Monday, August 30, 2010

Katrina Revisited

(We have several entries from the wake of events that occurred five years ago. They are produced here as they appeared when published. The last entry will show that this writer was rather preoccupied himself at the time. -- DLA)

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Thursday, September 1, 2005

It Ain't Easy in "The Big Easy"

By now, everybody has heard about the flooding of New Orleans and surrounding parishes, caused by the recent Hurricane Katrina. The mayor has estimated the death toll in the thousands, and that it will be the city at least two months to be operational. Until then, he has ordered its evacuation.

For those who stayed behind, many are stranded on rooftops. Hundreds of hospital employees are still stuck at their facility after having evacuated the patients. On the flooded streets, there is looting of the stores, as people are making away with foodstuffs and infant supplies, in an attempt to survive. The looting has erupted into total mayhem, like Mardi Gras turned ugly, as people with stolen firearms are shooting at helicopters attempting to help with the evacuation. Local police have actually been called away from rescue detail, simply to restore some sense of order.

People are even attempting to enter refugee centers with their recently acquired big-screen plasma TVs. Maybe they floated on them, and so they have sentimental value. Beats the hell outa me...

Last night, I watched MSNBC's Scarborough Country, where some very moving accounts are being reported. "One man came up to us. He took the water, took it back to his wife. She was weeping silently in the passenger side of the front seat. And the man looked down. He said, ‘How much do I owe you? I don't have much. I have lost everything.’ And we said, you owe us nothing. They drove away weeping." There's more. I've heard reports of people driving south with truckloads of bottled water, and simply leaving their cargo at the edge of disaster areas.

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds excerpts from his Instapundit weblog on the MSNBC website, with information on how to support relief organizations involved in the effort. I'd recommend any of them, but especially Catholic Charities, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. In addition, the Boy Scouts of America is weighing in as part of their "Good Turn for America" initiative.

In addition, you might check out Wal-Mart, a commercial partner in the relief effort.

Stay tuned for more developments -- and this writer's own thoughts on the crisis (some of which are not far removed from those of the Old Oligarch).

(UPDATE: We've got NZ Bear taking the initiative on behalf of the blogosphere at his site, Truth Laid Bear. In addition, syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin has some interesting thoughts on the aftermath of Katrina.)

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Thursday, September 1, 2005

Be Prepared

There's a lesson learned by every Boy Scout, if he learns anything at all, which is reflected in the motto: "Be Prepared." Someone once asked the Founder, Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, for what should a Scout be prepared. His answer was, essentially -- anything.

From the day I moved out to be on my own, there has always been camping and survival equipment stored in my closet. I'll admit it's not all packed in one container, ready to grab as I fly out the door. But in an hour, I can be ready with enough to survive for two to three days all in one backpack; with first aid equipment, extra wool socks (which stay warm even when wet), extra briefs and can be rinsed and drip-dried for repeat wearing, non-perishable whole-grain food items for eating on the run, MREs (meals ready to eat, military issue), a hunting/survival knife, emergency rescue blanket, flashlight, batteries, a radio, a parka with extra survival goods packed in case the pack gets lost or stolen... did I leave anything out?

Oh, yeah, I'd bring my guitar along if possible. The traveling model.

(By the way, you know how to make matches waterproof? It's easy. You get those wooden stick kind that come in the big boxes, and paint them at the top end with clear nail polish. Keep them in a little waterproof container, or a little tin. That way, when you need them and even if they're all wet, just wipe them dry and strike on the appropriate surface. You're good to go.)

In addition to the usual roadside emergency stuff, I keep a couple of lengths of good, strong rope in my car. I also keep a woolen blanket in the back seat, and a couple of emergency survival blankets in the glove compartment.

I have never, EVER, lived on on a flood plain. You can't control Mother Nature. If enough rains falls, all the "flood control" efforts upstream won't stop the water from settling in the lowest place. And believe you me, water always finds the lowest place. And it stays there, till it decides to leave.

In New Orleans, the police looked the other way as looters walked off with groceries. But they failed to stem the onslaught of sub-human creatures who walked off with television sets, VCRs, cartloads of designer athletic shoes, and other luxury items. These neanderthals are the same ones who are gonna bitch about why the city takes so long to clean up after them.

It is said that one-fourth of the NO population is below the poverty line. Most of them live in the low-lying area of the city, which was hardest hit by the flooding. Perhaps the greatest shame of poverty is not the loss of material goods, but the loss of human dignity. The knowledge that others have what one does not, is enough to dampen the spirits of the weaker among us. In despair, they take what they can get, heedless of the cost to themselves or others, and to the devastation of the following day.

It is that devastation which is the result of their own lack of foresight. But is it not also the result of a culture that places value on the wrong things? What sort of example is set by those who have, for those who have not? Without question, those who do the looting cannot be excused. But might their stealing of luxury items be considered the lesson taught by those who prosper, and display as much to the point of excess? Is there an irony in the prospect that the latter may include some of those from whom the goods are looted?

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Thursday, September 1, 2005

Silent Heroes

The following is posted by Dom at Bettnet: "Meanwhile, the seminarians of St. Joseph Seminary in St Benedict, near New Orleans are alive and well and caring for 100 elderly and sick refugees. They’re running on generator power and there’s no flooding, but the roads are blocked and there’s no way in or out."

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Friday, September 2, 2005

Still Big, Ain't Gettin' Easier

It's been four days now, and relief is only beginning to reach New Orleans, and other cities in the region. Thousands of the area's poor, lacking the means to evacuate when told, are dead or dying. The account in today's edition of TCRNews reads like the morning after the Johnstown Flood of 1889. The Anchoress provides some very good commentary: "When the levees fell and hell was unleashed, those emergency folk who were in place were faced with a disaster that they’d simply never encountered before. No matter how “prepared” they might have been, they were not - could not be - prepared enough. Suddenly they were not dealing with a mere disaster, they had a true catastrophe on their hands..." There is much more here, and it's definitely good reading. I also recommend Michelle Malkin, who is staying on top of the story, and the response from within the blogosphere. Amy Welborn of Open Book provides various insights from others on the bigger picture. (Definitely worth a shot.)

And speaking of blogosphere, an inside account from an IT group stranded in NO is known as The Survival of New Orleans (formerly known as The Interdictor).

Jack was asking me "where the hell is FEMA, the all-powerful, government created agency that can assume absolute power in times of an emergency?" FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency, an independent Federal agency until being incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security in March of 2003. Washington insiders will tell you that, conspiracy theories from The X-Files notwithstanding, FEMA has not always enjoyed a stellar reputation. Add to that the difficulty of reaching anyone while getting shot at. At least in Iraq you can shoot back at an enemy. Shooting at desparate civilians is another matter. If you read the sources listed above, you'll have some idea of the status of the response. Remember, this is the largest natural disaster in American history since the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

Meanwhile, I've got an evacuation of my own to prepare.

Tomorrow I commence seven days of frantic preparation. One week from today, I go to settlement on my new home. The following day, the moving van pulls up to the basement studio apartment I've rented for the last eleven years. That's the longest I've lived anywhere since moving to the DC area from Ohio nearly 25 years ago. For the five days that follow, I will be wrapping up the old, and setting up the new.

While I will attempt to maintain an active presence at this time, my entries will be minimal. I expect to be back up to full speed by the 15th.

On a final note...

As I close, I remember the Archbishop Hughes of New Orleans, and Bishop Muench of Baton Rouge. Both are staying with the poor in Baton Rouge, serving them as the true shepherds they are. (Thanks for the heads up, Dom.) Tonight, there's a zydeco dance across town in Maryland. Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners are scheduled to play. I hope they made it up from Louisiana in time. I've got a lot of musician friends down there, and I'll hear more about how they're doing by tonight.

Stay tuned, and stay in touch.

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