September 06, 2005

The Blame Game... okay, I'm in for 2¢

It seemed like so much bad taste and pettiness was vented in the days immediately after Katrina hit New Orleans. The devastation in Gulfport, Biloxi and many other cities and towns was more severe, yet the media focused on Louisiana and her tantrum-throwing executives.

Not wanting to get into the blame game, I've been pretty silent all week about all things Katrina. Other blogs have been doing a great job of reporting the facts and fallacies, the timeline and the anarchy. I just wanna say this: As far as I'm concerned the blame lies in the astounding lack of leadership in New Orleans. And I don't mean just in the several days before Katrina came ashore, I mean in the decades before Katrina came ashore.

Ever since I was in junior high school I knew that New Orleans was a valley on the coast below sea level. I knew that it was protected from flooding by mad-made levees. I also knew that there was concern about keeping those levees strong and maintained. Mayor Nagin and everyone else can cry all they want about federal funds that were requested and never granted, and maybe they have a point. But, the thing that makes me furious is that, in all of the concern about the levees ability to withstand a category 4 or 5 hurricane, in all the decades that that concern was being aired and re-evaluated, no past or present administration in the Big Easy ever put an evacuation plan together. The mother of all hurricanes was a day or two away and they Had. No. Plan.

Mandatory evacution was ordered with no procedure in place to evacuate the hundreds of thousands with access only to public transportation. Hundreds of school buses sitting in parking lots for days after the evacuation orders were given. I don't know how long Mister Nagin has been mayor of New Orleans, but I'm sure he feels betrayed by his predecessors at least as much, if not more, as by his counterparts at the state and federal levels of government. At least he should.

A simple bit of foresight; a contingency plan: if that, then this. If the Big One is coming, then the buses will roll. Just a plan, that's all. But no one ever drew one up. As some other blogger wrote (don't remember who, sorry): "It seems they hoped for the best and planned for...well...the best."

The people of New Orleans who had no way of evacuating -- and who had to row or wade through flooded historic streets, pushing floating bodies aside -- have every right to be furious at their own elected officials and their appointees. Their government didn't drop the ball, they couldn't have, because they never even reached for it.

But, even without a plan in place, there was plenty that the current administration could have done. The NOPD chief said something to the effect of "There's going to be a time during and after the storm when we'll just have to say to the people, 'well... you're on your own'.."
This is leadership?! How about "There's going to be a time in the next 48 hours when we'll have to say to the people 'the bus is at the curb and get your ass on board'..."?!

But me point is that they shouldn't have had to wing it when the threat became imminent.
Those who never bothered to figure out a way to deal with the "disaster waiting to happen" need to be shipped to Siberia. Or Alaska. Or the Superdome. Hey, there's a plan...

Posted by Tuning Spork at September 6, 2005 09:59 PM | TrackBack

It's even worse than you think. They did have a plan. The plan did include the busses.

A plan unexecuted is worse than no plan at all.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at September 7, 2005 10:14 AM

Well I'll be darned. Hadn't read that before.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at September 7, 2005 08:18 PM
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