L. Neil Smith's
Number 335, September 4, 2005

U.S. Out of New Orleans!

New Orleans Drowning
by Neil Alexander

Special to TLE

Thursday September/05 22:59

I lived in New Orleans first as a teenager—my first major city to explore. I left at 17 and returned after my stint in the Navy in 1985.

In total, I lived in New Orleans for over 7 years. I also lived in Baton Rouge, and Slidell. Slidell seems to be even worse off than New Orleans.

When I see the helicopter pictures showing the destruction, I can identify virtually every place. The sign on I-10 for the first Slidell exit was especially disquieting. The bridge in pieces—broken on both sides. Other parts pushed over several feet, making the whole thing look like a child's construction ready to collapse.

I was following the news quite closely. The mayor made an interesting statement, "Too many chiefs, not enough indians."

He said it on Monday morning after Katrina struck midnight Sunday. He said it after he found out that the helicopters he had dispatched to lift 3,000 lb sand bags to repair two broken flood walls has been redirected by some unknown person. Ostensibly for search and rescue.

I remember seeing pictures of reporters talking on Canal Street and the French Quarter. Both had trees and lines and trash on the ground. But both were high and dry. There was no flooding.

Picture 1
Photo By Sudha Kailas

This picture is on Carondelet Street (1 block from French Quarter) taken Monday Morning. Notice that it is DRY!

Photo By Sudha Kailas

This is 8am Tuesday morning showing Gravier street—near the intersection with Carondelet above. Not in the Quarter, but still in the Central Business District. This is the highest land in New Orleans. This pic shows between 1 and 2 feet of water.

On Tuesday, the news concentrated on showing the myriad people who had become trapped on their roofs due to rising water. 5 - 19 feet of water that had rushed in through those two breaches. Two flood wall breaches that should've been sandbagged but were not because of the mayor's orders being ignored.

The death and destruction of the hurricane was bad, but the real death and destruction did not begin until after the waters rose to equilibrium with Lake Pontchatrain.

The government search and rescue teams started dumping people at the damaged Superdome. In all, about 20,000 were in there. Only problem was, there was no bathrooms, no power, no water, and little food, apparently. It had become completely unlivable. And those poor people were not allowed to leave! They were prisoners! Thanks to the idiot National Guard commander who made a bad situation even worse.

That was on Tuesday. Lots of things—mostly bad—have happened since, including massive looting and sniping and attacks on hospitals and general unrest. Conspicuous by its absence was the Louisiana National Guard.

They were watching everything on TV, too. While sitting in Iraq!

A couple of hotels, seeing a need and meeting it, arranged for buses to come fetch their stranded tourists. They never made it, even though they were paid in advance. Those buses were comandeered by some government organization and used for something else. It's not exactly clear where they ended up. About those tourists? They were told to walk (wade?) over to the Superdome, and join that happy group!

So we have a whole series of problems, what the military euphemistically calls a "clusterfuck". A long chain of events that can all point to the ineffectiveness of governments at all levels.

The unrest was caused by lack of protection that the National Guard is supposed to have as its mandate. This is Bush's fault and the Governor's fault for not deploying them as soon as the evacuation order was given.

But the whole real mess in New Orleans was caused by some flunky who took control over those helicopters, and thereby doomed New Orleans to a month long cesspool bath. Who ever that person was, and we'll probably never know who, is directly responsible for billions of dollars in damage, and thousands of deaths.

New Orleans survived Katrina. But it can't survive the government.

First published in Neil Alexander's Blog DuckBites, Nibbled to Death by Ducks.


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