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Lisa V

Oh Moxie, this was brilliant, it made me cry.

I try not to think that the difference between this and 9/11 is race and class.

I know that they are dealing with more people, a huge area- I mean this is a miles and miles covering a couple of states, not just a few square blocks in a city. But still the world stopped for those few square blocks. If it wasn't for cable news, it would just seem like another news story. I feel like the world has barely slowed down.

Katie/WannaBeMom

Moxie, you've hit the nail on the head. I can't stand listening to people saying over and over again about what impossible situation it is. Deal with it already. I listened to Joe Riley, mayor of Charleston, talk about how to get things down, and I just kept thinking, "Why can't anyone get it done?" It's just so tragically wrong. And I can't help but think there is a race and class issue to this story, so underlying it's insidious. So utterly tragically wrong.

Noelle

You hit the nail on the head with this brilliant post. The entire situation makes me sick... and you know what the worst part is? We had warning. We certainly couldn't have planned for 9/11, but we KNEW about Katrina. We KNEW it was coming.

Ally

Well said.

penelope

Amen - you put it very well. One other thing, during 9/11 we blamed evil foreigners and for Katrina we have only ourselves to blame (obviously not for the weather itself for for the lack of rebuilt levees, preparedness, evacuation plan, and even global warming). That's my take on why the White House hasn't done a darn thing.

Brooklyn Mama

Absolutely. My feelings exactly. I am ashamed and infuriated at the response, or lack thereof. Thank you for writing this.

wix

right on, very well put.

we're talking about trying to go to some of the smaller communities which are being overlooked in the face of the new orleans clusterfuck, but which were still devestated, and taking food, water, batteries, clothes, etc. if it pans out, i'll document like a demon and blawg it upon our return.

jen

Word.

So may of us can't give much monetarily, but have things in our houses that can help -- food, clothes, school supplies, whatever. I've been haunting google all day looking for information on where to send things, alternate places to donate. I've found pitifully few. We're stuck here wanting so badly to do something, and there's no one telling us what to do.

Christine

You are completely right. In one of our classes we looked at pictures of evacuations of Manhattan after the attack, and how calm people were because someone was in charge and there was a plan at least. I can't even imagine how desperate a person would feel after realizing that no one was coming to help.

missbanshee

The one thing that really hit me regarding the role of the poor in this tragedy is the confusion people have when it is stated "it was the end of the month, they didn't have the money to evacuate." People don't understand this. They don't get that the poor live on staggeringly low wages or welfare/SS checks, and there simply isn't any money left at the end of the month. No savings, no stocks, no bonds, No. Money. No CAR to get out of the city! Why didn't they leave??? Because the only possessions they had were in those homes. They had no choice. Where was the government then? Where were the caravans to evacuate the poor? Why is relief getting to the convention center today (FRIDAY?!??!) We WERE spoiled by 9/11. I'm incredibly aghast.

sara

You really can't compare 9/11 and NYC and Giuiliani to the situation down there. You jsut can't. THey are not comparable situations.

Yes, 9/11 was awful. The death toll was awful. Rudi SHONE under pressure that day.

But the World Trade Center was one building complex. One POINT on the map of Manhattan. While it crumbled, the rest of the city was not physically harmed.

Giuilani had a functional Ops center.

He had power on to run the lights, the air conditioning, elevators, radios. They could recharge their radios and other battery-operated equipment.

The phones stayed on.

The roads, other than the ones that passed through the scene, were open. There were no trees down across the city, no power lines blocking rescuers, no flooded residences. No hissing gas mains ready to explode.

Clean water was flowing through the pipes. Sewage was swiftly taken away by other pipes. Mass transit, other than the one line under the WTC, was unharmed. The city's infrastructure was, ultimately, damaged but intact.

He had rescue personnel who had survived, and all their equipment, and a way to communicate with them. And only a fairly small area to focus them on.

Those personnel could REACH the disaster site, from every direction. They could work, and then they could go back to bases which were, again - lighted, with water and toilets that worked.

Food continued to flow into the city. Banks continued to operate. Stores opened, and people could use their money or credit cards to buy things.

I agree that the people of the United States would turn out. But they'd do it whether or not FEMA existed. People from all over hit the road to bring their boats to the scene. My moms' web board is collecting food and money. People are volunteering to open their homes.

Who would have coordinated all those buses? Who would have told their out-of town drivers where to go, where to concentrate their efforts? Who would have made sure that the buses didn't get tangled up and drive into places they couldn't turn around due to flooding? Who would have gone through the city getting word to people where the buses were leaving from?

Tour buses hold 50 people, according to Greyhound's website. You'd need several thousand of them, and you'd need someone to direct traffic and direct boarding. And they're not amphibious vehicles. To get people out of the swamped Superdome or water-surrounded convention center, you needed more than buses. You needed heavy equipment, you needed COMMUNICATION, and you needed some kind of central plan. Without the individual units working together, and without some kind of PLAN, all those well-meaning people would have been working at cross purposes, using their resources to help those they knew about, while others in more dire circumstances would be left behind.

I think the federal government has a role in all this. It should be the same role it has played from the beginning of the republic - to knit all the disparate efforts of the many different states in this union into a cohesive whole. For an effort like this, someone needs to be in charge, someone needs to have the power to direct the upswell of well-meaning, but ultimately unfocused effort. And THAT is where FEMA, and our government, failed this week.

Moxie

Sara, my whole point was that we had no plan. FEMA had no plan, and the Bush admnistration had no plan.

Kendra

Very interesting piece in the New York times about this very thing, which suggests that the Bush administration's priorities have sucked the life out of FEMA:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/02/opinion/02krugman.html

Kendra

Sorry that URL is so long. Try this one:

http://tinyurl.com/7ov5n

Jessica

Damn right. Such a good idea, to combine everyone under Homeland Security. We did have a *very* unified response--ass-sitting. It really is disgusting.

chris

Excellent point.

Monica

Right on, Moxie. I've been stunned into silence these past few days, but you've said everything I've been feeling.

Leggy

Moxie, you wrote what was ineloquently in my head. Thank you so much for this post.

Tracy

you have some really good points. So does the comments by Sara. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.

as for churches helping, they are, as always. The churches in my community. They are helping. We have hundreds of refugees in our town alone. Hundreds. Our church has already done one of the meals for the shelters, and will do another. We're taking care of the people staying with church members - at least 150, maybe more. Our schools are enrolling the children already - they'll start Tuesday, I've heard.

NY did have infrastructure left. NO doesn't. It's horrid. The damage to the phone system is extensive enough that we, who are not even physically close to the Southern part of Louisiana, we are having phone problems. I can only get online sporadically due to this.

And one more minor problem - Gasoline. There isn't any in a number of communities. It's being rationed in Jackson, MS. I've heard that Hattiesburg has none. Even our town - we have at least 6 stations closed due to lack of gas. How were these buses going to run?

You can point your fingers at Bush, at FEMA, at whoever. But this problem? It's too big for anyone. It's 90,000 square miles of disaster area. Who could have planned for this?

That said - they haven't done enough. Nobody has done enough. It's sickening and sad and horrible and I'd better hit post before I lose my ISP again. And when I feel sorry for myself, with extremely limited internet and gas stations closing, I close my eyes and picture the people I am seeing in the stores, at the shelter, and reminding myself - they have nothing left but their lives. I don't want to point my fingers anywhere - I just want to help them.

Jill

So today GWB was criticizing FEMA. Doesn't he understand HE is FEMA?

Christy

My thoughts exactly Sara. It is impossible to compare the tragedy of 9/11 to this disaster...90,000 square miles. People need to realize it will take time to mobilize rescue & relief efforts. It doesn't help that there is horrific violence going on that is forcing the rescuers to retreat. I'm also wondering where the rest of the world is when we need help. The whole world was there to help when the tsunami hit. This natural disaster is beyond what anyone expected.

JenEx

Christy, the rest of the world has offered help. Canada offered the first day. Germany, Great Britain, SRI LANKA has offered. Bush has told everyone to WAIT. Until we know what we need. He hasn't TAKEN the help.

Christy

Obviously my point was not to make this a political debate because everyone will believe what they want to. My point is that it is very difficult & unfair (especially to those personally affected by 9/11, including myself) to compare 2 totally different tragedies. One was an attack on America, the other a natural disaster. Of course the time it has taken to get relief to the hurricane victims is a travesty but I agree with Sara that there are many different factors that go in to a rescue effort of this size. Jenex, I would be very interested to know where I can read about the offers of help. Thanks in advance for the info.

Another Heather

I must say that I find the explanation of inability to forecast the scope/size of this tragedy unacceptable. I think that's one of the most infuriating things about this tradegy: Two reportes for the New Orleans Times-Picayune forecast this EXACT scenario--including the indigent who couldn't get out of New orleans and the rising death toll--several years ago. Two nights before the storm, CNN, FOX, and MSNBC all forecast worst-case scenario. This particular disaster has been at the top of possible emergency scenarios at FEMA for years. I think it COULD have been foreseen, and SHOULD have been planned for. Can someone explain to me why, since this seems to have been something on the minds of the leadership for years now, there wasn't a plan in place in the case of a mandatory evacuation to get EVERYONE out? It truly should be no surprise to anyone that there are poor people that had no means to get out of town. It was no surprise to me, and I'm not a goverment official.

This hits home for me. My husband, children, and I live well under the poverty level. We struggle to put food on our table every week, let alone gas in the car. If we had lived in New Orleans, we would not have been able to evacuate. I find it unacceptable beyond words that people are dying because they lacked the means to get out. And I find it deplorable that the excuse "we didn't/couldn't know" is bandied about so carelessly. The government should have known. We count on them to know. And we count on them to respond.

Ashley

I, too, am BEYOND sickened from what has happened. When Bush was interviewed a few mornings ago, he said everything possible is being done, but STILL when nothing happened I questioned if something really was being organized/deployed already. My first thought when i heard that people were stuck down there was "why aren't they DROPPING from planes food and water in crates attached to a parachute?!?!" They knew that many were at the Superdome so drop it there! Why wasn't that a thought!?!?

One thing I truly did NOT like about Bush in his first term (and even more so now) was that he never let people know what was going on. It's like we should *just* trust him that things are being handled. But people NEED and WANT to know what is going on, what things are organized. If he blames FEMA, then WHY? Don't just give us a smug "they are doing as much as they can" crap, TELL US what is going on.

I also heard on the t.v. that a couple of years ago they polled the people of N.O. asking them if they would leave if there was a hurricane evacuation. 1/3 said they would stay no matter what. There was plenty warning that this was coming and it was a Category 5 (right before it hit). I doubt that THIS many people just couldn't afford to go anywhere. (what about the tourists!?) But, they did stay and we have to focus on getting them out, but it does perplex me as to WHY 1/3 said they would stay no matter what.

Ashley

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