August 30, 2005

American Refugee

Bill (Pundit Guy) points to a blog by a woman named Laurel who started her site just two days ago. It is called, simply, Hurricane Katrina Refugee. Hopefully she can shut it down soon.

Our road trip was eerie. When we pulled away from the house, I really thought we'd be back in a couple of days. As we pulled out of our neighborhood subdivision onto the main road, there were cars backed up for over a mile waiting to get onto Interstate-10. We would have been there for over an hour. We definitely wanted to put some distance between us and the approaching storm quickly, so we took some back roads for about 8 miles and got on the interstate at the next exit.

Traffic was not to bad at first, but it slowed down to 15 mph on and off for the first 3 hours. The strangest part was seeing the "contraflow" in action. Both sides of the interstate were leading outbound. Watching cars all going the same direction on both sides of the interstate was like watching some Hollywood disaster movie, only worse, because I was in it.

That's when I really lost it. Tears started flowing silently down my face and it all became so real. This time those hyper media fanatics really meant what they said.
Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 30, 2005 11:56 PM
Comments

Hopefully someone, somewhere in the US govt will now wake up to the real dangers of global warming. They are a pretty insular lot these oil men, but eventually it effects everyone.

Posted by: Benjamin at August 31, 2005 12:08 AM

If they were pictures from Saddams torture rooms, d'ya think we'd get to see them?

http://www.american-reporter.com...m/2,710/ 12.html

Posted by: kevser at August 31, 2005 12:11 AM

My home was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 -I grew up in the Virgin Islands, and we've come to know all about evacuations and preparing for storms. My heart goes out to this poor woman, and I felt like I wanted to cry. Then you click on the comments, and Benjamin's statement is so utterly clueless. Let's ask the NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/national/30cycle.html

Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming.

But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught "is very much natural," said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.

Posted by: Travis W. at August 31, 2005 06:56 AM

Hopefully someone, somewhere in the US govt will now wake up to the real dangers of global warming.

The Germans and the British press have said the same thing as Benjamin. Channel 4 asked "Is America getting the payback in weather for being the world's largest carbon polluter?"

Some people respond to emergencies by offering to help. Others respond by mourning. Others use emergencies as an opportunity to misinform everyone and gloat.

Well, Benjamin, despite your best efforts, you are inspirational. Right now, I'm inspired to go out and drive my car around for absolutely no reason at all. Then I'm going to come home, light up the barbeque, and pump more hydrocarbons into the world's air supply, just for the hell of it.

There should be a campaign asking millions of Americans to do the same thing every time some arrogant euro/anti-capitalist ass makes a similarly inane comment about a disaster that has absolutely nothing to do with global warming.

If these asses produce enough irrelevant global warming comments (as they are wont to do), America can double our carbon polluter output, maybe even triple it! If George Monbiot springs into action, the world will have the same yellow-grey skies that are currently hanging over most of communist China.

..and it'll all be due to Benjamin's heroic efforts here.

Posted by: mary at August 31, 2005 07:45 AM

Have to agree with Mary's post. I totally understand her real ANGER at the actions of the lunatics running around proving that 'silence is(or damn well should be)golden'.

This is a natural disaster. The world is an unstable place and sometimes it releases those pressures at the worst possible location. I heard the BBC drivel(and read Benjamin's nasty little aside) as did Mary but my opinion of those attitudes is now so degraded that nothing they say or do surprises or disappoints me.

Can we as MJT asked just leave the politics out of this for a decent interval? Yes I detest the loons as much as the next person, but I have just decided they are not worth my time any longer.

As to New Orleans, I know that cities are resilient but unless those levee breaches are sealed soon, frankly I can't see that there will be much of value left in the festering swamp there. What a horrible disaster that just keeps getting worse as the water flows in inexorably. Not to point fingers but the 'disaster' plan put into effect there before the hurricane seems to be have been very poorly thought out. Why put people into the Superbowl, when it has become uninhabitable within 48 hours? Why not just get the buses in BEFORE the disaster arrived and bus people to Houston as they are now being forced to do?

I realise that hindsight is 20/20 but this appears to be a civic disaster as well as a natural disaster.

Posted by: dougf at August 31, 2005 09:28 AM

“This is a natural disaster.”

That’s absolutely correct. How many cars were on the roads in the 17th century? Storms have slammed into this area since the beginning of time. Nobody should be surprised by the current carnage. The odds were always against the people living in New Orleans. Only the building of the French Quarter made any sense. Unfortunately, people started moving into the areas under sea level. This disaster was going to happen sooner or later.

Texas has probably increased its population. It is my guess that Houston will absorb a minimum of 50,000 people from these impacted areas.

Posted by: David Thomson at August 31, 2005 09:49 AM

It's interesting how when the tsunami hit Indonesia the haters reflexively condemned the U.S. as "stingy".

Yet today I've yet to hear words of condolence for our own disaster, or offers to help, etc. All I've heard so far is blaming the victim for causing "global warming".

The contrast is telling. But I'm sure it's just my imagination.

Posted by: Carlos at August 31, 2005 09:55 AM

It's interesting how when the tsunami hit Indonesia the haters reflexively condemned the U.S. as "stingy".

Um, no, the US wasn't mentioned in that statement. Funny how everyone thinks it was, but no, it was aimed at the wealthy western nations, all of them. And the guy who said it apologized for saying it, as the aid given was definitely not stingy.

Man, there's no way to avoid politics around here, is there? Too bad that loons on both the right and the left are using a tragedy of this magnitude as a fulcrum for their political beefs. Sick.

My suggestion? Let's ignore any comments on the hurricane that involve a political slant. This comment is the last one in response to a political agenda.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2005 10:11 AM

This comment is the last one in response to a political agenda.

LMAO! You jump on your high horse and then do exactly what you accuse others of doing. Typical. It wouldn't be so laughable but for your faux "outrage".

This will be MY last response to a political agenda.

Posted by: Carlos at August 31, 2005 10:24 AM

Well, it is a mostly-political blog Michael runs here. Having said that, it would be nice if the politics discussed were actually relevant to the topic at hand.

Global warming? Not. Disaster preparedness, or lack thereof? Definitely.

What's happening in New Orleans right now isn't even the worst case scenario, yet some very obvious holes in planning are showing up. dougf is right; why wasn't a mechanism defined beforehand to get refugees out of the Superdome? (As a staging area it makes sense; but it seems like no thought was given to step "B", and step "B" is important).

Why weren't troops available for New Orleans as soon as the hurricane passed? Why weren't naval amphibious resources on the way there before the hurrican even made landfall?

Why are they thinking of ways now to deal with levee breaches? I read that they're considering plugging the 17th Street breach with a barge. Great idea! Why wasn't it ready to go yesterday?

Hospital generators are running out of fuel. Why aren't helicoptors running continuous delivery schedules?

I know that hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but we've been reading about what the Big One could do to the Big Easy for years. Dealing with the aftermath should have been a matter of looking up the scenarios as they happened and choosing from a pre-defined list of appropriate responses.

Unlike dougf, I think it's time finger pointing started. I think it's also time for local politicians everwhere (but especially places like San Francisco and L.A.) to reassure their constituents that plans are in place for the foreseeable disasters.

Could be I'm out of my tree here. But IMHO avoidable deaths have happened and will continue to happen, and that should be a political problem.

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 31, 2005 10:46 AM

There are a lot of articles and photos of NO, but here is some video footage from WLBT of Jackson, MS, of what happened in the Gulfport/Biloxi, MS, area. Scroll down for the first "Skycopter" report. It's about 20 minutes worth of video and commentary from the news helicopter. The second flyover is on the top of the screen and is for the towns more east of there. I haven't had a chance to look at that one.

Man, oh, man... Those 2 towns and the ones west and east of them seem to have been wiped off the face of the Earth.

(My apologies if this has already been noted on your previous posts. I got it from Ace of Spades).

Posted by: cardeblu at August 31, 2005 10:52 AM

I've just seen a news article that indicates the death toll may well be over a thousand in New Orleans alone.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2005 11:37 AM

Carlos: This will be MY last response to a political agenda.

Excellent. Kudos.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2005 11:43 AM

Holy christ. The mayor said Wednesday that the hurricane probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans alone.

http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/08/31/D8CAVI303.html

Posted by: Carlos at August 31, 2005 11:47 AM

Per James Glassman at TCS (http://www.techcentralstation.com/083105JKG.html)

Giant hurricanes are rare, but they are not new. And they are not increasing. To the contrary. Just go to the website of the National Hurricane Center and check out a table that lists hurricanes by category and decade. The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3,4,5) came in the decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, when such storms averaged 9 per year. In the 1960s, there were 6 such storms; in the 1970s, 4; in the 1980s, 5; in the 1990s, 5; and for 2001-04, there were 3. Category 4 and 5 storms were also more prevalent in the past than they are now. As for Category 5 storms, there have been only three since the 1850s: in the decades of the 1930s, 1960s and 1990s.

In other words, Benjamin, go screw yourself...

Posted by: odrady at August 31, 2005 11:59 AM

ordrady,

please stop politicizing this thread. It's unseemly.

Posted by: Carlos at August 31, 2005 12:04 PM

Could be I'm out of my tree here. But IMHO avoidable deaths have happened and will continue to happen, and that should be a political problem. - Mark Poling

Yep, you're WAY out.

I'm a HazMat First Responder, CERT Responder, and work/drill regularly on mass casuality events for a university of 30,000 people. We have well-written emergency contingency plans, we drill regularly, and a well-coordinated ER response network. IT DOESN'T MATTER. Like war, contingency plans last until the first drop of water enters the city. Then, it's damage control and life safety first.

You obviously know nothing about New Orleans. This was inevitable. Everybody down there has known it since the levees were first built. You can't have a city in hurricane alley, below sea-level, in between a large lake and one of the largest river drainages IN THE WORLD and not expect to happen what happened this week.

You plan, you drill but Mother Nature trumps Human Nature EVERY SINGLE TIME. PERIOD. You save who can be saved, pick up the pieces, maybe start over.

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can respond to a natural catastrophe of the magnitude of what is still unfolding in the Big Easy in some clean, antiseptic fashion. Not possible.

The people out there working 24/7 (including the emergency response policy makers)deserve your respect, admiration, and sympathy.

Or as you and your "chickenhawk meme" buddies like to say, "Why not sign up and go down there!".

I'm sure you'll enjoy pulling bloated and rotting bodies out of attics in the New Orleans heat, in a toxic and septic brew, with mosquitos, snakes and rats nipping at your heels.

Otherwise, hold your tounge, you ungrateful halfwit.

Posted by: odrady at August 31, 2005 12:20 PM

Otherwise, hold your tounge, you ungrateful halfwit

Goodness.

For those interested, here's a 2002 article on hurricane risks for New Orleans.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at August 31, 2005 12:27 PM

Benjamin,
Do a little research first. THe frequency of hurricanes is very cyclical; the 50s and 60's were heavy, 70's and 80's much lighter, and 90's and 00's heavier again.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at August 31, 2005 12:45 PM

Odrady,
Mark Poling is correct in pointing out that many of the problems that occur in a situation like this are avoidable by taking appropriate precautions, whether that be "earthquake-proofing" buildings like they do in CA, or putting the extra money into backup pumps/emergency power supplies, etc. But that is never a popular political choice before something like this happens. As an example, ask San Diego County if they regret cutting the firefighting helicopters out of their budget a few years ago.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at August 31, 2005 12:52 PM

I was under the impression that a significant part of the problem was the erosion of coastal islands and marshes which drained a great deal of the force of hurricanes as they approached the city, due to levees upriver on the Mississippi designed to prevent flooding.

In other words, solve one problem, and decades later have to solve one you never predicted as a result.

Anyway, I remember reading about this years ago, and someone mentioned that it would cost at least a billion, if not more, to rebuild the marshes and islands. No one wanted to foot the bill. If that's accurate, and the loss of the islands did contribute, then no one is to blame for the loss of the islands - I doubt the people who wanted to save their homes from flooding upriver ever thought this would happen - but a lot of people knew about this and did nothing. I think there will be quite a bit of blame to go around, actually.

Posted by: The Commenter at August 31, 2005 01:22 PM

In other words, solve one problem, and decades later have to solve one you never predicted as a result.

You mean as in Liberalism?

(sorry, I tried but I couldn't resist ;-)

Posted by: Carlos at August 31, 2005 02:07 PM

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA someone please stop Carlos, I need to catch my breath!

Posted by: The Commenter at August 31, 2005 02:10 PM
The people out there working 24/7 (including the emergency response policy makers)deserve your respect, admiration, and sympathy.
Or as you and your "chickenhawk meme" buddies like to say, "Why not sign up and go down there!".

Actually, I'm one of the ones accused of being a chickenhawk most of the time. Kind of refreshing to get blasted from the other side.

I have nothing but respect for all the people busting their asses right now trying to deal with this. God bless you all, up to and including the people doing their best to pull the big picture together. But I will stand by my statement that you and yours should have been given more tools and more latitude to do the jobs you're doing.

I'm on your side, dude. It's the "penny wise, pound foolish" politicians that I'm calling to task.

Posted by: Mark Poling at August 31, 2005 02:18 PM

Actually, I have found this thread rather amusing. Sort of reminds me of family dinners growing up :-). Personally, I am rather inclined to view this whole thing in the context of population growth. Obviously when a devastating storm hit the coast 50 or 100 years ago, there weren't so many people there and they didn't own so much so the damage to life and property wasn't as huge (although it may have been proportionately as huge?). The US govt isn't God. They can't solve every problem. Certainly our disaster response capability grows as the population grows (and it is very impressive indeed) but there's no possible way to maintain absolute parity between the two short of setting strict limits on how many people can live in a given place. And that's not going to happen. (As you can see, never shy about putting my dumb 2 cents worth out there... :-))

Posted by: Caroline at August 31, 2005 06:03 PM

Has anyone read a word of condolence, or offers for assistance, blood donations, medical teams or anything from the rest of the world with regard to Katrina? I remember when the Tsunami hit in SE Asia, there were people on the street corners collecting money from folks at stoplights to send to SE Asia. At one point they turned away ships because the outpouring was overwhelming. Where is the world in our time of need? Where is the middle east? Where are the Arabs... they are sitting on mountains of (oil) money and have offered nothing. We rebuild schools and roads and pay local administrators salaries in Arab countries. We provide billions of dollars in economic aid to Arab countries. Now in our time of need, there is not even a world of kind condolence, much less an offer of assistance. Remember this and do not forget it when the next disaster strikes our international "friends".

Posted by: Carlos at August 31, 2005 10:05 PM

Carlos - this addresses your Q: global reaction

Posted by: Caroline at September 1, 2005 04:26 AM

Thanks Caroline. It's so good to know the Saudis are willing to SELL us more gasoline.

Posted by: Carlos at September 1, 2005 08:40 AM

France, Germany, and Canada have offered aid. I believe the Canadians have also offered helicopters & pilots, which they are mobilizing but aren't allowed into the affected areas yet. (It has been surmised that they are trying to stop people shooting at helicopters before risking an international incident.)

With any luck, when NO residents decide to relocate (as I'm sure many of them will even if the town is rebuilt), the areas they relocate to will experience boom years in industry. After all, there are skilled workers, seeking employment... so if you live nearby, and you're looking to hire, you could do worse than consider a displaced person.

Posted by: B. Durbin at September 1, 2005 09:17 PM

German aid stories here, here, and here. Sounds like somebody in the German government has a real handle on priorities; one of the first things mentioned is "water treatment facilities." Yes.

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