Katrina, August 29
Winds at 160mph
While I’m sitting through panels at the APSA convention, my Brilliant Brother has some thoughts on New Orleans with which I concur heartily.
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We’ve all been shocked by the events unfolding this week along the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, but the situation in New Orleans has been particularly horrifying. TV crews have repeatedly focused on the messes in the Superdome, convention center, and area hospitals. Images of people screaming for help, many elderly, or holding babies in obvious distress along with stories of no food or water and no sanitary facilities have just boggled our minds.
Could this really be happening right here in the United States?
Along with these news stories has been blame and recriminations pointed particularly at the federal government for a perceived lack of response to the disaster.
The question that hasn’t been adequately addressed however, is: “Where was the plan?”
It is clear that this disaster was not unanticipated. The potential for rampant flooding in New Orleans as a result of a major hurricane was apparently well understood. With that knowledge, the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana should have had a clear plan for trying to cope with the aftermath of this catastrophe. That plan should have anticipated that all the infrastructure including water, phone, electricity, and sewer would be disrupted throughout much of the city including the Superdome and convention center.
Mayor, New Orleans
The mayor of New Orleans has repeatedly called (and yelled and whined) for aid, but where was the plan and the leadership implementing the plan that should have been in place? The responsibility for the initial response to this disaster should have been at the local level NOT at the federal level.
A favorite cartoon of mine shows someone at a blackboard deriving a bunch of hairy equations. In the midst of the complex math, right at a critical point in the derivation, there is a blank area with just the text “then a miracle occurs.”
A wise professor looking on, points at the “then a miracle occurs” section and says: “I think you need a little more work here.”
Apparently, somewhere in the middle of the New Orleans disaster plan there was a blank area where someone just wrote in “then a miracle occurs” — or the equivalent “then FEMA steps in and bails us out” — and no one spoke up and said “I think we need a little more work here.”
That’s not the way to make a plan.
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