Tag Archives: Katrina

Hurricane Katrina: The Debacle that Wasn’t

For some unfathomable reason the “debacle” of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath was somehow blamed on the  “non-first responder” FEMA and President George Bush.    For  the life of me I cannot comprehend this and, even more, I cannot comprehend how Republicans and President Bush have allowed themselves to take the blame for the perceived debacle.

First of all, the aftermath and recovery was not a debacle in any way.  It was among the greatest successes, yet with many failures and shortcomings, of disaster response in our history.   But yet again, the sheeple of America bought the line that it was a preventable disaster of immense proportions and it was all Bush’s fault.  B.S.  Yes it was a monumental disaster, but that is why hurricanes are called natural disasters.  Hurricanes are supposed to do damage and be disasters, if they weren’t they would be called a severe thunderstorm.

Despite the fact it was not a debacle, with more coming on that in a bit, even if it was how on earth was it Bush’s fault?   How did so many of you completely miss the terrible leadership of Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco?  Don’t you remember the images of school bus depots full of buses during the mandatory evacuation that happened to not be used?  I do.  Mayor Nagin demonstrated the worst example of leadership on the part of a major city mayor in human history until Mayor Kilpatrick of Detroit this year.  (Ok, I have no real evidence to back that last statement up).  But the Democrats and the media’s hatred of Bush found it easy to push the blame on him.  What a sham.

But don’t take my opinion on this at face value, check out this article from Popular Mechanics called “Debunking the Myths of Hurricane Katrina”.   It seems to me that this is the least partisan article on the topic I can find.  It is an automotive and technology publication for crying out loud.  Here is a snippet from the (fairly lengthy) article:

GOVERNMENT RESPONDED RAPIDLY

MYTH: “The aftermath of Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history.”–Aaron Broussard, president, Jefferson Parish, La., Meet the Press, NBC, Sept. 4, 2005REALITY: Bumbling by top disaster-management officials fueled a perception of general inaction, one that was compounded by impassioned news anchors. In fact, the response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest–and fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm’s landfall.

Dozens of National Guard and Coast Guard helicopters flew rescue operations that first day–some just 2 hours after Katrina hit the coast. Hoistless Army helicopters improvised rescues, carefully hovering on rooftops to pick up survivors. On the ground, “guardsmen had to chop their way through, moving trees and recreating roadways,” says Jack Harrison of the National Guard. By the end of the week, 50,000 National Guard troops in the Gulf Coast region had saved 17,000 people; 4000 Coast Guard personnel saved more than 33,000.

These units had help from local, state and national responders, including five helicopters from the Navy ship Bataan and choppers from the Air Force and police. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries dispatched 250 agents in boats. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state police and sheriffs’ departments launched rescue flotillas. By Wednesday morning, volunteers and national teams joined the effort, including eight units from California’s Swift Water Rescue. By Sept. 8, the waterborne operation had rescued 20,000.

While the press focused on FEMA’s shortcomings, this broad array of local, state and national responders pulled off an extraordinary success–especially given the huge area devastated by the storm. Computer simulations of a Katrina-strength hurricane had estimated a worst-case-scenario death toll of more than 60,000 people in Louisiana. The actual number was 1077 in that state.

Look, we Americans often fail to accept that bad things happen and people die.  Hurricane Katrina was a terrible, terrible event in our history.  But it was no one’s fault.  No one is to blame.  It was a hurricane and it will not be the last major hurricane disaster in our history.  I guarantee that sometime in the next 200 years another major hurricane will directly hit New Orleans and practically destroy it again, it is the nature of New Orleans’ location and below sea level situation.

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