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August 31, 2005



Why can't you be active and angry at the same time? I'm pissed as hell at my government when I see those faces.

There are no excuses for leaving people there to die. None. It wasn't that hard for trucks to get there on Friday. They could have just as easily been there on Tuesday. I know the area quite well. I-10 from Baton Rouge was open all the way into New Orleans.

I know something about mobilization, as well, having kept a bag packed for my husband for 20 years in case he had to go out. They knew Friday it would be bad. Sunday Blanco asked for everything she could get from FEMA.

It's still not there.

Maybe that's because the administration decided "FEMA was just a give away program."

So they appoint as its head Allbaugh's roommate who'd been fired from his previous job--lawyer for the Arabian Horse Association--for incompetence.

So yeah, I'm mad. And ashamed of my government.


Fair enough. But I still think that, right now, action is more important than anger, so that's where I'm focusing my own energy.


Many of us opposed to the invasion of Iraq and the outrageous attempts by our leaders to link that with 9/11 and the bogus "war on terror," find that this government's reaction to the crisis feeds our outrage, Cynthia. This is all part and parcel of what is happening to the poorest among us in New Orleans.


Possibly because it's easier to move one reporter than it is to move 7,000 Guardsmen.

I'm just hoping that part of the outcome of this is that people begin to realize the importance of restoring the surrounding wetlands, which were the traditional storm buffer zone for New Orleans. Similar destruction of ecosystems contributed to the death toll in Hurricane Mitch, too, as well as in the tsunamis last year.

As for speed of response, Mitch hit Honduras on Oct. 30, and Clinton announced a relief package on Nov. 5 -- so he actually took longer than Bush did. Reports from relief agencies acknowledge difficulty in getting into the area after Mitch. This stuff just takes time. (In fact, even the Red Cross wasn't able to go in until yesterday -- it's not just the government.) Of course, one big difference is that the strength of the storm was recognized much earlier with Mitch, so people were in position before it hit. With this storm, the weather service didn't know it would be bad until the day before it hit. As I mentioned, I was in Florida -- in Key West, in fact -- as the hurricane went through, and it wasn't until after the hurricane had passed that the weather service was saying that it was a bad storm. Up until then, they were telling people there was nothing much to worry about.

But right now, what is important is not figuring out who is to blame for the difficulties -- and that includes ecological issues, the weather service, and gun fire in NO -- but to pull together to help others. I've sent my checks off to relief agencies and am involved in two fund raisers. I'd go myself, if I could. We need to be doing everything we can to contribute, to the effort. I will not criticize those who are doing the actual work. It was almost impossible to get out of Key West with three feet of water, I can't imagine what it would be like trying to get into New Orleans with flooding topping 20 feet.


As one disgusted CNN reporter said, "We were able to get here. Why not the Guard?"

Why indeed.

The response to Hurricane Mitch was far superior, and that was in an actual third world country.


Billions of dollars and thousands of people have been mobilized. The places that are not reached yet are either still unreachable or have problems with violence (rape, looting, and shooting at rescue vehicles and personnel).

The government IS serving all citizens, rich and poor, and other citizens are serving citizens. As for calling them refugees, that's what they are. It doesn't mean you're poor or forgotten or living in a developing country, it means you're seeking refuge, you're escaping from something.

And since the comparison keeps being made to Iraq, it took us MONTHS to get ready to go to Iraq. People were already working in the gulf states before the storm hit. But when the water is 20 feet deep, most of the roads are closed, and people are shooting at the helicopters, it's kind of hard to get through. But they're still doing it; it's slow, but they're getting through. It's just that the storm was bigger than anyone anticipated. I was in Florida for the beginning of the storm, and they were really downplaying it, saying it was really more like a tropical storm, and it was just technically a hurricane, and you really don't have anything to worry about -- then suddenly -- oh my gosh, it has changed direction, it is gaining strength -- oh dear. Of course, we all know that meteorology is basically a game of very educated guessing. But it did contribute to people not taking the storm seriously -- as witnessed by Florida's state of unreadiness and the huge numbers in Louisiana who ignored the evacuation orders.

I know I won't convince any of you. But remember, government is just government. It's just a bunch of human beings, like us. They aren't superhuman. They aren't God. They can't get into places that are inaccessible, and they can't do things instantly. And they don't like getting shot at. Everyone everywhere is doing what they can to help -- government, military (and, by the way, there are thousands of National Guards in the area), citizenry, and industry.

Yes, it's a terrible tragedy. Yes, we need to do everything we can (I trust that your checks are in the mail). The President has stated that more needs to be done, and will be done. He has already appropriated more than $10 billion for relief efforts. So to make it sound like people aren't trying, that no one cares, simply does not reflect the true situation.


Alas, the ugly facts are right out there on tv every day. Most displaced people in New Orleans and along the Mississippi coast have not seen food or water or decent places to sleep for 4 long days--they are being called refugees --this is America!
One elderly man said it--"There's all kinds of money for the Iraqis but what about Americans?" Even the police officers do not have food and water, nor do they have adequate backup numbers or adequate vehicles.

Government is supposed to exist to serve its own citizens, ALL its citizens, rich and poor.


Yeah, too bad he slashed the budgets for FEMA and SELA before he declared that state of emergency.


There is also a huge amount of good news coming out of the region. Thousands of people along the evacuation route are opening their homes, churches, businesses, schools, and any other available facilities, and people are working around the clock to feed and clothe those fleeing the storm. I've heard so many heart-warming interviews and reports about people helping and giving selflessly.

Anheiser Busch is -- as it does in every catastrophy -- bottling millions of gallons of water and shipping it free of charge to the disaster area. Relief agencies are in full swing. Pharmaceutical companies have donated millions of dollars worth of medicine. Food, trucks, communications equipment, generators, and other useful items are being donated by large companies. Corporate donations are approaching $1 billion.

President Bush had already declared a state of emergency BEFORE the storm hit, so that funds and personnel would not have to wait. All the surrounding states are pouring supplies and personnel into the area, from search and rescue teams to power company employees to volunteers in a wide range of fields. States farther afield have teams in transit, as well.

Of course, the relief efforts are being complicated by morons overwhelming buses, people shooting at helicopters, and people failing to follow instructions. And the flooding complicates delivery of supplies. But it is not a forgotten land. There are tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars already mobilized and pouring into the region -- not to mention the people who are on site (doctors, police, local officials, volunteers) and working to save people.

Best bet -- if you live nearby, volunteer. If you don't, send money to a favorite relief agency. The Salvation Army, which is set up to serve 500,000 meals per day, says that a donation of $100 will feed a family of four for two days and provide two cases of drinking water and one household clean-up kit. So it's easy to be part of the solution.


Thanks for the MRE info, K, and that link--

From Peter Slevin, Washington Post, Sept 1-----Reporting on people walking the Huey B Long bridge to reach transport out of New Orleans---"Danna Harris was down to a half-gallon of water for herself and her three sons, after walking across the long bridge for the city.

"It's the forgotten land," Harris said. "The last two days . . . we've had to count string beans. I never thought I would be counting string beans. Children don't understand. My 11-year-old says as soon as we can get somewhere, he wants ice cream."


The early A.M. anchor at CNN just showed a MRE such as are being delivered to the Superdome folks. She said they taste terrible (that one was Thai Chicken).

We would buy the veg kind at the commissary sometimes, mainly for the novelty. They come with cute little bottles of Tabasco, btw.

Anyway, the anchor then said, at least in Houston the evacuees would be able to go to restaurants and stuff.

Realizing her mistake, she quickly added, "if they have money."

Where does she think they would get the money from? The welfare checks being delivered to addresses that no longer exist?

A totally off topic but still Foodie related mention: http://usfoodpolicy.blogspot.com/2005/08/one-difference-between-quiznos-and.html

Thought you might be interested.

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