Orleans and U.S. Gulf Coast Area
Hurricane Katrina Disaster - 2005
for New Orleans, the New Orleaneans
and the Rest of Those Hurt by
|September 5, 2005|
in northern Virginia, Gene Gaines, who is a fellow ISOC member wrote the
following response to another ISOC colleague, Iwan Effendi in Indonesia,
when discussing Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing destruction of New
Orleans. Note that this became a conversation about how this is
perceived by Americans and the rest of the world.
On Sunday, September 4,
2005, 9:49:03 AM, Irwan wrote:
--Response from Gene Gaines
1) The hurricane
missed New Orleans, passing just to the east, with strength to inflict
significant but not catastrophic damage in the city. It was the breaks in
the levees around New Orleans that caused the great tragedy there. Could the
levee breaks and subsequent flooding have been prevented? Yes. But
soon after the present Bush administration took power, ongoing work on the
levees, already in progress, was stopped by cutting the funding. Several new
projects, critical to maintaining the integrity of the levees, were halted.
Local officials, Louisiana elected officials to our national Congress, all
raised their voices in protest of these cuts. In speech after speech and
newspaper article after article, strong voices were raised, warning that the
levee maintenance work was critical, and would open the city to flooding by
a hurricane if not done. The levee work was not restarted. Why? Statements
were made as to why the funds were needed elsewhere: (a) the coming war in
Iraq (big U.S. firms can collect US$30,000 per month per employee, charge
US$1,000 a day to feed soldiers) and (b) tax cuts for the most wealthy
There are thousands of suitable military trucks are within several hours drive of New Orleans. Many were loaded with water, food, emergency supplies, but were withheld and not sent to the city. I have been told by one emergency worker that there was some concern that Federal managers might be criticized if their trucks were damaged by water or lost, after one convoy of trucks were sent to a flooded parking areas and reportedly were flooded.
Doctors in Charity Hospital, using cell phones as long as they lasted, made hundreds of phones calls for help -- to Federal officials, to other hospitals, to news sources -- describing the horrific conditions and begging for help. It is my understanding that no serious effort was made to reach the hospital, or to at least air-drop water, food, medical supplies. No help went to Charity Hospital for FIVE DAYS after the hurricane. FIVE DAYS.
News people have
driven into the city with satellite TV transmission equipment, looked
around, sent out live reports, and driven out again.
But no help went to Charity Hospital. This failure to provide help was
repeated over and over again in the city. Today, more than seven days after
the hurricane winds were over, significant numbers of people are still
trapped in their apartments, or the roofs or attics of their small houses,
without any food or water other then what was at hand. Still trapped.
Literally many hundreds of people skilled in disaster and flood rescue, offering boats, busses, planes, even trains, have been turned away from the New Orleans area because of red tape. Just one example, my local Loudoun County police department received a frantic call for help from the head of police in an area near New Orleans -- an area where people were dying in demolished buildings, corpses were laying unattended, thousands of people were without water or food. Power was out and phones were down, but the official calling for help was able to get through on a cell phone, his call "Please, please, we are desperate for help, can you send your people." My local police head (1,500 miles from New Orleans) went into emergency mode, assembled a large team of his officers, vehicles, food and water, tents and supplies so his people could be self-sustaining, and promised the people calling for help that his men were on the way. After driving hundreds of miles, they were stopped and told to go back home -- because the local police head asking for help, in the midst of death and devastation, had not gone through the proper channels. It is now 7 days after the hurricane, and my local officials still have not received permission for their police officers to begin travel to Louisiana.
To summarize, the flood in New Orleans is the result of man -- four years ago stopping maintenance work on protective levees (similar to the Dutch dike system) needed to protect the city, then the U.S. Federal government failing to plan for such a disaster (For example, providing at least some emergency disaster communications. There are none.) then the Federal officials stepping in to "take control" and actually preventing local officials, who know well what to do, from taking needed action.
Are my statements accurate? While people are dying, having waited more than a week for rescue, and while there are corpses all over this American city rotting in the hot sun, equipment is being diverted from rescue work to create "photo opportunity" scenes for the touring President of the United States.
I can take you to a small town where a school building was used to house people rescued from New Orleans, crowded together with no electricity, no water, no toilet facilities, no food, no ventilation, no communication to their loved ones, desperate and with some seriously ill. This school building is across the street from an Air Force base where troops were stationed, playing basketball and lounging in the sun -- with food, water, medical facilities. But the troops were not permitted to leave their base to help the people in desperate need, and the victims were not permitted to enter the Air Force Base.
As upsetting as the
above statements are, they are true, and need to be said. For shame.
Remember, it was NOT
wind damage that took New Orleans, that destroyed the city. Yes, there was a
hurricane. The city has survived such hurricanes many times before -- it was
the collapse of two levees that happened a day after the winds subsided. Is
this high water that collapsed the levees an unusual event for New Orleans?
Think about it. The Mississippi River rises and floods in the Spring of
almost every year. Floods and threats to the levee system are not new, and
not unusual. New Orleans knows how to deal with high water threats. But not
if the Federal government both (a) stops work on maintaining the levees, and
(b) ties the hands of local officials for rescue
|September 4, 2005|
has given a great deal of coverage, although much of this coverage has led
to false assumptions.
A friend, Ken North, who is a native New Orleanean living in California sent me this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers link containing this report dated March 2005, showing their assessment of the water / flood protection systems in the New Orleans area. What is notable is the money that was requested and the money that was actually spent. See below:
This is certainly damning, because Mary L. Landrieu, U.S. Senator, had introduced a bill to request funding for this project. President Bush had vetoed that bill. She discusses this at her website.
By the way, it was gut-wrenching to see and hear the responses about the damage and suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath from Senator Landrieu and the Jefferson Parrish President on Meet the Press on Sunday, September 4, 2005.
My own assessment: Al-Qaeda itself couldn't have done a better job of decimating a major U.S. city. What has happened in New Orleans and all along the Gulf Coast path of Hurricane Katrina, is a nightmare that will haunt the conscience of this country for the rest of our history.
|September 3, 2005|
Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina victims in the New Orleans area is now
better coordinated after musch protests to the media from high-ranking
officials including the Mayor of New Orleans, the Governor of Louisiana, and
a Louisiana Senator.
My sister, Sheryl, who lives in Baton Rouge, has taken in several members of her extended family, as their living spaces were wiped out by Hurricane Katrina. God bless them all.
|September 2, 2005|
|On August 28 and August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, a monster Category 5 hurricane, slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast, caused widespread damage and death from southeast Louisiana on the west side of the storm, all the way to Mobile, Alabama and points east of there. In the ensuing aftermath, the City New Orleans suffered a crippling blow when its levy failed in two places. The unexpected and often deeply feared result was that Lake Ponchatrain, which forms the northern border of New Orleans, has rapidly flooded into the geographic area that defines the city, like water into a low-lying bowl. The result of this flood has created circumstances that are being termed by many as "Biblical" (an allusion to cataclysmic events described in the Judaic-Christian Bible like the Great Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah), and catastrophic. Indeed, no single event in the 229-year history of the U.S., has ever seen a U.S. city suffer such mass devastation. Not even the Great Chicago Fire or the San Francisco Earthquake can compare in overall damage and loss of life.|
|We, as Americans, are used to helping others in such disasters, but solving the myriad of problems associated with this horrible natural disaster and its aftereffects, will certainly test our character and our ability to respond to such catastrophic events. New Orleans, a city heretofore known for its charm, culture, night life, and food, has now become a cesspool, where thousands of people are living under the law of the jungle. We are seeing the effects of what happens when a city the size of New Orleans completely loses its infrastructure and supporting services. Looters, carjackers, and thugs are running amok, and many are dying, being murdered, raped, and most are in great suffering, because they cannot respond adequately to the mayor's orders to evacuate the city, and living circumstances worsen by the hour. I am sure most feel that this area has become a Hell on Earth.|
|As this horrible, yet historic, drama unfolds over the coming days and weeks, and even months, we need to pray for New Orleans, the New Orleaneans, and the others affected by Hurricane Katrina. As a Christian, I believe that God answers prayers, and that this is a time when His Grace, His Mercy, and His Love are sorely needed.|
|So help us God, we need some miracles, truckloads and truckloads of miracles.|
|Foretelling of this Hurricane-related Disaster|
this link and see what you think (read completely): Gone
with the Water
Katrina Relief Fund and Family Locator
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