Why Now?
Saturday, September 10, 2005
  Weekend Rant
I have a separate page up on the FEMA disaster declarations with maps showing the winds from Katrina and the areas of the states that FEMA declared eligible for assistance. The maps are large to show the counties.

State and local officials got about 90% of the people to evacuate, and had to deal with the 10% that couldn't or wouldn't leave. They didn't have the resources or time to force people out.

The famous "200 school buses" didn't belong to the mayor of New Orleans so he would have had to find 200 people who could hot-wire and drive a bus, fuel for the buses, and then travel around the city to transport another 15,000 people - if he had remembered they existed under the pressure of the approaching storm.

It might surprise some people, but bus drivers are not considered "first responders", or "essential personnel". The bus drivers evacuated with their families.

While there were about 4,000 Louisiana Guardsmen available, their equipment was in Iraq. Yes, the special equipment designed for use in the swamps of Louisiana was sitting in a desert. That equipment included their generators and communications gear.

At the heart of the problem was a total break down of communications. They were left with short-range radios that quickly failed as the batteries ran down. The vehicles with radios were lost in the flood. Without communications the police in New Orleans couldn't be used effectively. Without communications, the state didn't know what was available in the areas that were struck, or what was needed. Ninety thousand square miles of the United States was damaged by this storm. That's a square 300 miles on a side.

In the aftermath of the hurricane and flood there was no way of coordinating efforts. There was almost no means of transport left in the city, and many of the first responders died in the storm.

As of today, the Federal government as still not delivered communications equipment requested by the governor. Local officials are talking to the media because that's the only way they have of communicating and it's one-way.

The bulk of the looting could have been eliminated with food and water airdrops. If food and water are available the majority of people aren't going to break into stores and there are un-looted stores with food and water in them in the city of New Orleans. The looting started because the local public supplies were generally under water, and no outside supplies were sent in to replace what was ruined.

Along with food and water, it would have been nice if they had dropped a few thousand of these things: light & radio - crank, solar, and battery powered unit that retails for $30, weighs 2 pounds, and can receive AM, FM, & short-wave signals.

I would prefer a stripped down model, perhaps only a single band radio that could be readily available through local emergency management offices for $10, and handed out to food stamp recipients.


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