Katrina’s aftermath has struck our house silent with emotion. With every news report and today’s posting of a heartbreaking radio interview with New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, it just seems to get worse. I’ve been afaid to post anything for fear of backlash about not saying something earlier or to ask why we haven’t pledged monetary support. Let me say it here: we’ll be donating whatever we can to the aid of residents and the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast and other areas hit by Katrina. It will likely span several charities and organizations and span months.

It’s all we can do from here for now. There is a big part of me that wants to fire up the truck and head down there to volunteer, but that is not possible or realistic on so many levels. Perhaps if we lived closer. I so want to help, but have no clue what to do in the short term. There is such a sense of hopelessness. If ever there was time for a strong, courageous leader in the White House, it is now.

The Bush response to this horrible disaster has been pathetic up to this point. I hope that he can find it within himself to get out of his bubble of cronies and roll up his sleeves. He has the power to affect great change. I hate to say this, but if we weren’t in Iraq, would we have the military resources to have devoted more people more quickly here at home? I can’t help but think about this as I watch people struggle to survive.

I fear that the death toll from Katrina will eclipse that of any other tragedy in my lifetime. What a horror. Such a paralyzing sight to see so many without any place to go, except where they are told. That constant vision from the television is almost as tragic as the storm itself.

We have a long way to go in this country. Such a long way to go.

  • danielle

    this is the first thing i have read so far that accuratly describes my feelings surrounding this situation. i have been at a loss of words in attempting to describe where i stand, and it’s nice to know that i am not alone in my concerns and fears. thank you for voicing your view.

  • EverydaySuperGoddess

    My frustrated feelings of helplessness have pretty much morphed into outrage.

    I am positively ADD with fury at this administration. It is an absolute disgrace that people continue to suffer and die in the streets in 21st-century America.

    An absolute disgrace.

  • TB

    We have said the same thing in our house. Bush has squandered resources and money and American lives in Iraq for the past two years and because of his decisions he is now affecting lives of American citizens. When is he going to do the right thing? I can hardly watch him as he struggles to put the right emotional response together when I truly believe it’s all an act. His smug, self serving behavior in the face of catastrophic destruction in his own country makes me beyond angry.

  • My Mate Sid

    I’ve had the same feelings myself as I watch from the UK.

    I’ve felt a little guilty voicing these from such a distance and its incredibly heartening to see them voiced by you.

    Rest assured that not all foreigners view you by the actions of your leaders.

    Our hearts are with the people affected by this horrendous disaster and by the disgusting reaction to it by your government.

  • Ladylee

    I’m completely disgusted. Never in my lifetime would I have thought I would see American refugees. This is something that happens in the Third World, not in a country as prosperous as the United States. Reminds me of the Apocalypse described by Octavia Butler in her books Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents…

    I lived in New Orleans for a couple of years. It use to freak me out when it rained too hard. The pumps would break down. The streets would flood, even then. This was all bound to happen.

    I mean, we have the means to jump up and immediately assist the whole world when something goes wrong.

    And you mean to tell me that we can’t keep our own country in order?

    Someone fell asleep at the wheel…

  • Kelly

    I feel exactly the same way Jon.

    I was watching the news last night (big mistake) and caught a story about a mother who had been trying to get on a bus to Houston. She was in line with her 2 year old son and when it was her turn to get on the bus she handed him up so she didn’t fall and then people pushed her down so they could get on the bus. By the time she got back up she was 4 people deep and the bus closed its door and left. Her 2 year old son was alone and on his way to HOUSTON! A reporter grabbed a Sherrif who in turn grabbed a Statie who drove her and the rest of her family to reach the bus. I hope to God they were reunited.

  • Amy.Richardson

    Firstly, thank-you for always being honest. Itís always refreshing to read how people feel, even if we don’t always agree. In this instance however, I definitely agree with what you’ve said and how you feel and wish that there was some tangible way to show my support to all of those affected.

    I’d like to say to Anne who posted a rather long comment including an extract from elsewhere that when people (read: me) place blame on the shoulders of Bush, it’s because the administration that he runs is a reflection of him. His apathetic attitude to real issues and to his people is shown in the slow response to the crisis. People look to their leaders to lead them and unfortunately for him (even though he chose his position) the buck stops with him and he hasn’t shown the type of leadership that would change opinions about him.

    More damaging than his lack of leadership is his lack of compassion and empathy. But I guess itís easy to be flippant when its not you that has lost everything.


  • Anne

    … and what Michael Moore has sent out about this isn’t flippant? Or it’s okay because you agree with him? Rhetorical questions.

    (Thank goodness my post, reflecting a bit of a different perspective, is gone. Here’s to diversity.)

  • blurb

    Anne, your post was long and seemed troll-like. I welcome differing views, but I find it difficult to have a diverse view about death and destruction. I think YOU are the one politicizing it by mentioning firebrands and being tacky.

    If you leave another sucky comment, I’ll ban you. If you have something worthwhile to add to the discussion, you won’t be banned.

    I was asking a question about national resources. Your victimhood of being conservative notwithstanding, you can’t hold a candle to the thousands of stories coming out of the south. You are either part of the problem or the solution at this point. Which is it, Anne?

  • WindyLou

    I am in Memphis, with 10,000 reported displaced already here and most likely more to come. It is breaking my heart as I see few ways I can be of help . Talking to those who have escaped is hearwrenching. For any of those who may be refugees and in Memphis, we are at your serive. Many local restaurants are donating meals, my father’s included. We might not be able to do much else, but we sure can send you on your way with a full stomach. Head to Beale Street for food and job leads. My heart is in shreds right now.

  • Min Pin Momma

    While I consider myself a republican and bush supporter, I too can’t help but wonder why the support hadn’t been stronger and quicker. My husband is in the military and at this very moment is involved in a very strong effort to send more troops and supplies to the people in the Gulf coast, but I am upset that it has taken this long to start the “real” relief effort. While I am a huge bush supporter and disagree with lots of comments made about him and his “cronies”, I do agree that his support with this tradgedy has been slow and minimal at best. I am saddened that we have not pulled together as we did with the Tsunami relief, and am also wondering where are all the countries who helped then as well. Granted we are the strongest and most weathly country, but we certainly use the help “human captial” wise. Thank god they are finally getting on the ball, or at least I hope they are. I have heard of people signing up to let folks come and stay in an extra room or extra home (i.e. vacation home)until they find a more permanent place to live. I have been researching and hopefully will be able to do more than just send money. Thank you for your honesty and for letting me comment.

  • WindyLou

    Good Lord! Please forgive the typos. I am in a bit of a state. Upset and mad to boot.

  • RazDreams

    i am *so glad* heather’s blog, and now yours, have posts about this; ya’ll are widely read. IT.IS.SO.BAD.DOWN.HERE. i am about 55 miles away from new orleans, and my city has more than doubled in size in terms of residents. gas is *very* difficult to find. it is virtually impossible to have a phone call go through – the lines are *constantly* not working. radio stations programmed into my car now have dead air because they were new orleans stations. misplaced newscasters are now showing up on our local news stations. there was not ONE single parking space open at wal-mart. the streets are packed with cars and traffic lights that still aren’t working because some areas in my city *still* don’t have electricity. again, we are 55 miles away. we didn’t get hit by katrina; we got hit by the aftermath. they mentioned “gang rapes” last night, and i physically became ill. it is about 20 times worse in person than you see on tv. refugees here in our town make us somewhat nervous, tensions are high, police and other resources are very very low, NO ONE SENT busses to new orleans for the longest time…. it’s utterly and completely sickening.

    there is no warning for things like 9/11 or earthquakes or tsunamis. bush *knew* this storm would be catastrophic and declared our area a natural disaster area *days before* it hit…yet NOTHING was done for us from them until five days AFTER it hit. huh? they should’ve gotten the troops in line, the MREs and water ready, the helicopters and busses organized last weekend!!! they had warning and plenty of time to prepare. i am a bleeding heart liberal, but this makes me want to scream “CLUSTERFUCK!!!”

  • Claudia

    I am disgusted and ashamed. I shudder to think what would not have been done if the media were not shining a spotlight on the Gulf Coast.

    This is not my America.

  • Jenna

    I find it hard to get through days when traumatic things happen such as this. I just want to watch the news and mope around. I feel guilty if I am smiling and having a good day, Sounds silly I know.

    When 9/11 happened I couldn’t tear myself away from NPR, it was like a disease. I have tried to not let this consume me as much this time….but at times it is very hard.

  • Jenn

    Thank you for your words. I live in Houston and have been completely disgusted with the lack of national support, let alone world support with regards to this tragedy. Houston is now saturated with relief victims and we are now working to bus people to shelters in surrounding communities. I would like to urge anyone that lives in Texas to give what you can to your local shelter, they’re everywhere and they’re going to need supplies for a long time.

    Did anyone see Bush’s comment about how Trent Lott lost his house, but it would be rebuilt? Boo-F***ing Hoo. Let’s get the help where it’s needed the most.

  • Johanna

    Thanks for writing this. I have a link to a pretty great article written by Eleanor Clift (of Newsweek) that you might like to read. It pretty much sums up the absolute absurdity that lives in the White House.

  • Laura

    I feel the same, being up here in Canada in a land locked province you sorta feel like there’s nothing that you can do to help. It’s so tragic, and yet somehow we all feel a family connection to all those strangers, and we still feel Human amidst the sadness. slso – There are so many of us Canadians up here rootin’ for you guys to get a new President. Good luck.

  • Sara

    My entire office has spent the morning pondering most of the same questions each of you are asking. We have refugees here in Atlanta, and some of my coworkers have gone to the hotels and shelters around town and taken people to Walmart to buy them the things they need: clean towels, underwear, flipflops, tylenol, toothbrushes, diapers and formula. It has been frustrating and inspiring.

    As for the person who questioned where the international community was, France, Italy and Germany (at the least) have all offered aid. All that has been accepted by our government thus far is fuel (gasoline).

  • justonegirl

    The whole thing has me beside myself. I can’t hardly watch the tv – it took all of me to not wake my 8 month old son up and hold him last night after seeing all the STARVING AND ALONE children. My sweet Lord, they’re CHILDREN. Where is the help?? I am sick.

  • Megan

    At least hurricanes give warning. While the disaster we have in front of us now is horrific, imagine what the scene would have been like if no one had been able to evacuate beforehand. I live in an earthquake-prone area, and it’s terrifying to imagine what would happen if “the big one” hits. I had no idea that electricity, shelter, plumbing, and clean drinking water are all that stand between us and… this.

  • Jennifer in Kansas City

    I echo your sentiments. I feel mostly a shell-shocked helplessness, like this is somehow other-worldly, and at some point, someone will be able to explain how this is happening, here, on “our soil” and I’ll be able to understand, finally. I’ll understand why there are marauding gangs, why there are rapes taking place in the middle of a DISASTER and why people are shooting at doctors. I’ll stop being paralyzed at the thought of “What if that were my family?” “What if anarchy happened here?”

    My brain just cannot connect the dots and I want my government to fix it. FIX IT NOW. My money to the Red Cross is a drop in the bucket. The billion + a day we spend on “promoting freedom” in Iraq is not.

  • Amber

    Thank you for posting this. I know you and Dooce are both members of Flickr. Have you heard about the Hurricane Katrina Auction Group?

    Photographers are donating prints to raise funds for hurricane relief. The print goes to the highest bidder, and all funds go to the Red Cross.

  • jen

    Jon– just sent you an email about

    And Amber– thank you for that info– I will put it on Blogging Baby.

  • pam

    thanks for the insightful words. i’m from new orleans, and am safe in baton rouge at my mom’s house now. i can’t say how lucky i am to have a mom so close with the resources to help me and my fiance and his family.

    our home is safe for now. the floods and wind did no damage (we live directly across the river from the french quarter) but we fear the looters might do something to our home. but i don’t even care as much as i thought i might. things will never ever return to normal in new orleans, so why should i care if my clothes and books and everything else are taken or burned or destroyed? i just don’t care.

    thanks again.

  • SL

    True, what’s going on in the south is horrid. Never in a million years could I have imagined something so awful happening in this country. Refugees. Here! In America!? WTF?
    The response from the government was slow, and the repercussions of that are obvious. Though, instead of talking about what happened days or hours ago, let’s focus on what’s happening right now. Troops are coming in, billions have been pledged by the government. Millions from the private sector. Yes, the Bush administration was wrong to wait to respond, I do not argue that. But I do wholeheartedly agree that this should not be about politics. This should be about helping people in absolute desperate need of help.
    Political talk now is uncalled for.
    Though, Jon, I adore your blog and Heather’s too! SO don’t take it personally….not that you would.

  • Brittny

    I have seen tons of Bush Bashing, but what about the LA state government. Don’t they hold responsibility for the way matters have been handeled? Are their hands totally clean from all that has happened? I think a lot of blame goes to them as well. of course, we don’t want to talk about that though. Any chance we can take a stab at Bush we will and will forego looking at the mistakes of others. But you know what? There are much bigger issues than hating on the politics of this country. I am so sick of how people want to criticize everything, dichotomize everything. Okay, so maybe you hate the Bush admin. Maybe there are a million things you hate… but put it aside. Stop making this all about politics. People are literally doing all they can. We have never suffered a physical tragedy of this maginitude. Bush is not sitting around biting his nails. He is taking action. He himself has said there have been problems with the way things were handeled with New Orleans- but you know what? Sadly and unfortuantely we can’t change the terrible thing that has happened and the way it has been played out. It is now time to get over pointing fingers and bashing people and talking politics. We need to be better than that. I am currently living in Kuwait and it has been embarrassing to hear what these people think about the way we have all but come together at a time of crisis. Where is our unity? Can we not put down our right wing vs. left wing politics just for a few days? There will be plenty of time to bash Bush and what he didn’t do and what he should have done… after we get these poor people out of the hell they have been experiencing. It is time to look at the voices of those suffering. Those hurting. Those who have been wiped out entirely. How selfish is it for us-sitting in our comfy houses with plenty to eat and drink with our family- to make this about “us” and what we think and Bush this and Bush that. It is about the thousands needing help. Please put aside your political mindset and take action. There are power in words, but so much more power in action. Quit typing crap about “should have…” and “they need to…” and go volunteer. Make a donation. Take action.

  • Mel

    I’m a long-time reader of Blurbomat and Dooce. I respect you both very much, always enjoy what you have to say, and think you have the cutest child in the free world.

    That being said, you are totally on point with today’s post. I haven’t ever been a fan of Bush – didn’t vote for him the first or second time, and always knew that he would be completely inadequate in the face of a tragedy such as this (especially one that comes at a time when he doesn’t need to “impress” the American people in order to secure a reelection). I am amazed at how little we will do for our own people, when we do so much for other countries. And this feeling of helplessness – of being thousands of miles away and not being able to do anything – is horrible. Depressing and aggravating, to say the very least.

    If it makes anyone feel better, please know that help IS on the way as we speak – even though it should have been on the way days ago. I work for the military and we’re sending troops from Michigan to do what we can to make things better. We certainly won’t be able to “fix” the problems, but we’re ready and willing to help in whatever way we can. I worry that things are going to get worse before they get better – because that seems to be the way it’s headed. But, help IS on its way. We’re all lending a hand up here, and donations of food, water, clothing, etc., are being gathered and shipped right away. Every little bit helps, right?

    I think that, when all is said and done, there will be a commission assembled to investigate this whole situation. Somebody dropped the ball. BIG TIME! This NEVER should’ve happened in the wealthiest nation in the world. Never.

  • Katherine

    I think that what makes the disaster even worse is that all along, DHS (& Bush Co.) have been proclaiming that they can meet the demands of a terrorist attack.

    Well, yeah right. If this is how the government reacts to a “natural” disaster, can you imagine what it would be like if terrorists had struck NOLA?

  • Jannah

    As Americans we have viewed devastation in other countries and have seen the pictures, this is one of the first times we have understood the language. Human violations of this magnitude aren’t supposed to happen in the land of the free, the land of Starbucks on every corner, WalMarts withing 50 miles of all of us…..
    That to me is why this all seems sooo outrageous and surreal. It’s one thing to see third world nations struggling to deal with a catastrophy, it’s another when it’s just down the street…..

  • justin

    I feel as you do the helplessness of the situation; however, I also believe that blaming Bush is misplaced. The Mayor knew this was coming, he knew it was going to be catastrophic – he made no attempt, to my knowledge, to ensure that everyone, the poor and indigent included, had heeded the call to evacuate.

    There was a man whose name I do not recall on the news last night. He was Mayor of N.O. about 15 years ago and said he had advised the city then that the levees were in need of repair and were being compromised. He then blamed the current Bush administration and the involvement in Iraq for it not being done. I was not a math major, but I don’t think George W. was at fault for this 10 years ago.

    The locals should have ponied up many years ago if the levees needed repairs – the blame game being played now is not helping any of these families who have lost everything. Compare the way Guliani handled 9/11 with Nagin’s hand-wringing. While this man may be in the throse of turmoil, terror and frustration, he certainly isn’t leading this city. Times like this call for infinite character, integrity and diplomacy – none of which he has displayed.

    Ther is a much bigger issue here and it has nothing to do with your political leanings – it has to do with the nature of man and the moral corruption of a city. The underbelly of N.O. has been filthy for a long time and busy making it’s fast money. Now when they are in desperate need, which has been in the offing for years, they cry foul.

  • nicholas

    Katherine, I think you really summed it up–the really sad issue is that none of this should have happened, especially with all of the “preparation” polito-babble we’ve been hearing. Nothing can stop the devastation of a natural disaster, but *good* planning and *good* leadership can reduce the aftereffects. I don’t think anyone can honestly argue that the recovery, security, and healthcare efforts after the hurricane have been adequate, sufficient, or even remotely well structured.

    In my eyes, this is *exactly* what happened post-invasion Iraq–our nation’s leadership threw up a lot of figures on a press-conference board, promised us they had it under control, but in reality had no concrete and forward-thinking plans for dealing with the chaos to follow. It’s typical of our leadership now, and very depressing–they are willing to bank on people doing and caring for themselves (keeping out until things get so bad it’s impossible to ignore), willing to risk lives on it, in order to do things on the cheap.

    And innocent lives are paying the forfeit of the bet.

  • suzanne

    I’m in Germany and as far as I know our government and all the other european countries have been offering help – be it money or personell – to Condi Rice and President Bush. But they havent actually taken us up on the offer yet. I’m sure that all the europeans would send help as soon as Washington tells them to.

    just wanted to say that we’re all thinking of you over here. the pictures on tv are apocalyptic.

  • Hope

    It seems to me that those of us who are criticizing Bush are not talking about levies that should have been fixed 15 years ago. We are upset at the very delayed response in helping out people both with food, medicine, water and also evacuation. The hurricane has been over for days and only NOW is help arriving. Yes, the states of Mississippi and Louisiana need to help there people. But look, this is a MAJOR national disaster, not just a state disaster. We need federal leadership and help? Why else should we pay taxes?

  • Rebekah

    I’m sorry ahead of time, and I’m probably out of place here, but every time I see “this isn’t supposed to happen in America,” I cringe. Things like this shouldn’t be allowed to happen ANYWHERE, not just in America.

    I feel for the families in Katrina’s wake, but I also feel for families devastated by war, starvation, genocide and AIDS all over the world. Those of us who are privileged should do what we can to help those who are not, regardless of where they live.

  • marie b.

    that pretty much sums up my feelings on this.

    i’m still reeling from the emotional backlash of it all.

  • Jen

    I will be completely honest and state that I am quite middle of the road when it comes to politics, but I don’t think this is the best time to debate politics. Personally, I just want aid to get to the people and cities in need as quickly as possible. We need to come together at this time and donate our time, money and anything else possible to those who need our help. Right now is a time about the love of humanity, and hopefully we’ll see more humanity from all corners of the US and the world in the coming days.

  • nicholes

    Justin, in all due respect, New York did not lose the entire city, water, electricity, police force, jailspace, etc. on 9/11. It was a tragedy, to be sure (I was there, I remember very vividly), but nothing on the scale of what has happened in New Orleans. You need to read more articles, and do more research about the warnings issued and the levy protections, pumphouse protections, and additional staff that were requested (and promised) pre-hurricane that were never delivered before placing blame on the mayor. The NO mayor has no office, few staff, and no infrastructure at all–he has been begging for marshall law, and no one has heeded his call.

  • dana kapeghian

    This is lengthy, but I think necessary…just to let some of you know how truly sad this is, this is an email we FINALLY got (after many days of intense worry) from a cousin who lives in the area:

    We are safe.

    The eye of the hurricane blew over Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, and right into our back yard. We lived about 1000 feet from the beach. Our home was washed away. It’s gone. We have nothing but the clothes on our backs and a few pictures. My car is also gone. Everything just evaporated. If you saw the video of Bay Saint Louis, there is a church steeple/bell tower resting in the middle of a lot. I lived across the street from that church. It was Christ Episcopal.

    Boo! and Rudy are fine and with us, but Socks and Lily didn’t make it. They are gone. We thought they would be safe, so we left them tons of food and said our good-byes around 5 a.m. Sunday morning.

    On the Gulf Coast, life was always discussed in terms of Hurricane Camille, that is, before Camille or after Camille. Sort of like B.C. and A.D. Camille was the barometer that measured other storms. People died and there was destruction, but so many homes and buildings survived that Category 5. If we lived through that, we can survive this one. Our home survived Camille, and it didn’t even get much water damage. So we were mostly concerned with the roof and getting water from above. We never, ever expected a 30 foot wall of water to wash over it.

    I fear for a girlfriend’s life. Holly would babysit Boo and Rudy when we’d go out of town. She lived one block away. One block further from the beach than we lived. She decided to stay. She thought she was safe. Her house is gone.

    Of course we are very grateful for what we do have, and we our counting all of our blessings. We have it so much better than most people down here. But it’s so difficult when I begin to think of what we also lost. Mostly, I’m devastated over the joyful memories I have lost in that house that have YET to be. And I’m devastated for my one year old daughter, our only child, who has been uprooted from her tiny little environment. Her room, her crib, her rocker and her routine that we finally established. All the beautiful cards and gifts we received are gone. All the little keepsakes I was saving for her. This is how I will remember her first year of life. And it’s just not fair.

    It hurts to know that I’ve lost sentimental family valuables. When I think of the time it took my grandmother to hand crochet a dining table coverlet only to be washed away in a storm … I feel sick. A brooch pin that someone gave me for good luck. Letters from friends that go all the way back to junior high through college. My high school year book. A message in a bottle that a college friend gave me when he saw me on campus one day looking very blue. My parents’ wedding picture. And my grandparents’.

    There are people, neighbors, friends at the gym that I know I will never see again. I don’t even know if they are alive or they evacuated. The last time I talked to my next door neighbor Sherrie, she came over to see the baby and tell me she and her daughter were going out to Philadelphia for a few days. That’s the last time I saw her. She was there when the storm hit. If we only had a crystal ball, I could have said a proper good-bye.

    Harry and I will be relocating permanently. Getting out of the South. We just don’t know where.

    George Bush can suck it. There’s a military base less than an hour away from the hardest hit areas and the soldiers have been SITTING with no directive this entire week while Bush was vacationing. How can he live with himself or sleep at night. I’m disgusted at the lack of his use of power. People should want to be president of this country to help it’s people for the betterment of their lives and surroundings. I’m not really one to tell people to go to hell…but in this case he can suck it and burn.

  • Tracy

    I live in Houston, and I’ve been volunteering at the Astrodome. It’s like a third world country down there. Imagine the worst, and the worst is what you see. Thank you to all of you who are donating and volunteering. That’s what is going to make a difference to the refugees, not all of the politico talk. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for expressing opinions, I just want to push the point home: these people need actual help, not just rhetoric.

    Jon, thank you for your post. You and Heather have the burden of a lot of people looking to your reactions to the world, and I think that you are both handling the situation admirably. Hugs to your family. :)

    Thanks for letting me spill my guts. Keep up the good work, people!

  • Rachel

    I agree that everyone could have done more, but blame no one. I have to disagree with Justin on both painting N.O. as a Sodom and Gommarah that is crying wolf (because devasatation is the great equalizer and humanity deserves compassion in times like these ) but also the levee point – funds were appropriated by the federal government and then cut several times. It’s not the locality’s (state, city) fault if the money for the industrial repairs are “in the budget” federally and are then re-appropriated at the last minute. Highways, dams, tunnels and other basic infrastructure that requires huge capital investment is quite often paid for by the federal government starting with the WPA in the Depression (e.g. Hoover Dam, Interstate Freeways). However there has been a decline in funds for flood management at all levels of government – so hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call to invest in the aging infrastructure of levees across the nation.
    My heart is breaking for the people of the Gulf. I am doing what I can monetarily and in more tangible donations.
    I encourage everyone else to do the same, as the Armstrongs have. Finally, I encourage you all to take a couple hours to stock an emergency kit. I live in CA so I will prepare for earthquakes – others have tornadoes or hurricanes – and please heed all emergency warnings and instructions. Don’t “wait it out.” Please.

  • seventeen syllables

    I so appreciate your comments Jon, Heather, and everyone…feeling the same way in the midwest, with no way to help but donate some money.

    I for one am frustrated that there’s so much media focus on ‘looting’ when BABIES and OLD PEOPLE are DYING on the flooded streets of New Orleans. Because A) I can’t say for sure I wouldn’t go steal some shoes and clothes, or what the hell, a plasma tv, when I was in complete shock after losing everything and seeing dead bodies floating down what used to be the streets of my town and B) I am quite sure I would ‘steal’ food, water, diapers, and vitamins for my kid. I hope I would also ‘steal’ insulin for a diabetic neighbor, or food or whatever, with absolutely no second thought about it.

    I just can’t stand all the “looting” talk on TV. People are trying to survive, for the love of god.

  • Nytro

    I, too, am upset at our governments lack of action following this week’s events. Isn’t this something that they should have been prepared for… WORST-CASE SCENARIO, style? They should have had those national guards, those supplies and everything else on the read two days before the hurricane struck.

    And where is the leadership of the state? Who is in charge down there? Why is it that at these evacuation sites (SuperDome/Convention Center) there is no one there that is in charge? This is something that they should have been prepared for… maybe not in the magnitude that it was… but America just got caught with its pants down and our government has not stepped up to the plate until it’s almost too late.

    I am outraged and wish I could do more than donate. As you said, it’s not feasible to go down there for many of us. It’s unbelieveable to me that in America today, we’ve got American citizen being called refugees. It’s such a terrible event, the likes of which I can only pray we don’t see again.

  • Anna

    I live (or lived, heh) in New Orleans, and it is people like you and Heather that make this process just a little easier. Thank you for your generous amounts of support and hope. We need that more than anything else right now.

  • Sara

    Yes, this is a horrible disaster, but it probably won’t turn out to be as bad as the tsunami. We’re talking about a quarter of a million people dead in SE Asia. I hope it’s not going to be that bad on the Gulf Coast.

    Also, I am not surprised that there hasn’t been a lot of talk about international aid and things like that. America is hated by the international community. Maybe the reasoning is: you go to war unilaterally? Fine. You clean up after your hurricanes unilaterally.

    Also – does anyone else besides me see the class/race difference between the way this hurricane is being “handled” vs. 9/11? So the buildings that were bombed during 9/11 happened in big cities, yes, but those cities were filled with some of the richest people. Washington DC and the NYC business district has a lot of rich white people running around. The people stranded in New Orleans seem to be overwhelmingly black and poor. I feel like the attitude is “OK, let’s get all the rich white folks up in NYC fixed up right away. Poor black people in New Orleans? Nah, we don’t care about them so much.” I feel horrible even typing that opinion, because I don’t want to believe that it’s true. But maybe it is.

  • CD

    Frankly, I’m far more appalled by the animalistic and sleazy things that some in the affected areas are inflicting upon their fellow refugees than I am by anything going on government-wise. Raping women & children? Carjackings? Shooting at helicopters that are trying to help? Shoving aside the weak, sick and elderly so that you can be the first one out?

    Those are the things that disgust me, not the fact the government has been a little slow in their actions. However, the convoys that are making it into N.O. today had been on the road for days. Yes, this is America but when has America ever seen a natural disaster so devastating?

  • CD

    Sorry Jon, forgot to add this in to the above.

    ‘I honestly don’t see how anyone could have reacted any faster unless all the relief efforts had been completely mobilized before Katrina even hit.’

  • Rose

    Jon, there is no need for you to apologize for sharing your thoughts in whatever time-frame you choose. You are not an elected official. Wish you were.

  • blondzila

    I’m Canadian and my heart goes out to the incredible suffering that is going on for all of those along the Gulf Coast, especially the city that was New Orleans.

    Someone said they wish the talk about the looting would stop, that it’s just people trying to survive. If they were looting grocery stores and drug marts, I would understand. But clearing a Walmart of its guns? Electronics stores of DVD players and TVS? When you don’t even have a damned house or electricity? That isn’t survival. That is hubris. That is selfishness of the worst kind.

    I’ll tell you what is seen from the outside, when we see your news:

    Snipers shooting at rescue helicopters
    Talk of gangs refusing to let people evacuate, of rapes and murders
    Snipers shooting at hospitals as they try to clear out the critically ill

    Someone said that this isn’t like 911, because they didn’t lose electricity, water, the basics of life. No, that’s true. But when there was a catastrophic explosion and a gargantuan building began to collapse in front of them, and people ran, they stopped to help up those who fell trying to flee. They helped each other. They sheltered each other.

    In New Orleans it seems, at least to this outsider, that it’s become a cutthroat basics of survival.

    You came through 911 with courage and unity.

    It’s a shame to see things differ now.

  • blondzila

    Oh yeah
    One more thing (sorry, I forget a lot).

    As for international aid, this is from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) news website:

    “More than three dozen countries, besides Canada have pledged assistance to the United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

    Cuba and Venezuela have offered to help despite political differences. The list also includes Saudi Arabia, Dominica, Russia, France, Japan, China, El Salvador, Israel, Paraguay, the U.K., the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Honduras, Germany, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary, Columbia, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, South Korea, New Zealand, Guatemala, Belgium, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Italy, Guyana, Indonesia, Austria, Lithuania, Spain, Norway and the Bahamas”

    To my knowledge, the US government has turned down several of these offers.

  • Elaine

    The idea that it’s hard to believe this is happening in America is an easy feeling for all of us to fall into, simply because so many of us don’t realize the kind of poverty that exists HERE, here in our own country. I was listening to the radio today and a caller decided to get all high and mighty – he blamed the people stuck there for not evacuating when they were told to. What he didn’t see is that poor people can’t just get in their cars and drive to safety – they don’t have a car, and no money to support themseleves on the road. The fact is, third world poverty exists here. HERE. The human tragedy we’re seeing is so extreme because the differences between rich and poor are so extreme, particularly in that region. You can be hard-working, employed, surviving, and also DIRT POOR, and it doesn’t even take a catastrophe THIS enormous to send poor people off the edge. There’s no soft shoulder, there’s no wiggle room. Those of us lucky enough to be born above the poverty line have no way to even imagine the realities of a life with no buffer. The fact is we’d rather imagine that that kind of life has been eradicated in this country, but all that’s been eradicated is our awareness of it.

  • Rob

    Nice post. I differ with you on one point. When you state “I fear that the death toll from Katrina will eclipse that of any other tragedy in my lifetime.” I understand why you say that but I think its a little overstated. While this event is tragic, let me be perfectly clear here that I do think this is a very tragic event, there are other unfortunate events happening in other parts of the world that make this seem small. Places where a dictator uses chemical weapons on MILLIONS of his own people to quell a rebellion. Places where thousands die every year due to starvation. Places where different people can’t live together and wage war for years and years that cost lives.

    Don’t get me wrong, I feel similar to you. I am very sorry for all those who are affected with this. I encourage everyone to do anything they can to help those people. I have made donations and will continue to do so. I just think that sometimes we are insulated to world events and need to remember that other people suffer too.

    P.S. I dont quite share the anti Bush feelings as others here but I do hope that he acts strongly and brings what ever relief he can to these people.

  • Regan

    Thanks to you and Heather for making a point to say that donating is the thing to do in this time of need.

    I’m from New Orleans and safe now in Houston, but I know the need that the other refugees have. I’ve seen them entering the Astrodome, tired, dirty, and nearly dead. People are driving up to the Astrodome with food and supplies and are being turned away by police. The Red Cross is absolutely the best way right now to help.

    The pictures are horrible and I think we can all agree that the looting is uncalled for in the worst way, but that is only a small part of the New Orleans popluation. Most of the people that were stuck in the city were not looters, they are simply citizens not able to leave their homes in times of disaster. These are the people that will receive aid from the Red Cross and benefit from your donations.

    Please help in any way that you can, every penny is appreciated.

    I love my hometown, and miss it very much. Right now I’m happy that I have a roof over my head, but more than anything want to return to my home. Let’s all hope that Mayor Ray Nagin gets the support he needs to get us all home.

  • sweetney

    baltimore city is sending two cargo planes filled with water and food to the gulf tomorrow afternoon, and city residents have been encouraged to donate non-perishable food items at city firehouses tonight and early tomorrow. so once my husband jamie gets home from work i’m running over to target (well driving over…in a city where gas today is suddenly $4.97 a gallon) to grab several 15-pack boxes of powerbars.

    a small thing, those boxes of powerbars. but it is one thing i *can* do to not feel so fucking powerless and paralyzed by what’s going on only a few states away, so i’m doing it.

  • Coelecanth

    If you want a small, non-government way to help above and beyond the food and shelter issues check out:

    One person on her own doing what she can. The post explains why she’s choosing this way to make a difference.

  • Etherea

    I agree with everything you’ve said. We’re in Southern California and feel so helpless watching the news. It’s hard not to ask the inevitable questions about why the National Guard weren’t on hand to help, why relief efforts have taken so long to get to these people.. I know that the hurricane itself couldn’t have been prevented but much of the loss of life due to starvation etc *could* have been. My husband works for Newscorp and they’re organising a drive for essential items as well as cash, so we’re putting together baby clothes, food, diapers and books.. As meager an offering as it is, it’s all we can do from so far away. We’re feeling horrifed, helpless and angry. Pretty much what you said. Thanks for your post.

  • honey bunny

    like i said in my blog, it’s the pictures of the children, pets, and old people that really get me. it’s like a punch in the gut. i’m not saying that i don’t feel for the others, because man, i do. but it’s the truely helpless who just need water and some food and comfort that makes me cry for hours.

    i, too, wish i could just go GO! and help, but i am in boston and i don’t own a car. i’ve donated to the humane society because i can’t stomach seeing all the pets (especially the pups) hungry and dying. they don’t have the voice to cry out for help, so i felt that i needed to give something to help them. i wish i could send all my clothes that i no longer use and food and water and blankets, too. i wish the president would have taken action sooner. i wish that he made me feel safe in my own country, but he doesn’t.

    i wish for a lot these days.

  • Jonna

    Yes. Sick is essentially how I feel. And responsible. And heartbroken at the political polarization this has caused, and confusion as to why the government didn’t do more.

    And pissed. Did I mention pissed? FURIOUS. At nothing and everything all at once.

  • Dea

    It hurts to the very bottom of my self to read stories of suffering, and it helps to heal my hurt when I read how people have helped one another. Not only in this disaster, but in any. Blondzila, I too am Canadian and it makes me proud that my government will pledge help, and it makes me happy to read your list of all of the other countries that have also pedged. It lets me know that we are a GLOBAL community and we can all help each other out. Politics aside, I have a beating heart like anyone else and I will help in everyway I can. I won’t hold a grudge, for percieved or not percieved injustices, and I hope others will too. I think that the internet and well written honest blogs like this and Dooce help to bring awareness of how we are a global community.
    Thank you!

  • Jodi

    Thank you for expressing so eloquently what many of us are feeling, thinking, and planning. I’m not able to express myself very well, especially when I feel so overwhelmed by the state of things. I just hope those suffering find relief and peace soon.

  • Seventeen Syllables

    Couple more thoughts. Elaine is so right about the extremes of poverty, third-world style, that exist in America that we all like to pretend doesn’t exist here…and, as far as looting walmarts for guns, well- if I were below the poverty line, in a lawless situation, with little protection from offical sources of help I might want a gun as well. My point was that the way this situation is being covered by the media is very, very skewed. And, quite possibly, racist. Almost like, well, look how ‘these people’ just get violent and go crazy, who can blame us for not rescuing them, it’s not our fault if we don’t evacuate hospitals and people die.

    It’s hard for me to write that but I am suspicious indeed, especially considering the history of the region (which is also US history, I’m not trying to shirk the national blame here). After all, when NOLA flooded in the 1920s, poor black people were not only not rescued but actually *forced to remain in the city at gunpoint* and do the recovery work. No kidding. FORCED AT GUNPOINT by the white people in charge. Yeah, times have changed some, but still.

  • Cass

    I sat transfixed to the television just now for a good two hours, unable to tear myself away. What truly irks me is when I watched a 22 year old able bodied woman sit in a chair and complain about the lack of support and help. Obviously, this is a tragedy that I probably shouldn’t speak about because I myself have not lived through the absolute horror, but don’t sit there and whine about nothing getting done.

    Maybe I am being harsh, but I feel our nation is rising to the occasion. Just by browsing blogs one can see all the donations being made.
    That was a bit of a rant, but let it be known that I do understand what a tremendous trauma the people in the Gulf are facing, and they are in my prayers. I hope to God I never am faced with the same situation.

  • Rip

    I never thought I’d see myself defending this president, nor FEMA. I carry an unusual level of dislike for both. But I spent a lot of years as a State Flood Plain Administrator and Emergency Management Coordinator at State level. I can tell you this problem isn’t one with the Feds, not with the President. I truly can say I wish both were true.

    I’ve been discussing this for several days on my blog. We’re in an absolute world of hurt, and we owe those Louisianans humanitarian aid the best we can give.

    Too bad, but we can’t blame this president for what’s happening. We also can’t blame FEMA, nor the Corps of Engineers.


  • mireille

    thank you for saying what needed to be said … and not allowing spin to intrude on it. xoxo

  • Julie

    What disgusts me is the absolute chaos in New Orleans. People are looting, shooting; it is completely lawless. You would think in a time of tragedy people would bond togeter, like during 9/11. When I see people stealing televisions, I get livid. I can understand food or clothing, but a TELEVISION? What is the use? There is only one road out of New Orleans, and wouldn’t you think authorities would be slightly skeptical when you are leaving with ten TVs in the back of your car? The government needs to establish order. That is essentially its purpose anyway, is it not? I am also outraged that the police department took such little action against crime. It’s as if they took one look at the disaster, and bolted. Am I alone in my thoughts?
    On the other hand, I believe that it is not a time to point fingers and assign blame. This is a natural disaster, and everyone is doing the best they can. Let’s instead do our part, however small, to help those affected.

  • http://www.nowebsite.whatever Jennifer Blake

    I too feel terribly for all the people who have been not only displaced, but also without even basic necessities for days. However, I do agree that the people who are the most responsible for the poor planning are the officials of the cities along the gulf coast. There has been plenty of warning as well as discussion in the media for years that New Orleans is incapable of surviving a direct hit from a major hurricane. Where was their disaster plan? Why were there not stockpiles of supplies in the Superdome ahead of imminent danger? Why no plan to help evacuate the indigent, physically infirm, and people who had no means to leave the city of their own accord?
    And DON’T EVEN get me started on the people that had the means to evacuate the city and instead chose to “ride it out” for insignifigant reasons, then needed rescuing off of their roofs. (My husband’s coworker’s sister was one of those… she was afraid of looters getting into their nice house so they stayed and ended up needing rescuing.)
    By the way, I lived in Mobile, Alabama for 5 years and went through multiple hurricanes while there- including a couple of Catagory 3s. My apartment was only a couple of miles from the flooding and shipyards, so I know the importance of evacuation when told. We have several friends who lost everything in MS during Katrina. So I do feel the same loss everyone has echoed here. However, I don’t think the entire blame should be placed on the Federal government for their response… proper preparation would have been so much better.

  • Nordin7

    I have read the previous comments and have no idea if anyone will actually read this. Unlike the vast majority of you, I am here in the South. I am in Baton Rouge, a once relatively quiet city that overnight became the largest city in the state of Louisiana. My church has opened a shelter in our gym. I have spent the last three days listening to the heart-breaking stories of these people. This tragedy has happened in my backyard and there is so little that I can do. I held a woman’s hand today as she told me about sleeping on the Interstate and being rescued by a helicopter. She told me about shootings, dead bodies and people jumping off the sides of bridges to escape the death they knew would inevitably come. Never in my life did I think this would happen in the United States of America. It feels like the world is coming to an end and I have no control. Please, those of you who do pray, pray for these people, pray for New Orleans and pray for those of us in Baton Rouge who are dealing with this horrible crisis.

  • Anonymous

    While I have much to say about the federal govt’s handling of this situation, I think plenty is being said already. But I would like to express admiration for Mayor Nagin … I appreciate his vocal outrage at the lack of assistance, and his public demands of our government, while so many other politicians continue thanking eachother for all the great work that HASN’T been done quickly enough.

    I don’t claim to know exactly what his part is or isn’t in the lack of preparation leading up to this nightmare, but right now, he’s fighting for his city as if they were his own immediate family– something the rest of these contrived officials could learn from in working for their constituents.

  • kassi

    From what I understand, there was really no way to totally prepare for this devastation, save people evacuating when they were warned. The convoys of supplies had to stay a great distance away in order to not become part of the catastrophe. Then, when the storm died down, the relief needed to traverse many obstacles to make it to the people in need. This situation is much more complex than many are acknowledging. Still, my prayers are with those who are suffering. My speculations are just that…and of no real good to those in need at this time.

  • madge

    Thank you Jon (and Heather). As usual, your eloquence speaks my mind for me.

    Ditto, Elaine. Good points all.

    We lived in NYC during 9/11. My husband worked on the recovery as an ironworker from mid-September through October. To this day, he has not told me the details of what he saw there. I caught a few glimpses from a relief boat and that was enough. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the devastation was minor compared to New Orleans. I cannot begin to fathom the atrocious conditions in New Orleans.

    What worries me even as I make a monetary donation is how will New Orleans handle this? Itís citizens are blind with hunger, thirst and the most basic human desperations. Will the political officials handle the money appropriately? Will the relief get to the people who need it most? If the last few days are any indication, I would say, no.

    New York and LMDC officials are still bickering about how to spend all the money they ended up receiving. Yet, there are poor uninsured workers who are developing long-term illnesses. There is still no place for families to mourn.

    Letís hope that as resources FINALLY start arriving, that the government, every level of government, can prioritize accordingly.

  • Georgia Girl

    The thing that strikes me the most about this disaster is how much we need to be working every day to get people out of poverty. The people most affected are the poorest of the poor. Of course they are desperate, angry, and in some cases violent. If I lost everything, I could pick up the pieces and rebuild. I might lose things sentimental to me, but I would have an extended family to reach out to, some money in savings, an insurance plan. Some of these people couldn’t leave because they didn’t have cars, gas money, transportation… We have failed these people long before the storm even hit.

  • Jenny

    I have been walking around with a lump in my throat, alternating between horror, sadness and anger. You’ve said it beautifully here.

  • sue

    Jon (and Heather) – you’ve said it well, as usual.

  • fig

    thank you for your eloquence, and composure, and intelligence, and compassion.

  • RazDreams

    Nordin7, i’m right here with you. our city has changed for a long time – i see the refugees here and i see the sadness in their eyes…. i’m so sick of seeing this sh*t. God bless us all.

  • RazDreams

    p.s. for those interested, catholic charities gives a MUCH larger percentage of the donations to the actual cause and is non-profit. the red cross is getting SO many donations, but only gives about 60% of what they get. catholic charities gives a MUCH higher percentage.

  • Lisa

    Well said. And for the record, no one has the right to question whether, or how much, your family donates. “Each according to his means” should be the standard – we each do what we’re able to do. Some other good links:
    Hurricane Housing (to offer or to find):
    Finding survivors:

  • Monica

    Didn’t people elect Bush as a “war President” somebody who they perceived was strong and caring and would step up and lead the nation with confidence and command in a crisis?

    I hope this is the blow that gets rid of him, his crew and the whole awful, intolerant, selfish, greedy conservative movement.

  • Kathleen O’Hara

    Being in Scotland theres so much we can do.. Does strike you as really odd though whats not being done! I don’t know whether the aid reaction took as long as it feels or not .. like compared to other humanitarian disasters. I seen a picture today of a lady’s body floating down a river face first, should I really be crying? Do I have the right? Its just like WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HELP THEM…


  • EJW

    Georgia Girl said it best: we failed the people living in poverty long before the hurricane took away what little they had.

    FYI- will tell you more than you can want to know about how organizations spend their money. The Red Cross is at 91.1% going to operations, not 60% as someone said.

  • Heather Mia

    You couldnt be more right. I’m 2 hours from New Orleans in Lafayette, and disgusted by the Presidents basic lack of concern for the situation. He stood on rocks on 9/11 with a bullhorn, but basically had to be pushed out of the helicopter in New Orleans. Mayor Nagin is the cities only hope for a voice, as even our democratic state leaders have turned into typical politiciansk, patting themselves on the back. The best thing you can do from a far is of course to donate (regardless of size) but perhaps even more, to continue speaking out against the damage the feds have done. I fear many more have died in the last few days because of their lack of preparedness/concern.

  • elentari

    I find it ironic and disapointing how everyone sits around and bitches about what Bush isn’t doing.

    It’s far easier to point fingers than actually having some grace and giving someone the benefit of the doubt. As an event planner, I know that getting things to work WELL is not a fast operation. Yes, the governement could have done something faster, but that would not have guarenteed it being done well.

    One of our board members of our non-profit is a high ranking official in the Bush Admin. Ignorance can say that Bush doesn’t give a damn, but it’s just ignorance. But it saddens me that people say such horrible things about an actual person, as though they aren’t any more human than the person speaking.

    We are just not accustomed to suffering in this country. There are people all over the world whose lives suck so very much more that ANYONES in america. Unfortunately, instead of being grateful that we collectively DON’T live that way, we immediately look around to blame others for it not always being the “way it should.”

  • erat

    To those who don’t get why folks didn’t leave New Orleans, I’ll remind you that not everyone has the same access to transportation, or money, or can even move like you. Like it or not, almost everyone who stayed had no choice.

    To those who wonder where the disaster plan was, I’m with you. The area was practically declared a disaster area before the hurricane hit. That (the original declaration) was over a week ago, I believe. There’s been more than enough time to deploy SOMETHING, yet here we are on Friday and the troops have just now landed, four days too late.

    This whole thing stinks. It’s not like we’re talking about the USofA helping folks on the other side of Earth, we’re talking about the USofA helping the USofA… Shelter, water, food, etc. are withing DRIVING DISTANCE from the places that were hit, so why has it taken DAYS to get them help? Folks could probably sit on dry land and heave water to some of the people who are stranded for cryin’ out loud, or put a few cases of bottled water on kids rafts, inner tubes, whatever, and just float the damn things over, no human interaction or contact required. Could somebody please explain that to me? Why is this so hard?

    Okay, I’ll shut up now. Feel free to delete this post. I needed to vent.

  • jen b.

    I’m sorry but – feel free to disagree- Mayor Nagin seems to be blaming everyone but himself. He should be taking some ownership and leading his city instead of playing the blame game. I feel like I’m the only one who was not impressed with him.

  • Karry

    here’s a link to a blogger from downtown New Orleans. He also has webcams with some decent feeds too.

  • erat

    elentary: Right about now I don’t know that there are many folks in N.O. or along the Mississippi that give much of a rat’s patootie whether or not there’s slick organization behind providing water and food. Waiting for the well oiled relief machine to warm up is costing folks their lives.

    Package up food and water in air tight containment, put the shit on a bunch of pallettes, throw a few parachutes on them and drop them out of a friggin’ bomber for all I care. It was good enough for Kosovo, it should be good enough for Katrina victims. Leave the “WELL” part for later. Right now bulk counts more than a clean post mortem in a board room.

  • Brizzoz

    Despite any of his faults, Nagin called the President out on his clear & simple failure to support his own people for at least three whole days, while they went hungry and without water in the blazing Louisiana heat, amongst rotting corpses. You know, as soon as the body expires it begins to decompose. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like, to drift amongst corpses, having not even stomached seeing my own great grandmother close to death last weekend.

    In my mind, any action that should be taken at a time like this, when thousands are helpless, should be done immediately and without a formal go-ahead. If bin Laden popped up in Finland this very minute, there’d be troops swarming the area in twenty minutes. It took WHOEVER! FOUR DAYS to organize and get resources down there. If I was a refugee down there, I would be PISSED. Don’t tell me the National Guard was afraid of the citizens with guns; their responsibility is to the majority, who are literally helpless. They needed to take care of business.

    I’m completely, totally empathic towards the millions of people all over the world who go starving every single day. I realize how fortunate I am. They shouldn’t be ignored, but neither should the citizens of the so-called Greatest Country In The World. Come ON. You can’t save everybody, but don’t claim to be protecting your own people and let them starve for four days. Get down to business.

    Love the blog!

  • CD

    Erat – Let’s go with the idea that not everyone had the means to get out of N.O. Why didn’t Mayor Nagin comandeer every public transportation & school bus when he ordered the evacuation and get people out that way? Aside from that, there were plenty of people that had the means to leave but decided to stay. Were they supposed to be forced out at gunpoint?

  • Blue

    My sympathy is extended to all those suffering because of this disaster both the natural and man-made. Not being american and having seen a couple of the comments I felt the need to say that the rest of the world isnt oblivious and is extending its hands to help. My own country has offered urban response units trained to deal with these situations and having recent experience in both the tsunami and east timor; the offer is yet to be accepted. Our news is full of your suffering, and we feel it with shock and pain, we do care.

  • spanishtownian

    It really helps to know people care about what’s going on here. In Baton Rouge, we’re right in the middle of the relief effort and feel so isolated from the rest of the world. We don’t hear any news of what’s going on around the world. My entire day has revolved around getting the word out about my nonprofit’s needs. Just a word–don’t send water–Baton Rouge tap water is fine. Don’t come down here unless you have a place to stay. Don’t send used clothing or canned goods. How can you help? Donate $$ to your favorite charity. They will purchase goods locally and help our economy and businesses. If you want to have a “drive”, our shelters could use mats and blow up air mattresses, back packs, or duffel bags.

  • Rebecca

    I wish we weren’t in Iraq. I wish my husband wasn’t in Iraq. I don’t think it matters where they are. There is a tremendous lack of leadership and organization and that’s the biggest problem. Individuals and groups everywhere want to help, but no one is directing them effectively. It’s a huge, embarrassing cluster.

  • erat

    CD: I’ll answer your question with another question: how many round trips would it take for a fleet of busses to bus out tens of thousands of people? I’m going to guess more round trips than were possible (read: ONE, as the evacuation was called out not long before Katrina hit land. I don’t see how any round trips could have been made by anyone without a helicopter or boat). I’ll estimate a best case scenario of a few thousand people getting out of the area on busses. In reality, it probably would have been much less. Estimate how many busses are used in your local public transporation system, guess how many seats each holds, then assume none of them would have been able to come back for more people. It doesn’t add up to much.

    As for the folks who stayed voluntarily, all I can say is there’s no accounting for sensibility. I seriously doubt they amount to much more than a smattering of people. The bulk of the people who are currently down there stranded and suffering are poor and would not have stayed if they could have gotten out, unless everything I’ve heard and read about the situation has been incorrect. I’m not there so I have to trust at least some of what’s reported.

  • MP

    Thanks for your post Jon. I’ve read you and Heather for some time; this is my first post.

    For my part:
    Another day passes, and I can’t help feeling that anything I say about the past weeks events would be somehow wrong; somehow selfish, or simply… insignificant.

    But what I will say is this. As my heart breaks for those in need on the coast and New Orleans; the loss is something I can’t possibly comprehend or imagine; and I’ll hold my breath that l personally will never know such sorrow. But in the midst of the anger I feel, the anger we all feel at an event so monumentally out of our control; I wonder why we are all so capable to jump to action in such circumstances. Children are living on the streets where you live; they’re hungry, and sick. Many of those young, old, and in between go without basic healthcare for they have none; they simply can’t have it, and there’s no choice but to go without, and hope, and endure. Someone in your neighborhood probably cried themselves to sleep tonight. Could they have been helped with something as simple as companionship?; an understanding that they’re not alone? There are those this winter who will have to decide on heat, or food. There are victims of racism; and the prejudice of a culture who disregards those who have no voice. I could go on. We are so quick to respond when we feel helpless, yet we are so easy to took the other way when residing in the complacency of the status quo. If we could put forth such efforts in the wake of disaster to ourselves; our neighbors; our people; just imagine for a moment what we could do. We need to give of ourselves, and teach our children, show our children, what it means to be fortunate; to be blessed. Perhaps our future would be brighter. I’ll continue to hope. Here’s to those in need, wherever you are.

  • Jennifer (Ohio)

    Blurb- you have a great way with words. I agree with everything you’ve said. I’ve had to limit my news exposure greatly because the situation is just so bleak there. When 9/11 happened, we were bombarded with so many images of people jumping out of buildings, and of the buildings falling etc. that I started to have major panic attacks and had to take two days off work because I just couldn’t function. (No big surprise that PPD was in my future).

    I feel so badly for all the people down there. I wish I could do more, I’ve donated to several charities, but it doesn’t feel like enough. Somebody needs to bitch slap the looters. The way they’re taking advantage of a horrible situation is downright evil.

  • Jackie

    Something I think is worth mentioning is the root cause of a lot of the problems we are seeing in the aftermath of the storm–and that is poverty. Poverty that is rampant throughout the south and throughout many communities in this country. It’s disgusting. Most of these people would have been able to find their way out if they’d had the means to, like the million or so people who evacuated in time.

    This is what happens when you bitch about paying your taxes. People are poor and sick and uneducated and in this case they are completely unprepared to get out. And then we wonder why they are so incredibly angry that nobody has come to help. Because nobody ever helps them. In addition, vitally important things like LEVEES don’t get paid for. So, anti-tax advocates, think about someone other than yourself and open your wallets for valuable services and a better society for us all. And not just after a disaster strikes, have some foresight.

    I am not directly addressing anyone here–rather a segment of the population that infuriates me.

  • LeeAnn Dunn

    Thank you for your post, Jon.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said that we have along way to go…indeed we do.

    As an American I am very proud of the reponse to this disaster I am seeing from my fellow Americans. As for this bullshit administration…I am continually ashamed. This tradegy speaks volumes as to where we are headed not only as a country but as a culture. Yes, we are all humans…funny how we see very basic life and death issues, such as this, through such a ‘black and white’ lense. It cuts me to the core.

  • Sandy

    I posted part of this on my site, and part of this on another blog comments site, so I apologize if I’m being repetitive, but I feel the need to be vocal lately.

    I have seen the husbands and wives, both black and white, that are standing there with pictures of their spouses, crying and saying that they have lost them, they have no idea where they are. I have seen families, both black and white that have had to jump off buildings and bridges, losing the child that was on their shoulders, and now not knowing where those children are. I have seen babies in hospitals born both black and white, and the parents nowhere to be found as they were ripped away by flooding and severe winds. I have cried with them all.

    But today, I got really mad. I am a human being. I am a compassionate person. I have no care in the world what color a personís skin is when I see this kind of devastation and suffering. I see PEOPLE…black, white, skinny, fat, young, old, beautiful, ugly, kind and disgustingÖ..suffering and miserable in this mess. But today I saw a black man on TV telling me that the reason that there were so many deaths and problems was because the people there were poor and black. Excuse me?? I just watched a white woman cry because they got kicked out of a hotel and were denied transportation away from the area because they were not PAYING guests of the hotel. THAT WAS WRONG. There are 10 other people with her that were also kicked out…all white, in fact one couple is on vacation from Sweden.

    I remember a comment that was made at 9/11 when someone said that they didn’t see race…everyone was ash colored….think about that. I have never looked at my TV screen and said, oh look at that black man, or that white woman…I said, OMG…look at those PEOPLE and what is happening and we NEED to get help in NOW. Bush made some mistakes, seriously, by not going in there sooner and getting help in there sooner…but to say it is a racial thing only, well, I watched reports also of how many local govt officials KNEW the danger beforehand of the levee’s and did NOTHING to fix them…guess now that will be something they HAVE to address. That’s not black or white…that’s MONEY and POWER, and playing with people’s lives. They should be held accountable for that. They could have handled that hurricane and been fine…the flooding…that was man made.

    What would people think about using the closed military bases for a temporary shelter for the homeless victims of this tragedy? There are dorms, base housing, laundry facilities, schools, chow halls, and if they needed a police dept, the military could handle that. Just a thought, hopefully put in the hands of someone who might think this a good idea and know who to tell.

  • Amanda

    I agree with everything you and others have said about Bush. I’m not a fan of his and his reaction thusfar has not surprised me, even though I wish it would have.

    However I don’t think what this country needs to focus on right now is the lack to federal aid we’ve had, but instead gathering together as a whole (like we’ve done so far) & helping out any survivors. I think as citizens, we are doing a marvelous job in donating and helping any way we can. I’m all the way up in Ohio and they’re flying victims in as I speak. Locals can’t wait to get out & help. People all over this country (and other countries as well) are pouring their hearts out, and I’d rather acknowledge that. It goes to show that no matter how weak our president is, we’re that much stronger.

  • dogmeat

    Theres too many comments for me to be bothered reading but I made it to this one:

    “… and what Michael Moore has sent out about this isn’t flippant? Or it’s okay because you agree with him? Rhetorical questions.”

    Comments like this always irritate me and they seem to be a staple of conservative arguments.

    I don’t know (nor care) what Michael Moore has said about this disaster. Why? Well apart from my personal opinion of him – HE IS NOT IN POWER. Should we expect something more from the most powerful man in the world? Yes. Is Bush’s weak reaction to the events somehow legitimised by some fat, powerless paradoy of the other side of the political spectrum? Fuck no.

    Fucking conservatives. Its always the people with no power ruining everything, never the ones with the control.

    Also – I apologise for saying ‘fuck’ a lot, im Australian.

  • Jenners

    Responsibility starts within. Some people are poor for the sake of being poor and bilking the government. Sad, but true. I’ve known people to rise above seemingly hopeless situations and worse case scenerios and make something of themselves instead of sitting around lamenting “woe is me woe is me, where is my goddamn handout.”

    That being said, there are worse things happening then being victims and survivors of a huge destructive natural disaster. Survival doesn’t mean rape or beatings.

    Way up above in yonder post someone mentioned an able-bodied person doing nothing. I’ve donated money. I will donate more money when I can. That is MY responsibility–to help my ‘fellow man.’ But they also have a responsibility–help us help you. If I offer a hand, reach out. I’ll be there beside you, but I cannot do it for you.

    I am so sick and tired of the finger pointing. We just need to cowboy the fuck up. I will point one finger though. My middle finger at Condi Rice for spending thousands of dollars on some footwear in New York (
    Yeah, that’s fucking important.

  • debs

    sorry can not just drive down there and try to volunteer. the do have links for requesting to volunteer. i’ve done the same. good luck

  • MeL

    Thanks for saying the things I would like to say if I had a good public forum to do it. Today, I heard about a 2 year old who was trampled to death at the superdome when people panicked after the explosion this morning, and then about a woman who was 9 months pregnant and gave birth to her stillborn infant this morning. I sat down, hugged my 2 year old son to my 8 month pregnant belly, and tried to hide from him that mommy was crying uncontrollably. Things have been tight around here, and the cost of my husband’s daily commute just went up to about $12 a day in gas… but we are scraping together as much as we can to donate to relief efforts. I encourage everyone to donate what they can financially, even if it is just a few dollars. The devestation is just overwhelming, and as I sit drinking a glass of water from my running tap and get ready to take a shower before bed, I can’t help but feel overwhelming guilt and sorrow that so many others would give anything to be in my shoes tonight…

  • marginal_boy

    I work at Texas A&M University, and this evening the first bus bringing around 10000 refugees to our stadium arrived. Monday morning, I will be working with the 1000 transfer students our University is accepting from schools in the affected areas, setting up their access to course and computing resources. The students with whom I work on a daily basis are great. Already they’ve started mobilizing to gather supplied needed by those soon to be living in our stadium, and they’re organizing a partnership program to provide local “guides” to the students arriving Monday. It’s heartening to see the reactions of so many individuals and so many groups around the country. If only one of those groups had been the richest and most powerful governments in the world, I fear the destruction we’re seeing now would not have been so complete…

  • logcabinit

    right on right on Jackie!

    as a Canadian, it’s times like these when i realise how important it is to never see the other half of my paycheck.

    social capital. it’s priceless.

  • Quixotic Life

    If Nagin and the leadership of NO are so great, then why were these people not evacuated AHEAD OF TIME? The city of NO along with other large cites in LA and surrounding states HAVE public transportation systems that could have gone through the poor communities and evacuated people. What type of preventative plan did they have in place? Looks like none. There is no way to stop a hurricane but there are ways to plan AHEAD.

    And what are these people doing turning on each other? WTF? They, and some of the people posting here act as if this acceptable. I don’t think breaking into the grocery store or pharmacy is on the same level as the looting of eletronics, expensive clothing, guns, ect. And shooting at the people delivering the aid and making the rescue attempts? I don’t get it.

    I completely sympathize that some were not in good enough health to leave on their own. Mayor Nagin and other officials should have made these people top priorty in an evacuation plan. However, poverty is not a good reason for not leaving. If I knew a cat 5 storm was coming to my city that is 5′ below sea level I would get what I could in my back pack, nap sack, whatever, and start walking if need be. It wouldn’t matter that I didn’t have anywhere to go. Atleast I wouldn’t be sitting in the devastation, causing more strain on the necessary rescue attempts, because I expected someone else to take care of me when I could have taken care of myself. 70% of the people on tv look healthy enough to me to have taken some sort of action on their own. I’m not saying it would be fun to walk 50 miles but I would if I had to.

    Here in Fort Worth, 10 families that have relocated here and are being provided an apartment w/utilities free for 3 months. I am so glad that 2 of my dear friends told me about their efforts to supply these families with basic items, furniture, clothing, ect. I will be going tomorrow to buy as much as I can to help. Please donate to the victims and then do what you can to help the families relocating to your city.

    Get over the politics and get it on with making a difference. Don’t wait someone else to make the difference. One word-interdependence.

  • Post-urban Naturalist

    Simply, thanks for saying something. I’m glad to know that there are others out there who share my concern for those sad, beleaguered people. I hate it that people are avoiding the subject at my workplace. That’s understandable, but so not our style.

  • RazDreams

    most are poor, uneducated, *long-time* residents with nothing but the house they’ve been paying on for the past forty years of their lives with minimum wage money on the fringes of society, forgotten and just trying to make it day-to-day with the only family they know (their neighbors and children and grandchildren). infirmity and ignorance and a humongous lack of money to buy a gallon of milk. if you don’t live here and don’t know what these people go thru on a day-to-day basis, please try to refrain from making judgments on why they didn’t leave. we’ve NEVER had a storm like this before (and certainly not in their lifetimes). they’ve worked so hard for the little pittance that they have; it was unfathomable for them to leave it, and they often weren’t knowledgeable enough or monetarily able enough to go. trust me.

  • R

    I find it so immature to hear people say, “I can’t believe that something like this is happening in the USA.” Why is this so shocking? What makes America or its people different than any other on Earth? Is America supposed to be immune from natural disasters just because it’s beloved home? Well, here’s a wake up call: Suffering takes place every day all around the world. Thousands of people from all around the world die from natural disasters, from starvation and poverty, from the lack of basic medical care, from homelessness and war. America isn’t any different. Face reality and welcome to the real world!

    PS. Don’t mistake my comment to mean a lack of compassion to those who are suffering. I feel bad for people down in N.O. as much as those who died in the tsunami in 2004, which was a much more deadly and horrific than Katrina.

  • RazDreams

    in terms of this conversation, *what does it matter if the tsunami was much more deadly and horrific?!* people, human beings, *more* human beings, are dying after five days in the 95-degree heat with no food or water or help or leadership from a government that *knew* a catastrophe was imminent. yes suffering happens worldwide. this is happening today; where’s the help been?! that’s our point.

  • franklin

    I’m stunned by the lack of compassion for poor people shown by a few writers above. I heard about a woman who was told by her employer that if she didn’t show up for work on Saturday they would fire her. She couldn’t afford to lose her job, so couldn’t go take care of her family and evacuate.

    Not everyone could just hop in their SUV with all their best stuff and head north…

  • R

    RazDreams, you are right. This suffering is taking place right now and it needs to be helped. I think that all of us can agree on that.

    However, the reason behind my statement that the tsunami was more deadly is to put all of this in perspective. It’s easy to sit back and be relaxed when a disaster happens somewhere else in the world, in some other country far away from home, when others are suffering. But, what will you do when it happens in your country, in your own backyard? It was so easy to be passionate and stunned when we got attacked on 9/11. How would you react if you had to deal with such events on a daily basis for 2 years? That’s what people are facing in Iraq every day of their lives!

    My point, it’s so easy to poo-poo suffering when it happens to other, but should it happens to us, we grow a heart overnight and all the sudden it becomes the biggest thing ever. We as Americans need to learn that we are not immune to tragedy and to suffering just because we are the wealthiest country in the world. Nature is blind, it doesn’t look at wealth when it strikes. That should be a wake-up call to us that we need to be more compassionate to people around the world who are suffering (because it can also happen to you, so treat others as you would like to be treated). That attitude of “who cares that the tsunami was more deadly when we have people suffering right now” shows how self-centered we are. It’s like saying, who cares when a quarter of a million die elsewhere, but we do care when people are dying here. And that’s just not cool, because a life is an equally precious thing, whether it’s an American life, an Indonesian life, or an Iraqi life.

  • RazDreams

    i said “in terms of this conversation.” i (and many many other americans) can very much about the tsunami and africa and middle easterners and others suffering worldwide, and many many of us donate on a regular basis to those causes. THIS post of jon’s was dedicated to one of those disasters, and that’s what we’re addressing here. *please* don’t say that we’re “poo-poo’ing suffering when it happens to others;” you have no idea where else we donate time, money, or resources. THIS convesation is about one particular one. the most recent one that’s overwhelming us down here right now. the disasters elsewhere overwhelm me and my prayers all the rest of the year, thanks very much.


  • RazDreams

    (“CARE very much about the tsunami…”)

  • Chriddy

    Jenners: Poor for the sake of being poor? Please. How ignorant. How insulting. I don’t know your circumstances or whether you know what it’s like to have to go without, but I know that this country is not the land of opportunity for everyone. Please have some compassion for those who are in circumstances beyond their control.

  • Sara

    Someone above said that it’s not a racial issue. I still think it kind of is. Because the people stranded in New Orleans are overwhelmingly black and poor. At least, the media reports I see suggest that. I do not suggest that white people and people of other races are not suffering. But it just seems like the majority of people stuck in the middle of the craziness are poor and black.

    Here’s another thought that’s been bugging me for a while: if this hurricane had happened LAST August, during the height of the presidential campaign, these people would have seen relief so much faster. Because last August, there wouldn’t be “10,000 poor, black refugees” stuck in New Orleans, dying and starving. There would be only “potential Bush votes.” Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are red states. I have to wonder: do they now regret voting for Bush? His actions seems to indicate that they are worthless and note worthy of the same aid and rescue as victims of other disasters (9/11, tsuami, etc.)

  • Deb

    I live not soooo far from where the tsunami hit, and it had a huge impact. Every disaster has its own impact in its own place in its own way. The tsunami, over here, it caused all the islanders on the outlying islands of my country to move as quickly as they could up to the mountain regions because they were scared for their lived that a tsunami would get them, too. But it didn’t. We don’t see the Americans living in, say, Kansas, hurridly moving to the Rocky Mountains because of this hurricane. No one over here has really even heard of the Katrina hurricane, but I know about it, because I’m an American and it matters to me (also because me & my cousin were going to hit LA for a roadtrip in December, but I guess that’s off). I cried when I heard about the tsunami, because I SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE, but I happened to be enjoying a Christmas holiday in Illinois at the time. I know heaps of Indonesians who were there, and how it affected them. Louisiana is in the same situation.
    I hope everything stays in good health, that gas prices go back to a decent price, and for American to get a decent president because HOLY SHIT BUSH SUCKS~

  • Jenners


    You have misunderstood/twisted everything I said. Open your eyes. I never insinuated that the streets of America are paved with gold and everyone’s dreams are met with an I-dream-of-Genie nod of the head. I simply stated truth, which is my dear simpleton, that some people live off the government by choice because it’s easier than working. Read Quixotic above. Many, NOT ALL, but many could have done SOMETHING to help themselves. I wasn’t pointing fingers (except to Condi-expensive shoes-Rice) but expressing a hope that people help themselves as we try to help them.
    And why did you selectively ignore everything I stated after the first short paragraph? Pull your head out.
    COMPASSION? I just gave a third of my paycheck and a chunk of my savings. Ignorance indeed. Now stop your whining and go donate.

  • Jenners

    Oh, and Chriddy, before you “ignorantly” ask me why only a third of my paycheck and not the whole thing? Well I have bills, a family, responsibilities that need to be taken care of. I cannot help others if I’m on the damn streets myself. Don’t patronize me please.
    Here’s a tissue….now blow.

  • Richard

    It sounds like I’m in unwelcome waters here, but nevertheless, I have to speak out.

    I live just north of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama – my house sits almost exactly SIX miles north of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. My family is spread throughout the Gulf Coast, from Tallahassee, Florida to two coastal Alabama counties, coastal and inland Mississippi. I was “made” in New Orleans, but (unfortunately) born in Los Angeles, California. In less than a year, we have been hit with FIVE hurricanes – the eye of IVAN passed directly over our home… By the grace of God, we have been blessed each time to have not received any personal or serious (i.e., unrecoverable) property damage. Even when Ivan struck, homes to either side and across the street from us were seriously damaged, but we only had lost a grundle of trees and two shingles. Thank you, Lord!

    Until Tuesday, when the aftermath of Katrina began to unfold, I felt pretty sorry for my own personal predicaments – the usual financial woes of a small business owner, the slightly more serious grief over the loss of three parents (having been a reunited adoptee, I had two sets) in just nineteen months, and the mind-bending rage of discovering that my children had been sexually abused by their stepfather and the resulting custody and criminal proceedings and emotional turmoil that ensued as a result… All that is nothing now. I’m simply blessed that all of my family is alive and healthy and none are homeless, though I’m told the coast can now be seen from near my stepsister’s house, seven miles inland in Mississippi.

    But I’m floored by what I read here tonight. Oh yeah, I guess in addition to being a multiple hurricane survivor, I’m also a “fucking capitalist” as one commenter chides… I also have a brother who is a master seargeant in the Army who has done two rotations in Iraq and is ready and willing to go back for a third. I’m damn proud of him, and he, we (our family) and I all support our government and especially our President in our Nation’s countnuing endeavor for Freedom. Sorry, but people who “Free-ly” bitch but who wouldn’t consider putting their own life on the line for that very Freedom flat piss me off… But I’d still offer my own for your continuing right to be able to run your mouth. You’re welcome.

    President Bush was in Mobile this morning meeting with local planners and rescue operatives, storm victims and…oh yeah, did I mention my cousin is a Coastie pilot and rotary-wing flight trainer running rescue missions over the affected Gulf Coast? Count Navy and National Guard in my family as well… (even Confederate Army, if we want to go that far back.)

    Anyway, most of you reading and commenting here have NO IDEA what is involved in rescue and rebuilding operations in an affected area, nor do you have any idea how critically damaged the infrastructure is here… Staging WAS DONE ahead of the storm – OUT OF THE PREDICTED PATH of the storm, so that assets and supplies would not be lost or damaged themselves during the storm. ENTIRE ROADS are GONE. Assets are having to be re-routed to get where they are needed most. Ships are underway from Norfolk, VA – OUTSIDE the affected area, which considering Katrina had a breadth of some 400-miles means OUTSIDE THE GULF OF MEXICO. These ships were underway from their home port in three-days time as the scope of the disaster was unfolding. Supplies are not loaded with a magic wand, nor are multiple ships loaded with disaster relief “just in case” before the outcome of a storm is even known…

    Further, Katrina didn’t enter the Gulf as the CAT-5 she eventually became – that prediction/realization came within 48 hours before landfall. I went to bed on Saturday night and they were predicting little strengthening beyond the CAT-3 – she was at the time. When I woke up on Sunday morning, she was at Category FIVE. Even after living on the Gulf Coast through Opal and Erin, Danny and Georges (had to drive myself to the emergency room in the MIDDLE of that one), even after a direct hit from Ivan, even after knowing what Frederick and Camille did (Camille had much, MUCH stronger winds clocked at over 225 mph, but did not pack the tidal surge that Katrina wielded – the real killer)… Even after all this information and experience, we (personally and the Gulf Coast collectively) were still caught with OUR pants down.

    And guess what?

    Local municipalities and states, NOT the Federal Government are supposed to be first responders to storms and natural disasters. Typically, only AFTER a storm has passed does the Governor declare a state of emergency and Federal Aid is requested…

    This is the WORST natural disaster to strike our country in a century, and you’re all wanting to lay the blame on President Bush???

    Okay fine – Disco was all John Travolta’s fault!!

    Pardon me, but we’re facing serious logistical problems that were frankly IMPOSSIBLE to REALISTICALLY prepare for in the time given from the realization that we had a 902mb storm in the Gulf. Blame President Bush personally for the levee upkeep in New Orleans?

    Come on… I have a pickup truck with over 200,000 miles on it. I know it’s going to have serious mechanical problems or even a ‘catastrophic’ failure in the future – could be tomorrow, could be in another hundred-thousand miles. Should I be asking my insurance company to rebuild my engine and transmission for me, passing the costs of ‘extreme maintenance’ to my neighbors? Or perhaps it should be Ford that should continue to warrant my truck beyond double the expecancy and pass the cost on to new truck buyers…

    New Orleans is an old city that has been SINKING deeper every year into the sea. Yet it has been beyond the interest of the local government to insure their own safety. Don’t get me wrong – I love New Orleans… It’s in my blood, afterall. My family lived there for many years, but the local government has been at times corrupt, inept, dysfunctional. There are a whole host of problems that have plagued the city that are the result of local policies and governing gone wrong or just hopelessly amiss… I loved N.O. but I wouldn’t have lived there under court order…

    But if you want it that way, fine. Demand that the Federal Government immediately commence relocating residents or building new earthquake-PROOF homes, buildings, roads, dams, utilities, et al in southern California AND the Great Salt Lake basin in Utah.

    I’ll tell you now, I lived for several years in Salt Lake, and when that city is struck by the “big” earthquake they’ve been predicting on the Wasatch Fault “within the next 50 years”, you’ll see devastation not unlike what we’re witnessing in New Orleans now. The only way in or out of the valley will likely be by air, since canyon roads will likely be unpassable. The majority of the valley floor, once a lakebed of glass-bead-like sillt and now called a “liquefaction zone” will supposedly turn into something between wobbling jell-o and quicksand, turning houses on their sides and breaking them apart, toppling buildings and destroying roads… And waking-up at 4:30 in the morning with a subsonic feeling/sound in your jaw/inner-ear and realizing your 2nd floor bedroom is swaying and bumping is the earliest advance warning you will likely get.

    I felt that once while I lived there and for a moment, before it subsided, I feared the worst. I’ll take the hurricanes…

  • Richard


    From Drudge under the headline “Why didn’t you deploy the buses during the mandatory evacuation, Mayor? :

    I’m afraid to say, this is very typical of what I know personally of N.O. politics/government…

  • Heartbroken

    We are the nation that voted this President in. We are the nation that must stand behind him- and do whatever we can to help our leader through these most difficult of times.
    Why this? What that? What if one thing, what if another? Oh,

  • Heartbroken

    If it were your brother or sister or son or daughter, your lover, trapped underneath the roof of a house or hanging out the window screaming, you would not be thinking of Iraq. If it were your home that had been destroyed, you would not be thinking of how poorly the administration had handled the crisis.
    What matters now is love- not opinions, not political bullshit. Love will get us through this– love and a lot of time.
    United we stand, divided we fall: truer words have never been spoken.
    No one is perfect, nor can we ask them to be.
    All we can do is our best.

  • heather

    On Monday morning, I asked whoever would listen why nothing was being done; I was told by friends and family, all of whom ae normally quite astute and socially conscious, that something WAS being done… it had to be, or so they assumed. But they were all wrong, and it bothered me that they didn’t realize it.

    This entire week I’ve been obsessing over what happened in New Orleans, perhaps because it seemed no one else would (or so it seemed based on the media’s rather tepid coverage of the matter up until now). Unable to sleep, I still felt as though I were walking around in some sort of surreal nightmare, in which I was slowly losing my mind over something that so much of the world seemed disinclined to think about. No one was talking about it — not our news, not our DJs, not the people waiting in line at the supermarket. It felt like we, as a collective people, had abandoned an entire city — and no one could tell me why, certainly not the people in whose hands our nation’s fate rests. Nor could anyone explain or validate my questions regarding our, and the world’s, immediate call to arms for the December tsunami, nor why we were spending billions of dollars and wasting thousands of lives rebuilding Iraq — yet no one could manage to get food and water to Louisiana?

    This morning, Friday morning, I woke up and was relieved to find that rest of the world had as well. If only our government would do the same, but impoverished minority communities don’t rank very high on our leader’s list of priorities, do they?

  • Sailor

    I am an American teacher living in Kuwait, with family just north of New Orleans. I pour through the BBC news site every day looking for news on the efforts to relieve the disaster. My contributions to Red Cross have already gone out. I am amazed at the level of inefficiency I see in trying to help the victims of Katrina. I sit here in Kuwait and watch tens of millions of dollars in equipment roll though to rebuild Iraq. Every airplane coming here is filled with employees of KBR and Haliburton, as well as more and more military. I was military myself once, for quite a long time, and am familiar with relief operations. If only a very little of the money and supplies destined to rebuild a nation that will never be our friend were sent to help New Orleans, it would make a huge difference to those still left alive. Yes it was a natural disaster. The real disaster is in how we are coping with it.

  • Samantha

    I just want to say to those of you who live far away that those of us very close feel just as helpless. Here in Austin volunteers are being turned away from the shelters because there are too many.
    If you really are driven to help but can’t drive here or send thousands of dollars offer to house a person (or even an animal) that has been displaced. Most of the people here are willing to travel and there are local organizations that will help get them to you.
    Craiglist is a great resource for this.

  • merkley???

    whats heartbreaking is that you can live in a bowl next to the ocean and ignore the warning to leave.

    brainbreaking is more like it.


  • RazDreams

    holy.cow. most of the poor, uneducated folks who were too “stupid” to leave didn’t have the means to do so and/or weren’t educated enough to consider leaving what very little they’d worked forty-plus years to accumulate. “s.t.u.p.i.d” is actually those outsiders who have *no clue* what those on the edge of society live like down here and who then start throwing around horrible accusations about the state of their brains for not leaving a city they have probably never stepped out of in their 65+ years.

    you really have no clue. and that’s precisely why those on the fringes of new orleans’ society are treated like they are – because outsiders look down their noses at them like trash, yet expect them to be as “perfect” as the rest of society.

  • Fence

    I’ve read all the comments here, and I can’t believe how any comments there were that seem to be blaming the poor for being poor. For being unable to leave. I just came across a post all about being poor that I think says so much.

  • Fence

    Sorry, the html didn’t work. The link is here:

  • Daman

    Can I make a suggestion to you all?

    Stop the “s.t.u.p.i.d.” discussion. Stop the bitching about what political figure failed at the local, the state, and the federal level. It proves nothing. It gives no comfort to those folks on the Gulf coast, whether they were poor & stupid, unlucky & unprepared, or uneducated & completely misinformed by their leadership. It makes no difference if you are conservative or liberal. This is our country. this is our government. This is us.

    Get your butts up and donate. Or, if you are webmasters and hosts, put some links on your sites to lead your readers to places where they can donate.


  • Brizzoz

    I HATE to bicker and I hope Blurbomat deletes 99% of this bickering back and forth but if we don’t question what HAPPENED during those four days what kind of ignorant citizens ARE we, Daman? Jon has put up links, I’VE put up links, many links have been put up in comments and in dozens of other blogs, and the majority of us HAVE donated. Be glad that as American citizens we are expressing our concerns for the Gulf Coast citizens and the delay that’s occurred! This is all that most of us CAN do. Don’t lecture us.

  • Kelly

    I read both of your blogs often, and I too am glad you guys are discussing this. My uncle lives in New Orleans, and while he got out of town safely (thank goodness), he lost everything he owns (his house is near the lake, in the neighborhood that flooded). He can’t even access his bank account right now. I’ve been frantically collecting donations for him, at least so he has something to buy a change of clothes and a plane ticket out of Houston. It’s all so surreal.

  • Ladylee

    Daman, I think you hit the point head on. We can sit around and complain all day. I’ve done my share of complaining. The fingerpointing is going to go on and on. Meanwhile, people (rich and poor) have lost EVERYTHING. So we should do something. I plan on donating. And then donating again and again. Every little bit helps.

    Merkley, you said people ignored the warning to leave. You sound like the ignorant Head of FEMA. Hmm… you must think everybody is well off just like you, hunh? Sure there were people who wouldn’t leave. I’ll give you that much. What about those people who couldn’t leave? I lived in New Orleans for a couple of years so I know. First time in my life that I met whole LARGE families who didn’t have cars, credit cards, bank accounts, good jobs, or good educations. People who have never stepped foot out of New Orleans. They only had each other. No relatives in other states, nothing like that. Only each other.

    When I first moved to New Orleans, I had just gotten my doctorate degree. I had 500 bucks in my pocket (to live on for 3 weeks until I got my first paycheck and bonus), an old beat-up Nova, and a room in a boarding house. I was poor and alone. And I met some wonderful New Orleanians who didn’t have much, but made me feel welcome and a part of their families.

    I live in Atlanta now, and many of the refugees are here. I plan on donating time and money to the effort. This is our country. We came together during the 9/11 tragedy. We should come together for the Katrina tragedy.

    Yeah, I know we’re all pissed at government incompetence. (I still am!) But I plan to turn my anger into something positive. Let’s just all take action and do our part.

  • J

    I’m wondering if it would be wise to rebuild New Orleans in the exact spot. It seems to me (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) that in its current place, NO is in a precarious position, as shown by the flooding now. Being in a bowl below sea level smack dab between a huge lake and the ocean depending on levees for safety seems iffy. Could they relocate NO? Move it more north? West? What? The history of NO will always remain. It’s heartbreaking to see the destruction, but I’d rather have people safe then try to hold onto the history. I even understand the importance of being on the Mississippi River for importing and exporting. I’ve never been to NO, the furthest south I got to was Baton Rouge. Are there any alternatives or will NO be safe if they rebuild the levees and make them stronger? Any ideas?

  • King Rat

    One thing that I’ve noticed in watching the news is that all the rescuers and national guard troops seem to be white. Now, I haven’t been scouring the screens, but just casually have noticed that I have not seen *one*, not a single one, African-American or other minority rescuer. This is really interesting to me when I compare the faces I see when our armed forces in Iraq are on TV. Much greater percentage of minority faces there.

  • annie

    In the moment, the critical thing is to help the people – the living and the dying – throughout Louisiana and Missippi and Alabama and on into the cities and towns where they have taken refuge, because those towns will need help also.

    Failing to help these people is to deny their humanity, and to deny our own, and it is flat out indecent. It is wrong in all the ways that there are. These are human beings. Every single one of them has a beating heart and a thinking brain and a soul.

    Simultaneously, we have to assess both the short and long term planning in the region and the response. No matter where we live, we have a responsibility to EACH OTHER, as voting citizens, to consider the past 6 years of denial of funding to levee fortification by the federal government. We have to decide whether or we can afford, as a nation, the current method for appointing the head of FEMA, given the following:

    People fail. On an individual basis, people are capable of astonishing acts of grace and glory, and spectacular, brutal failure every single day, frequently simultaneously. It’s part of why we build systems of government – to mitigate and reduce the impact of the failures, to encourage the simple decencies. When the systems of government fail for so long, when the cost is individually and nationally so high, we have to evaluate the human failures within those systems, because they can succeed, they can be incredibly successful – I have had the ill-luck to be in the presence of disaster management done right twice, and what has gone on in New Orleans, in Missippi, in Alabama – it’s the opposite of that.

    Disaster management in those situations is not typically provided by local government, especially not in a city as small as NO – it comes from the feds. I was in Miami after Andrew, and I was in NY after 9/11, and in neither of those situations , both of which were pretty scary, did anything like the convention center or the superdome happen – in both of those situations, the federal government made every single resource imaginable available pretty much instantly. Things may not have gone smoothly, but they went much much better than this.

    We owe the people of NO, and the surrounding areas our help – both practical and immediate, and long term, in the form of holding the people who, whether consciously or through raw, accidental incompetence, withheld aid from them accountable for that choice. We owe them that because they are human, and so are we.

  • Pammy G

    My 70 year old father said something interesting to me this morning: “What if say, after 9-11 we would have been invaded (he said by Saddam, for example, I know, sounds ridiculous but this is his story) in N.O…How long would it have taken the president to get troops in? Do you think it would have taken 5 days???”

    And Richard: I would “freely” put my life on the line (or accept my children doing the same) for the country if I had to.

    I sure as hell wouldn’t want it to happen for a PACK OF LIES which is the reason we are in Iraq in the first place.

    Oh, and DAMON, my family donated $200.00 to hurricaine relief, OK?

    Thanks Jon for your right-on-target words.

  • Torrie

    Said with such grace and dignity, as usual Jon.

    I am having a fundraiser over on my blog for one of my blog friends who lost her house and job because of hurricane Katrina.
    Please stop by. You can donate as little as $1.

  • RazDreams

    King Rat: the mayor of the city is african-american, and the governor of the state and the senator of the state are both women. and maybe you haven’t seen many minority faces in the rescuers on the gulf coast but you have in iraq because (1) they’re all in iraq, and (2) because new rescuers didn’t come to the gulf coast until late yesterday.

  • Seventeen Syllables

    here’s a good example of what I mean. This news report

    calls this kid’s smart thinking and good-samaritanship “an extreme act of looting.” WTF? He found a bus that worked, rescued stranded strangers and hauled ass out of town, and now he might be charged with a crime? He’s a “looter?” Give me a frickin’ break.

  • DixieDarlin’

    King Rat: from the Washington Post, about a black family trying to get out of NO:

    “While Thomas was figuring his family’s fate that first night, little Ernest bolted to the rooftop.

    He had fashioned a white flag on a piece of stick, and began waving. “That is one courageous boy,” Thomas said.

    A helicopter passed them by. A National Guard unit passed them by.

    “Black National Guard unit, too,” piped in Warren Carter, Washington’s brother-in-law…

    In the South, the issue of race — black, white — always seems as ready to come rolling off the tongue as a summer whistle. A black Guard unit, passing them by. Something Carter won’t soon forget…Then, somehow, a bus, and then Baton Rouge. At that moment, a lady — white — came by the rest stop and handed her some baby items.

    “Bless you,” Washington said.

    That exchange forced something from Warren Carter: “White man came up to me little while ago and offered me some money. I said thank you, but no thanks. I got money to hold us over. But it does go to show you that racism ain’t everywhere.”
    There are black AND white rescuers. And as for the ‘more blacks in Iraq’ issue: If all the black soldiers are in Iraq, why are most of the US deaths there non-black? What I find offensive, however, is that most of the NO victims are black, and I blame Welfare…welfare is a trap that keeps people from ‘moving up’. And yes, I HAVE been on welfare. In order to continue qualifying for welfare (I had two children under the age of four) I would have had to give up all my assests (which at that point was only a mini-van, on which I was still paying). Thus, I would not have been able to drive to a job, and would not have been able to drive ANYWHERE. Thanks to the Democratic platform that wants to ‘help’ everyone by KEEPING THEM IN THEIR PLACE!!! There is aid that helps people and there is aid that cripples them. Welfare cripples people. Welfare is a program DEMANDED by the Democratic party. So if there is any finger pointing to be done, point it at the Democratic politicians who ‘buy’ people’s votes with promises of welfare. They are to blame for these people’s tragic situation.

  • Keith

    I’m from the area of Mississippi that was hit, though living in San Antonio now, and up until last night, i still hadn’t talked to my parents except for what I heard through my brother who spoke with them just before Katrina severed the fiber links going in and out of the area. All I knew was my parents survived, and my sister was in a town called Waveland that was completely. wiped. out. when katrina came through. I finally did manage to reach them through the rather heroic machinations of a friend at the phone company there, and everyone was ok, but talk about your pins and needles…

    Anyway, the main thing I was going to say was everyone down there knows how much the rest of the country wants to help, even if the governmental response has been ineffective at best, but really, until the roads are clear and the gas pipelines are back up, the influx of people trying to help would be more hindrance–and there’s no guarantee that you’d even be able to get back out if you DID get into the area, with gas being what it is there. So the best thing to do for everyone to do is send money to the red cross. And know that we all appreciate it.

  • superfunkomatic

    it’s sad to see your president’s reaction to this, he did make the big step of cutting his vacation short – wow, really laying it on the line there. the prime minister of canada came to western canada a day after the flooding here this spring, and really it was more wet basements and soggy yards than a real emergency like the folks down there are going through.

    it’s a shame so many military resources are wasting their time in iraq, they look as though they are desparately needed in the US.

  • erat

    Welfare is not responsible for keeping relief from arriving in N.O. and along the Mississippi coast.

  • erat

    superfunkomatic: President Bush isn’t always slow to react to natural disasters. For instance, he was on the ground in Florida two days after Hurricane Charley hit, brother Jeb at his side.

    Of course, that happened in August 2004 while he was campaigning fo re-election…

  • Donovan Phillips

    Speaking of the Bush Administration’s reaction… Although I’m not Michael Moore fan, I’m on his mailing list. Here is a repost of a letter he sent out:

    He makes some damned good points!

  • Laurie

    Our family friends are from NO, and have sent out an amazing email about what’s going on down there. The Mr. is a former army officer, and so he has a very intresting insight on the situation in terms of infrastructure etc. While we can all state our outrage at whatever we think went wrong down in NO, I think it is also equally important to think about the people who lucky enough to evacuate, and what they are going to be returning home to.

  • dusty

    Can’t say much that has not already been said. But what sits the hardest so far:

    My Thoughts:

    Did any of you see the photos of the full school busyards in NO? I saw a picture on yahoo that showed 500+ bus’s sitting there that could have been put into action by the Mayor before, during, after — to get the people away.

    We are the most powerful nation in the world — we can organize 500 million people raising a billion dollars in pennies during telethons. etc., getting them rolled put in the bank and presented
    on camera in front of 2000 reporters and cameras with the starving and dying in the background, but we cannot get these people food and water for 5+ days?

    It made me sick to my stomach to think that we could have every news orginization on the ground and deliverying footage — but we could not get food and water to 30000+ starving and dying people that we were watching on our tv sets in the dome and along the freeway. (Help is coming now — but why would it take 5 days? — hell we could mobolize 50000 troops and send them halfway around the world in less time than it takes to get fresh water and food to starving people 50 miles away?)

    This is a sad time — and I hope if nothing else it forces the administration to turn their eyes inward and realize that we need to focus on our own instead of blowing our load across the world in Iraq……and places like that.

  • Jennifer

    I don’t think that the relief efforts merit all of the intense criticism we’ve been seeing. Yes, the horrible conditions at the superdome and the slow rescues are painful to watch but this is a a catastrophe, a worst case scenario. Hate for this natural disaster has been misplaced and morphed into blame resulting in this disgusting political and racial battle. Those who think we shouldn’t have refugees in “21st century America” or “my America” have a case of childish invincibility. Dust off those history books and see what happens to the super powers. And be nice.

  • dusty

    After hearing on the radio about schools waiving typical entrance requirements, and it being so close to the first of the school year, myself and my wife decided to open our home to a couple of displaced children. Delta has also promised to pay for the airfair from Atlanta to here. I am now just waiting for the phonecall (some people from my company are organizing the logistics and people).

    I believe for the kids, getting back to some sense of normalcy in this awful time will be an important thing.

  • 72feetabovesealevel

    Jon, Heather and all the other bloggers out there: thank you for all your wonderful posts. Thank you for taking time out of your lives to share your stories with us and to help build a community that can help to fix the problems that exist in our F’d up little world. I hope that we don’t stop with New Orleans.

    As I look at what has unfolded in New Orleans I can’t help but think of RFK and how his exposure to the misery and poverty that existed in Appalachia in the
    1960’s he helped launch a war on poverty. When President Bush saw the misery
    and poverty that existed in New Orleans he (and those around him)
    seemed to say, “Yeah so…. That’s what happens when you’re poor.”

    America has long been a first world country with a third world country
    inside it. It seems to me that difference between people like RFK,
    LBJ, most Americans and Neo-Cons and Republican greed heads is that
    the Neo-Cons and greed heads are OK with there being a third world
    country inside our country and the rest of us are not. I think a
    signal that this is not OK is being sent loud and clear.

    I can’t help but think that if Louisiana had a minimum wage that was
    higher then the Federal minimum wage there would be a lot fewer dead
    people in Louisiana right now.

  • DixieDarlin’

    erat says: Welfare is not responsible for keeping relief from arriving in N.O. and along the Mississippi coast.

    Of course not…it just kept people from being able to get out. What IS keeping the relief from arriving in NO is the widespread destruction, not the politics. Relief workers have had to balance bringing relief in with getting people out. As everyone has seen on tv, the paths in/out are extremely limited. Was it planned as best as it could be beforehand….? Probably not. Is that the President’s fault? No. I am a conservative, but if Clinton had been president during this, or Gore, or any Democrat, I would not have blamed them. Can more be done? Yes. Is it being done? Yes. But please remember, it’s not just NO. My relatives in Mississippi, who live seven miles inland, can now see the ocean from their home because the surge has wiped everything out. Folks, it’s TOTAL DEVASTATION for miles and miles and miles. 100’s of miles. Let’s save the fingerpointing (and I’m including myself in that) for later. Let’s stop using people’s misery as an excuse to blame people whose politics differ from ours. We are Americans…and we help the world. We help ourselves. A tough examination of this situation will be done. There will be enough blame to go around, and it won’t rest on just one person. (And it’s not global warming…the late 1800’s saw a plethora of devastating hurricanes hit the southern U.S. Google it for more info.) I’ve survived Frederic, Danny, Georges, Ivan, Arlene, Cindy, Dennis, and now Katrina. I never once blamed any politicians for the forces of nature. I was grateful to the help we received from all over no matter the political affiliation of the person who donated it or gave of their time. Damn it, let’s treat each other as Americans…save the politics for the election booth. This is a time for aid and comfort…bitching might make YOU feel better or righteous, but it doesn’t help the people who are REALLY suffering.

  • Richard

    Pammy G: So by “Pack of Lies” what exactly do you mean? The fact that WMDs have not been found? Please… Ouday and Kousay Houssein WERE WMDs as far as I’m concerned. Ideals are more potent weapons than SCUDS, and what flowed freely from IRAQ was hatred and patent disregard for human life.

    This “Pack of Lies” bleat is tiring, and it’s completely off-topic here – save it for the next Camp Casey event. WMD’s were not the REASON we went into Iraq, any more than Tax Evasion is the reason for taking down a Mafia Don and his “Family”. The suspicion and “evidence” of their existence even from the Clinton administration was our “probable cause”.

    Bleat, bleat, bleat… I’m hurricane-whupped and TIRED. The media is whoring the wholesale suffering of real people and you people are lapping it up and using it to politicize. I still believe all this ‘Blame Bush for Everything’ is rediculous. Strike that, it’s offensive. So-called “Global warming” that allegedly caused Katrina is Bush’s fault. The price of Gas is Bush’s fault. (Hey, where’s our cheap gas the “No Blood for Oil” bunch promised – I want mine now!) Puhleeze.

    (To all, not just Pammy G:) Fingerpointing doesn’t do a damn-frickin thing to help the people who need help NOW. Before you say another damned thing about disaster recovery, I invite you to move your home down here – stand in the path of a hurricane with everyone you love and all you own and experience the preparation, the anxiety and anticipation, and more importantly, the aftermath – the realization, cleanup and restoration. Donate your TIME, your LABOR, not just your fucking money. (With over a million refugees from the Gulf Coast, there’s surely something you can do in your own hometown.) “Oh, I’m donating so much of my paycheck.” Big effing deal. You lifted a pen. Now do something more than boasting and bitching that not enough is being done or being being done fast enough.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around in the aftermath of a national disaster. But the real demoralization comes from the likes of you and those making political and racist charges in what is a universally HUMAN event.

    Oh, and to your 70 year old father (and to be fair, my late 81-year old hardline-Democrat father would have said the same damned thing), moving troops and bombs is easy – it’s what our *military* (look-up the definition if the meaning of the term escapes you – we’re not U.N. “relief” forces) stands ever-ready to do. Re-tooling to perform humanitarian functions is *secondary* to the call of our military and takes additional time. Moving assets and supplies among a destroyed infrastructure makes the job that much more difficult, but it IS BEING DONE.

    Realize that the day Katrina struck, we were STILL dealing with Ivan’s aftermath. Pensacola was already having fuel distribution problems because of hurricane Dennis. There is no magic wand for hurricane cleanup, and the effects are more widespread and cumulative than anyone commmenting about it here realizes. FEMA has been sapped by a barrage of hurricanes this year and last. No doubt wails of blame would ensue as earmarked funds and supplies were depleted regardless of the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Autumn

    John –

    You might want to watch the weatherchannel and read and stay tuned to your local news.

    You seem to have missed that we have 30,000 national guards and tons and tons of hellicopters down there and tons and tons of busses, food and supplies and everything else already down there.

    And also the fact that so many other countries are donating 2 million barrels of oil a day to us to help us get back up on our feet.

    Gas prices are already dropping in Springfield, Missouri.

  • Alex

    Very true. Very true. Very true. I just wonder when many others in this country will open their eyes and realize just the same.

  • Lisa

    One thing I think is interesting is how the news media seemed to get places that officialdom didn’t.

    Several reporters yesterday and this morning (this was NBC) said that you COULD find routes into the city, the violence WASN’T that bad, and so forth. After all, THEY were there. One NBC guy, who was persuaded by an enterprising citizen to come down to the convention center so that something would get out on the air, said that while conditions were absolutely dreadful and he literally saw people die while he was there, it wasn’t from violence.


    Jon, that is so true. You have described my feelings exactly.

    This is all.


  • DixieDarlin’

    Getting a few people in is easier than getting large vehicles in/out. And now that the water is receding/drying up (sort of), there will be more routes opening up. But I would also like to know just HOW reporters get there? Are they flying in on helicopters? Are they boating in on small boats? If those routes are big enough to get rescue vehicles in, then they need to broadcast it on the air. But don’t just assume that because some reporter might be putting his life at risk to get in to NO means that relief workers can safely get in the same way, or more importantly, get victims OUT safely.

  • RazDreams

    they’re going in from the westbank, which has open roads straight to the mississippi river bridge and over to the new orleans side.

  • dup

    Everyone, please know that the junk you are seeing on television concerning the relief efforts is not accurate to what is going here in Louisiana. The people and government(even though slow) have stepped in to help ALL of the ones who are without food, money and shelter. The lines of color are disappearing. What you are seeing in New Orleans are people who refused evacuation before the storm and who are making the jobs of the rescue teams even harder than they should be. People all over south Louisiana are lending hands, homes, supplies and money to take care of our own. The few people that folks like Geraldo are pulling from the crowds are very few and far between. There are some with “victim mentality” who choose to believe that the government PUT them in places to die, but that just isn’t true. Thousands of people are being evacuated daily and hundreds of buses are rolling through Baton Rouge doing the job. It is a long hard job and it can’t be done in 1 or 2 days. It’s a shame that people without first-hand knowledge of the situation are the people who are speaking the loudest (Kanye West).
    I wish some people’s brains worked as fast as their mouths. Those people should shut up and drive to Baton Rouge and help the rest of us unload 18 wheelers full of aid every day. Maybe some sweat would do you good.

  • RazDreams

    1) baton rouge does *not* need more people in it (i.e., thousands of volunteers). our resources are already stretched very thin (per the mayor himself).
    2) those are *not* people who “refused evacuation before the storm.” most of those people just *could not leave.* and geraldo showed a nice, calm group of people waiting in front of the convention center just this morning.
    3) while you may be down here too, *please* don’t misrepresent those who stayed. you have just portrayed a very very inaccurate picture. thank you.

  • Emilie

    I too just had to say thanks, Jon, for putting into simple words a complex series of feelings, and also, it helps to read the comments from others who feel the same way. Like Jenna said in another comment – I feel guilty for trying to enjoy this stunning Saturday afternoon in Chicago when so many are still in need. I feel like I should be doing more….and don’t get me started on the sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach over the animals affected by this.

    I’ve been overdosing on CNN and MSNBC, frantically searching for “real person” accounts and blogs online. It does more harm than good probably, but once in a while, I find a ray of hope in the gloom. It makes me so proud to see all the grassroots efforts of relief and rescue pouring in all over the world. It seems like only the politicians and news media care about the race and socio-economic status of the victims. The rest of America just seems to want to help.

  • Kiora

    Pointing fingers….blaming….not productive. Not fair. Not even possible really even if one wants to. It’s a catastrophy, one of many and not the last this country or others will come to bear witness to and endure.

    All that can be done is unite and act to provide help in any way possible.

    I feel as sick to my stomach and as helpless as the next person, but wasting energy playing the blaming game is futile and puerile…

    I have been reading your wife’s blog for a few weeks now and yours, Jon, just today.

  • Tim

    If you’re going to play the blame game, don’t blame Bush. Blame innefficient planning on the municipal level in New Orleans. Blame Presidential administrations for the last 30 years who have cut FEMA and Army Corps of Engineers budgets. The people of New Orleans had at least a five days notice the storm was coming. If you want to join the airhead Katie Couric crowd and blame Bush, go ahead. But you’re wrong.

  • Alex

    I’m sorry for the extra Entry Sir Blubomat… but I just read some stuff here that is giving me a seizure…

    I just read someone’s note that mentioned how they lived through hurricane Andrew and 9/11… and how the government came around, did a good job… and yada yada… Umm excuse me, but if you really were in SOUTH Florida where Andrew hit, you would have seen people with their guns, perched and protecting what was left of their rubble. YOU would have heard the random gun shots, YOU would have been floored at those coming into the area charging 50 bucks for a flippin’ bag of ice, YOU would have been at one of the shelters, as I was, helping a random old woman, displaced from her home, trapped in her wheel chair, without her medication, with just juice, helping her get to the bathroom from her corner against the wall, at the local high school cafeteria…


    Bush senior was SEVERELY criticized for dragging his feet to bring aid then. And, many say he lost the following election in part to the criticism in handling the catastrophe.

    Yes, it takes time and coordination in massive scales to organize relief, and its excruciatingly difficult and taxing. H-O-W-E-V-E-R, a hurricane is not a surprise. NOT 9/11. (And as current and permanent NYC resident don’t you even DARE compare), it’s not an earthquake, it’s not a wam-bam! hit and miss tornado. IT IS A HURRICANE. WITH A RELATIVELY PREDICTABLE PATH. (precise? no. never. But very predictable.)

    The national guard should have been placed on call and ready to go. To then have entered and start moving people IMMEDIATELY in the aftermath, in whatever capacity they could. THEN, and only then, could Bush have waited a bit to gauge if further assistance was needed. Regardless, SOMETHING, ANYTHING should have been witnessed immediately in the aftermath as a form of relief. SOMETHING. No one is asking YOUR precious president (CUZ MY ASS DID NOT VOTE FOR HIM), to predict the depth of despair or the extent of the hell that this has escalated to… but there should have been SOMETHING to show the government was making an active choice to be prepared, to help, to save… to MOVE THEIR ASSES OUT OF VACATION MODE FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME THIS YEAR, and into the job he is getting paid 6 figures to do. Anything, would have been something. And that is where the despair in people’s mind lie…

    Yet, there was NOTHING. NOTHING. The void for help was wider and grander than the current void between your ears.

    Had the public seen something being mobilized from day one, in preparation for the impending strike… even if it had just turned out to be a category 1… but something, anything, Bush would have come out and said…” We were prepared, but unfortunately no one foresaw how grave this would become and we are now mobilizing for more.” (okay so my vocabulary span is waaaay BETTER, but you get the gist.) And most of us, whether we already hated Bush or not, would have responded…
    “Well Georgie, shit sometimes happens, but at least you’re on top of this game… and God willing, we won’t lose any more lives.”
    Yet ALAS!!!!! This was not the case. SO!!! understand the anger, the shock is VERY warranted by the populous. And yes, local agencies have to respond first, but it only takes have an asses brain to know, hurricanes bring cities down… power goes out, phone lines goes out… etcetera… and even local agencies have a hard time getting it together. And as with Andrew, 9/11, christ…etecetera!!!!! they EASILY become overwhelmed.

    And so I ask you.. as many others do again…


    He asked for the job.

    He got it.

    So when is it going to happen. The do-ing that is…

    And another thing!!!! One more crap in the ass about, “well I… yada… yada… know what it’s like to fight a war… yadda… and you people should be thankful for your freedom…yada…”

    I am.

    We are.

    Get off the self Righteous, we have the only GOVERNMENT THAT SHOULD RULE THE WORLD!! *enter maniacal pirate laugh here* mentality…

    No one is denying what we have here. In fact what we have here is so great, so powerful, and “could” be so amazing… that it only adds to the shock with relation to the response on this current crisis. We have the power and the will to re-create the enlightenment period three fold!! As an immigrant, that was granted the right to become a citizen so I would not have to grow up in a country with oppression and a dictator watching my every move, only to possibly killed for even reading the wrong book. SO I AM THANKFUL. BELIEVE ME.

    And again, no one is any less supportive of the troops who go off to Iraq. The troops themselves are not at fault for the careless decisions of those dictating their moves. We all know this and most, just want them to come home, and be safe. Because it is VERY obvious what it is they are giving up. But there is a thing as “sovereignty of state”, of a nation, all over the globe. And we seriously breeched that when entering a country, based on a fabricated lie, fed to all and US. Saddam is and will always be shit. And in part I am very glad to see him go. But how we went about it was entirely INCORRECT and CARELESS. Brutal, and at the very least egotistical.

    And as the daughter of a once military man… I can talk. So please, wake the f’ up. Whether it’s a war or a damn hurricane, this administration is continually failing us. And as a result more and more lives are at jeopardy every day.

  • Alex

    Umm… correct me if I’m wrong… but errr… and I just heard this on CNN… precious George Bush JR CUT the BUDGET. Man oh man… we are in serious trouble.

  • alyssa j

    Here in Central Texas they’re asking that anyone willing to open their homes to the survivors contact the Red Cross. I personally know of a recently vacated ranch in Crawford…

  • Lori

    You have a big heart. You are not alone. Millions of people are deeply saddened by this nightmare of a situation. My heart aches for these people. It does look like they are starting to get a handle on the situation. It’s a complicated mess. I do agree that relief came too late, but it’s a complex issue, and we cannot point the finger at one person. Many systems failed. This is such a hard lesson to learn. Hopefully we learn our lesson and something like this will never happen again.

  • DixieDarlin’

    Earlier I asked for a stop in the finger pointing on ALL sides…geez, guess I should get my own blog to set the standard. But, I’m too busy…recovering from a hurricane, ya’ know, and helping with a refugee center in my area, working with the refugee children that will be in my classroom on Tuesday, waiting in gas lines because of the shortage, waiting on the shelves at Wal-Mart to get filled again…all you high-and-mighty “Let’s Blame Bush” reactionaries can just go on pointing. Those who can make a difference, do. Those who can’t, just go on bitchin’. Point the finger at yourself, and ask, “What can I do to make a difference? Just complain about Bush? Or can I put that energy into making a POSITIVE change?”

    I simply cannot believe the negative energy here. Yes, I know you don’t like the President and his policies. I don’t agree with all of them, myself. But I can at least say that I’ve examined all sides of the political spectrum. I was born and raised a Democrat. I was for gun control, and I was a member of the military. I’ve been married, divorced, a single parent, on welfare, and got myself off of it. I’ve been a church-goer and a non-church person. I’ve applied all that I’ve experienced to become solid (but not inflexible) in my ideologies. And they don’t involve relentess rants. (Excepting this one, I guess )

    To all of you who are REALLY helping in some way, THANK YOU! And helping can mean more than picking up a pen and writing a check. That’s done and over with…safe and easy to go back to your haranguing. I’m not asking for people to come here and work with those suffering here…that’s unrealistic for most (if you can, more power to you!) But I am asking you to try, really try, to realize the enormity of the destruction along the Gulf Coast. The need down here is beyond politics. That is the only point I am really trying to make. If you could see the suffering first hand, all thoughts of politics would go out of your head, and your heart would ache for their need. But as this is America, and this is someone’s personal blog, politics can be the rule. This is what makes America great, despite whoever is the President. Thank all of you for your time in ‘listening’.

  • Shanna

    Just by talking about it, you’re helping. But I understand the hopeless and futile feeling – all of this is happening one hour away from my home; it is happening to my family and friends, it is happening to my favorite city and other cities and towns that I love.

    There are so many little things we can do, though. Start a fundraiser – a raffle, a garage sale, a carwash, so on & so forth. Donate all of the money to one of the great charities that are helping out. Pray for these people, help them find homes – open your home if you can (some of you may have already done this).

    The American people are beautiful – I have seen and heard (I work for a state agency) SO MANY people coming in, wanting to come in, doing all and everything to HELP. If the help had been up to everyday Joe’s and the average American, I don’t think it would’ve gotten this bad. Somehow, somewhere along the way, our government – some branch of it, some heiarchy of it – *failed us*…failed the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas, failed (is still failing) the people of lower Mississippi.

    What scares me is that this lethargy to bring in help may have killed more people than Katrina herself!

    My heart is broken.

  • betsy

    Hi, I’m originally from New Orleans, now living in Atlanta. My parents who still live(d)there evacuated ahead of the storm.
    To all the people who argue about people staying even after being told to leave, from what I remember hearing, the storm strenghthened and headed for New Orleans less two days before landfall. I remember from growing up there that it was projected it would take much more time to evacuate a metro area of 1 million people.
    My father works at the Corps of Engineers and for YEARS this agency has been trying to get necessary funding to strenghen the levees, and has never gotten enough funding.

    I agree that the N.O.govt and LA politics can be corrupt, but this is not an example of that. I don’t see how Nagin could have ordered a mass evacuation of folks with no transportation in such a short time with ALL of the highways out of the city already so congested. They would have been stranded on the highways when the storm hit! The Superdome was a place of last resort and he stated that time and time again. Please don’t kick New Orleans while it’s already down. This man and the govt. officials of Louisana are watching a horrific nightmare they can not stop. To compare Nagin to Guiliani doesn’t make sense. This is Nagin’s ENTIRE city and his city hall is under water. Leave him alone, will you?

  • Dale Cruse

    What I’ve noticed when watching coverage of the relief effort is that in the absence of federal aid, individuals and small groups are stepping up to take care of their own. My girlfriend is an educator and is contributing to an effort to send money and school supplies to Texas, where many displaced school children have enrolled. A bunch of tech geeks are planning to make the Astrodome the world’s largest Internet cafe. Musicians are looking after one another by tracking who is safe and who may not be. And several bass players are taking care of a fellow bassist down in NOLA during her time of need.

  • Sandy

    I just read a comment that I think someone took my earlier comment out of context and got very upset. I was NOT comparing 9/11 and the relief there to the relief to a hurricane, especially Katrina. What I WAS doing was saying that in recent days the race card has shown it’s face, and I was saying that I was upset that that was being used, as when I look at the TV I see PEOPLE…not skin color. Then I made mention of a comment that had been used during 9/11 where someone also had heard of the race card being used, and made the comment that they could not see race as because everyone was covered with ash, that everyone was ash colored. I would hope that clears that up. I am in no way infering that 9/11 and the response there should be in any way compared to a natural disaster. I apologize for that confusion.

    My anger has been with the fact that people always want to blame a persons situation, color or someone else, and unfortunately our President is the man in charge, at the top. People in crisis are going to look to him, it comes with the job. I do personally think that he should have been a bit more hasty in his response than he was. As Richard has pointed out, and correctly I might add, pointing fingers is behind us now and of no use whatsoever. However, when the man at the top takes something seriously, and asks for things to get done in a case like this…it should get done. I served in the military and then the Air National Guard for many years myself, and we were always the first ones called when disasters happened, and rightly so. It is an organization that just steps up and has leadership and security in place before you even get to the location and everything seems to flow. Also, I don’t care what people here say, but when the military shows up, there is somewhat of a feeling of relief felt on the part of the victims, they seem to feel safer and that they will be taken care of…something that was severly missing for several days down there, and thus we saw the chaos and crime resulting from that. I know when I served in that capacity people came to me and thru tears and thanked me for being there, and I had just got off the truck and hadn’t even had time to look around let alone help do anything. What made this hard was the double whammy of both the hurricane, who yes, there were supplies ready and waiting, but then the storm path changed, and then to add insult to injury, there came the flood waters due to the levees. A very sad situation.

    My heart foes out to these people, and I am encouraged by the sense of community that surrounding states have been to these people. We have all given what we are able to give, and some may only offer prayers, or words of encouragement whereas others offer their time and physical presence, while others offer money and supplies. When disaster happens, good people become better and bad people become worse, and unfortunately bad people get better press, it is only now that we are seeing some of the good stories, ones of hope and encouragement coming out of there.

    I hope that this would clear up some of the misunderstanding of what I was refering to earlier, as I do know the difference between an attack by an enemy and a hurricane, and I also know that the response to both is different and unique to each individual circumstance.

  • Mo

    I am not a self-hating American. I am, however, frustrated by the “how can this happen HERE” sentiment.

    There is an appropriate line from Terry Prattchet that goes, “civilization is only 24 hours and two meals away from utter barbarism.” Americans are only human beings, and America is just a random place on the earth, no more or less voulnerable to nature than anywhere else.

    I am not surprised that relief efforts have been slow and disorganized. We have resources, but a massive disaster is still a massive disaster, even if it happens on the sacred soil of our forefathers. I don’t think many of us (myself included) understand the scope of the damage, the scope of what is needed. Imagine how slow and futile relief efforts must be in places without mighty American resources.

    The reality is that for so many, even our best efforts (were they being given) would not be enough. There are some things that even we cannot control. And that is the most frustrating thing of all.

  • canyon

    The city of New Orleans is supposed to be able to handle a Category 1 or 2 or a fast-moving category 3 hurricane. A slow-moving category 3 or a 4 or 5 is supposed to be handled by the government because it would overwhelm local resources. So it isn’t right to blame the local government: it was known beforehand that they could not handle this level of emergency.

    As for evacuations, and for locals “ponying up” to fix their own levees, remember that NO is a very poor city. 2/3 of the population are African-American. The average income for African-Americans is 11k/year. For whites, it is 28k/year. To fix the levees–and to fix them to a point to compensate for the loss of wetlands–is a very, very expensive proposition.

    And Bush cut the budget for levee repairs by 2/3.

  • Alex

    For those who can only donate and give money, we can and should complain. I’ve done what I can and it literally was done in minutes.

    Click a mouse button here and there… donation done. Go down the street and donate to salvation army, clothes, blankets, shoes, done. Hubby goes to donate games to a gaming store for cash, so extra money can be turned over to Red Cross, done.

    So what now?


    You better believe it.

    Throw your bras back into that fire! Jock straps be gone! Complain! Because with that… with the voice of the public, the voice of the world and the masses within can and will… eventually (we hope) gather the steam it needs towards change.

    And believe it or not it all these words is at the root of some of the greatest change we are all capable of achieving.

    So complain! Wail I say! Because those who can not speak right now, need to be heard. And those responsible and with the power to make change NEED TO KNOW. It is beyond “hating” or “pointing fingers” for the sake of just doing it. It is a necessary evil to what needs to be a good end. And part of that good end, is making change to a bureaucracy that is dysfunctional.

    Because such disasters will and can happen again. And that is a fact. A sad, sober, fact.

    So now what I have been asked to do, is done, I am taking off my wretched old lady lookiní excuse for a bra, catch the attention of as many red blooded Americans that I can with my tasteless breasts, and I am going to scream and shout for change.

    Good day, good night, and God speed to all and even atheists alike.

  • Alex

    My apologies to blurbomat for the rants and rash of bad grammar. (Fierce, quick, emotional at best typing never produces the best results.) I had no intention of hogging the space.

    Keep on writing!! And thank you for your words! again!

  • Rachel

    I agree with Rebekah (35), who said:

    “….every time I see “this isn’t supposed to happen in America,” I cringe. Things like this shouldn’t be allowed to happen ANYWHERE, not just in America.

    I feel for the families in Katrina’s wake, but I also feel for families devastated by war, starvation, genocide and AIDS all over the world. Those of us who are privileged should do what we can to help those who are not, regardless of where they live.”

  • toni

    Matt, I blogged through the hurricane and am now blogging through the aftermath. My home has been spared, and we’re using it as a staging location to (a) go out and help people hit so hard and (b) collecting urgently needed items that FEMA and Red Cross can’t get quickly enough. For example, today, my husband and I volunteered at the LSU P-Mac Assembly center which is now set up as a sort of M.A.S.H. field unit. They had close to 800 very ill patients there today and were told this evening to expect 500 more. They are running out of some things and Baton Rouge (which has almost doubled in size) doesn’t have the items left on the shelves. I’ll be posting an “urgent needs” list on my blog in the morning. Or I can send it to you, if you would be so kind as to let people know. I can give people several options of where to send it — whatever will make them feel comfortable. (Some would prefer to send it to a known place, like St. Vincent De Paul’s or the Red Cross; others have asked me for my address and I will be happy to deliver it.)


    Toni McGee Causey

  • Long Division

    If anyone knows any students from Tulane, please let them know that they can register at Columbia University in New York and take their classes there. Unfortunately, they can’t provide housing, but for students with friends and family in NYC, this could be a way for students to maintain academic focus in a horribly disruptive time. I know that basic necessities are the primary issuess, but missing a semester of graduate school really screwed me up academically, and those at Tulane shouldn’t have to add that on top of everything else that’s going on right now. If anyone is interested in info, feel free to email me through my blog. Thanks, Jon.

  • Chris


    After many days of thinking and remembering, I have to come to the feds defense.

    I have been exposed to/involved with disaster preparedness on the local/state level and, marginally, on the federal level, for the last 4 years. Of all the things the feds have said, this sticks out….. “At the local level, you must be prepared to function after the disaster for 48-72 hours until help arrives from the state or national level.”

    It is each community’s responsibility to have supplies at-the-ready in case the worst happens. Food, water, alternative shelters, health care, police, fire, etc. It is also up to the community to have mutual aid agreements in place with neighboring towns to help in the event that the disaster is localized to one community.

    That’s where all that Homeland Security money was supposed to go. My hospital receives money every year from a grant that is routed thru Homeland Security. We use it to buy stuff for dealing with NBC incidents. (nuclear, biological, chemical) We use it for training/education of our staff. Most communities I know of are receiving money from Homeland Security in some form or another. What did New Orleans (NO) do with the money? Or were they too lazy to apply for it? Where is NOs education of it’s people? My county is distributing a neat little package this month with disaster preparedness information in it. How to ready your home for the worst case scenario. Did NO do that?

    Disaster relief is a matter of logistics. It takes 2-3 days for the wheels of government to get moving. We discovered that last year when Utica was struck with a killer tornado…. as a matter of fact… the state level medical response never showed up…. it was totally the local/regional responses that carried the town thru the first few days. The regional medical team (4 or 5 people if I remember correctly) was totally exhausted because they got no relief. (Which is why I strongly support bringing in the Israelis…. they are very, very good at setting up MASH units and doing on-site medical care.)

    Think about it…. it would take me about 4 hours to: pack stuff for myself for a week of minimalist living, drive to the store and fill my truck completely with stuff for victims of a disaster and get on the road. But, if I have to fill 50 or 100 semi-trucks with water and food and blankets and clothes and other stuff…. I can’t get that done in 4 hours. I can barely get it done in 2 days. And then there is a day to drive to the site. And then I have to be told the location of/escorted to the drop site. The feds moved as fast as they could.

    The community of New Orleans does not appear to have taken any advice from last years mock drill (Hurricane Pam). The mayor et al had absolutely nothing ready for their people. It was pointed out at last years drill that 100,000 persons were without personal transportation. Why wasn’t there a plan to use city buses to evacuate people without means on Saturday and Sunday? You wanna see a business mobilize stuff? Call Wal-Mart. Regardless of what you think of them, they know how to move product. Where was the agreement with Wal-Mart to get product to out-of-the-swimming pool-that-is-New Orleans shelters that the buses should have been bringing people to? If the evac was mandatory, why weren’t resistors arrested and bussed out?

    I think the mayor and his cronies have a bit to answer for.

  • Jenners

    I’m telling you. Condi Rice modeled for us how to behave in times of crisis. We need to go buy some expensive shoes. It’ll make us feel better.

    (Yes my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek)

  • Jenners

    Hmmm I just tried to post a link to an article titled “72% Say Gas Scalping Is Tied to Storm” on dated Sept. 4. It didn’t work.

    Anyway, for those that are interested, look it up. :)

  • Jenners

    Hmmm I just tried to post a link to an article titled “72% Say Gas Scalping Is Tied to Storm” on dated Sept. 4. It didn’t work. I think I mucked it up somehow. Sorry.

    Anyway, for those that are interested, look it up. :)

  • stacey

    I am a New Orleans refugee. We left New Orleans, my hometown, on Sunday evacuating to Birmingham, AL and we’ll be here for I don’t know how long.
    Let me explain a few things. First, when it comes to the question of “why didn’t they just leave?” The answer is BECAUSE THEY COULDN”T AFFORD TO! The faces that you see on the tv screen are the faces of some of the country’s poorest people. Elderly, sick and poor, that’s who got left behind. Even I, who has so much more than these people, stopped to consider the cost of getting out of town and weighed it against what category storm it might be. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to evacuate before but guess what, it’s an expensive thing to do. You need gas money, hotel money, food money and it not easy for everyone to afford. So you end up staying and finding the strongest house in the neighborhood, you gather everyone together and you take the chance that you might live through it.
    Secondly, why didn’t the mayor use busses to get people out before hand? Haven’t you seen the news lately? It ain’t easy to get tens of thousands of people out of town quickly. And then where would you put them? Do you honestly believe that days ahead of time the Astrodome would open it’s doors to possible victims of a possible category 5 storm that might possibly hit New Orleans in a few days or might not. It unrealistic to think, well, we’ll just ship the entire city out of town in case we get hit. Hurricane landfalls CANNOT be exactly predicted. You CAN”T evacuate an entire city everytime a storm hits the gulf!
    The problem is that the President KNEW this would be a disaster of massive proportions. He was told in early 2001 that the 3 biggest disasters that could hit the country would be a terrorist attack in New York, a major hurricane hitting New Orleans and a massive earthquake in San Francisco. After hearing this he promptly cut funding for building up our levees. (Hope you’re feeling lucky San Fran.)
    Then, FEMA did not show up when they said they would. Our government left our people to die in attics with rising waters and searing heat. Our government left our people unprotected in the presence of armed thugs. Our government left my beautiful, beautiful city and it’s wonderful givng people to die by the thousands and unless something happens to change the way our government acted, they’ll leave you to die too. Trust me on that one.
    The only thing I can ask you to do is to talk about it, tell the story, make sure everyone throughout the rest of the country understands the truth—that the biggest national disaster happened and our government deserted us. While bodies floated dead past homes, the president remained on vacation for 2 more days. While people tried to scratch and claw their way through attic rooftops, Condi was in New York shopping and catching a Broadway show. While armed thugs overran the city looting, shooting and terrorizing victims, FEMA never came even though they promised over and over again that they were on the way…… and arrived 4 days later. 4 DAYS LATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You NEED to talk about this because you need to protect yourselves and your own cities from ever, ever having to experience the hell on earth that so many people in New Orleans have.
    Talk about it, fix it and please, PLEASE, PLEASE help us in anyway that you can. We need so much right now, just to live – not to make life a little easier, but to FREAKING LIVE! So, please give to the Red Cross. We still need the aid and we’re going to need it for a long, long time.
    Thank you all who have given so much already to my city, rest assured that we would come to aid you in your time of need…..but let’s make sure that we never have to.

  • RazDreams

    stacey has very completely and very accurately summed things up, and i promise you that every word she has typed is (sadly) the *truth*! i agree 150%.

  • VJ

    Thanks for the forum here Jon, I got here via Dooce. Things are coming in here hot and heavy, but one thing that struck me was this. Given all of the problems with disaster ‘preparedness’ the performance of FEMA was, is, and continues to be positively criminal. Why do I say this? At this very late hour they are actively Preventing volunteers AND THE RED CROSS from entering into NOLA, and possibly other major disaster areas. The Red Cross HAD the communication equipment so desperately needed by the responders and rescuers on the ground. The RC also HAD food and water prepositioned and ready to go, they were stopped BY FEMA from entering into the city. Late reports also say that FEMA had the same, but then claimed some bureaucratic foul up with paper work prevented it’s distribution. Think about this for a moment. Lacking Federal PAPERWORK is being claimed as the reason why possibly Thousands of people perished for lack of food and water and medical attention.

    There is no doubt that the rescue effort was significantly FUBAR’d, but the blame is far from uniform. The Feds & FEMA have been worse than clueless, they’ve lied about just about everything and anything concerned with their lack of effort. This was a catastrophe equivalent to a major nuclear attack on American city. No locality is prepared for such carnage, nor should they be expected to weather it alone without aid for a full working week. Yes, the middle class could flee in their Chevy Suburbans, but the poor are notoriously less mobile than that.

    My conclusion is that there are enough poor, sick, disabled and elderly people in some American cities that you just can not expect to evacuate all of them. And w/o significant effort, planning and expenditures we’d never be able to do this for any our our cites at any time, anywhere. And given the fact that we have been only too willing to ignore, shun, jail, beat and other wise criminalize and stigmatize the poor and their poverty in this country for so very long, no local, state or Federal authorities would ever be willing to make this sort of effort. Not for any cause or rhyme or reason. By in large we are and ever remain perfectly willing to sacrifice our poor& elderly. Yes, this is what all the battles over Social Security, Medicare & taxes have been all about these past few years. (Hell decades, right? No centuries…) What is the most minimal expenditure we can make and maybe show up for church the next Sunday, that’s all that’s required. And even that’s a standard that is rarely met today. As long as they don’t die on our doorsteps, it’s out of sight out of mind.

    What’s remarkable is that the dead and dying of NOLA have been dying on our TV’s for the better part of the week. And it’s been ugly. And we’ve been feeling these very strange and almost forgotten twangs of something akin to a national conscience reawakening in our collective souls after so very long. We needed to be reminded that yes, Poverty kills. Every day and every hour. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it kills just as effectively on and off the TV screens. Sometimes it kills quietly, this week it killed nosily and in great numbers. Here. In the greatest land on earth, we could not be bothered to see to it that children got clean water to drink. Or that the elderly were properly cared for. Or that momma got her insulin, or dad his heart meds. We could not be botherd to rescue Auntie from the attic, or the cousins the roof. So they died, right in front of us. How very well, inconvenient for all of us. We felt dismay and shock and some anger at the many, many preventable deaths. And if this keeps up, it may be possible proof of our redeemable souls, but the early returns are not in just yet, and the bodies have yet to be counted.

    The Shame really lies in all of us. Usually this sort of killing is reserved for the dry statistics familiar to only obscure academic health care planners. Allow me. 20K die every year from a lack of access or insufficient medical care & attention. Almost one in every 3 families will have an experience with some sort of under insurance or complete lack of insurance in the next year. About as many people have some sort of chronic disease or ongiong medical condition (1:3). How many of these folks are you willing to see die? Under what conditions? Sen. Frist saw them expiring at a rate of about 10 a day at the belatedly organized triage center at the Louie Armstrong Int. Airport. He seemed well satisfied that nothing more could be done for these unfortunates, the ones marked with the black dagger of death on their wrist bands.

    Somewhere Louie Armstrong is cursing NOLA, and not for the first time, the Feds too. Somewhere the old Dutch, who saved their entire country, not once but 3 times since WWII from similar catastrophic floods using mostly volunteers in boats, are crying too. How is it that they could do this, and know how to do it so very long ago, when their ENTIRE country was flooded by the sea as dikes failed, but we can fail our people now with such feeble excuses? Why did we halt the volunteers and their much needed efforts? Are the Dutch better people, a better nation? Wait, don’t answer that.

    I too have Louie Armstrong’s broken heart, and not for the first time I weep for my nation that we are cursed to be led by venal, corrupt incompetents.

    Thanks for the thoughts, ‘VJ’, ga.

  • deb

    Some of you are wondering “how this can happen here [America]?” If you really haven’t bothered to use the brain power to figure it out by now, America is just another country on the face of the Earth. It is no better than Taiwan, Indonesia, Italy, Argentina, or anywhere else. Mother Nature could care less who is in her path. You all think that nothing can happen to you because you live in “the most powerful country in the world”, but you know what? Things probably happen to you MORE OFTEN because of where you live. Don’t lay blame on Bush, or on people for doing evil things and deserving horrible fates, or whatever your explanataion is for this happening. But also, don’t fall all over yourself acting like it’s the worst tragedy ever to befall the world. IT ISN’T. You are no better, and no worse, than anyone or anywhere else. If you all want to help out so bad, why don’t you just go join the Red Cross or the National Gaurd, or start your own oil rig (that would definatly be good use of your time), rather than sitting around on your asses at your computers bitching about it and using up Jon’s bandwidth. Complain to someone who cares, really. Or just start your own message board, don’t use up other people’s.

  • Kirsty

    Where on earth are people getting the idea from that the international community have not offered help? Many countries including Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Australia, hell, even Cuba, have offered practical assistance. And in the beginning Bush TURNED THEM DOWN! Yep. you read that right, he turned them down. And individuals all over Britain are fundraising and donating money even as I write.

  • http://http:/ Matthew

    Thanks for the kindness from far away. We’re here in Texas, which is experiencing its share of Katrina issues, but my wife’s family is all from Baton Rouge and New Orleans — so you can imagine how bad she’s feeling having seen her childhood home get wiped out. Please continue donating money — it’s the best thing that people can give to organizations like the Red Cross, etc. And continue to pray — our family is alright (wet but alright), and hopefully every other family will be fine soon. We’re keeping up with news on our family blog as best we can.

  • Seventeen Syllables

    I’m sorry, I just don’t get the comments about how “it’s naive to complain that the US is no different than any other place” and “oh, people are poor and starving everywhere” and “this is not as bad as 9/11.”

    Here’s some clues for the clueless.
    1. The thing that many of us find hard to swallow about this happening here in the US of A is NOT the hurricane or flood. We are fully cognizant of the fact that nature does not care about national borders or reputations for power or its careless use. It is the ineffectiveness of relief efforts getting to the people who desperately need it (whatever the reason) that is upsetting and frustrating and somehow seems wrong in this rich, technologically capable country.
    2. What, we are not supposed to have compassion for fellow citizens of our own country just because bad stuff happens in other parts of the globe? Get fucking real. And grow up. There are lots of Americans who live in poverty who deserve compassion. Hell, right now *lots* of Americans deserve some compassion, even if you don’t like President Bush. (I don’t either, but that’s beside the point.) Seriously, grow up and get a more nuanced picture of the US in your head.
    3. 9/11, I’m afraid, is going to be a cakewalk compared to this. In terms of body counts, lives completely destroyed, infrastructure damage, etc. 9/11 ‘survivors’ who post about how much worse that disaster was are shocking, especially considering if you really were there, you must remember what it’s like to live thru an apocalyptic moment. Have some fricking human compassion. And consider that most of the Katrina folks are unlikely to get the payouts that rich stockbrokers’ families got from the US government in the wake of that tragedy.

    Damn. I cannot believe how angry this whole episode has left me. It’s just devestating.

  • Victor

    It’s easy to look at the most recent call for (and diversion of) funding for the levees. As an avid NPR junkie I’ll regurgitate what I heard the other day on Morning Edition: An engineer (can’t remember name) was saying the levees in NOLA have been seeing federal funding cuts for many many years, back to the 60’s. Funding is proposed and then cut as “pork” before passage of the bill. Still no excuse for the “Pet Goat” reader’s lack of response or even alarm at what was staring him in the face.

  • phil

    I couldn’t help letting go a comment made about the rest of the world not offering any help. That’s so not true. Our prime minister called your president on Wednesday and offered military and relief aid. President Bush told him, uh, we don’t need any yet, let’s wait and see. Fortunately, we started airlifting supplies to the Gulf Coast on Friday and two Canadian naval ships were heading for Louisana. Honduras offered 1,000 troops to restore order on the streets of New Orleans. Cuba has offered relief aid and 1,000 doctors.

  • razz

    I for one cannot stand to watch CNN coverage any longer. Their pompous attitude and the way they think they have it all figured out drives me insane. How can you people watch that?

  • Mo

    I am frustrated by the “how can this happen HERE” sentiment, not because I believe that people are too stupid to realize that we too are voulnerable to disaster, but because I believe that our collective American conscious is willfully ignorant regarding what actually goes on within our borders. Yes, we are a powerful, rich, and mighty empire. Yes, we have the resources and the means to help not only ourselves, but people all over the world.

    But since when has the American government ever snapped to attention and thoroughly met the needs of anyone, just because they are in need, without an excess of snags and red tape? Since when has the American government bothered itself overmuch over the lives (or deaths) of people living in poverty all over the country? People proclaim, shocked, “its like looking at a third-world country,” when most of them have no idea what even goes on in the so-called “third world,” or even what goes on in the slums of their own cities.

    I know, I’m making a bunch of blanket statements. I am intrigued by the revelation this tragedy has brought about; that the America where so many of us think we live does not exist; that wealth and power do not mean what we thought it meant in the face of a disaster that is (yes) even bigger than 9/11; that both beurocratic paperwork and human compassion will effect more lives than all the propoganda-built commitees and commissions in the world.

    And I’m with you, razz. The coverage is making my head numb.

  • Sue

    “The poor will always be with you,” said Jesus. Yes, they are, but usually they do their suffering quietly in their own neighborhoods, behind closed doors where the rest of us don’t have to look at them.

    It took Hurricane Katrina to rip the bandage off, throw open the doors, flush the poor out into the streets where we can see them and say “My god, how did things GET so horrible?”

    I have a few clues for you. Tax breaks for the rich. American corporations moving to the Caymans to avoid paying any taxes whatsoever. Unnecessary wars with huge payouts for companies run by politicians and their friends. All that stuff whiny liberals have been blathering about for years.

    The money has been taken and run with. Money for silly stuff like levees and disaster planning, for infrastructure improvements – it’s all gone.

    Yes, I know the hurricane would have been a huge catastrophe no matter how prepared anyone was. But this disaster reponse was a national disgrace, and it didn’t happen in isolation.

    It is part of a much larger national disgrace – a culture that supports shoveling money into the pockets of the rich so fast they can’t count it while leaving the poor, the sick and those with no resources suffering worse and worse every year.

  • Stacey

    Do u guys realize that FEMA has refused to accept, REFUSED to accept help from outside organizations because they are not affliated with FEMA?!! Doctors, nurses, police officers–American charitable organizations mobilized to come to New Orleans and FEMA said no. They’ve also prevented the Red Cross from getting in to certain areas to help. And why is it that when the country discovers the knowledge that on the day of 9/11 President Bush choose to finish reading a children’s book everyone becomes appalled but it’s not that big of an issue that the President stayed on vacation for 2 more days after being told the worst natural disaster just happened in New Orleans? Anne Rice said in best in a New York Times article:
    But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us “Sin City,” and turned your backs.


  • Lizziepants

    Long time reader, first time caller. *grins*

    Man, I just have one thing to say — if you step back and put a little bit of perspective on this whole situation, yeah, it’s fuckin horrible — but life sucks sometimes. Bush is an idiot, we all know it – this isn’t the time to blame, it’s the time to fix.

    For the moron who said he thought it was stupid of the ppl in NO not to evacuate – lemme tell you something, I live in Tampa, about an hour from Port Charlotte where Hurricane Charlie delivered mass destruction last year — we all live down here knowing, that at any point in time, a hurrican can come and rip our shit up. We know this going in, unless we’re totally ignorant. Now, why wouldn’t we want to protect our homes, our valuables, our resources are tied to these areas, we’re invested. I’m not leavin shit.

    Devastation is everywhere, all the time. Not everyone can be rich and comfortable. Perhaps this is just the earth’s way of cleansing itself, who knows. There’ll be another tragedy next week equally bad or well, maybe not quite so bad — but this too, shall pass.

    Help out if you can, try and be prepared if you’re down here — etc etc, but most of all — love the people around you, life is short.

  • warcrygirl

    I want to know why there wasn’t a bigger effort to help get the people with no means of transportation to evacuate the city. We’ve know for years that a storm of this magnitude would devastate NOLA yet when Katrina approached it was every man for himself. Couldn’t the city have taken buses and helped these people get to higher land?

    In the meantime all we can do is send supplies, donate money and pray.

  • incredimom

    I admire your writings, and read you often, just because I disagree with you does not mean I have something personal against you, but you’ve left the comments section open for other people’s opinions as well, and I feel it necessary to state my own – let’s stop blaming Bush, or any other government official, Fema, Red Cross, everyone and justwork together to make things better. Shit happens, sounds so darn harsh, I know, but it does, and we just have to pick up the pieces and move on and quit pointing fingers at everyone else. I’m horribly saddened by New Orleans, and I’m sure things could have been handled different, but I believe that God had a plan for this, and it’s not something that should rest on human shoulders.
    Thanks for your opinion, I hope you don’t mind mine.

  • Jenny

    I’m sorry, are you saying that we should just sit around waiting for God to show up and save these people? I feel that it is resting on my shoulders. Our government has neglected these people and IT IS on our shoulders to help them. George Bush should be impeached for this and he should spend the rest of his life in prison for allowing so many people to die. Maybe the focus shouldn’t be on blame at this point, the focus should be on saving as many people as possible, but eventually, people need to be held accountable. We’ve employed our president to lead this country, especially during a time of crisis, and he has failed. He has failed miserably. That is on our shoulders.

  • Belinda

    We’re in Arkansas, and we’re doing everything we can…Red Cross assistance given to our state is being diverted to LA…we have thousands of people put up in hotels and private homes…nothing seems enough. The people who had cars, and could afford to get out are the ones who made it this far–and now their banks no longer exist, and their credit cards are being maxed out. My own post yesterday about New Orleans, which I did for my daughter, turned surprisingly personal–I hadn’t realized how much of my own life is tied up in that city. How different things might be for me if not for her.

    I am NOT surprised by the incompetence, cronyism, apathy and shortsightedness of the current administration in reaction to this tragedy. But I must say, having seen the human spirit in action in recent days, I am also NOT surprised at the lengths to which one individual will go to help another.

    God bless the victims and the helpers, and inspire those who are on the fence about what they can do. THere’s always SOMETHING you can do.

  • J

    I agree Jenny. Let’s impeach someone for the hurricane. I mean George W. should have stretched for his hand and calmed the waters. Although I’m bi-partisan (I’m neither a Rep. or a Dem.) the wisdom of your words just seem to be lacking. Oh, well you did contradict yourself when you said, “Maybe the focus shouldn’t be on blame at this point.”
    I’m not a fan of George W. but go figure, the man doesn’t have the power to summon a hurricane.
    If you’re talking about the response AFTER the hurricane call me crazy Jenny, I don’t think ANYONE sat and though, “yeehaw let’s wait while people die.”
    Accountability? Yes, I want every asshole that beat, or raped, or murdered, or stole from a fellow victim while in the Superdome to be held accountable. Damn skippy.

  • American in France

    As an American in France, I just want to say that here are people here who would open their homes to anyone from L.A. in a second if only they could get them across the ocean. (YES, in France!! “Freedom Fries” be damned! They’re Belgian fries anyway!)

    *Here, people are stunned that George Bush (when last I heard-only have a radio online) says America doesn’t need help. What about specialists? Why does he think he’s turning down just money? And the WAY he said it sounded so arrogant. It sounded like he laughed a bit, making it seem as though these people really truly don’t matter. Like an abuser hiding his battered wife behind the door saying, “Oh no, officer- she’s… we’re just fine.”

    *In France, races live side-by-side. Blacks and whites and all other colors are pretty much equal. Sure, like we have “Polish” jokes, they have “Portuguese” jokes, but overall- I’m ashamed I even still notice the vast amount of mixed-race couples & groups I see walking in the streets, even though it’s a real pleasure to see. I pray that one day America will be as culturally level as this, and there will be no doubt that every life is infinitely valuable to all of us.

    *People here are even more stunned at the violence. “ONLY in America.” Two of our best friends are Croatian & Serbian, and THEY never saw this kind of awesome callousness to one’s own neighbors [as what SEEMS to have been taking place in N.O.], even during their war. Was there looting & raping & shooting of the damned rescue helicopters after the tsunami?? My country needs a social-awareness overhaul. It’s hard for outsiders to feel empathy when we tear each other down like this when what we need is compassion. The media we get here (BBC/NPR) hasn’t talked so far (that I’ve heard) about the heroes, the rescues, the love and support I KNOW is happening in L.A. I’m desperate for those stories!

    *Lastly- (and I’m a HUGE fan of God) for anyone who claims this is punishment by God; Anyone who thinks God is “punishing” nations has got a problem: they can’t pick and choose. If God used Katrina to punish the US, then He used the tsunami to punish Southeast Asia. For what? The killer heat wave of a few years ago that killed so many in Europe must have been punishment too. For what? The floods in Switzerland this summer, the monsoons that devastate India and Pakistan & Bangladesh, same problem. And if all natural disasters are not punishments, then on what basis do we decide this one is, but that one isn’t, and how would we know for sure? Therefore, since I don’t assume I can speak for God in this way, I must politely disagree with the theory as a whole. Not to mention, WHY would God wipe out the homes of an amazingly poor area of the US to punish the elite who have championed this war in Iraq who are all safe & snug in their mansions? There’s absolutely no logic in it.

  • Lisa

    It just occurred to me, with all the criticism of people who couldn’t/didn’t evacuate – why should we assume that a city-full of everyday people can get OUT so much faster than trained and equipped professionals got IN?

    Of course there’s more subtlety and detail than that, but maybe it’s still a valid question.

    American in France – it’s awesome that France and many other countries are offering help of many kinds; yes, of course we could use assistance. Oil and gas come to mind, to replace the disrupted Gulf output.

    But if my own reaction to that were shown on TV, I’d maybe laugh nervously too, and it has nothing to do with arrogance or callousness.

    It’s awkward, and funny-as-in-peculiar. The United States is one of a handful of nations that are huge EXPORTERS of all kinds of assistance – money, medical supplies, personnel, etc. – and now we want it back?

    That’s not QUITE how it is and probably not how other countries are looking at it – but that’s how it FEELS.

    Think about it on a personal level. Have you ever felt uncomfortable or awkward when somebody gave you something? Maybe not, but I have. It can be surprisingly hard to accept gifts sometimes, even if it’s a gift that would help.

  • Lani

    A couple interesting links:

    Note that the date on this first one is September 1. I think that was actually the day before Bush was photographed playing guitar in San Diego.
    Halliburton hired for storm cleanup.

    Daley ‘shocked’ at federal snub of offers to help.

    To the Bush apologists, let me point out that we were making post-tsunami food drops in Indonesia, halfway around the world, faster than we’ve helped our fellow Southern Americans. How can you NOT look at the federal government as being at the very least grossly negligent?

  • Lani

    Hmm, my links in post #206 didn’t work. I will post the URLs directly.

    Here’s the URL for the Halliburton story:

    Here’s the URL about Chicago’s offers to help were snubbed by the feds:,1,2011979.story?coll=chi-news-hed

  • Tim

    Of course, no one can be blamed for a storm. Yes, existence can be full of randomness and cruelty that no one bears responsibility for. And yes, we must guard against channeling our anger at the enormous uncontrollables in life toward easy concrete targets. I’ll grant you all these things and more.

    But if you honestly think that our government’s response to this disaster wasn’t incompetent, apathetic, grotesquely stupid and the latest product of a long-evident history of short-sightedness, I… well, the mind reels. If you don’t see an enormous failure of imagination, discipline, intellectual rigor, preparedness and empathy, I’m not sure we’re looking at the same admininstration.

    I understand people want to heal. I relate to the need to hear some positive, uplifting things. But we can do what we can to repair this situation and *still* voice our outrage at mistakes that were made. Critical thinking is not a bad thing. Holding people–particularly the powerful–accountable for their failures and transgressions is a good thing.

    How much more can we lower our standards? When are we allowed to say, “Hey, somebody seriously screwed up here?” Apparently, not after a war or major natural disaster. So, I guess the powers that be get a free pass?

    Why are we so eager to defend our government from ideas? Why are we so afraid to say, “Hey, things might be seriously out-of-whack in this country? We better fix it.”

    My god, it’s okay to expect more from our leaders! Why do we rush to protect the powerful from fellow citizens’ opinions. It’s okay to expect more from ourselves. But we’ve developed such a sense of entitlement that no one’s ever wrong. It’s somehow offensive or unpatriotic to say that we can do a helluva lot better.

    We *need* to do a helluva lot better.

  • Stacey

    how would anyone know that you had not pledged money?

  • Holly

    I finally got power back. Now my biggest concern is getting my kids back to normal. School is *supposed* to resume on Tuesday.

    A big concern down here now is the “hurricane plague”. There is large concern that sickness is going to run rampant around these parts.

    Reading Dooce and you on a regular basis is keeping me smiling, though. :)

  • skape7

    So many say America is the wealthiest nation in the world. But right now? Not so much. Turns out money isn’t everything.

  • Laura

    Alex’s post (#165) was exactly right.

    After Andrew, money and aid and support from our government did NOT pour into Miami right away.

    Kate Hale was the Director of Emergency Management for Dade County at the time. She finally held a press conference demanding to know where the help was. She made headlines around the country when she demanded to know “Where the hell is the cavalry?” At that time, President Bush took his sweet time showing up to survey the damage. In fact, the day after Andrew, only the local authorities were on hand to help, and they were swamped.

    I can’t help wondering if marital law should be established ahead of time in the event of a Cat 4 or 5 storm hitting a major US city. It does bear some looking into, for our safety. Looting and crime seem to be far too prevalent in our society in the aftermath of these storms.

    We had people looting in the streets and it was awful at first. There is more, but I’m just not going to get into it here.

    The lessons learned from Andrew, from Ivan and all the hurricanes since should have left this country better equipped to deal with a Cat 4 hitting a major regional area. Obviously, it didn’t. I wrote about this in my “Memo” post on my site.

    In any event, it’s time to stop pointing the fingers and push our government into learning from this awful, awful tragedy. That this type of diaster/recovery plan failed in the United States, of all countries, is an embarassment to our citizens and a wakeup call for all of us.

    To Jon and Heather, may I add, as an aside, those pictures of Leta made me smile big time. She’s priceless. She’s just priceless. :)

  • Stacey K.

    I was amazed when I read Lani’s post above about Halliburton being awarded a clean-up contract. I had trouble accessing the link but found a Forbes article (link below – hope it works) “Halliburton Subsidiary Gets Katrina Deal.”

    Granted, the article indicates that the contract to clean-up natural disasters in the U.S. was inked in July, but the profiteering implications are just so creepy.

    I also find it ironic that Gov. Blanco has hired Witt (former FEMA head from 93-2001), who was considered the guy who put FEMA back together only to have undone by this administration, to be her personal rep at the “FEMA” table now. WTF?

    Alex posted earlier today that we should “wail.” I agree. This story, this disaster, cannot have its focus shifted to the Supreme Court nominees. Those poor souls who have suffered and those who have died should not continue to suffer or die in vain.

    The mainstream media seems to have finally found its voice. Bill Mahr called the media the first responders. I agree. Through their efforts they saved lives. Here is a link from Wonkette if you missed Anderson Cooper going ballistic on Sen. Landrieu.

    I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Last year I had to evacuate with my 85 year old stepfather and two dogs – 3 times. It cost me over $3,000. For the fourth storm, Hurricane Jeanne, there was no place to evacuate to. There wasn’t hotel room left in FL. My stepfather is elderly and frail and requires a special needs shelter. I have two dogs and special needs shelters do not allow dogs. We rode it out and it hit us as a Category 1. I understand completely why so many people didn’t leave. Evacuating takes a variety of skills. It requires organization and planning. It’s an open ended roadtrip with so many details it makes you nuts. I consider myself extremely resourceful and I found it to be the most stressful thing I have ever done.

    Every morning before I check my email I check NoAA to see what storm is developing. If you have never evacuated you can’t possibly imagine the sick-to-your stomach feeling of walking away from everything you own one last time. My heart is broken for those on the Northern Gulf Coast. My tears and my money is not enough. It just doesn’t feel enough.

    I hope through all this discussion that our collective compassion can effect change. The Bush Administration feels they have done their best. I disagree. Their best is not good enough. Not for me.

  • Surcie

    My heartbreak is compounded by the fact that so many of those poor, stranded people were sure the rest of us DIDN’T CARE. Those stuck at the Superdome kept crying out to the camera crews, wondering why those of us in TV land were ignoring them. It made me feel sick to my stomach and utterly powerless. And now all I feel is angry.

  • Jack

    An October, 2004, synopsis in a National Magazine. A well-researched, widely publicized feature that reads like a news story from last week?

    That story didn’t come out of a crystal ball. It came out of the mouths of all the people in a position to know what to expect, who knew it would happen. People who study hurricanes and what they do, people who study geography, hydrology, emergency managements and disaster.

    They all agreed.

    Those people who were interviewed for the feature didn’t keep the information hidden. It wasn’t in a folder drawing dust in the file cabinet.

    Every one of the agencies who were interviewed to create the story had been communicating the information to the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans for decades, where evidently it DID sit in file drawers drawing dust.

    I know for a fact this is true from personal observation.

    During the early 1990s I toured those levies, the lower lying areas with FEMA officials, Red Cross officials, Emergency Management Coordinators from other States inthe FEMA Region VI, Corps of Engineers officials, and Louisiana State and local officials. The precisely same information concerning what would happen if a major storm hit was communicated to and by everyone present. It was obvious. We even kicked around ideas involving specifics of needed emergency plans with City and State emergency managers.

    A case can be made that when a tsunami hits and kills people it’s an accident. When an earthquake hits in an earthquake prone area and lives are destroyed, it’s still an event that mightn’t have happened, had reason to catch residents by surprise. A tornado in West Texas tornado alley is still a low probability at any give spot.

    This is a disaster of another sort.

    Responsibility lies with every human being to behave prudently in matters involving his own personal safety. To look carefully at the traffic before venturing to cross a street with the knowledge that cars use that street. To mosey over toward Metairie if there’s a hurricane stalking in the gulf. But, before that, to elect officials of the sort who were responsible officials, who weren’t merely demigogues and rhetoriticians.

    In this instance the secondary responsibility for the safety of the residents, making sure they had the information to allow them to make prudent choices, lay with the City and the Parrish. An evacuation plan in place and tested. Intergovernmental agreements with inland communities for shelters in the event of an evacuation. Disaster plans in place and exercised. Everyone educated on the possibilities, everyone knowing what would need to be done and when, where and how to do it.

    The next level of responsibility lay with the State of Louisiana, and the Governor to absolutely drop a hammer on the heads on responsible local officials who weren’t doing their jobs. To use every means available, legal, publicity, and volume to order, threaten, plead and cajole those City and Parrish officials to prepare for the inevitable.

    This storm could have happened a decade from now and it would have been no different, maybe worse. The City of New Orleans would have been no better prepared, and Louisiana would have been no better prepared. The population would have been no better prepared.

    The lazy, irresponsible, shirking attitude of the residents, the City and Parrish governments and the State of Louisiana would not have changed even though every year the inevitability of this event increased and they knew damned well it was doing it.

    There are disasters, and there are disasters.

    I did some drinking on Bourbon Street with the Louisiana State Flood Plain Administrator after that tour. We talked about his problems implementing any kind of plan, even the minimums required by law in Louisiana. He was a good guy, a solid, caring black man who’d really like to do his job.

    “It’s politics, man. The City doesn’t like exercizing emergency plans. It might upset the tourists. Out in the parrishes it’s all cousins and nephews. They don’t want to hear anything about anything but Federal grant money and new roads.”


    My blog on this issue:

  • Halo Askew

    Regardless of how everyone feels about how the situation has been handled up to this point, remember the adage: “The future is unwritten.” There’s a great deal of good works to be done in the coming days, weeks, and months. There’s a long road ahead, so if you can’t give now, consider giving later, when the media focus shifts off to some other world event. And I would like to extend my thanks to EVERYONE who has helped thus far. Every bit HELPS. And to those of you reading this who were directly affected by the hurricane, please let us know what we can do for you, your relatives, loved ones, friends and neighbors. We need to hear your stories. We’re here for you.

  • Norma

    I live in Houston and was helping at the Reliant Arena today. These people have lost everything and they are still hopeful and thankful and patient. It is going to be such a struggle for everyone. I don’t know that I could face the same with the good attitude the people I met today showed.

  • visvoice

    As with most things in life, the cause of this disaster will be overdetermined. Multiple factors, multiple decisions by a number of individuals and branches of government will be to blame. I am so NOT fond of the president, but to heap all the blame on one person is 8th grade thinking. We all know the president can come across as an idiot, but there are many many bozos running this country at the federal AND state AND city levels.

    What we need now is to extend our compassion, money and resources to the victims of this unprecedented tragedy.

  • jes

    I live in Dallas. This weekend I was serving some of those who have been displaced, who have lost everything, who have no jobs, who do not know what they will be going back to, if anything.

    I was encouraged by them, though. Their attitude was refreshing, and supportive of the Bush Administration and the government’s response to aid those who were in need.

    They said that they were upset by these people shown on the media who chant “We want food!” and who are rioting, angry that there is nothing for them at the Superdome. The people who I helped, loved on, talked with, and fed told me that it was plastered EVERYWHERE before Katrina hit that they should evacuate. And if they could not evacuate, they should go to the Superdome with 3-5 days worth of food.

    It would take that long to mobilize enough National Guard units, which are made up of regular people with full-time jobs who take time off work to serve this country, to pack the convoys of food, water, and provisions, and to get the slow-moving vehicles into the city to the people in need.

    Just wanted to set the record straight, because unfortunately, the media responds to what Americans WANT to see. They often portray subject matter in a negative light, particularly the US Government, and don’t always report the full truth.

    That’s all.

  • sailor

    I have been following these posts for days now, from Kuwait. I am a bit saddened by the anger some are expressing at the opinions of others and much of it seems to have gone well away from the original intent of blurbomat’s original article. Kuwait is helping in the way that it can-$500 million in oil and related products and an additional $10 million in relief supplies. Schools are conducting relief drives as well. My class discussion today will center mostly on what we can do to help, and how to do it. Let’s get back to the point-people need help.

  • Carrie

    I feel really bad for everyone affected by this tragedy. I am greateful that Houston has opened it’s arms and is taking excellent care of the evacuees. It is amazing what this city is doing for the people!

  • jocelyn

    Hurricanes are difficult to predict…we have taken things from hurricanes and had more damage from a tropical storms without warning. I live in Key West, the most disconnected point of the US, closer to Cuba than Miami. I can say that people live through threat and experience nothing time and time again can and yet cannot be blamed; we have evacuations when nothing happens and have none when we would like to have left. There is no playing “higher power” in these circumstances, nor is there lack on the efforts of the forecasting. It is sad, indeed, that the level of horror in New Orleans. However, as I spoke with the mayor of Key West this week, the recovery efforts of those who choose not to evacuate in Key West would not be about the dead being floating through the streets, but in the ocean.
    The bigger picture is not those who did or did not evacuate, but those who could and could not. It is the same in the Keys, thousands who have no means off of the islands. The lack of response should only begin the line of question for the admistration. Gas schmass – there is a deeper inequality which drives the criminal issues that have reared thier ugly head from economic issues since Katrina.
    That being said, I am the first off the rock (what we call Key West) when they say go from now on.

  • Big Gay Sam

    Do you all really think that the arrival of Bush and the relief convoys at the same time was a coincidence? They were waiting for Bush. He had to get his photo opps. Come one folks. Wake up. That was his only concern. His image. The great white savior. He couldn’t care or less about the American people. His only concerns are image and his own millions.

    Shame on us. Shame on all of us. We allowed this man back into a position of leadership and now we reap the whirlwind for our foolishness.

  • laura

    My heart goes out to ALL the people this hurricane has ripped apart. Having lived through Andrew in 1992 I know there are no words for the feeling of total devastation these poor people are feeling. But having been though it…it’s the local gov. not the fed to blame for a poor response.

  • Incredimom

    To Jenny in response to Post 201.
    Obviously I was not saying that we should wait for God to save these people, I have no idea how you arrived at that. What I was saying is that the hurricane could not have been stopped, and we shouldn’t blame bush, or FEMA, or anyone else for it – the BLAME doesn’t rest on anyone, the rescue and effort does hope that this response is as clear as day.

  • solistella

    I’m glad you posted this. Your blog generates a worthwhile debate given the balance of opinion in your readership. There are some comments here I strongly disagree with, but they’ve been addressed. I wish the general media could be this thought provoking.

  • Bama Girl

    I think you need to stop judging the white house and start helping. If we didn’t have troops in Iraq, we would be less safe here at home. If any other president were in office, the response would not have been any faster. President Bush was as caught off guard by this as you and I were. I guess if Clinton were in office right now, this whole hurricane would have been averted and we would still be coming up with UN warnings for Iraq that have no hope of ever being backed up. I bet you will delete this post because I don’t share your uber-liberal views. I bet you think Bush planted hurricane seeds and made this disaster happen too. Let’s see, what else can we blame him for? Do you think he might have something to do with Cheif Justice Reinquist’s death too?

  • nicky

    Here on the other side of the world (Australia) I’d been kind of insulated from the horror all week because I hadn’t had time to watch the television news. I’d heard stuff on the radio in the car on the trip to and from work, but didn’t really absorb it until I watched a news program on Sunday morning. I was horrified and appalled.

    People dying by the side of the road waiting for help. The president advocating zero tolerance for breaking the law, while people are forced to loot to get food and water. A nurse in the convention centre doing what she could to help, but obviously exhausted and completely overwhelmed. Even a little dog being left behind because its owners were not allowed to take it on the bus that was evacuating them. All of it, heartbreaking.

    My thoughts are with everyone in the southern states in so far as I can wrap my mind around the enormity of this disaster and the fuck up that is the managing of its aftermath. I will donate what I can and hope against hope that the lessons which are begging to be learned from this are and that no one has to suffer unnecessarily, as these people have, again.

  • Vinvin

    I feel exactly the same. This is an Horror !!!
    All the french people I know are reallly deeply sad for you. And your Admicistrations seems to be completely “dÈpassÈe”.

    We are with you people.

  • making the right moo

    Tracy says:
    I live in Houston, and I’ve been volunteering at the Astrodome. It’s like a third world country down there.

    tracy.. i wish u’d b a little more politically correct and perhaps a LITTLE more sensitive towards people from poorer countries. the word’s DEVELOPING NATION if u didnt know.. but tracy (and others) cant be blamed.. especially when the same mistake is made by reporters.

    my heart goes out to the thousands suffering but u should realise that a natural disaster in any corner of the world is the same and people react the same everywhere…a natural disaster is such a reality check… if mighty america, despite all her development, suffers thus u can imagine the plight of the thousands in a country like bangladesh that suffers from constant flooding during the monsoon season.

  • Mr. A. Nony. Mous

    riot control… its sickening to see what a terrible job the cops in new orleans r doin. i cant help but comment that the india government did a far better job of controlling riots in gujarat (’02).

  • Big Gay Sam

    I see the spin doctors are already hard at work.

    I think you need to stop judging the white house and start helping. If we didn’t have troops in Iraq, we would be less safe here at home.

    First of all, don’t assume the those who criticize aren’t helping. We are. In the meantime we’re criticizing and we’re judging. The Bush administration is responsible for the failure of FEMA. He demoted the department and appointed the head of that department who has absolutely no creditials or experience in disaster relief. Yes this lies squarely on the shoulders of President Bush and the White House no matter how you try to distract and deflect.


    If any other president were in office, the response would not have been any faster.


    I beg to differ. Bush created the situation we are facing in New Orleans right now due to budget cuts and mismanagement. Gross mismanagement.

    President Bush was as caught off guard by this as you and I were.

    That’s funny. It’s been known for decades the New Orleans was at risk and the level of devastation that was possible. Due to a cost analysis figure the levees were built to sustain an category 3 hurricane instead of 4 or above. They were saving money. Gambling with hundreds of thousands of lives. Well the gamble didn’t pan out and thousands are dead because of it. The millions of dollars they saved pales in comparison to the billions of dollars it’s going to take to rebuild. BILLIONS.

    I guess if Clinton were in office right now, this whole hurricane would have been averted and we would still be coming up with UN warnings for Iraq that have no hope of ever being backed up.


    We wouldn’t BE in Iraq right now losing hundreds of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens to this war based on a lie. A war that was fought to appease a bruised ego. This is a man that was quoted as “wanting to be known as a war president.” Americans and Iraqis are dying every day because a man in a position of power wants a particular title. No war in Iraq would have meant more resources and man power at our disposal that is being squandered in Iraq. More resources and man power to help save thousands of lives in the Gulf Coast.


    Face it folks. Bush can’t cover up this cluster fuck. No spin doctor is going to sugar coat this disaster.

    It’s time for a change. Too many people are dying to inflate one man’s ego. This country is being mismanaged and plundered by greedy powerful men whose only interest is self satisfaction and gaining wealth. They care nothing for the lives of everyday Americans. Your proof is in the Gulf Coast.

  • Rob-e

    While I love to read Dooce & the occasional piece by Jon himself, I continue to be amazed by the blinkered approach of Americans who still firmly believe that they are the only country in the world. Jon’s comment that “the death toll from Katrina will eclipse that of any other tragedy in my lifetime”, encapsulates this blinkered approach – last year’s tsunami disaster resulted in over 120 000 people dead! Wake up guys – while I am truly sorry for the plight of the New Orleans folk, there is a real world out there – try and integrate with it a little bit…

  • dani

    For me this tragedy is harder because after the tsunami the world pulled together and showed how amazing the human spirit can be. For those of us from the United States it’s heartbreaking to see how our country is responding to what is happening. To hear the stories of how people died, were raped, shot at etc. is shocking and terribly sad. To top it all off (as you can see in these posts) we are extremely divided on the issues that surround the response. We fight amongst ourselves knowing that the “other” side thinks in a completely opposite manner.

    I for one am mesmorized by the media coverage and feel completely disheartened by everything that is happening. I feel let down by the government. It’s not just the sheer volume of devestation (which yes, is smaller than that of the tsunami) for us who live there (or are abroad at the moment) it’s a range of all emotions.

    Luckily I don’t personally know anyone who believes that we are from the only country in the world so I’m sure if they exist they are far and few between. Thank you for pointing out a minority group and advising them properly.

    Jon thank you for sharing your thoughts in such a sensitive and thoughtful way.

  • Tim

    Hear, hear, Big Gay Sam. (Not a sentence I expected to write today, but I stand by it nonetheless.)

  • Alex

    Big Gay Sam… and Sir Tim (you made me laugh out loud there, thanks for the short but appreciated reprieve from sadness)… Cheers to the bitter truth! And Big Gay Sam, you said it with far more eloquence than I could!

  • Carrie

    You are the people that give liberals a bad name. Attack, attack, attack. Your views are so biased that it makes you come off as, frankly, idiots. It is irresponsible to place blame solely on one man’s shoulders. Don’t be ridiculous. Obviously, Bush could have handled it better but to say “this lies squarely on the shoulders of President Bush and the White House no matter how you try to distract and deflect,” is close minded.

  • Stacey K.

    Bama Girl:

    It has been rumored that Karl Rove’s fingerprints were found on Rehnquist’s pillow. Just one of many theories floating out there on the internets…

  • GreenOwl

    Just occurred to me that we all make, really, a HUGE contribution to disaster recovery every time we pay our homeowners insurance premiums.

    I mean, that’s how insurance works – lots of people who pay more in premiums than they ever use, which compensates for other people who need their homes rebuilt.

    I generally have nothing good to say about insurance companies (anyone who knows me has heard me use the word ‘evil’ from time to time), but maybe I need to rethink that, a little bit at least.

    (And yes of course it’s more complicated – a lot of the Katrina damage probably is covered under federal flood insurance which we all DON’T pay, myself included, but still.)

    Maybe we can all give ourselves some credit here. Sure, we can make additional donations for Katrina. But just because ‘assistance’ is disguised as a regular monthly bill doesn’t mean it’s not real. It might be the best and biggest contribution we make.

  • Tim


    Any post that begins “You are the people that…” is, quite frankly, silly and should be rethought immediately. But I appreciate the irony of you attacking us for always being on the attack.

    Funny, I thought Michael Moore gave liberals a bad name. I personally refuse to accept accountability for giving any group a bad name (although I am on a mission from my unholy minions to cut the tails off neo-con puppies.)I think I’m a pretty reasonable person and entitled to my world view, which, generally speaking, I refrain from sharing shrilly with those who don’t want to listen.

    I didn’t take Big Gay Sam’s comment as reducing the complexity of the overall situation so much as underlining the appalling shortcomings of this current administration. Politically speaking–let’s leave morality out of this thorn bush for now–Bush bears direct responsibility for the failures in response, which can be itemized into a rather dumbfounding inventory.

    I think I’m entitled to my outrage. I think a lot more people should be outraged. The public’s ability (however ineffectual it might sometimes seem) to influence governmental change through dissent is one of the major checks and balances built into the system.

    I think I’ve got a pretty rational perspective on this, Carrie, and I wish you wouldn’t tar me with the wacky out-in-left-field liberal brush. Granted, as a liberal myself, I often shudder when a high profile liberal makes themselves an easy target by being pointlessly inflammatory, overly simplistic or misinformed, but I don’t think we’re being any of those things here.

    Whew. Can you tell I don’t appreciate being accused of sounding like an “idiot”?

  • shiraz

    um, as a token representative (at least at some level) of that world that is not-America (whether you choose to label it as third, developing, underprivileged or whatever), i’d like to say that i too, hiccupped a bit on reading Jon’s now infamous “I fear that the death toll from Katrina will eclipse that of any other tragedy in my lifetime.” and my first reaction was like the ones that have been posted here — how can you say that when less then a year ago so many, many more died? when so much more devastation and havoc was wreaked?

    i think the point of comparisons like these (whether implicit and reader-reaction-based like Jon’s, or explicit like what Gov. Haley Barbour said that first day about parts of Harrison County, Miss. and an albeit rising deathcount of 100 — “It looks like Hiroshima is what it looks like”), is that you *can’t* compare. that tragedy is infinitely personal. that we are all jealously protective of the comments anyone makes about, around or in relation to the tragedies we consider ours — whether in a world sense, in a national sense, or at an individual level. i know this because, having lived through 9/11, and living in Italy now, i am passionately angry every time Italian media refers to a national disaster as “their September 11th”. not because i don’t think their national disasters are any greater or lesser than the one i lived through. but because i hate that they need to compare. i hate that they feel the need to make this reference — as if it *validates* their disaster. as if that’s some kind of world “benchmark”. *that* bothers me.

    at the risk of “speaking” for him, i don’t think Jon *meant* to compare. i think we — as readers — were comparing, and doing so almost automatically, because the tsunami is so, so fresh and relevant in our minds. after my initial hiccup, i looked at the rest of this post, which testifies to a person who is clearly not insular or geographically self-centered, and i realized that he’s speaking only of his own perspective in terms of how this tragedy affects *him*, in his own backyard, and not how it ranks among some self-compiled world survey of worst or most-devastating. only of how he feels about it.

    which (i think), is exactly — and as much as — any of us have a right to do…

  • Mean Jean

    Rob E you got your #’s wrong. The 2004 tsunami killed in excess of 250,000 and affected some 25 nations. Maybe we can get just a glimmer of what those millions of people affected by that disaster have been through.

    The two events cannot be compared in scale and scope but they certainly do compare in human misery.

    Oh, and the word on NPR this morning…the Republicans are still trying to cut taxes. We are in SO much trouble.

  • seventeensyllables

    Yes, insurance is good. But lots of people affected in this case are those who can’t afford insurance to begin with. They are going to need our donations. I wouldn’t be comfortable with assuming that I was “assisting” in this disaster by paying my monthly car insurance.

  • http://non bagus

    im not american. im malaysian. i wonder why bush did let the black people this way.. was he insane?? i was so sorry.. i cried a lot to watch the news hour by hour. may God be with them. *hugs for the refugees*

  • Kent

    This is more exciting than the season premiere of your favorite TV show isn’t it? It also kind of reminds you what it is like to feel about something greater this moment, which is, like, really cool…kind of like going to Church but without some idiot babbling on.

  • Lisa

    This is in reply to a question asking where’s the foreign aid? Here’s a link to various countries who HAVE offered aid, or have said they’re happy to help if asked. Reported on Sept. 1, Bush told ABC-TV: “I’m not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn’t asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country’s going to rise up and take care of it. You know,” he said, “we would love help, but we’re going to take care of our own business as well, and there’s no doubt in my mind we’ll succeed. And there’s no doubt in my mind, as I sit here talking to you, that New Orleans is going to rise up again as a great city.” Here’s the link:

  • Tek

    People keep saying ‘sh*t happens’ when really this particular “sh*t” didn’t have to happen this way.

    so until we stop standing by the excuse that shit happens it’s going to keep happening.

  • BIg Gay Sam

    Just one more note of interest regarding us “rabid liberals.” I’m a dyed in the wool true blue Mormon. A gay mormon but a mormon none-the-less. Is that an oxymormon? I can never tell. (yes I deliberately mispelled it). I really don’t think that qualifies me as a “rabid liberal.” It does however qualify me as an outraged American Citizen voicing my constitutionally guaranteed opinion.

    If it wasn’t for the outrage and the bellowing I think it probably would have taken a couple of MORE days before resources and manpower were sent to the Gulf by Bush.

    It wasn’t until Bush realized he committed a grave error due to his lack of response and continuing his “vacation.” He didn’r realize this until the outrage was loud enough to reach even HIS ears.

    Once again did anyone else happen to notice that Bush’s photo opp session in the Gulf Coast just happened to be right when the supplies started rolling in. As far as I can tell he stalled the supplies so he could be there and look like the great white savior. I can’t believe the rest of you aren’t getting this.

    The only reason the supplies got there when they did (two days late) was because of the dissenting voices and those questioning the slow response of FEMA and other government agencies that exist to handle situations just like New Orleans.

    when we rebuild New Orleans then let the engineers from the Netherlands show us how. Almost their entire region is below sea level and their levees and dykes are holding up fine.

  • mihow

    It’s often a first reaction (and an easy one) to point to everything that went wrong and who is to blame for it and that’s a little heartbreaking. I’m going to leave out my personal views regarding the tragedy in the Gulf and what could have been done better but I will say that I hope for every 200 comments received in response to Jon’s post (and every post on the Internet for that matter) that there are 400 not being made because those folks are out trying find a way to make a difference even if it has nothing to do with the hurricane and even if it’s small and entirely local and initially overlooked.

    In the end, it’s easy to complain and talk about what should have happened — that’s indisputable. But it’s also easy to lend a hand in making life a little better, a little safer, and a little less fragile in the future.

  • Big Gay Sam

    here are the hard plain facts regarding this tragedy:

    This covers it all.

  • RazDreams

    perhaps commenting on jon’s post is one way some of us are trying to make a difference in how some people view what happened down here and who is truly responsible so it doesn’t happen again, even though commenting might be small and initially overlooked.

  • RazDreams

    …and other than the gas price hike, i agree with everything written in the article big gay sam points us to. facts are facts, folks.

  • Tim

    I know I’m belaboring a point here, but who says we can’t provide aid and compassion *and* hold people in power responsible for their failings? When did these two things become mutually exclusive? Never mind that sometimes holding our government (and ourselves) accountable is in itself defending the weak and the displaced.

    I believe we have a tendency as humans to say “Let’s not aportion blame” because we’re desperate not to acknowledge that there are problems larger than the immediate disaster. It’s much more comforting to believe that all the people behind the wheel are competent and have our best interests at heart. It’s much more comforting to believe the people with the resources did what they could.

    Whether your a Bush supporter or not, how can you not look at the deep divisions in this country and believe that things are truly okay?

    I’m sorry, Jon, for using your site for my incoherent ramblings without so much as a by-your-leave. Reread an early post where my sentences hardly form meaning I was so enraged when I wrote them. (Not sure why I’m being controlled by my minions.) Everytime I think I can’t get more angry and frustrated with this administration…

    I’ll stop now. Thanks, Jon, for sharing your well-expressed thoughts here and providing this forum for the clearly sleep-deprived.

  • Kim

    “Brizzoz says:
    …if we don’t question what HAPPENED during those four days what kind of ignorant citizens ARE we…?

    A tale from here in New York, in the days immediately following 9/11. At the time, people started asking why there was no way we knew about the impending attacks first, but we were all told, “no, this isn’t the time, we need to pull together as a nation.” And those that were wondering held their tongues, because yes, we did need to take care of those who were suffering.

    But then no one made a move to find out what had happened, who had dropped the ball, whether this could have been prevented. It took a small group of incredibly persistent victims’ families several years to finally pressure the government to investigate how things had been handled, and finally find out that yes, there certainly was some accountability.

    We need to take care of the wounded, hurt, stranded, and ill, we need to take care of those who lost their homes, and those who got stuck in the Superdome for three days. But, at the same time, this ABSOLUTELY is the time to ask the hard questions about how things happened the way they did. It’s not pointing blame — I personally don’t care whether the person accountible for dropping the ball in this case was George Bush, Bill Clinton, or Aquaman. I care only in finding who that person was and holding him or her or them accountable, and I also want this person to be found accountable as soon as possible, so the mystery doesn’t go unsolved as long as it did in 9/11’s case, and so they don’t have time to come up with “spin” to protect themselves.

    (A tangent, to those who’ve asked why people didn’t try to leave — I’ve heard of at least one instance where someone DID try to leave New Orleans, but got stuck in traffic so bad that he wouldn’t have gotten out of the city in time to beat the hurricane and chose to go to the Superdome instead because time had simply run out. Considering how bad traffic on the Tri-Borough Bridge in New York City gets on an ordinary day, I can certainly imagine this also being a big thing preventing people who tried to leave New Orleans from doing so.)

  • Kim

    Oh, I forgot — here’s an idea for continued help to the people of the Gulf Coast —

    Plan a vacation there. Emergency aid is one kind of money, but tourist dollars being pumped into the regular economy is also going to be important. Especially a few months from now, when we’ve all gone on to worry about something else and the cameras have all gone away. I’m personally planning a trip to New Orleans, saving up now for when it’s officially open for business, so to speak.

  • Laura

    I would just like to point out something I have noticed both in the media and in the above comments, these people are not refugees, they have not fled one country for refuge in another. They are by definition IDP’s or Internally Displaced People. Please do not call any of the victims of Katrina Refugees, they are not eligible for international aid, although with Bush in charge they might need it.

  • phil

    how does one make this comment without seeming political?…or is it a comment worth making at all. regardless of whether we have armed forces in Iraq, or if we spend millions of dollars in aid to other countries, those are pathetic excuses for the mishandling of this disaster. but who here can honestly say they would have known exactly what to do?? the mayor told the people to get out, some left others didn’t. for those who didn’t have a way out, it was the mayor’s responsibility to see that they did. did bush hold rudy’s hand when 9/11 happened. no. the only reason everyone seems to be yelling at him to help out here, must be because the local government has failed the city, and my state. the reason for local government is so that the president/congress/the senate doesn’t have to make all the choices….but if you want, maybe we should turn this into a monarchy, and let bush make all the decisions. because if he doesn’t, then we’ll just yell at him anyways. i am amazed by how many people make rash judgements without considering all the facts, just because they disagree with them politically. its funny that both the mayor of new orleans and the governor of Louisiana are both democrats, and no one has put any blame upon them, though they were, no are the ones who’s shoulders this responsibility should rest on.

  • Jenny

    Mihow, just because we may have taken a moment to comment here doesn’t mean we haven’t taken many more moments to lend a hand. We’re actually working pretty hard in my community trying to help in any way we can.

  • h.m.

    you think the death toll will outweigh that of the tsunami? that seems a little dramatic.

    and i know everyone likes to heap blame on Bush. i’m canadian, with no strong opinions on him either way. but just think about what it would be like to be the leader of a country that’s going through these major disasters. imagine taking over the leadeship of a country whose former leaders led in a such a way that other countries developed hatred for them. imagine taking over and soon after, a horrible terrorist attack takes place. then something like katrina. there are no easy answers. yes, he is making mistakes, but its easy to sit back and criticize when you aren’t the one trying to make decisions that will affect millions of people.

    just a thought.

  • DJ

    People need to read Stacey’s post (#185) again.

  • Seventeen Syllables

    DJ, I second that.

    Another thing that’s bugging me: why in HELL are people rescuing cats and dogs? It’s on CNN right now that there are teams w/boats going around to save Fifi and Fido.

    Meanwhile, there are THOUSANDS of PEOPLE still stranded in the flooded areas of the city. 280 were found this morning in one neighborhood.

    What kind of priorities do people have? I love my cat but good grief, I’d let him drown in favor of rescuing people without much of a second thought. Some may call me ‘speciesist’ but really, saving pets right now is fucked up.

  • Laura, VitaminSea

    I’d like to reply to Seventeen Syllables comment (#261).
    There are many people who are absolutley heartbroken over the whole isue of having to leave their pets behind. Those who think think of their pets as family members, especially the elderly, who often have no other family members at all. Kids are heartbroken when they have to be separated from their pets as well.
    There are still many people who will not leave for safe shelter because they would have to leave their pets behind.
    Rescuing these animals is not only a humane thing to do but reuniting the victims with their pets gives them hope and helps them to recover from their grief in this time of absolute insanity.
    When you realize they have lost their homes and families, their jobs and their city is under ruins you may realize how the small things mean so much to them. Those who seek to reunite these pets with their owners will bring some solace to the victims in the process.
    Let them be.

  • seventeensyllables

    I’m not talking about the non-evacuees who want to stay w/their pets, and I recognize that people are saddened by the loss of their pets, but I’m talking about the use of amphibious craft, boats, etc. to go around picking up dogs rather than people. There has to be some prioritizing in the use of resources while this crisis is still happening, and I’d rather that boats were used to rescue the trapped people than the trapped dogs. You can’t convince me it’s right to save lives of dogs before the lives of people. People need to be ALIVE so that they can mourn the loss of their pets or be reunited with them or whatever.

  • Kim

    “but just think about what it would be like to be the leader of a country that’s going through these major disasters. imagine taking over the leadeship of a country whose former leaders led in a such a way that other countries developed hatred for them. imagine taking over and soon after, a horrible terrorist attack takes place. then something like katrina. there are no easy answers. yes, he is making mistakes, but its easy to sit back and criticize when you aren’t the one trying to make decisions that will affect millions of people.”

    Other leaders throughout history have been able to handle it just fine — Churchill, for one. And Rudy Giuliani had no compunctions about leaping in and making decisions in a crisis, even though they affected millions of people.

    Leading in a crisis without messing up the job is possible. It’s been done before. It wasn’t done in this instance. An explanation of why it wasn’t done in this instance is still forthcoming, but cutting Bush some slack because “he’s got a hard job” won’t fly with me, sorry.

  • GreenOwl

    Re: the debate over who should handle disasters like this, Federal, state, local?

    I definitely think the local government(s) could have been better prepared and organized. They could have and should have done better in several ways. No argument there.

    BUT – as far as I know, there is no city or even state in this country that has a fleet of Blackhawk helicopters or the other kinds of super-duty resources that the U.S. military has brought into the Katrina area.

    And if they tried to, wouldn’t we all rightly yell about the colossal inefficiency? If every major metropolitan area looked at what it taking to deal with a Katrina-sized catastrophe and thought it should duplicate that?

    I live in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and if Cleveland and Cuyahoga County decided the lesson of Katrina is that we better be prepared to do it ourselves because the feds aren’t going to – I for one would think that was just harebrained.

  • Heather Lyman

    In response to “seventeensyllables”:
    There is room for volunteers to rescue both people AND animals. Suffering is suffering, period. A dog’s stomach hurts just like yours and mine when he’s hungry, and an animal’s fear is heightened by his inability to understand what is happening. As human beings, we are ethically responsible for attempting to quell all suffering, and I, for one, am profoundly grateful for every animal welfare volunteer down there.

  • KG

    I saw a picture of a dog this morning on the front page of, trapped behind the wrought iron door of his family’s home. If I were a rescuer standing on that street, I would give my life to rescue that poor guy and any other person or pet that I came across.

    I just hope his family didn’t see that picture because it nearly killed me.

    God help all these families.

  • Jenny

    I have to agree with Heather. Its horrible to allow any being, human or otherwise, to suffer. There are many animal rights organizations trying to get into New Orleans to save these animals. They’re not taking away from rescuing humans.

    I also have to say that I can’t actually come up with any circumstance in which I would willingly let my pets die. Its just not an option for me and I think that’s the case for a lot of people.

  • Laurie

    Have you all heard the story about “snowball”? Apparently this poor little boy got so upset about the soliders taking away his dog that he was physically ill poor thing.

    From what I understand, most of the pet rescue’s are being done by organizations that are dedicated to pet rescue in general. Shelters, the ASPCA etc. The Red Cross is not going around saving Fluffy and Spot instead of John Q. Public.

  • GreenOwl

    Yes, I did hear about the little boy and his Snowball. :( :(

    Generally I behave as if “cats are people too” (I have three), but one of the more sobering things Katrina has brought home to me is how would I take care of them in an emergency?

    Answer: I don’t know.

    If I was forced to evacuate my apt. bldg in a hurry (a fire for example), the chances of getting 3 spooked cats into carriers in 15 seconds or less ain’t huge.

    And then, how to get the whole shebang down 3 flights of stairs & out of the bldg., just using my own 2 arms?

    Forget the carriers and just herd the kitties out? Maybe, but ‘herding cats’ is a punchline for a reason…

    Scary thoughts. Dispensing kitty hugs as I type.

  • seventeen syllables

    I’m sorry. I just can’t get my mind around the idea that the suffering of, say, a 7 month old puppy is the same as the suffering of a 7 month old baby. I appreciate that the people who are rescuing pets are from pet rescue groups, and I certainly appreciate that people love their pets, but I firmly believe it’s just not appropriate to do search-and-rescue for pets while people are still trapped. The boats that are being used for animal rescue could be put to better use.

    Pets are lovely, but they are *luxuries.* Even a week after this hurricane, they are luxuries that should be sacrificed until the more pressing, immediate need to get people out of the city is met. I have no problem with rescuing pets once the more critical task is accomplished.

    I also wonder if the people who were now waiting for rescue were rich white folk, if there would be such a widespread acceptance of using valuable and scarce resources to go after pets while people are still trapped and dying. Would you feel OK about this if your mom and dad, or your child, were the ones waiting for a boat? Seriously?

    Finally, if we really live in a world where it is considered unethical to prioritize resources so that the elderly, ill, and children who are still stuck in the city (go read the boards at, there are plenty of people still) are rescued before fluffy and fido, then it’s no wonder that so many people have already died down there in what can only be called, in the technical military term, a clusterfuck.

  • AnimalResQ

    Sorry, but pets aren’t “luxuries”. Animals were domesticated for our pleasure and use by humans. We are responsible for their complete dependence upon us. And those who have pets consider them part of the family. My cats and dogs (I have three of each) are as valuable to me, if not more so, than my human family. And my human family has the benefit of speech and opposable thumbs. They are not 100% dependent upon me for their lives. I would NEVER leave my pets in any emergency, ever. I wouldn’t have even left my cats behind as so many did for this storm.

    It’s utterly ridiculous to me that people were being told they couldn’t take pets with them to shelters and as they were being rescued. They are not inanimate possessions! Finally, the resources being used to rescue pets are primarily from animal welfare and rescue organizations. These entities raise their own funds and most of the teams down there are volunteers. They aren’t straining federal or local gov’t resources to do anything they’re doing.

    p.s. Reports are that Snowball has been identified and they are tracking down the little boy he belongs to. has lots of good updates to what’s going on.

  • Jenny

    Wow. Odd. Huh. Hm.

    Am I racist because I think that its important to rescue animals, as well as people? As Laurie said, the people looking for animals are not interfering with the human search and rescue. They are organizations specific to that cause.

    I can honestly say I would have this same opinion regardless of race. I think there are many reasons why people are not being rescued, none of which involve people searching for animals.

    Animals aren’t luxuries. They’re lives that we’re responsible for. This disaster was a clusterfuck long before Peta got involved.

  • Tim

    The animals versus people equation is a little offbase. Many things have gone surrealistically wrong in Katrina’s aftermath, but if you’ve honestly gotten the impression that people are passing by stranded, desperate people and saying “Sorry, grandma, no room on the ark, bunny rabbits only”, I think you’ve got a distorted view of things.

    For one thing, believe it or not, the animal population of New Orleans at the moment is far greater than the human. This is almost always the case in evacuated or partially evacuated areas. There’s simply more of them to find at this point. You’re going to be encountering far more animals on a regular basis than people. This is part of the reason animal rescue groups are allowed access.

    Pets can pretty quickly revert to feral behavior, start roaming in packs, get sick, spread disease. Ethics aside, it’s an enormous health and safety risk.

    Most of the humans left behind now require real search-and-rescue people going door-to-door and into extreme conditions. You’re talking about different groups of people doing different tasks, not dedicated resources being diverted to save somebody’s lapdog. While I understand what you’re saying, it’s not a fair comparison. It’s not the Solomon-esque scenario that pisses you off so much.

    Personally, my feeling is save them all. Despite appearances to the contrary only a few days ago, we have the resources.

    Then form an army of the displaced–human and animal–and let ’em slouch toward Bethlehem.

  • Jenny

    Well said, Tim.

  • 17 syllables

    OK, I’m sorry, I can’t seem to get myself off the topic, I’ve been so pissed about this whole situation (like everyone else here obviously) and this is the only place I found to vent, but I clearly gotta get a grip. I know we all care about what’s happening down on the Gulf.

    Tim, I appreciate your points about the differences between differnt types of search & rescue teams and the need to deal with animals from a disease standpoint. I have been too fired up to think about that, apparently. :(

    But, as long as I live, and as many nice golden retrievers as I meet, I will never understand people who are as concerned about pets as people in this kind of situation. Maybe it’s not racist, maybe it’s truly that some people care that much about animals as opposed to any and all people, and maybe that’s just something I cannot understand. I could never say I love my cat “as much as if not more than” my kid or my husband or even my mother-in-law who drives me crazy. I can’t even fathom how one could feel that way. Really can’t.

    But, to each his own. Every little bit that goes toward getting things towards ‘normal’ is good, I guess. Sorry everyone– I’m going to drink a martini and try to calm down.

  • Tim

    17 syllables, I *totally* understand about being passionately angry and upset about this situation. God knows, I keep worrying obsessively at certain aspects of this whole nightmare. Can’t let them go.

    Even if we have different takes, I respect the fact that you give a damn and are willing to discuss it. It seems like anymore every issue is so emotionally charged and polarizing in this country we automatically go into the call-the-other-side-an-idiot-and-shout-’em-down posture. Better we talk–even if we arrive at the conclusion we have to agree to disagree. I’m willing to bet that there are probably a lot more things we agree about.

    A lot of people, myself included, are pretty worked up and angry about this whole nightmare–and the larger implications it has for our country. It’s going to take a lot of processing to work this into the big picture.

    In the meantime, deep breaths and strategic administrations of alcohol may be prescribed.

  • zerb

    You’re the richest goddamned nation in the world. Your military might is unprecedented. You’re just sort of wondering whether, if you weren’t in Iraq, you’d have the werewithal to handle this crisis? There’s doubt in your mind?

    What gets me is that other nations are giving money and volunteers. We do it, because we’re nice. But it’s a little like feeding breakfast to the kid whose father is just spending all the family’s perfectly adequate resources on a drinking binge, or gambling. It’s not that the kid doesn’t need the breakfast; it’s that it’s a crying shame that his own parents aren’t taking care of him.

  • Jenny

    17 Syllables,

    I don’t think its so much that we love animals as opposed to humans, its that we love them as much as humans and value their rights in the same way.

    Maybe its just a fundamental difference between people. But, like you said, one more step toward normal. I think in the end, for the most part, we all want the same thing, don’t we?

  • Jen

    A year ago, I used to wonder who in their right mind would vote for Bush. That people are still supporting him says a lot about the cult of personality and people’s need to believe in something greater than themselves. But that people are putting this trust in a feckless, incompetent, useless person like George Bush is beyond baffling. As the after affects of this disaster have shown, it’s downright dangerous. God help the people around the world he is responsible for-if he is taking care of America the way he is, can you imagine what is to become of people in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, to name a few?!?
    And a few words on the animal issue-as someone above said, animals were domesticated by us, and if we choose to have them, we are 100% responsible for them. If you believe in the Biblical version of this dependency-that we have dominion over the animals-then the same holds true-they deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity, and at the very least have their basic needs met, which in this case means RESCUE. As far as factory farmed animals are concerned-that’s an issue for another time, another place. I eat meat (only as humanely raised as I can find, which means I have a lot of vegetarian meals) and wear leather, but I am a card carrying member of PETA. SOMEONE needs to stand up for those who can’t speak out for themselves, and I commend these people who are on the frontlines on this issue.

  • Jen

    A year ago, I used to wonder who in their right mind would vote for Bush. That people are still supporting him says a lot about the cult of personality and people’s need to believe in something greater than themselves. But that people are putting this trust in a feckless, incompetent, useless person like George Bush is beyond baffling. As the after affects of this disaster have shown, it’s downright dangerous. God help the people around the world he is responsible for-if he is taking care of America the way he is, can you imagine what is to become of people in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, to name a few?!?
    And a few words on the animal issue-as someone above said, animals were domesticated by us, and if we choose to have them, we are 100% responsible for them. If you believe in the Biblical version of this dependency-that we have dominion over the animals-then the same holds true-they deserve to be treated with compassion, dignity, and at the very least have their basic needs met, which in this case means RESCUE. As far as factory farmed animals are concerned-that’s an issue for another time, another place. I eat meat (only as humanely raised as I can find, which means I have a lot of vegetarian meals) and wear leather, but I am a card carrying member of PETA. SOMEONE needs to stand up for those who can’t speak out for themselves, and I commend these people who are on the frontlines on this issue.
    Finally-please don’t become apethetic and think there is nothing you can do to help the victims of this disaster. Donate money, open up your home, no matter how small, to a “refugee” or two or ten. Do whatever you can, it’s imperative. We can’t leave this up to the US government or our people will continue to die.

  • 17 syllables

    You know, I’m starting to wonder if my inability to say I love my cat “as much as if not more than” my mother-in-law is because people have fundamentally different beliefs about animals and what and who should be priorities in times of emergency, or if it is because I have a particularly nice mother-in-law, and/or a particularly shitty cat.

  • Heather Lyman

    CRACKING UP at 17 syllables’ comment about the particularly shitty cat! Perhaps you could adopt a cat left homeless by Katrina and give it another go? :)

  • Al

    Our hearts and prayers go out to all the people of the world who are suffering. I am amazed at how our citizens feel that no one should ever suffer in this country, not even for a minute. We are the most incredibly selfish people on the planet.
    People this is an act of mother nature even if the “government” officials plannned for every possible disaster that could befall every city in this country we would have taxed our selves to death and there would be no money left for anything. The local government of New Orleans the mayor, alderman and county officials HAVE FAILED the people they represent. The Federal government should not be held accountable for every city in this countrys emergency plans. Don’t people realize how stupid that even sounds. People like to say things that make them feel good without really ever thinking what it really means. The State of Lousiana officials, GOVERNOR Blanco, FAILED the state. It will be interesting to see what the emergencey plans were if any. Then to see who called whom to implement them. People of this country wake up. Stop blaming everyone and instead look at what and why people are poor, helpless and ignorant. It is ignorance and lack of self motivation to get up and struggle and fight no matter what. Who of us hasn’t been slapped in the face, FIRED(Heather), discriminated against. This is the way of life that has been fed the poor and ignorant forever that some government is responsible for them. That’s why most people sat back and didn’t act on their own. The elderly in the nursing homes and poor communities who don’t have SUV’s, how did all these people get to their jobs before the storm. If the great mayor cared like he says, he would have been using city buses and school buses going through the poor neighborhoods and helping get people out of harms way. He didn’t have to worry about all the green, white, gray, blue people who were smart enough and had the means to escape to safer areas. All this tells us about the state of our country and it is not who is black or white, rich or poor. It tells us that whomever chose to stay behind and hope someone else will take care of them suffered the most. This people is the difference between life and death. The sad part is that we are country of whiney feel good do nothings. Stop whining and get of your butts and go help. If you can’t help quit asking somebody else to pick up the pieces. The world will wake up one day. If the policies of the liberal democrats were working and since 97% of the black vote if for the liberals how come they are still in such bad straights the demcorats have controlled the house for 40 years prior to the the Republicans taking control and if you thik I am a conservative you are dead wrong. I am someone who believes all politicians are in power for the power and all the triumphs it brings. Show me an honest for the people politician and I will show you a one term politician. Because if someone was truly working for the people he would have to make decisions that hurt most of the constituents that they represent to get them of the welfare state. Corporate and all welfare.

  • skape7

    LOL @ 17syllables – don’t feel so bad, I would always put my human family first too, although I would still be completely devestated if anything happened to my pets. But if that was my only choice there would be no question as to what I would choose. And if I remember correctly, I believe Dooce once previously wrote on the topic of the differences between the love you have for your dog and the love you have for your child, and her conclusions were similar.

  • Jenny

    I don’t have a mother-in-law, but I do have a particularly shitty cat. Maybe I’d sacrifice that one. I also have three republicans in my family that I’d for sure sacrifice before my other 2 particularly delightful cats (just a joke, righties, don’t jump on me!)

    And I don’t have kids, skape7, and I think of my pets as my kids. I should also add here that my grandparents have said many times that they’re pets are just as important to them as their kids…and are treated sooooo much better! Their dog used to get his own bowl of frozen yogurt every night after dinner.

    I will also say that if my choice were my pets or my family that I would obviously choose my family. I think our point was that both things can be accomplished in this disaster, its not necessarily one or the other.

  • skape7

    Oh I agree wholeheartedly.
    I was just trying to make 17 feel a little better. :)

  • Sean

    I’m not big on the blame game, because I think it’s safe to say that the entire emergency system as a whole didn’t fire on all cylanders at this point.

    A pretty good link from ms. alli has a pretty insightful viewpoint on the subject.

    A small snippet:
    ” Let’s assume we’re not deciding who should have done what at what time.

    My problem with Bush — and here, I do indeed address Bush individually, as a guy — is that during the time that the crisis was developing, from Monday to Friday, he never seemed to experience any actual sense of urgency as a result of the simple fact that people were, minute by minute and hour by hour, dying.

    Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that he was being prevented from acting by bureaucracy and the sheer magnitude of the situation. Where are the stories of how he was in his office freaking the fuck out because there were tens of thousands of Americans trapped without food and water? Where’s the story of how he ripped a strip off of somebody, demanding to know what the holy hell the holdup is getting water and food to those people? I want to hear about how he was demanding that extraordinary steps be taken. I want to hear about how he sent his lawyers into a room — he had four days, you know — and demanded that they come back in an hour with a plan for him to send the Marines into New Orleans with 100 trucks of food and water, posse comitatus or not.”

  • Sean

    While I love my wife (hi Laurie) more than our dog, I still have my dog’s name in my email address.

    And don’t worry honey, I might be a Republican but I promise to let your hippie liberal butt onto the lifeboat if the time ever came.

  • http://none Tess H.

    It’s too bad that a more honest discussion couldn’t take place here, considering the popularity of this site. I think everyone has an opinion on the things that didn’t get done before, during, after and continue to go on or not go on relating to this massive, massive tragedy, massive in scope, size and sadness. I think, though, it would behoove everyone to promise, no matter what their feelings on the government are, that as humans, we will not forget about this as we OD on news coverage and as the weeks and months stretch on into the future. The most important thing to do is to help, however small. A tragedy is a tragedy no matter where it happens, who it happens to or what their political climate happens to be. A tragedy of this size can and will happen anywhere in the world, “even in America” and it’s foolish to think that it wouldn’t affect everyone the same.

  • Michael

    I doubt anyone will read this far, but I did, so I’m going to get in my comment.

    Here’s my question (and I’ve read ALL the comments – so there![smile]): if the levees hadn’t broken, what would you all be talking about? Would anyone be shouting: “We better shore up them levees”? Or would there just be a couple pictures in the paper of broken bridges, downed trees and boats on dry land with stories about people still with no power?

    The main stories would have focused on Mississippi because those houses were blown to bits, which they weren’t in New Orleans. The main stories would be about gas prices, which would still be jumping even if the levee hadn’t broken because the refinery and pipeline damage was done by winds, I believe. And the main stories would be about Rhenquist and John Roberts, because that would be crucial to the future of the nation.

    Hindsight is 20/20.

    Also, was I the only one that saw the headline in the Washington Post about how funds DID get allocated to NO but then were diverted to other projects? I’ll have to read the whole article to be sure, but I think it’s important to have as much information as possible.

  • Michael

    This is the title of the article I was talking about:

    Money Flowed to Questionable Projects
    Washington Post, Sept 8

  • Regan

    I don’t want to get into a stupid fight over blaming anyone for this disaster, although I know where I feel blame should fall…

    Anyway, I just want to remind some of the commenting folks that unless you have lost EVERY SINGLE THING YOU KNOW, LOVE, AND HOLD DEAR TO YOUR HEART YOU HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE FROM NEW ORLEANS RIGHT NOW. (sorry dooce, it needed the strength of your caps lock)

    I got out in time, as I mentioned many many comments ago, but still everyday a piece of my heart dies being in a city that is not New Orleans.

    Please continue to help those that need it becasue the hurt of losing their homes is not going to vanish anytime soon.