Ouragan Katrina: Attention, une catastrophe peut en cacher une autre ! (Looking back on Katrina: All-American failure or disaster of the century ?)

As big as Britain: Satellite picture of Hurricane Katrina, bearing down on south Louisiana and Mississippi on August 29, but it was the collapse of the levees which caused the most damage

America is a hurricane, and the only people who do not hear the sound are those fortunate if incredibly stupid and smug White Protestants who live in the center, in the serene eye of the big wind. Norman Mailer (Advertisements for myself, 1959)
Do you know why President Chirac did not get impeached after 15,000 people died in the 2003 French heat wave? Impeached? He didn’t even get pinched! It wasn’t his fault. How could it be his fault? He was on vacation. If some people were too dumb to retreat to a mountain chalet during this terrible vague de chaleur so what? So they shriveled up and died. The fact is, most of them were old; they would have died anyway. You’re not going to deprive a great statesman of his position at the helm of a great State just because 15,000 people didn’t have the sense to buy fans back in December! French media coverage of Katrina and her aftermath will go down in history as Force 5 skullduggery. (…) the French, and first and foremost the incorrigible state-owned television channel France 2,* attacked us in our very foundations, set fire to our essence with inflammatory accusations, flailed us with acid-based criticism, smeared us with the muck of hearsay, propaganda, and outright lies, and even that was not enough to satisfy their lust for revenge. France 2’s new newswoman oozed contempt from every strand of her short cropped bleached blond locks. The station’s main man in the field gleefully gloated through every pore of his shiny outer space bald noggin. No alcohol-soaked floozy wandering bleary eyed through the ruins of la Nouvelle Orléans was too zonked to get a pass at a France 2 mike and belt out curses against the guv’mint. The so-called independent TF 1 was hardly less vicious. A nuance here and there, nothing worth mentioning. Both stations buy their images from the same pool. The bloated body floating across France 2’s screen at 8:05 PM popped up on TF1 at 8:10. I don’t know if these images of bloated bodies were particularly expensive, but they got worn to death from being re-used every day for 2 weeks. Sometimes the image was accompanied by a commentary about how the US government had asked the media not to show dead bodies. And there it was, looming up on your French TV screen, the dead body that George Bush didn’t want you to see, bobbing against a worm eaten two-by-four, snagged in a tangle of branches. Then the camera would pan to a sweep of floodwaters, and you got the Jenin effect. Remember the supposed Jenin massacre? Thousands of bodies under the rubble? Horror stories by the carload. Everybody knew somebody who knew somebody who was buried under the rubble. The Israeli army wouldn’t let UN inspectors come in and dig out the truth. Still today, when the Jenin jihad-terrorists themselves have admitted that they were armed fighters, that they booby-trapped buildings, that they fought like lions and lost about 50 heroic combatants, the thousands of fictional phantoms buried in the rubble of Jenin still haunt us. Well, they can now join hands with the victims of the Katrina massacre. Ten thousand. A great bloated figure floating on the floodwaters. Ten thousand—someone estimated it, France bought it, and the ten thousand was repeated so often it sounded like a hundred thousand…and rising. Bush will never admit the truth. Tu comprends? No more than he will admit to the 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the course of his wrong-headed military operation in Iraq. No more than Israel will admit to the genocide of the Palestinians, whose genocided population has gone from roughly 800,000 to roughly 4 million but closer to 5 million in 60 years. (…) As for George Bush, who should have been there while the wind was tearing the place apart, and should have shipped in the troops if he hadn’t already sent them to make trouble in Iraq, and shouldn’t have come to Biloxi when the real mess was in New Orleans, and has a nerve coming to New Orleans, not once but three times, just to get his picture taken. With Blacks! As if everyone didn’t know that the reason the hurricane hit New Orleans is because America is a racist, capitalist, warrior state. French viewers (and radio listeners, and newspaper and magazine readers) were invited to tisk tisk and cluck cluck over this stuck-up country that thinks it’s rich and high tech, and can’t even eradicate poverty or protect itself from a “cyclone.” (…) Not one word, not one image of Katrina was fair and honest. Whatever the subject – the damage, the overwhelming logistical problems, the inadequate responses, the time elapsed, the number of victims – it had to be nasty, virulently anti-American, pointedly anti-Bush. But not in the way of political rivals, even low down cheating rivals. No, in the way of Jew-haters. A hatred that comes from deep dark sources. (…) To sum it up, Katrina, seen from over here, was not a natural disaster. It was a pre-programmed event and, as it happens, a test case of American ineptitude. As a result, any American claim to world leadership is automatically rejected. Further, if one had any doubts about the wisdom of Bush’s intervention in Iraq, it is now clear that it was a disaster. He should have intervened in the weather instead of fooling around in distant countries and creating terrorism out of whole cloth. Any one in his right mind would have known that this cyclone would destroy the levees, that the levees should have been reinforced, that the population should have been evacuated under the personal direction of the US president, that people who wanted to stay should have been provided with all the necessities, that Biloxi was right next to New Orleans, that no one should be poor in fair weather and all the more so in foul and doubly so if they are poor and black. When white rescue workers come to the aid of poor black victims it proves that the United States is racist all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. What more do you need? Nidra Poller
But of course other important issues were raised, such as the question of racism, whether, as some people claim, it played a part in the evacuation as 67% of the city’s residents were black – but so were the mayor and most of the (notoriously corrupt) local authorities! Or of the abject Third-worldlike poverty of its residents, but if Louisiana is indeed one of the poorest American states (with 24% under the poverty line – 11% for New Orleans), the US poverty line is, at 15,000 dollars a year, still almost double the French poverty line! Or of the unfair singling out of the mainly black looters, but New Orleans was the US murder capital in 1994 and it’s still one of the country’s most corrupt cities. Or about the environment, as much was made of the greenhouse effect, which supposedly raised the oceans’ temperature and thus increased the likelihood and power of hurricanes. But it obviously didn’t start with President Bush, while environmentalists also blocked many of the dikes projects! Or of the Iraq war, which was said to have reduced the number of troops or the amount of money available for rescue efforts. But the US has… 1.5 million troops, 2 million with its National Guard and its Reserves! And its GDP is… 12 trillion dollars (twelve zeros!) that is close to seven times that of France! So in the end, many (including in the media) have begun to realize how easy it is to jump to conclusions and make sweeping generalizations from incomplete information. And even here in France, one can hardly imagine what our reactions would have been if 40% of France had been under water or even if our tropical islands of Guadeloupe or Martinique had experienced that kind of deadly power! And as to the attitude of the president, who was accused of being slow to react to the disaster because he was on vacation when the storm hit, maybe we should remember the summer of 2003 when our own president was away on vacation and… 15,000 old people died from the heat wave! JC Durbant

Ouragan Katrina: Attention, une catastrophe peut en cacher une autre !

LOOKING BACK ON KATRINA
All-American failure or disaster of the century ?
JC Durbant
The Jauresian
October 11, 2005

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi in late August, it also caused quite a controversy in and outside of America. But as the death toll and the damage are being slowly evaluated, more and more questions are beginning to emerge.

First, the controversy raged about whether it could have been prevented. But then people realized the sheer scale of the storm (a category 4 hurricane with 230 km/h winds) and of the disaster (the size of Britain). Not to mention, the sheer size (20 times the size of France!) and wildness of America itself with its regular tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Next, the controversy moved to the flood defences and whether they could have been made better. But then it was discovered that if the funding for the dikes had indeed been cut for years (by both Democrats and Republicans), the tidal surge would probably have overcome them anyway. Not to mention the particular topography of New Orleans (literally surrounded with water: a lake, a river and the ocean, with half the place under… sea level!).

The third question was about the obviously poor planning of the evacuation. Critics first pointed out three types of people that the local authorities failed to evacuate: the sick (in hospitals), the old (in nursing homes) and the poor (in public housing projects). But then others countered that a lot of the victims had actually refused to leave their homes as a poll had predicted last June (with 30% saying they would not obey an evacuation order).

Then, it was the turn of the federal aid, that is the central government’s responsibility, which indeed took three days to do anything about transporting the sick, rescuing the trapped people or stopping the looters. But in fact, it turned out that it was the local authorities, mainly the governor’s office, which delayed calling a state of emergency and the National Guard (for financial reasons or fears of antagonizing the local hotel industry?). And even though the federal government did deserve some blame for not seeming to know what was happening for several days, it eventually emerged that they were actually delayed by the wild rumors of widespread looting, gunfire, murders and rapes spread by the local authorities (both New Orleans’ mayor and its police chief – to hide their own failings or to get more aid?) and amplified by the (mainly democrat-controlled) media (including the high death toll estimates: tens of thousands, while only about 1,000 deaths have been confirmed so far in New Orleans with about 1,200 overall).

And finally, it was President Bush’s responsibility, which was amply discussed, some critics (especially in Europe and in the rest of the world) claiming he was responsible for the whole thing. But again it turned out that those critics failed to grasp the power structure in America with ifs federalism and its wide diffusion of power (with local and state authorities – mayors and governors – having large powers and resenting any interference from the central government in Washington.

But of course other important issues were raised, such as the question of racism, whether, as some people claim, it played a part in the evacuation as 67% of the city’s residents were black – but so were the mayor and most of the (notoriously corrupt) local authorities! Or of the abject Third-worldlike poverty of its residents, but if Louisiana is indeed one of the poorest American states (with 24% under the poverty line – 11% for New Orleans), the US poverty line is, at 15,000 dollars a year, still almost double the French poverty line! Or of the unfair singling out of the mainly black looters, but New Orleans was the US murder capital in 1994 and it’s still one of the country’s most corrupt cities.

Or about the environment, as much was made of the greenhouse effect, which supposedly raised the oceans’ temperature and thus increased the likelihood and power of hurricanes. But it obviously didn’t start with President Bush, while environmentalists also blocked many of the dikes projects! Or of the Iraq war, which was said to have reduced the number of troops or the amount of money available for rescue efforts. But the US has… 1.5 million troops, 2 million with its National Guard and its Reserves! And its GDP is… 12 trillion dollars (twelve zeros!) that is close to seven times that of France!

So in the end, many (including in the media) have begun to realize how easy it is to jump to conclusions and make sweeping generalizations from incomplete information. And even here in France, one can hardly imagine what our reactions would have been if 40% of France had been under water or even if our tropical islands of Guadeloupe or Martinique had experienced that kind of deadly power! And as to the attitude of the president, who was accused of being slow to react to the disaster because he was on vacation when the storm hit, maybe we should remember the summer of 2003 when our own president was away on vacation and… 15,000 old people died from the heat wave!

Note: about the French media’s coverage of Hurrricane Katrina, see also this recent LA Times piece:

Excerpts

« A recent Nouvel Observateur cover summed up this stark view: « America Stripped Naked: The cyclone reveals the wounds of the every-man-for-himself society. »

« Marianne, a left-leaning newsmagazine, declared: « The American giant folds beneath the weight of its failures and struggles to enforce an order that it wanted to impose on the world. »

« Marianne’s take typified the profound disdain for President Bush in evidence here. A special issue titled « The Fall of the Pyromaniac Fireman » blamed Bush for a planetary flash fire of crises — from Iraq to global warming — that, in the magazine’s view, discredit an entire free-market-driven, militaristic « Anglo-Saxon model » of governance. »

« In the newspaper Liberation, Gerard Dupuy accused the Bush administration of « contempt for victims who without a doubt were doubly at fault for being both poor and black. » He concluded that the neoconservative « crusade, » which was « already mired in the Mesopotamian marshes » of Iraq, had « foundered in the Louisiana bayou. »

« Some pundits predict that Americans will now want a more muscular, « French » approach to government. But others suggest that it’s best not to point fingers. They recall the heat wave two years ago that killed about 15,000 people in France. »

« In that tragedy, many elderly people perished in hospitals and nursing homes that lacked air conditioning. Thousands of corpses were discovered in sweltering apartments as the death toll escalated and French leaders, as well as some relatives of the dead, were criticized for remaining on summer vacation. »

KATRINA’S AFTERMATH
To Some in France, U.S. Sinking in Storm
Commentators argue about whether Katrina is providing an excuse for anti-Americanism.
Sebastian Rotella
September 21, 2005

See also:

France passes judgment on Katrina

Nidra Poller
September 20th, 2005

Do you know why France is never hit by hurricanes, even though she once owned Louisiana? It’s because France signed the Kyoto Protocol. Do you know why la petite Camargue in the south of France, with its famous bulls and free-range horses, was flooded twice this summer? It’s because George Bush did not sign the Kyoto Protocol.

Do you know why President Chirac did not get impeached after 15,000 people died in the 2003 French heat wave? Impeached? He didn’t even get pinched! It wasn’t his fault. How could it be his fault? He was on vacation. If some people were too dumb to retreat to a mountain chalet during this terrible vague de chaleur so what? So they shriveled up and died. The fact is, most of them were old; they would have died anyway. You’re not going to deprive a great statesman of his position at the helm of a great State just because 15,000 people didn’t have the sense to buy fans back in December!

French media coverage of Katrina and her aftermath will go down in history as Force 5 skullduggery. Let me go out on a limb here, and guess that the Iranians were more humane on this issue than the French. I’m just guessing. I’m just supposing that they said Allah was punishing us for killing Muslims, desecrating mosques, raping Muslim women, and defending the Zionist entity. Whereas the French, and first and foremost the incorrigible state-owned television channel France 2,* attacked us in our very foundations, set fire to our essence with inflammatory accusations, flailed us with acid-based criticism, smeared us with the muck of hearsay, propaganda, and outright lies, and even that was not enough to satisfy their lust for revenge. France 2’s new newswoman oozed contempt from every strand of her short cropped bleached blond locks. The station’s main man in the field gleefully gloated through every pore of his shiny outer space bald noggin. No alcohol-soaked floozy wandering bleary eyed through the ruins of la Nouvelle Orléans was too zonked to get a pass at a France 2 mike and belt out curses against the guv’mint.

The so-called independent TF 1 was hardly less vicious. A nuance here and there, nothing worth mentioning. Both stations buy their images from the same pool. The bloated body floating across France 2’s screen at 8:05 PM popped up on TF1 at 8:10. I don’t know if these images of bloated bodies were particularly expensive, but they got worn to death from being re-used every day for 2 weeks. Sometimes the image was accompanied by a commentary about how the US government had asked the media not to show dead bodies. And there it was, looming up on your French TV screen, the dead body that George Bush didn’t want you to see, bobbing against a worm eaten two-by-four, snagged in a tangle of branches.

Then the camera would pan to a sweep of floodwaters, and you got the Jenin effect. Remember the supposed Jenin massacre? Thousands of bodies under the rubble? Horror stories by the carload. Everybody knew somebody who knew somebody who was buried under the rubble. The Israeli army wouldn’t let UN inspectors come in and dig out the truth. Still today, when the Jenin jihad-terrorists themselves have admitted that they were armed fighters, that they booby-trapped buildings, that they fought like lions and lost about 50 heroic combatants, the thousands of fictional phantoms buried in the rubble of Jenin still haunt us. Well, they can now join hands with the victims of the Katrina massacre. Ten thousand. A great bloated figure floating on the floodwaters. Ten thousand—someone estimated it, France bought it, and the ten thousand was repeated so often it sounded like a hundred thousand…and rising.

Bush will never admit the truth. Tu comprends? No more than he will admit to the 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the course of his wrong-headed military operation in Iraq. No more than Israel will admit to the genocide of the Palestinians, whose genocided population has gone from roughly 800,000 to roughly 4 million but closer to 5 million in 60 years. What did he say, our old buddy T. S.Eliot? “I did not know that death had undone so many.”

I am well aware that Katrina wreaked havoc in the American press and political arena. The controversy is scintillating. And the event, in and of itself, inspires the writer to philosophical and lyrical heights. Having personally experienced one very tremendously destructive hurricane in Miami Beach, having seen, on more than one occasion, the Hades turbulence of a tornado-bearing sky, I can just imagine Katrina!

Or I could have, if I didn’t have to get my information from the French media. These people don’t know from hurricanes. They had a windstorm once; you’d think it was the end of the earth. A little bit of heavy rain and they are flooded up to their eye teeth because it only happens once or twice or eight times a year and Nature knows best. The downright arrogance of a French newswoman -some of them are sweet and soft as velvet, one of them belts out the news as if words were whips – scolding the whole United States of America for not having foreseen the logistical problems that would follow in the wake of Katrina, is enough to explode the temper of the most well-balanced observer on the other side of the screen. How dare they be so hateful? And so ignorant! They don’t know what they’re talking about. Non, ce n’est pas possible.

If I were to pinpoint the most egregious errors of reporting, evaluation, and appreciation, it would take longer than it will take to pump the floodwaters from the lowlands of New Orleans. If I were to describe just a handful of the worst moments, it would take hours. How about the camera focus on a bunch of gays who stuck it out in the French Quarter during the whole danged thaing? One grizzly geek waxes philosophical as he runs an old record player hooked up to his car engine, and a fluttery fellow with yellow hair sits on a stoop and complains about the helicopters zuzzing overhead. “What a bother,” he says, with a flash of his shimmying wrist.

Now that’s authentic! As for George Bush, who should have been there while the wind was tearing the place apart, and should have shipped in the troops if he hadn’t already sent them to make trouble in Iraq, and shouldn’t have come to Biloxi when the real mess was in New Orleans, and has a nerve coming to New Orleans, not once but three times, just to get his picture taken. With Blacks! As if everyone didn’t know that the reason the hurricane hit New Orleans is because America is a racist, capitalist, warrior state.

French viewers (and radio listeners, and newspaper and magazine readers) were invited to tisk tisk and cluck cluck over this stuck-up country that thinks it’s rich and high tech, and can’t even eradicate poverty or protect itself from a “cyclone.” Why do French media want to call our hurricanes “cyclones”? It’s just one more item in a long list of distortions designed to misappropriate our reality. By depriving the hurricane of its specificity, you deprive the experience of its high-end intensity, you bring it down to size, to French size, to the size of things that any person in his right mind should know how to handle.

A terrible airplane crash killed 152 Martinique-French citizens recently. Overall coverage of the accident, the aftermath, the grieving relatives, the touching ceremonies came close to the time subsequently devoted to Katrina. The difference is stunning. The French crash victims went down in Venezuela on their way back from a holiday in Panama. The (duly authorized Martinican French) travel agency had booked the flight with a Colombian airline. It took almost a week, and revelations in the print media, before TV broadcasts revealed that the Colombian company – based in Medellin – was two inches from bankruptcy. All the planes in its small fleet were grounded because of technical problems, except for the fatal crasher which, by the way, had already flown 12 flights that day.

Nevertheless, press coverage focused on sorrow. Beautiful dignified sorrow: a priest crying as he read out the names of the victims, children crying for their parents, brothers crying for their sisters, the entire island of Martinique crying for its loved ones, and tears welling up in the eyes of a lovely French newscaster snug in the studio, reporting on the events. No indignation against the travel agency that booked seats on the rotten airline. No outrage at government agencies that are supposed to regulate air safety. No rebukes against French society that is failing citizens on more than one count. And of course no one asking President Chirac to resign because he couldn’t bring a planeload of Martiniquais back from Panama.

He did go to the memorial service.But that’s another story.

The gratuitous contempt for the victims of Katrina has no better comparison than the obsessive, hypocritical, vomiting contempt for Jews…in France…in the 1930s. The words slime and sleaze are appropriate to this particular kind of hatred that covers everything, sticks to the smallest detail, can’t be removed. Not one word, not one image of Katrina was fair and honest. Whatever the subject – the damage, the overwhelming logistical problems, the inadequate responses, the time elapsed, the number of victims – it had to be nasty, virulently anti-American, pointedly anti-Bush. But not in the way of political rivals, even low down cheating rivals. No, in the way of Jew-haters. A hatred that comes from deep dark sources.

Former Newsweek correspondent Ted Stanger, an avowed Francophile, a bit shocked by the French reaction and media coverage of Katrina, asked to make an appearance on France 2. His critique was so low key, harmless, and ultimately Francophile that you might imagine he was invited deliberately to fend off the kind of screech I’ve written here. Stanger thought the French had been a tad unfair with the United States. It’s not because a country is rich and high-tech that it doesn’t need some TLC sympathy when it’s down. The blond TV headmistress was not taking it! Hmph, she said, we sent our highly skilled Red Cross teams and they were given lowly tasks. Stanger leaned over backward. The French, he opined, had missed an opportunity: since they gave America a dressing down for acting unilaterally in Iraq, they could have taken advantage of the opportunity to go multilateral when disaster struck.

Even that was too much. The sharp-tongued headmistress gave poor Ted a crocodile smile, and chomped off his head! “So? You’re saying we were wrong all down the line?” Translation? Well, it can’t really be translated. What did she mean? She meant “we didn’t do anything wrong, certainly nothing deserving of criticism, and no matter how many valid points you make, we’ll never admit we did anything wrong.”

To sum it up, Katrina, seen from over here, was not a natural disaster. It was a pre-programmed event and, as it happens, a test case of American ineptitude. As a result, any American claim to world leadership is automatically rejected. Further, if one had any doubts about the wisdom of Bush’s intervention in Iraq, it is now clear that it was a disaster. He should have intervened in the weather instead of fooling around in distant countries and creating terrorism out of whole cloth. Any one in his right mind would have known that this cyclone would destroy the levees, that the levees should have been reinforced, that the population should have been evacuated under the personal direction of the US president, that people who wanted to stay should have been provided with all the necessities, that Biloxi was right next to New Orleans, that no one should be poor in fair weather and all the more so in foul and doubly so if they are poor and black. When white rescue workers come to the aid of poor black victims it proves that the United States is racist all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.What more do you need?

This:

The ultimate in intellectual journalism. Jean-Marie Colombani, editorial director of the newspaper of record Le Monde, in the company of his distinguished colleague Alain Frachon, informed in real time by their man in New Orleans, broadcasting on the elegantissimo radio station appropriately named France Culture. The program is called “Rumeurs du Monde.” (Got it? Le Monde the newspaper, le monde the world!) It’s the cat’s pajamas. And the subject of a recent episode was, you guessed it, Katrina or, more exactly, the failure of the United States Government to predict, react, succor, and repair the damage caused to the hapless victims of Katrina. Listen in as themes that had been crudely developed in the mass media are now suavely treated in the stratosphere of France Culture:

They are so knowing! Seen from here, my dear friend, it is all too obvious. We would have known what was coming, and what to do about it. But Bush, my goodness, what a failure. No wonder his ratings crashed. Hmm, yes, crashed, truly crashed. Hmm yes, no wonder.

Suddenly, someone, I guess it was Colombani, has a fantastic insight: crashed, yes, but only down to 38%. It should be much lower, shouldn’t it? Given his dreadful performance?

Frachon has the answer: the American public is so disconnected from the media, that even when the media tell them that they have lost confidence in their president, ahum, (here comes the explanation) whole sectors of the population persist in trusting George Bush.

Can you get the picture? In that benighted country we call America, television audiences are so stubborn that they don’t even believe the media that tells them that they, this very public, have disavowed their president. He should have had 0% of confidence! If people only knew what was good for them.

Well, I, an audience of one, observing the rustle of the world as it goes about its business, would like to make a new rule for those with 20-20 hindsight:

Before they go into their riff about how we should have known what would happen in New Orleans (Baghdad, the WTC, etc.) let them inform me clearly and precisely about what is going to happen next. What is it that we should have known was going to happen? What single event looms on the horizon, ready to spring on us before the end of October 2005? And don’t give me any global warming or exhausted fossil fuel long-term predictions, I’m talking about the day after tomorrow. I want to see how they sort out, among the rustle of the world, that one single Word of absolutely reliable forewarning.

And I want it in writing.* See my article on France 2 and the Al Dura Affair here.

Nidra Poller is an American writer living in Paris.

Nidra Poller

3 commentaires pour Ouragan Katrina: Attention, une catastrophe peut en cacher une autre ! (Looking back on Katrina: All-American failure or disaster of the century ?)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    As the floodwaters recede, serious questions remain about whether New Orleans and Louisiana officials followed their own plans for evacuating people with no other way out.

    The mayor’s mandatory evacuation order was issued 20 hours before the storm struck the Louisiana coast, less than half the time researchers determined would be needed to get everyone out.

    City officials had 550 municipal buses and hundreds of additional school buses at their disposal but made no plans to use them to get people out of New Orleans before the storm, said Chester Wilmot, a civil engineering professor at Louisiana State University and an expert in transportation planning, who helped the city put together its evacuation plan.

    Instead, local buses were used to ferry people from 12 pickup points to poorly supplied « shelters of last resort » in the city. An estimated 50,000 New Orleans households have no access to cars, Wilmot said.

    State and local plans both called for extra help to be provided in advance to residents with « special needs, » though no specific timetable was prepared. But phone lines for people who needed specialized shelters opened at noon Saturday — barely 30 hours before Katrina came ashore in Louisiana.

    Many people from New Orleans ended up staying home or using a « last resort » special needs shelter state authorities and the city health department set up at the Superdome. Those who made it out of town initially found limited space. The state of Louisiana provided shelter in Baton Rouge and five other cities for a total of about 1,000.

    In the city of New Orleans alone, more than 100,000 of the city’s residents described themselves as disabled in a recent U.S. census.

    Hospitals were exempted from the mayor’s mandatory evacuation order. But at least two public hospitals, loaded with more than 1,000 caregivers and patients, had their generators in their basements, which made them vulnerable in a flood. That violated the state’s hurricane plan but had gone uncorrected for years because the hospitals did not have the money to fix the situation, a state university hospital official told the Chronicle.

    The consequences came to bear in the images hours and days later: Elderly people dying outside shelters and hospitals that were losing power and, finally, their patients. Now, hurricane evacuation experts around the country are asking why New Orleans failed to prepare for the flood scenario from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane.

    « Everybody knew about it. There’s no excuse for not having a plan, » said Jay Baker, a Florida State University associate professor who is an expert in hurricane evacuations and is familiar with New Orleans hurricane studies …

    http://www.chron.com/news/hurricanes/article/New-Orleans-strayed-from-evacuation-plan-1491205.php

    J'aime

  2. […] voix de rationalité et de lucidité qui ont émergé (du moins du côté francophone) du dernier ouragan d’hystérie médiatique post-Katrina que nous venons de traverser […]

    J'aime

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