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Monthly Archives: September 2005

Before The Storm

September 2nd, 2005 - 4:14 pm

The “it’s all Bush’s fault” meme has obviously taken hold in the land of the moonbats. I can only chuckle wryly in anticipation of the hoops they’ll have to jump through to explain away this:

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.

That’s an AP story from August 28, the day before Katrina made landfall.

Wait, I’ve got it already. Bush waited too long to convince the governor and mayor to order an evacuation that they would have ordered sooner if they hadn’t been waiting for the call from Bush. Oh, and Bush told them not to bother making any other preparations, because he’d handle it all five minutes after the winds got under 100 miles an hour. And then the trap was set!

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Turning off the snark, the end of the article is flat heartbreaking:

In a neighborhood in central city, a group of residents sat on a porch. It was almost a party atmosphere.

“We’re not evacuating,” said Julie Paul, 57. “None of us have any place to go. We’re counting on the Superdome. That’s our lifesaver.”

She said they’d spent the last couple of hurricanes there. They would wait for a friend who has a van to take them, because none has cars.

At a nearby gas station, Linda Young, 37, was tanking up her car.

“I’m really scared. I’ve been through hurricanes, but this one scares me. I think everybody needs to get out,” she said.

She said they planned to leave Saturday but couldn’t get gas, and didn’t want to go without it, so got up early and got in a gas line.

In the suburbs, evacuations were under way.

“That sun is shining too bright for this to be happening,” said Joyce Tillis, manager of the Holiday Inn Select at the airport in the suburbs as she called the more than 140 guests to tell them the hotel was under a mandatory evacuation. “It’s too nice a day.”

Tillis lives inside the flood zone in the community of Avondale. She said she called her three daughters and told them to get out. “If I’m stuck, I’m stuck,” Tillis said. “I’d rather save my second generation if I can.”

Hat-tip to K-Lo at NRO.

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Telemetry

September 2nd, 2005 - 11:28 am

The “Interdictor” has been posting photos from downtown New Orleans since before the storm hit. Here’s today’s archive.

This shot caught my eye. If you look at the top center of the frame, you can see the old sign for Werlein’s Music. I bought my first guitar there on New Year’s Eve of 1987. The store has since moved off of Canal Street (there wouldn’t be anything lighter than a grand piano left there today if they hadn’t), but the sign stayed up.

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Elegy

September 2nd, 2005 - 7:44 am

The first time I saw New Orleans, I was about eight years old, when my extended family went down there for the King Tut exhibit. I’ve probably been back a hundred times since: Sugar Bowls, Jazz Fests, Mardi Gras, and the old faithful, “What the hell–let’s go to New Orleans this weekend.” There was nowhere else quite like it, and very few places even remotely like it. I have a lot of friends from there, not all of whom are accounted for right now. It’s a city I know as well as anywhere I’ve never actually moved to, and a place I love more than most of the towns where I have set up housekeeping.

This week has been like watching an old friend die. Every horrible news story is another icicle in the chest. So much has been lost. So many have been taken. So little may be left. The long-term question we ask each other, over and over, is, “Can it ever be what it was again?”

The answer is, probably not. Some of the physical damage can be repaired or rebuilt. Much can’t be, or won’t be. The dead are gone, and the survivors will never be the same. Just who and how many people will return is a very open question. There’s no economy to return to; the city’s only remaining industry was tourism, and it won’t be fit to host a single tourist for many months. That doesn’t even begin to cover all the lost housing. Even if there were resources and the will available to rebuild every home (there won’t be, not by a long shot), rebuilding them will take years.

And among the harshest of the catastrophie’s side-effects, the very worst of the city has been on display to the world this week. Inept public officials, lack of planning and preparation, and the lethal unleashing of a hard-core criminal element so brutal, it’s been attacking aid workers who were the first to try and help.

Now for the really painful part, said not with anger, but with a heavy heart: As sad and awful as it is, Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular did a lot of this to themselves.

No, I’m not talking about the storm, I’m talking about:

1. The culture of corruption and general worthlessness that’s been nurtured by apathy and inertia for a couple of centuries. The city and state were responsible for levee upkeep–but every levee has its own state and local “commissions,” not to actually get anything done, but to spread around the money and patronage. It’s not difficult to think that an awful lot of the money earmarked for the levees was siphoned off in boards and studies and boondoggles. That culture also fed into…

2. The state of the NOPD, arguably the worst metro police force in the country. Was anybody remotely familiar with that department surprised when they saw New Orleans cops joining in the looting? I doubt it. Local police are the first line of defense in any disaster situation, quite literally the first responders, and the NOPD–no doubt with hundreds of brave and noble exceptions (they’re the ones who’re still at work right now; the worthless ones have bugged out)–was nowhere near up to the task. New Orleans’ political leadership has never been serious about cleaning up that department, which brings us to…

3. Crime. We’ve all heard urban legends about neighborhoods where “even the cops won’t go.” In NOLA, those weren’t legends. Some of the worst criminal elements in the country have been fermenting in that city for decades, and no level of government was willing to deal with that fact. Now they’re loose, and nobody short of the Army or Marines can handle them (and they’re now in the process of migrating out to the rest of the South; that’s an export we could have done without).

I actually think Mayor Nagin is a good guy, he’s certainly the first mayor in a very long time who even tried (although he didn’t achieve much) to do something about corruption down there. I can also understand his frustration. He’s smack in the middle of a horrific situation, and he can’t see any help coming his way yet–although he hasn’t helped himself any with stuff like telling people to go to the convention center, but not passing that info on to the feds. Americans expect to move mountains instantly; very few of us understand stuff like logistics and staging that have to work properly before any large-scale effort can even begin, much less succeed.

But none of that excuses the slow-motion breakdown of New Orleans. The fact that it got put on fast-forward last weekend is nobody’s fault; the fact that it went on for as long as it did, well, that’s another story. There’s plenty of fault there, and not a little of it laid at the feet of people like me, who fed off the frisson of a city with an edge of danger, where knowing the right local to call could get a friend out of lockup, a place where so many of the usual rules didn’t necessarily apply.

We’ve gotten a harsh reminder this week of why the rules have to apply. When the party stopped, the hangover was worse than we ever imagined.

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When Cops Go Bad

September 1st, 2005 - 2:56 pm

A few police are involved in the New Orleans looting.

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A Worthy Cause

September 1st, 2005 - 2:33 pm

Andy has opened up World Wide Rant to anyone who needs to post information on missing persons.

He’s got logon information and everything for you.

UPDATE: Michele of A Small Victory is doing the same thing.

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Meanwhile, On the Other Side of the World

September 1st, 2005 - 2:17 pm

This can’t be bad news:

JERUSALEM, Sept. 1 – The foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan met publicly for the first time today, a diplomatic breakthrough brokered by Turkey that appeared to be a first payoff for the Israeli pullout from the occupied Gaza Strip.

The Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, in a jubilant mood, called the meeting at an Istanbul hotel “historic” and “a huge breakthrough.”

Interesting that Turkey brokered the meeting. For a while, Turkey and Israel enjoyed a de facto military alliance – one that cooled in recent years. Maybe Turkey is ready to mend some fences?

(If so, Syria is probably more to blame than Sharon’s pullout from Gaza is to thank.)

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Cluster-F

September 1st, 2005 - 2:02 pm

I’m re-publishing an email to Will Collier that he posted earlier, because it was “below the fold” and so a lot of folks might have skipped it. Read the whole thing now:

Talked to a friend of mine who is down there in the middle of it.

Body count will be high.

So far the masses are doing well, but it is starting to come undone. Low deliveries of water, food, etc. Water quality will diminish rapidly as the particle count of human waste, chemicals, etc. mounts. There is no water flow. The city is a bathtub. You do the math.

Fed is dropping the ball on basic necessities such as water, portolets, you name it. Woefully unprepared and nobody seems to be in charge or have the gumption to get it done.

Louisiana politicians should be absolutely raising hell right now. Lots of people including yours truly have volunteered to bring (including food, generators, food, etc., to be self sufficient for a week or so) the most important thing which is a boat but have been told NO under no uncertain terms. “My” town is under water, people are in critical condition, and I have skill sets and assets – including a boat which will come out of the hole in 14 incles of water – and we are being denied the opportunity to help. And quite frankly, that REALLY PISSES ME OFF.

Military is stepping up and bringing considerable skills and assets to the table. Had they been listened to earlier, lots of logistical issues would have been resolved. IOW’s, the bureaucrats are getting moved to the sidelines but “turf issues” are not going quietly into the night.

That sucks.

Gangs running around and a bunch of those guys are fixing to get killed. The cops have been given a “take no prisoners” mandate. If the guy who fired on the chopper this a.m. gets ID’d, he’ll probably not be arrested. You may read anything but leniency into that comment.

Looters taking food and water are being ignored and rightfully so. A couple of store owners have basically gone in and opened the doors and said “get it all” for foodstuffs. One guy was standing there with his kids and guns giving his store away. Tremendous compassion among some, but then there are the 2%’ers.

Biggest behavior problems are among those who are going cold turkey and there are quite a few. Cops figure that is going to get worse and with it the associated problems.

Folks, it will take a decade to fix New Orleans and the Mississippi coast. Devastation there is just horrendous. Just got in touch finally with a friend who lives on the Pearl River just above highway 98. He is at elevation +14 and had 6′ of water in his house.

Many areas with water will recede naturally, but quite a bit of New Orleans will be un-inhabitable for up to six months. Key will be getting power restored and the pumps going. BUT, most if not all of the pump station power centers will have to be replaced/rewired first so basically N.O. will be pumped out with whatever they can bring in. The logistical challenges of this are just mind boggling.

Comments on the mayor – doing all he can given the fact that he has an administration and bureaucracy (sp) that is 95% useless and the power to do ANYTHING is coming from the state and feds and they can’t get their doodoo together. My take and that from those close is that the guy is doing a great job all things considered.

Imagine trying to resolve the 9-11 mess if NYC was under six feet of water, all comms were out, the interstates were flooded and the majority of the infrastructure more or less completely out of commission.

Prayers and support will be needed for all.

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Housing the Dispossessed

September 1st, 2005 - 10:55 am

Putting differences aside, I have to tell you that MoveOn.org is doing something very, very right.

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Holy Crap

September 1st, 2005 - 9:49 am

Satellite photos of New Orleans, before and after.

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Bumped to the top to kick off Thursday’s Blog Aid effort:

VodkaPundit’s charity of choice today is Mennonite Disaster Services. I’ve chosen MDS for the following reasons:

1. My father-in-law is from a Mennonite family (really).
2. Gives me an excuse to reference the “shiftless Mennonites” joke from The Simpsons.
3. A website called VodkaPundit teaming up with a Mennonite charity reaches a New Orleanian level of weirdness–and thus is entirely appropriate.

Besides all that, I’m willing to bet (seriously, we’ve already made a donation) that the money is a lot more likely to go directly to helping people, and a lot less likely to get swallowed up in a permanent bureaucracy.

If you don’t choose to give to MDS yourself, we won’t hold it against you–but here’s a link to the Blogfaddah’s gigantic list of blogger-endorsed charities. So pick one. Heck, pick seven or eight.

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Live From Hell

September 1st, 2005 - 9:33 am

The indispensible blog of the moment is Survival Of New Orleans, being written live by a former soldier who’s holed up with a crew of data warehousers high up in a Central Business District office tower. It’s riveting and disturbing stuff, here’s the latest:

1. There is a mass exodus for the Mississippi River Bridges (Crescent City Connection) from the CBD. We are not sure what’s going on, but we are assuming until we hear differently that people are fleeing the city. So if you’re watching the feeds, that’s what you’re seeing — throngs of people moving toward the bridges.

2. Cannot confirm any of the following: Superdome fire, 2 shot police officers this morning. We hear all kinds of stuff, but no way to verify those.

3. Can confirm: The National Guard, FEMA, the NOPD, and City authorities DO NOT have the city under control. There are live radio feeds for the National Guard comms and NOPD comms which have been circulating the web, and you can listen to the chaos and disarray for yourselves. I am not going to post the links, but I’m sure others have and will. I doubt the government’s ability to reestablish order without a full active duty military presence to crush the mob mentality. This of course will mean no civil rights and everyone being treated equally — as a criminal. Rock | Hard Place.

MORE: Click below for a long message by a friend who lived in New Orleans for several years, and has been trying to get back there to assist in the rescue efforts:

(more…)

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Enough’s Enough

September 1st, 2005 - 6:39 am

Reports are coming in that the Superdome evacuation had to be stopped because looters are shooting at the rescue helicopters.

New Orleans has always had a terrible crime problem. It’s gotten marginally better over the last five years, but all semblance of law and order has completely broken down now. The only people left in the city, give or take a few relief workers and toughing-it-out property owners, are the most ruthless of the predators and the weakest of prey.

This isn’t street crime any more. This is barbarism. Enough playing nice. Send in the troops, with orders to shoot looters on sight. This has to end. Today.

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