slashed funding for flood control and sent many National Guard reserves to Iraq. (By one estimate, about one-third of the Louisiana National Guard is in Iraq now.) O’Brien pushed his point about as hard as is permitted on cable television. But he neglected to raise these specifics or to question Barbour about his previous work as a corporate lobbyist who, on behalf of his well-paying clients, fought fiercely against the Kyoto accords. (Recent scientific research suggests that global warming has led to more destructive hurricanes.) And, as I noted previously (click here), Barbour led the GOP when it was waging war on Big Government. Now he’s all for it. O’Brien didn’t query him on this conversion.

[...]I mean, isn’t the real threat the terrorists in Iraq who want to destroy America because they hate our freedom (even though they don’t seem to mind the freedoms enjoyed by people in, say, Finland)? Hurricane Katrina illuminates bad choices and bad policies. It may have been an act of God. But its devastating impact was also determined by the folly of our leaders.

It also makes me wonder, Can this government deal with one of the nightmare scenarios? A biological weapon? A nuclear detonation? The Bush Administration, according to numerous studies, has not fully funded first responders. Hurricane Katrina shows why this is foolishness. [...]

Corn also calls on bloggers to encourage donations to relief organizations. However it should also be noted that last night the U.S. Senate convened an emergency session and passed a bill that would authorize $10.5 billion in relief funds. It’s a start. Also former Presidents Clinton and Bush Senior have also re-joined forces again to raise funds for the relief effort, and by the time this is posted Dubya will have arrived in Alabama.

Another unavoidable issue brought to light by the coverage of the devastation and those hardest-hit by Katrina, is the race plus socioeconomic status issue. Once again the media has whether intentionally or unintentionally cited how much race tied in with socioeconomic status plays a roll in our society and *still matters*, especially when it comes to such disasters as hurricanes that devastates certain segments of our society more so than others. Of course this brought the bigots out of the woodwork (especially with the media showing tons of images of looting done byAfrican-Americans 99% of the time on screen, as if Whites don’t loot or the cameras are never present when they do, or don’t phrase it as “looting” when they do it–how very interesting) and I have heard vicious insults directed towards those who remained in New Orleans during the storm, never mind that there are many of them who had no means of leaving (ie: a vehicle, with enough money to stay the night in a hotel/motel some where up north), or could not leave due to the needs of elderly or ill loved-ones. Oh well how nice, let’s piss on those who are poor and according to our society’s racist stereotypes regarding specific groups of people, who supposedly “fit the profile” of being “lazy” and “lacking common sense,” and have now lost everything because of the storm. Disgusting. It’s almost as if some of the willfully ignorant people making these bigoted-laden insults just couldn’t wait to find some excuse and opportunity to spout their racism and classism. What bullshit, but what more can I expect from our culture and society, with its notions about race and those of lower socioeconomic standing? And meanwhile people continue to die and suffer in the city of New Orleans, certainly in the Superdome where the people are practically being ignored and left to live like animals, and be treated as such. More disgust. Oh and see Brown of FEMA cover his and the organization’s asses and their failures, and even do some victim-blaming of his own.

There have been numerous reports of rapes (Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas is offering free contraception and emergency contraception), beatings, horribly unsanitary conditions, shootings, fires, bodies floating in what used to be streets in New Orleans and obviously in the Superdome, parents being separated from their newborns, and other terrible incidents and situations one would never expect of ever occuring in our country. Yeah well, it has, so we and especially our government (who now more than ever needs to get their shit together and their priorities straight) need to do all that we can to help in the relief effort. If at all possible, **please donate to the Red Cross** and other organizations who are helping the cause to aid the victims of this disaster and the states–especially Louisiana–devastated by Katrina.

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15 Responses to On Katrina….

  1. 1
    Jake Squid says:

    Gosh, you hit on so many things that I’ve been thinking about wrt this disaster. I guess I’ll just list them all out.

    1) I have no sympathy for some of the people who did not evacuate. The people with the B&B on the beach in Mississippi come to mind. However, I immediately thought of all the people who had no hope of evacuating – those without cars, those physically unable to get themselves away, those who decided they’d be safer at home after sitting on the highways for hours, etc. And I have also thought about all the homeless people who didn’t even have real shelter & how many of them must have died.

    2) The federal government response: How they could allow so much time to pass without sending in various armed forces is mind-boggling. With no electricity, water or effective local police force, what did they think would happen? People become desperate, & violent chaos had to be expected.

    3) The need to donate to charitable organizations: This really, really bothers me. If the federal government can’t pay for the rescues, relocations, refugees & rebuilding of one of its own major urban areas, what is the point of the federal government? If our government can barely begin to help the victims of disaster, if, indeed, it is not designed to take care of its own people, is it a government that we want to have? I am not blaming this on Bushcoadmin alone. No, we have seen this in disaster after disaster over decades. Our government and, by extension, Americans have never been willing to pay taxes to fund recovery from large scale disasters. But we are always willing to pay taxes to fund war. This is very, very depressing.

    4) The emphasis on looting, as opposed to evacuation by many in the media & government. Who cares if people loot stores at this point? That is the last thing I’d be worried about stopping. Isn’t it more important to stop the increasing violence? With no power or water, how are the residents of New Orleans going to survive? Most stores in the city will be a total loss in terms of their inventory anyway, so what does it matter? It really underscores how much we, as a culture, value wealth over life.

    I feel terrible for the people on the Gulf Coast who are getting such a poor amount of aid while living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

    Be sure to check out PFAW’s Emergency Housing Drive if you are able to help at:
    http://www.hurricanehousing.org

  2. 2
    Kevin Q says:

    especially with the media showing tons of images of looting done byAfrican-Americans 99% of the time on screen, as if Whites don’t loot or the cameras are never present when they do, or don’t phrase it as “looting” when they do it”“how very interesting

    Having lived in New Orleans, I find it easy to believe that most of the people left in the city are black, and hence they’re the only ones being shown on television. New Orleans has a large black population, and a large poverty-stricken population, and an unfortunate amount of overlap between those two groups. I don’t watch TV, so I don’t know how the networks are covering the race aspect. On the internet, at least, most of the coverage has been of African-Americans. I think the “gathering food” picture is the only picture I’ve even seen showing white people in the city. Are the networks showing more white people?

    Whites got out because they have money. Blacks got left behind because they didn’t. A lack of planning and preparedness for an inevitable event has doomed those left behind to barbarism. My heart goes out to those left behind.
    K

    P.S. This is the first time I’d noticed the “live preview” of the post comments. Is that a WordPress plugin?

  3. 3
    Glaivester says:

    I find it inexcusable that no one at any level of government came up with a good evacuation plan for New Orleans. It was predicted for a long time that something like this would happen, yet when it did, most people were left on their own to find their way out of the city.

    I won’t criticize the failure to reinforce the levees (bad a decision as it was – thanks, Dubya), because considering how strong Katrina was, it might not have helped. I won’t even necessarily criticize the governemnt for not geting more food in. With the destroyed infrastructure, it might not have been possible. But the fact that the government had no plan to deal with hundreds of thousands of refugees, no plans for housing them all or for getting them out of the city – that is inexcusable.

  4. 4
    Kevin Q says:

    Glaivester, I think I’m the exact opposite of you. Planning is planning, and the plans they had failed, and there’s no reason to think that further plans (moving and housing people) would have worked any better. But if we had spent the last 5 years shoring up the levees, at least our government could have said “We did what we could to prevent flooding, and it just wasn’t enough.” There’s no shame in working hard and smart, but still failing. Instead, all they can say is, “We didn’t even try, and there’s nothing we can do now.” And that’s just shameful.

    K

  5. 5
    FormerlyLarry says:

    There is a lot of ignorance here and in the main stream media about the way things actually work in emergency response area. My wife is the regional emergency response planner responsible for many counties (not one of the effected states). The federal government pays for local emergency response planners and managers. Its their job to plan, game, and implement emergency response plans. Every parish and county has them. Over them there are regional and state managers usually under the control of the governor. Where the hell are these people in LA? FEMA is there to support state efforts. The local and state emergency managers should have been on top of this from day one (or two at the least). I understand the emotional need for a symbolic scape-goat, but how some people can let these people off the hook, skip right past the state Gov. and blame Bush is almost lunacy.

    The race angle is also a little dumb considering N.O. is a majority black city. Several TV pundits vaguely, obliquely hint at it but don’t have the guts to put their idiot thoughts into direct, concrete accusations. With regards to the looting are you suggesting they had plenty of film of white people looting but decided not to show it?

  6. 6
    Radfem says:

    P-A, thanks for your article on this. You raised a lot of good points. And thanks Kevin, for hitting on a lot of them too.

    As far as leaving, poverty played a big role. Timing played a huge role. If this hurricane had been two weeks later, or earlier, then people living check to check(like many poor people do, and lots of African-Americans do) might have had $20 to buy gas to leave town, that is if they had cars. The elderly, disabled and/or ill people were disproportionately represented as were their caretakers, if they had any. Young families with lots of young kids.

    Scarborough of MSNBC(?) did a good job of pointing this out OVER and OVER in Biloxi and other Mississippi towns. In New Orleans, the areas populated by poor African-Americans were where the worst flooding took place. Probably where the levees had received the least amount of maintanence.

    As for the SuperDome, that prevented some deaths to evacuate there. It also led to a quicker evacuation than say, those at the Civic Center, but it led to deaths for some as well in the conditions which deteriorated quickly.

    I’m glad cameras finally went to the Civic Center, because if they hadn’t, those folks probably would almost certainly die. But then poor Black people have never been on any government, local, state, federal’s list of priorities. You find that locally, and now nationally, once again.

    Now, the city’s officials are complaining that aid is too slow, but where are they? In some airconditioned hotel or other building, sipping a cool drink, or are they in the city they were charged by the voters, to govern. Governmental aid is slow, because FTMP, these are poor Black men, women and children who are there. This is another reminder of how little they matter. I do know that people out here have been calling elected officials, including the Congressional Black Caucus members(who finally spoke this morning on the issue) about the slow action especially by the federal government.

    Black victims of crime especially crimes like rape have NEVER mattered, so if that’s happening, well it’s not worth any risk to help them. If the victims were White, the National Guard would have been in there days ago.

    I heard that a lot of the police were killed. Others left, including probably the command structure, because there’s no one telling the few that are left what to do, and some of them worked five days and nights before they bailed, others joined in on the looting. What do you think watching police officers looting is going to do to the situation? But just like New Orleans had issues with classism and poverty, and racism before the hurricane, so did NOPD have problems within its operation as well.

    Yeah, White people “find”, Black people “loot”. It’s like an unwritten law that comes out boldly in times like this, and it is disgusting. It doesn’t appear across the board that there are many White people left in New Orleans, so there wouldn’t be many looters who are White, proportionately. And remember, they are “finding” things. Even in the L.A. riots, you had White teens running off with jewelry in their fists before jumping into their jeeps and THAT wasn’t looting either.

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    Various thoughts:

    The local military bases were affected by the hurricane as badly as other structures. They’d have had to bring National Guard in from elsewhere anyway; part of the Louisana NG being in Iraq probably hasn’t affected this much. It doesn’t take 4 days to get people in from Texas or wherever, so the delay is more than likely due to C&C failures than a lack of personnel.

    The need to donate to charitable organizations doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I prefer it. It seems to me that the charitable organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were on scene and doing effective work before the various governments were. I’d rather give my money to the charities than the Feds; the charities (of this nature, anyway) are more efficient on how they spend their money, and it gives me more freedom to choose what my money is spent on. A dollar to the Red Cross is likely to be spent on something like this. A dollar spent on federal, state and local taxes is likely to have a lot more of it wasted on either supporting a burocracy (sp!) or blown on stuff I don’t want my money spent on in the first place.

    The other issue is that the Feds are not supposed to just drop in and take over in a case like this; the local and state governments are supposed to be in charge, and request and use Federal resources, on the basis that the locals have superior knowledge of the local needs and resources. Right now it doesn’t look as though the locals are doing a very good job of this in Louisana, whereas the folks in Mississippi are much better organized.

    I’ve no love for Dubya on this, but re-inforcing those levies is a long-term project whose delays extend backwards into the Clinton administration. Not that our current President’s actions helped, but there’s plenty of blame to go around. It also didn’t help that the academics and the Army Corps of Engineers argued for years on the best way to go about it, and the gov’t couldn’t really move forward until there was some agreement on what to do.

    There was also plenty of local corruption and mistakes, too. Three or four huge sets of pumps sat in a warehouse owned by a relative of the Mayor (or was it the Governor? I forget now) for 3 years because no one had put their installation costs into the plan that was used to buy them. Then, when they were installed, they were set up to have to be turned on manually (as opposed to automatically, like the sump pump I have in my basement) and there was no provision for powering them if the city’s power grid was lost.

    When you get right down to it, even if you knew the date and time that this was going to happen 2 or 3 years in advance, there still wasn’t a foolproof strategy. And if this hurricane had hit N’Awlins directly, all of this would be moot. The bottom line is that a city built on 300 feet of silt next to the ocean, a huge lake, and the largest river in North America and that had sunk 8 feet below sea level with no end to the sinking in sight was precisely this disaster waiting to happen. And everyone has known it for years. It’s legitmate to find fault for the response to what has happened, and for the lack of planning in getting people out of the city in the first place. But preventing the physical disaster in the face of what was essentially a direct hit on the city by a nuclear bomb (absent the radiation) was always unlikely.

  8. 8
    RonF says:

    I think it’s pretty ridiculous to say that the Federal government is slow in acting in this case because of racism or a lack of concern about poor people dying. I think the reason the government is slow in acting because the scope of this disaster is unprecendented, and because the local government (for various reasons) has not been effective, and it’s the local government that’s supposed to be directing the use of state and federal resources.

    There was also a lack of recognition of what happened for about a day. Remember right after the hurricane passed, we all saw footage of newscasters standing in the French Quarter saying, “Well, we dodged the bullet again!”. Then the 17th Street levee broke, and Lake Ponchtartrain came calling downtown.

    No one seems to have set up an adequate plan and communications and command structure for the eventuality of a major city being completely destroyed. Probably no one wanted to face the possibility, and no one wanted to go to the taxpayers and ask to spend the money on preparing for it. But they see they need one now. I hate to say it, but I suspect that we’ll see this again in our lifetimes when Al-Queda or some other group finally manages to put an atomic bomb in a shipping container and set it off in the middle of L.A. or New York.

  9. 9
    RonF says:

    “Scarborough of MSNBC(?) did a good job of pointing this out OVER and OVER in Biloxi and other Mississippi towns. In New Orleans, the areas populated by poor African-Americans were where the worst flooding took place. Probably where the levees had received the least amount of maintanence.”

    The worst flooding takes place in the lowest-lying areas. Poor people will end up being concentrated in the lowest-lying areas because that’s the least desirable real estate, where it floods during a heavy rain, and is thus the cheapest. The levees could have broken a mile away, or 8 miles away, but regardless of where the levee breaks the water will flow to the lowest-lying areas, and that’s where you’re going to find the poor people.

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    If the victims were White, the National Guard would have been in there days ago.

    I just love comments like this. No basis in reality, of course, but that doesn’t deter the sureness with which it’s asserted.

  11. 11
    Radfem says:

    If the victims were White, the National Guard would have been in there days ago.

    I just love comments like this. No basis in reality, of course, but that doesn’t deter the sureness with which it’s asserted.

    (bear with me, I have two kids on the lap right now and boxes being moved around me… so this might be a couple of posts :) )

    Unfortunately, I don’t love comments like yours, literally or even in a sarcastic tone like the one you are using, but I hear them a lot, whenever racism enters a conversation about a situation where it is pervasive, whether or not people talk about it. And we’ve been talking about it in the office, and in the eating spots throughout the past couple of days, and everywhere else I’ve been. Granted, maybe I just travel in different circles.

    A lot of what happened after the hurricane probably reflects problems which were brewing within New Orleans before the hurricane. Poverty. racism, within the city.

    The sureness, is from seeing how local, state and federal governments prioritize issues pertaining to those who are African-American on a daily basis. The same thing would happen in my city, because it takes 16 people getting shot, including children in my city who are Black and Hispanic to get as much attention as the shooting of one White person. White people, especially those with money get priority in a way others just do not. That’s pervasive through our entire society and it’s here as well.

    As for as a basis of reality, maybe not your reality. But like I said, it’s been a huge topic here within the past couple days.

    I’ll repeat myself, if the victims were White, the National Guard would have been in the area days ago. President Bush sure as hell wouldn’t have been spending extra time on vacation or doing fluff PR duty for his political party while New Orleans was disappearing off the map, if there had been a sizable population of White middle-class or weathier group of people in New Orleans’ streets and rooves. I’ll take that one to the bank, as much as I would not want to.

  12. 12
    Radfem says:

    Well, al quada unfortunately may take a few lessons out of how we handled this one. :(

    Actually, as far as being unanticipated and unprecedented, the scenerio had been written, discussed and debated many times before, including not too long before Hurricane Katrina. The feds disaster agency did a dry run of the “worst case scenerio” the previous summer.

    The levees broke b/c first of all, they were only built to withstand a hurricane of about, class three, and they probably had not been well maintained in the last 40 years. Hurricane Katrina bulked up to a class 5, which everyone should have seen coming, after it skipped through Florida without much wind velocity loss then went straight into the Gulf. It came in as a Class 4 but didn’t lose any strength in its storm surge b/c of its large size. New Orleans actually made it through the hurricane fine, except its levees.

    Who knows if the superdome could have survived a class five? Maybe not.

    The people who came up with it, weren’t any more psychic than the author of the story about the Titan hitting the iceberg was about the Titanic tragedy.

    (Interesting and tragic parallels between the Titanic and New Orleans, btw.)

    “I think it’s pretty ridiculous to say that the Federal government is slow in acting in this case because of racism or a lack of concern about poor people dying. “

    I don’t. What I think is ridiculous, abeit in a tragic sense, is having a president who is out in California giving speeches about how the Iraqi war is as morally just as WWII, while New Orleans is getting wiped off the map, and people are dying. I think a city with a population that was more White, more middle-class, if devastated in an earthquake would probably receive a quicker response from the feds and state, than New Orleans did. After all, Beverly Hills got a quicker response by LE during the ’92 riots than South Central and eastern L.A. did. As much as some of us would be loathe to admit it, or are too busy with our heads in the sand, it comes down to who has money and who has the right skin color in our society.

  13. 13
    Rock says:

    Having lived in Hattiesburg Mississippi for 12 years, (as well as Virginia, Tennessee and Fla.) it is absolutely true that many African Americans live in a third world status. The education, housing and civil rights are still needing a lot of catching up, even after great efforts and tremendous progress. Evidence of the prejudicial nature; it was reported that the reason that the state prison has a majority of African American inmates was because drug use was higher in urban areas among African Americans than Anglo Americans. They even pointed to the stats, a little over one arrest per one hundred Anglos vs. two per African American. They did not however point to the fact that African Americans made up a 35 % of the population in that demographic. It is easy to marginalize African Americans because it fits in with the image of what many want to see. It is nonsense, and very damaging to all of us. Not that entitlement or ignorance does not play into it for a small percentage, but these two qualities are not reserved to any one group.

    I worked (Salvation Army) during hurricane George (and several tornados) in Hattiesburg Ms. at Camp Shelby. The majority of people seeking shelter there were white and mostly lower income. The folks that rode it out in Biloxi (FYI, all the coastal and river areas are low lying, not just the poor) and other coastal towns were poor, minority or hard headed about the danger. The folks with money went to hotels in Memphis, Jackson Tupelo, Starkville etc. I have to agree with Radfem, if it was a group of white folks in the pinch, historically the response is different. (I wish it weren’t this way.) The incredible tragedy of gang activities bears out her point perfectly; it is primarily dark skinned people killing dark skinned people, look at the numbers. Where would that would be tolerated were it white kids? Look at the high school shootings a few years ago, far more kids of color are killed every month; however the response is nothing. The prejudices are so built in that no one even notices their operating. I have seen arrests and civil rights issues that are so embarrassing it would make you sick to be Anglo. I saw a judge greet a party (white) to a civil law suit and ask about her family, and judge against the plaintiff (black) in a slam dunk tort that left me reeling for days. I have seen police reports changed and still admitted as evidence. I have been in the room at college admissions advocating for minority friends who had to prove a higher standard than was required for admission. I have worked to get plumbing (indoor) and schooling raised to the same level as folks literally on the other side of the tracks a mile away, but no money was available for “that part of town,” “THEY would just tear it up.” I have fought garnishments with outrageous charges attached because the people did not know it was appealable. If you have not lived in the deep South, (which I love incidentally) it is hard to imagine. I still have a house there. (20 trees down, 4 on the roof, carport no where to be found… we were lucky) and I have only gotten in touch with 12 or so of the 100 friends I am missing.

    The Government counts heavily on private charities like Red Cross and my organization The Salvation Army to provide the relief in these things. TSA is always on the ground early, the issue here was early accessibility and communications have been terribly disrupted far outside the norm of most emergencies. I have never been in a disaster where the government provided ground support it has always been Red Cross doing admin. stuff, and TSA doing the bulwark of feeding and materials support. (As well as Spiritual as we are church). If that is surprising, go to the next problem area and volunteer, you will not see government agencies; you will see a red shield. (and other charitable orgs, generally church based.) IMO the Feds really have dropped the ball early and needless suffering is a result. The shoot to kill order in NO is an indictment on their failures and is the most despicable and heinous thing I can imagine. They will not be white if they are shot I can assure you. Another one bites the dust, so folks can point and be justified in our ignorance. Blessings.

  14. 14
    Radfem says:

    Our firemen are doing their boot campaign all over town this weekend for the Red Cross. About 50 have already gone to NO and are doing urban rescue, water rescue, etc. We had sent that many to 9-11 and wound up losing half of them to early retirement due to respiratory illnesses that came about due to toxins in the environment in Manhatten. So they trained newer ones in these specialties.

    California offered to accept a whopping 1,000 people, 900 of which will be to the region I live in, and 400 to our county starting on Friday. Only they were going to put them at our down-sized air base’s hangers that are not equipped for people to live in very long, so it will be a few weeks, then they’ll be moved within the county. Our county has already had families come here unofficially. I’m signing up for red cross disaster training the next class they offer locally. It’ll be handy for fire season at any rate. The Base isn’t too far from where I live either.

  15. 15
    Nick says:

    I’ll repeat myself, if the victims were White, the National Guard would have been in the area days ago. President Bush sure …

    Oh dear.

    First, the Louisiana National Guard is under the control of the Governor of the state of Louisiana, not George Bush.

    Second, both the State and Federal governments reacted to the storm before it even hit. Katrina was the first ever mandatory evacuation of the city of New Orleans. This evacuation was called by … who was it now, Max Mayfield(?) – the head of the National Hurricane Center – who asked Bush; who called Blanco; who called Nagin. Nagin finally stopped vacillating and ordered the evacuation. The evacuation went very well and over 80% of the city left. The evacuation of the city went much better than it had the previous year when Ivan threatened.

    Third, National Guard troops were prepositioned before the storm hit to be able to respond to the disaster. Hurricane shelters were opened and staffed (me and my daughter went to the shelter in Monroe). The Coast Guard hospital ship was positioned off-shore. The government did a lot of work to prepare for the storm.

    Fourth, the Super Dome was staffed with rescue personel and doctors and yes, even National Guard. So National Guard were in the city from day one.

    The 77,000-seat stadium, home to the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, provided few comforts but at least had bathrooms for the refugees and food donated by several charities.

    “They may be here for a while,” said General Ralph Lupin, the National Guardsman in charge of the shelter. “The electricity will be out after the storm; streets will be almost impassable. So once they get here, they’ll have to stay for the duration.”

    source: http://english.people.com.cn/200508/30/eng20050830_205289.html

    Fifth, the Coast Guard did an incredible job saving lives and was also their from day one. 12,535 people were rescued by air; another 11,600 were rescued by board; and 9,409 patients were evacuated from hospitals.

    sources:
    http://www.davesheppard.com/rescue.html
    http://www.uscg.mil/leadership/news/fall05/katrina.htm
    https://www.piersystem.com/go/doc/786/88056/

    The magnitude of the Katrina disaster was huge, but the state and federal responses to it were not slow.