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Location: Oaksterdam, California

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Life Goes Off

Life Goes Off is one blog I keep coming back to read for updates on New Orleans and its environs. Start at the top and read backwards. This post stuck a cord and I had to share it (almost in in its entirety):
Because Someone Has to Say It: To those not acquainted with New Orleans:
Yes, we realize that much of our city was built below sea level. It's kind of the first thing you learn in school. Right after that bit about that George guy and the cherry tree and right before eating paste is bad for you.
Yes, we realize our geography leaves us more vulnerable to flooding. We don't know this because we are smart. We know this because it rains a lot and we get off of school.
Yes, we tried to protect ourselves from it.
Yes, it has worked in the past with varying degrees of success.
No, it did not work this time.
Yes, we are very disappointed in this.
No, we do not think that means this situation is all our fault. This will not change despite how many people suggest it. Maybe that means we're stupid, maybe it means the 'many people' are mean and need to sit in Time Out (aka Sensitivity Training). If it's any consolation to the Blame NOLA contingent, we feel pretty bad as it is, bad enough to where feeling 100% guilty will not help things get better faster.

Now here are some other issues, perhaps call them Did You Know?:
That if you drink an Icee too fast, you get a brain freeze?
That the Port of New Orleans was an essential port to the growth of this country's industry since its inception?
That this success is based on the port's location?
That, because of all the wealth and industry coming into the area, a city naturally grew around it?
That many cities in the world are built around areas that are vulnerable to natural disaster?
That The Waterboy is not a documentary?
That, while you can see a hurricane coming, you do not know exactly where it will hit until (at most) 48 hours before it hits land?
Given this, do you think it would be wise to evacuate the entire Gulf Coast of the United States every time a hurricane enters the Gulf?
If yes, do you realize that could be 6 states evacuating as many as 10 times in 4 months?
If yes, can my Mom crash at your place?
That the city evacuated nearly 1 million people in less than 48 hours?

As for the evacuation, it is sad that there were many people who had no means to leave town. In fact, it is downright awful. Make no mistake about it. While it would have been stellar if the city and state had been able to get them out via busing or boats, their failure to do so does not mean they did not have a plan. It might mean that they did not have a great plan, there might be a better one out there, but there was one. The Superdome has always been intended to be a refuge for those who cannot leave the city. It was built to withstand a category five hurricane. While the structure held, except for two holes in the roof, the facilities needed to keep people in the Dome for an extended period of time (electricity, sanitation, food rations) did not. In the future, a more satisfactory plan will need to be drawn up. Everyone realizes this, and, as soon as they finish dealing with all the shit going on right now, they'll get on it. They might even tell you about it when they're done, assuming it's still a story.

That being said - and this is just for my own clarification - how many other cities have ever had to do 100% evacuations in the days leading up to a natural disaster? This is not a cop-out, I just want to know if there are any precedents for something like this and if there are any successes we can learn from. If anyone knows, please share it.

Personally, I am sickened by the calls to not rebuild. It's nothing more than a call to leave these people behind. It looks like some of the hardest hit areas are also some of the poorest.

For comic relief, seeing Hastert back peddle on his earlier comments is like watching a drunk on a patch of ice. You don't to, but you still laugh when falls on his ass.