Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Faces of Hurricane Katrina 2005.
The preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina
should disturb all Americans. The failure of a complete evacuation led to
catastrophic circumstances when Katrina made landfall, particularly in New Orleans where the force of the hurricane breached the levee system in multiple locations throughout the metropolitan area. As the resulting floodwaters spread
through low lying urban areas,thousands of people who were trapped in their homes climbed to their roofs or fled into flooded streets. Fortunately, thousands of these
people were saved by a massive and heroic search and rescue effort.

The onslaught of Gulf Coast hurricanes, notably Katrina and the deadly flooding which devastated New Orleans, was overwhelmingly picked by U.S. editors and news directors as the top story of 2005 in The Associated Press' annual vote.

But many were not as fortunate, and hundreds of people died in their homes or other locations, presumably from drowning. Those who were in the Superdome, or those that found shelter and high ground at other locations, suffered horrible conditions. The floodwaters, which had been anticipated and even predicted from a large hurricane such as Katrina, furthered the misery and delayed the immediate relief of the remaining population.

Like food and water, shelter is a basic human need. Hurricane Katrina transformed thousands of people’s lives into a battle for survival — and, for some, finding
adequate shelter proved at least as diffi cult as fi nding
something to eat or drink. Katrina, of course, was a powerful storm that hit
vulnerable areas, requiring more than traditional solutions for immediate shelter.

The Faces of Katrina.
We are left scratching our heads at the range of inefficiency and ineffectivness that characterized government behavior right before and after this storm. But
passivity did the most damage. The failure of initiative cost lives, prolonged suffering, and left all Americans justifi ably concerned our government is no better prepared to protect its people than it was before 9/11, even if we are.

Initially, Hurricane Katrina displaced more than a million Gulf coast residents. As in most natural disasters, some evacuees only needed short-term shelter and were able to return home after the immediate crisis passed. However, because of the magnitude of the storm, hundreds of thousands remained displaced — for days, weeks, evenmonths. Many are homeless today!

I urge public officials confronting the next Katrina to remember disaster response must be based on knowledge, not rumors. Government at all levels lost credibility due to inaccurate or unsubstantiated public statements made by offi cials regarding law and order, levee breaches, and overall response efforts.

The media must share some of the blame here. The Select Committee agrees the media can and should help serve as the public’s “first informer” after disasters.
In the 21st century, Americans depend on timely and accurate reporting, especially during times of crisis. But it’s clear accurate reporting was among Katrina’s many
victims. If anyone rioted, it was the media. Many stories of rape, murder, and general lawlessness were at best unsubstantiated, at worst simply false. And that’s too bad, because this storm needed no exaggeration. widely-distributed uncorroborated rumors caused resources to be deployed,
and important time and energy wasted, chasing down the imaginary. Already traumatized people in the Superdome and elsewhere, listening to their transistor radios, werefurther panicked. “The sensational accounts delayed rescue and
evacuation efforts already hampered by poor planning
and a lack of coordination among local, state, and federal agencies.

The whereabouts of 6,644 people, reported missing after Hurricane Katrina hit the US Gulf Coast in late August, have not been determined, raising the prospect that the death toll from the disaster could be higher than the 1,306 recorded so far in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Faces of Hurricane Katrina 2005.

NEW ORLEANS, March 20 — Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana, politically battered by a shaky post-Hurricane Katrina performance, announced today that she would not seek re-election to a second term.
Ms. Blanco said: “While so many still suffer, I am choosing to do what I believe is best for my state. I will focus my time and my energy for the next nine months on the people’s work, not on politics. After much thought and prayer I have decided I will not seek re-election as your governor.”
The hurricane hardly enhanced the reputation any of the state’s politicians, but with Ms. Blanco the damage appeared to be most severe. Katrina undid her.



Blogger ichbinalj said...

Hurricane Katrina was an extraordinary act of nature that spawned a human tragedy. It was the most destructive natural disaster in American history, laying waste to 90,000 square miles of land, an area the size of the United Kingdom. In Mississippi, the storm surge obliterated coastal communities and left thousands destitute. New Orleans was overwhelmed by flooding. All told, more than 1500 people died. Along the Gulf Coast, tens of thousands suffered without basic essentials for almost a week.
But the suffering that continued in the days and weeks after the storm passed did not happen in a vacuum; instead, it continued longer than it should have because of – and was in some cases exacerbated by – the failure of government at all levels to plan, prepare for and respond aggressively to the storm. These failures were not just conspicuous; they were pervasive. Among the many factors that contributed to these failures, were: 1) long-term warnings went unheeded and government officials neglected their duties to prepare for a forewarned catastrophe; 2) government officials took insufficient actions or made poor decisions in the days immediately before and after landfall; 3) systems on which officials relied on to support their response efforts failed, and 4) government officials at all levels failed to provide effective leadership. These individual failures, moreover, occurred against a backdrop of failure, over time, to develop the capacity for a coordinated, national response to a truly catastrophic event, whether caused by nature or man-made.
The results were tragic loss of life and human suffering on a massive scale, and an undermining of confidence in our governments’ ability to plan, prepare for, and respond to national catastrophes.

4:36 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Barbara Bush, wife of former President George H. W. Bush said that the Black Americans crowded into the Houston Astrodome had improved their lot in life just be making it to the Astrodome, because they had been underpriviledged anyway before Hurricane Katrina. She was speaking for more than herself. She was voicing the opinion of part of the "silent majority" of Americans. They thought that those Black so-called "citizen refugees" should be grateful that the local, state and Federal Governments even responded at all, even if they were late in arriving. America has no patience for desperate Black folks these days. Empathy is saved for for those who give all and ask for nothing. America is trying to fight a war in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the Southern Philippines, and the Horn of Africa. It has no money to build bridges and levees in New Orleans. Iraq needs a Billion dollars a day to keep afloat. We are a nation of nation builders.

7:24 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Mardi Gras 2007 was a great success. Mayor C. Ray Nagin was estatic. Hotels and restaurants were full. The Big Easy is Back.
Me thinks his enthusiasm is a bit premature. Parts of New Orleans look like Baghdag after a suicide bomber. Entire neighborhoods outside of the French Quarter are still deserted.
Black anger was quick and volatile, but short-lived. Since we live in the Age of Sound Bites and the next celebrity sensation story, the Big Easy is last year's headline. America has moved on.
One thing Black people are good at is surviving. Black people know how to keep on keeping on. New Orleans was a Black city. New Orleans jazz is renown for musician who can turn a funeral dirge into a John Philip Suza marching song. Right now the Saints are Marching, but they are not marching back to New Orleans. Maybe it is the end of an era.

7:38 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

NEW ORLEANS, March 20 — Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana, politically battered by a shaky post-Hurricane Katrina performance, announced today that she would not seek re-election to a second term.
Ms. Blanco said: “While so many still suffer, I am choosing to do what I believe is best for my state. I will focus my time and my energy for the next nine months on the people’s work, not on politics. After much thought and prayer I have decided I will not seek re-election as your governor.”
The hurricane hardly enhanced the reputation any of the state’s politicians, but with Ms. Blanco the damage appeared to be most severe. Katrina undid her.
Her personal warmth and small-town Cajun roots aided her in building coalitions among the independent-minded legislators, many of whom had served with her in the state House.
But then came Katrina, and with New Orleans submerged by the flood Ms. Blanco appeared on television with tears welling in her eyes, and calling for prayer. It was not the picture of decisive leadership desperate citizens were yearning for. She bickered with President Bush over who would control the state’s national guard, and appeared overwhelmed by events.
With Louisiana reeling in the storm’s aftermath, Ms. Blanco was criticized for waiting weeks before calling the legislature into session. Then, she failed to quickly get behind reform of the state’s dysfunctional levee boards, an issue that seized the public imagination in New Orleans. A state board that she created, the Louisiana Recovery Authority, has had limited impact as an agent in the state’s reconstruction.
But perhaps her biggest failure in the public’s eyes was the Road Home program, the mechanism she set up to hand out some $7.5 billion in federal aid to homeowners. Though more than 115,000 people have applied for the grants, hoping to get as much as $150,000 to rebuild, only 2,300 have begun to receive access to the money.
“It definitely seemed like anything she did couldn’t pull her above the perception that she was doing things wrong,” said Louisiana State University political scientist Wayne Parent.

7:40 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

9 Jan 2008. Hurricane Katrina's victims have put a price tag on their suffering and it is staggering — including one plaintiff seeking the unlikely sum of $3 quadrillion.

A whopping $3,014,170,389,176,410 is the dollar figure so far sought from some of the largest claims filed against the federal government over damage from the failure of levees and flood walls following the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.

Of roughly 489,000 total claims, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it has received 247 for at least $1 billion apiece, including the one for $3 quadrillion.

"That's the mother of all high numbers," said Loren Scott, a Baton Rouge-based economist.

For the sake of perspective: A mere $1 quadrillion would dwarf the U.S. gross domestic product, which Scott said was $13.2 trillion in 2007. A stack of one quadrillion pennies would reach Saturn.

Some residents may have grossly exaggerated their claims to send a message to the corps, which has accepted blame for poorly designing the failed levees.

"I understand the anger," Scott said. "I also understand it's a negotiating tactic: Aim high and negotiate down."

5:53 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Daniel Becnel, Jr., a lawyer who said his clients have filed more than 60,000 claims, said measuring Katrina's devastation in dollars and cents is a nearly impossible task.

"There's no way on earth you can figure it out," he said. "The trauma these people have undergone is unlike anything that has occurred in the history of our country."

The corps released zip codes, but no names, for the 247 claims of at least $1 billion. The list includes a $77 billion claim by the city of New Orleans. Fourteen involve a wrongful death claim. Fifteen were filed by businesses, including several insurance companies.

Little is known about the person who claimed $3 quadrillion. It was filed in Baker, 93 miles northwest of New Orleans. Baker is far from the epicenter of Katrina's destruction, but the city has a trailer park where hundreds of evacuees have lived since the storm.

Katrina, which is blamed for more than 1,600 deaths in Louisiana and Mississippi, is considered the most destructive storm to ever hit the U.S. It caused at least $60 billion in insured losses and could cost Gulf Coast states up to $125 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Most of the claims were filed before a deadline that coincided with Katrina's second anniversary, but the Corps is still receiving them — about 100 claims have arrived over the past three weeks — and is feeding them into a computer database.

The Corps said it isn't passing judgment on the merits of each claim. Federal courts are in charge of deciding if a claim is valid and how much compensation is warranted.

"It's important to the person who filed it, so we're taking every single claim seriously," Corps spokeswoman Amanda Jones said.

5:53 PM  

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