line -->
  • Wednesday, September 07, 2005


    FEMA: Sinking City Floods! Quelle Surprise!

    Having grown up in NOLA, I've always known that the relative dryness of the city was artificial. I always knew that the pumping stations were the only things keeping the city drained even without extreme weather. It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a city, much of it 10 feet below sea level, built in the swamps, isn't a naturally dry place. Hell, parts of the city streets flooded when there was a really heavy storm, much less a hurricane. Storms in NOLA can drop 5-10 inches of rain in a few hours. It can rain so hard you have to pull over in your car because you can't see well enough to drive. Southern Louisiana is (or used to be) a tropical climate.

    Eyewitness reports seem to indicate that "official" rescue of stranded people is still severely lacking momentum, direction and effectiveness. On Democracy Now!, footage shot over the weekend clearly showed that there were still people trapped on rooftops in NOLA six days after the end of the storm. Most of the rescue work of finding isolated pockets of survivors is being done by volunteers. No systematic or coordinated approach is being used. By volunteers, I mean people who have taken it upon themselves to search for people without official centralized direction or sanction. The report actually said some of these volunteers, arguably saving people who would die while waiting for "official" searchers, have been told to evacuate the area.

    LENNY CAMERON: My name is Lenny Cameron, that is my partner back there Chad Jones. We came down on Wednesday. We got here in New Orleans. We brought down a boat and went out, got a couple people on the other side of town. We got a couple people on the other side of town. Then we hooked up with Floyd and Tooty here. They're from New Orleans. And we got this boat running. We went out again yesterday. There are still a lot of people out here on the roofs. We got about probably 10 people out yesterday. We got a few of them to the hospital. But this is going on day six, Saturday here in New Orleans. And there are still -- it's a disaster. There are still a lot of people on the rooftops, from what we hear, running out of food and water. So we're just trying to get out here and do what we can do. Edgar, here, we just hooked up with him at the boat ramp and we're trying to find his family. They've been in here since Monday. He talked to them yesterday. They're on the rooftop. And they're running out of food and water as we speak right now. So we're trying to hook up with them and see if we can get them out of here. People out here dying, basically.

    JOHN HAMILTON: Scattered throughout the canals are bands of citizen volunteers in small motorboats, while helicopters buzz high overhead. There is not single government vessel to be seen.
    They eventually saw a couple of official [government] boats late in the day. That's on Saturday.

    This item came from Deb of the Progressive Blogger Union and Out on the Limb:
    I work with a search and rescue man. I asked him what he thought was going wrong. He said: His team of 50, from Washington State, is trained for water rescue. He made many calls to try to get his eager-to-help team down to N.O. Team members were willing to pay for their own transport and housing. But he was told there was nobody that could assign his team to work under any particular leader. He was told that the best the team could hope for was to stand around in the general area near the chaos and chance that someone would happen to notice them and put them to work. The team decided it was not prudent to make the trip based on the answer that they got from FEMA. That's just one of how many resources that FEMA brushed off.....?
    While hindsight is 20/20 concerning taking measures to shore up the levees and prevent the flooding years ago, I'm continually stunned by the ongoing ineptness and sheer disarray of FEMA and other official responders. Yes, they've evacuated people from the central gathering spots like the convention center and the Superdome but the important work of search and rescue continues to appear haphazard and bumbling. At least 9 days after the storm passed and they're still falling down on the basic division of labor and organization. It's sickening. It's incompetent crisis management. I'm even wondering if it's criminal.

    [Addendum: I hope it's clear from my writing that I'm putting the blame squarely on the top organizational levels of rescue 0perations, not on the actual first responders on the scene and in the field. These folks work miracles and I'm very grateful for their efforts. But without adequate coordination, first responders can only take care of what's in front of them.]

    This is PBU36, my contribution to this ripping and gripping collection of bloggers raising their voices/blogs in unison and joy. These are the electronic Reveres known as the Progressive Blogger Union. Ride, PBU, ride like the wind! Of course, I didn't actually keep to the subject passed 'round this week so I'm a bad member. Bad Wordlackey, bad! The other member posts are, undoubtedly, more on topic. Oh, the topic? It was "Flood control funds diverted for Bush's war." And a perfectly good topic it was but, oh no, I couldn't be bothered to stay with it. I had to go my own way, a rebel against the cause, a bad boy wielding words. However, if you want to see what other PBU members have written, you can look under the subject header "PBU36" at the PBU group at Flickr. Or you can plug PBU36 into the Technorati search engine.

    << Home

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?