I am not one to run to the defense of our President. I am not entirely fond of the man but there are certain things that should be stated. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, two very powerful storms that could have done far worse than they did, our President is coming under serious heat and fire. Shall we analyze the situation?Hurricane KatrinaIntroduction
Hurricane Katrina formed on August 23, to the southeast of the Bahamas. It struck Florida on August 25 at 6:30pm EDT, as a weak category 1 and was quickly back down to a tropical storm. On August 27, at 5:00am CDT, she was suddenly a category 3 and it was apparent that it was going into the Gulf of Mexico and going right towards Mississippi and Louisiana. Just as August 28 began, at 12:40am CDT, she was a category 4 and growing stronger by the hour. Within hours, by 7:00am CDT, she was a category 5 and one of the strongest storms ever recorded. It later reached a minimum pressure of 26.64 inches (902 mbar), making it the fifth most intense Atlantic Basin hurricane on record! At 6:10am CDT, Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana as a category 4, but a strong category 4. It would pass through Louisiana and Mississippi, severely destroying everything in its way. Eventually the storm would dissipate as it traveled northward, leaving in its wake, destruction.
Katrina brought with her storm surges and devastating winds. She impacted Louisiana with 145 mph sustained winds, gusts being much higher. When she hit the Louisiana/Mississippi border, she had sustained winds of 125 mph. Over 200 miles of coastline, a 10 to 30 foot storm surge was reported, Biloxi suffering under 30 feet. Mobile, Alabama suffered the worst surge since 1917.
However, there was more! She dropped 36 confirmed tornadoes on Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Five were rated as F2 with the rest being F0 to F1.
In the overview, between the time that Katrina slammed through Florida and the time it hit Louisiana there were 84 hours, more or less. By the time it was evident that the storm was going to grow more and strike with force there were 48 hours, more or less.
Once the hurricane rolled through, it destroyed everything in its wake. New Orleans suffered dangerously though Biloxi and Gulfport, in Mississippi, were just about wiped out completely. 90% of the structures between Gulfport and Biloxi ceased to exist in the wake of the storm surge.
New Orleans survived the storm but the end was sown when the levees broke. During the day, a levee on the Industrial Canal broke, flooding the 9th Ward. The next day, the 17th Street Canal levee suffered a breech, a 200 foot long breech. What would occur next would be Lake Pontchartrain, some six feet above sea level, draining into the city, which was between 2 and 10 feet below sea level. Water always finds its own level. Some areas of the city were under as much as 25 feet of water. It wasn't long before some 80% of the city would be flooded, many spots under 20 feet of water.
This was when things became grim and disastrous. Everything seemed to fall apart, New Orleans effectively being erased off the map. Law and order vanished in the city. The Superdome and Convention Center became infernos of problems. Fires broke out. Looting went into extreme mode. Gangs shot at rescue helicopters, doctors, police officers, and anything else that moved and breathed. The situation became completely chaotic.The Actors
Within this disaster there are four central actors: Ray Nagin (Mayor of N.O.), Kathleen Blanco (Governor of L.A.), Michael Brown (FEMA Director), and George Bush (President of the US). Let's take each one individually, right from the get-go but first let us do another small timeline.
On August 26, Gov. Blanco declared a state of emergency. President Bush would follow with another declaration on August 27. That day, Mayor Nagin calls for a voluntary evacuation of the city, calling people to bring a 3-day supply of food and water to the Superdome and the Convention Center. On August 28, at 10:00am CDT, Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco call for a mandatory evacuation, with less than 24 hours to go before the storm hits. On August 29, after the storm has hit, Bush declares a major disaster area for the areas affected by Katrina. On August 31, "Governor Blanco makes a request for President Bush to send Federal troops to help with evacuations and rescues. Under the Posse Comitatus Act, Federal troops can not deploy to Louisiana in operations which might involve them in law-enforcement period. The Governor states that she should have requested them sooner, but was worried about putting people in jeopardy according to an interview with CNN" (Wikipedia, Timeline). She also orders that all of New Orleans is to be evacuated. On September 1, a massive convoy arrives in New Orleans, almost 8 miles long, coming with food, water, boats, guardsmen, policemen, fire fighters, fire trucks, buses, and other vehicles.
Rescue helicopters were on the scene the next day after the storm hit, plucking people from roof tops. Rescue workers worked throughout the storm, rescuing those who they could.
Now let us look at the individual actors.
Mayor Ray Nagin is to definitely share some of the blame. Mayor Nagin did not follow his own evacuation protocol, which was set in place after extensive studies that cost a lot of taxpayers' money and were conducted and set by scientists and other intellectuals. The protocol calls for the evacuation of people from the city. As quoted: "The primary means of hurricane evacuation will be personal vehicles. School and municipal buses, government-owned vehicles and vehicles provided by volunteer agencies may be used to provide transportation for individuals who lack transportation and require assistance in evacuating" (STATE OF LOUISIANA EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLAN SUPPLEMENT 1A, Part II, Section B).
From these pictures we can see over 100 buses and almost 200 buses being flooded, unable to be moved. This second picture shows an aerial view of the number of buses that were stranded, not far from the Superdome. Given the severity of the situation and the mandatory evacuation that he ordered, why did he not evacuate the people OUT of the city by bus? Why did he, instead, send them to the Superdome and Convention Center?
We can assume that he did have a good interest in mind. Both the Superdome and the Convention Center are well built structures, albeit the former suffered roof damage. Both held up throughout the ordeal and were safe places, from the storm. However, though he had good intentions in mind, he did not follow his protocol.
Now let us look at Governor Blanco. Perhaps the most to blame is the Governor. The Governor has full and total control over the state affairs and the federal government cannot intervene unless the governor asks for help or demonstrates that he or she is completely incapable of handling the affairs of a state. The governor did not ask for help until August 31, two days after the storm hit. Help arrived the next day. There was no reason to declare the governor incapable of managing the affairs of the state and thus Bush would have received, most likely, double the backlash had he undermined her power, even though that is what opposition demands from him. It is a catch-22. Governor Blanco did not use adequate numbers of her guardsmen on time. Many opposition people will claim they were deployed overseas. Many were but 65% were not, enough to secure a single city, even though the city was grossly under policed, between 1,000 and 2,000 officers, a good amount who vacated their posts.
Let us progress to Michael Brown. Michael Brown should have never been in charge of FEMA. There is no excuse for this. He demonstrated his inability to manage in the wake of Hurricane Frances. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he failed more miserably. He claimed he did not know of the Convention Center, which was utterly foolish, did he not pay any attention to the news? Brown blundered around severely.
Now, finally, let us move to President Bush. Bush has a style of leadership not unlike Reagan. He lets people run their own departments without much interference. That is his style. Clinton was the opposite. It has nothing to do with party lines, it is simply his style of management. In this case, it proved problematic. He took Brown on his word and took the information being given to him by Brown as correct. He should have researched further. He acted when he was asked by the Governor and was careful NOT to overstep his bounds, which, had he done, opposition would be further calling for his head. Nothing he could have done would have satisfied the left. Bush is not absolved of the blame, however. He should have reacted sooner. Once the levees broke, he should have immediately gotten involved. He did make serious attempts, however. On September 2, "the Bush administration sent Gov. Blanco a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. This matter may also have been discussed by Pres. Bush and Gov. Blanco in phone conversations or a meeting aboard Air Force One." It seems as much as he tried, the state level hampered him.The People of the City
The city of New Orleans is a very unique city. Many of its residents are poor, very poor. Many of them had no means to evacuate, lacking money for gasoline for cars or even cars. Many of them are not educated at all, leaving them in a serious situation. Most of these people are the ones directly affected, those who wished to stay. However, many of those who stayed did not wish to leave.
A lot of the individuals saw this as a free chance to grab and take. Looting was rampant. Looting food & water is no crime and should not be seen as one. However, the individuals taking Air Jordans, TVs, firearms, alcohol, and the like were not stealing for survival but rather for greed. These individuals are the ones to be shot on sight.
When rescue efforts began, helicopters were shot at, police were shot at, doctors were shot at. There is NO excuse for this! How can you shoot at the people trying to rescue you? They should have been dragged into the streets and shot, point blank, in the head, no trial, no jury, no due process. These people are SCUM! These are the people who were doing the raping in the Convention Center, these are the people who committed the murders, these are the people who we saw on television pushing dumpsters full of useless junk, such as TVs and other things they looted. These gangs shot at cops, shot at guardsman, quite a bit of them being killed in return, just as they deserved. And was there commonality? Yes there was.
With the breakdown of law & order, many people saw this as a chance to do as they saw fit, to live as they wanted, to do what they wanted. The breakdown led to anarchy and humanity, at its finest, in cases of anarchy, will always resort to pure acts of evil. We saw it first hand. New Orleans was not a city in a first world nation, it was not a city in the most powerful country in the world. It was like Mogadishu. People shot at those there to help; people committed heinous crimes for lust, greed, and other emotions.
The events of New Orleans gravely helps to define crime in the US. Many liberals will claim that crime is a result of poverty. This is a very viable argument and in the case of New Orleans, poverty is rampant. Many will claim that it is because these individuals, black people, more or less, had no where to turn and their actions were a result of their being oppressed and impoverished their entire life. According to the 2000 census and the FBI uniform crime statistics
, there are more impoverished whites than blacks, in number. However, 48% of crimes are committed by blacks with 49% by whites (including Hispanics). Poverty has little significance here. These people, doing the crimes were the dregs of society and proved to be just what they were. Not everyone in the city resorted to crime and violence, an overwhelming majority sought refuge and escape. However, the minority of individuals who did go straight to crime and violence will often overshadow them.The Blaming Reasons
Many people cited tons of reasons following Katrina, why the government did not help sooner. Many people cited because the city was mostly black, that it was a racial thing. Immediately, someone will always place the race card. Many people cited that it was because Bush was on vacation. Others will claim that the people in charge were incapable of leading. The list goes on and on.
Was it a racial thing? New Orleans is a major port, a major port for oil. Since Katrina, gas prices have topped $3.00 per gallon, almost coming near $4.00 in my area (Bronx, NY). "White America" and its SUVs suffered greatly because of New Orleans being out of commission. Therefore, allowing the city to be destroyed because it was mostly black would harm us white people significantly. Sorry, this wasn't a racial problem. Nice try.
Was it because Bush was on vacation? Not many people know this but the leader of a country is NEVER on vacation. If Bush is at his ranch in Texas, all it means is that he is not in the White House. It is not like he stops being the President of the country just because he isn't in the White House. Everything he has at the White House, he has at his ranch, and Camp David, and anywhere else he might go, including Podunk, Iowa. By the way, President Clinton was watching a golf game in the 1990s when the military HAD Osama Bin Laden nailed. He chose to watch the game rather than act on that one. So nice try.
Was it because the people in leadership positions were numbskulls? Yes it was. The Mayor failed to follow the protocol set for him for this situation. The Governor asked for help too late and did not do what she could with what she had, which would have been enough to curtail the disastrous crime levels, had she sent the national guardsmen. The director of FEMA was incapable of leading during crisis and his resignation was definitely to be expected. Lastly, Bush did react too slowly.New York City vs. New Orleans
Some people have cited that NYC received anything it wanted after 9.11. Our leaders, Governor Pataki and Mayor Guliani were amazing people, not because they were Republican, but because they knew what to do. They called for help immediately, they knew how to react in a crisis, and they realized the gravity of the situation. Bush toured the wreckage of the WTC on 9.14. Bush overflew New Orleans on August 31 and could not visit the city because of the rampant looting and crime. It was just not safe. There were no cases of such instances following the collapse of the WTC. Governor Pataki called in guardsman that day to sift through the rubble. Governor Blanco faltered there. Is it fair to say that NYC is favored over New Orleans? No it is not. New Orleans is a major hub of the country, especially in a time of crisis, an oil crisis. NYC may be the economic center of the country and the world but the vastness of our disaster is nothing in comparison to that of New Orleans. Let us also add that NYC on 9.11 was something that nobody saw on 9.10. New Orleans on August 29 was something that was seen on August 28. There was no warning for 9.11; people reacted amazingly well!The Extent
Not many people realize the extent of the disaster. New Orleans, a major city in the United States, ceased to exist. It still does not fully exist. Whilst some areas are being reopened, the flood waters are receding, and the levees repaired (albeit broken again after Rita in some limited way), the city just does not exist. People still reside there but the city is gone. That is the extent of the disaster. Mother Nature has wiped out the entire city. Biloxi and Gulfport do not exist either. Both of them were completely eradicated by the storm. Little stands. Criticism of Bush
Bush did too little! That is the criticism pointed to Bush. Alright, it is safe to say that he shares some of the blame. He should have reacted sooner, no question about it. Others blame Global Warming and Kyoto. I'll touch that next. Was Bush fully to blame? No. Was he more to blame than Nagin and Blanco? No.Kyoto and Global Warming
First off, people blaming the US not signing Kyoto for this disaster need to remove their head from their ass. The Industrial Revolution began some 150 years ago. Since then, CO2 has been put into the atmosphere by many, many countries. The US is not the leader of pollution. Have you ever seen a picture of Beijing, Shanghai, Mexico City? The smog is so thick it makes Los Angeles look clean. Climate does not change overnight. Climate changes now are the result of the past 150 years, not the past 5 years. To suddenly up and say Bush is 100% to blame for the problems of the environment is to know ABSOLUTELY nothing about anything. Keep agreeing with Barbra Streisand and get far. Hollywood actors & actresses have, only on rare occasions, shown to be mildly intelligent and in even rarer occasions, extremely intelligent (Reagan).
Now Global Warming? Yes, the phenomenon that is not 100% fully accepted by scientists. First they said it would cause the Earth to overheat and become like an inferno. Global Warming would then make sense. Yes it would get warmer. Now it will cause another ice age. MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Is the planet getting warmer? Yes. Do you realize that the data compared to is the data from the last ice age? Of course the planet is getting warmer, that was an ICE AGE. In addition, climate shifts are a naturally occurring event. There is little data on them because weather recording has only been really successful in the past 100 years and even less time than that has it been accurate, technology paving the way. Are ice ages normal? Yes. Is the planet warming a natural occurrence? Yes. Is it the US's and only the US's fault? No. Remove head from ass and then make decision.Hurricane Rita Summary
Now onto Hurricane Rita. Hurricane Rita barreled into the Gulf of Mexico and grew into a category 5 very rapidly. It would come to be the third most intense Atlantic hurricane and the most intense hurricane on record in the Gulf of Mexico having reached a pressure reading of 897 mb on September 21. This made it more intense than Hurricane Katrina. It appeared that Hurricane Rita would barrel into Galveston, Texas as a Category 5. Galveston, at its highest point, is 8 feet above sea level. In 1900, the worst natural disaster in US history was a mere category 3 hurricane that hit the island. This was a category 5. In the wake of Katrina, officials called for evacuations of an unprecedented scale. The highways became clogged and gasoline ran low, gas stations running dry throughout the course of the evacuation. In anticipation, the governor of Texas recalled all guardsmen and emergency personnel from Katrina relief to help in the event of Katrina version 2. One recorded peak wind gust inside the storm was some 235 mph. It would make landfall as a category 3 with a 10 foot storm surge, hitting on the Texas/Louisiana border. Significant damage came as a result but not as what was originally feared. Galveston was spared.Criticism of Bush
In the wake of the political and physical disaster caused by Katrina, President Bush and federal authorities reacted heavily to the possibility of Hurricane Rita being cataclysmic. In order to prevent this, authorities followed protocol and evacuated as many as they could. Albeit, they learned a dangerous lesson about the clogged freeway system and did falter slightly there, not opening the second side, they did learn and re-entry was split into four different stages. This would ease the flow of traffic back into the city and not create another disaster.
Of course, Bush recieved criticism that the actions of him and other authorities were too much. Give me a goddamn break! Is it just me or are the liberals going to bitch at him no matter what he does? If he managed to prevent and earthquake and save 999,999 lives out of 1,000,000 they would blame him for that 1 life and want him brought up on murder charges, even if that one person refused to leave, shot at rescue personnel, and jumped in the way of a falling building on purpose. If anything, applaud the man. He showed signs of intelligence. He learned from the disaster that Katrina caused and reacted to now have that mistake happen again. In fact, this is one of his most intelligent hours. The man proved that he could learn from history, albeit his other actions show he hasn't but in this instance, this case, he learned from history, 100%! I think we should applaud him for it.Conclusions
In the wake of both Katrina and Rita, the country is suffering. Just as Republicans turned Terri Schivo into a political football, liberals and Democrats are turning Katrina and Rita into a political football. They are using it to advance their careers. This is sick and disgusting. The actions of neither group in either circumstance are acceptable. Hurricane Katrina was a massive disaster. The state officials failed to do their job and the federal officials were just too slow to react or incompetent, in the case of Brown. They learned from the disaster and looked to prevent it in the wake of Rita but faced criticism again. It is a catch-22. Nothing Bush can do will ever get him a break. Liberals and Democrats have proven that they will stop at nothing to discredit him, as if he needs more discrediting, and have shown that they will put their own hatred of the man over the interests of the people they represent. It is sickening.
Remember, America is not a democracy, it is a republic. We elect leaders to serve in our best interest. They lead as they see fit. Keep this in mind this November and try to vote for the jackass who is least likely to put his or her own self-interest over their constituents. Albeit all politicians are backwards, there are some out there who are less backwards and there are even some who are honest and good human beings, though they are the minority.
Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occassion for it. - Niccolo MachiavelliSources
State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Plan Supplement 1Ahttp://www.ohsep.louisiana.gov/plans/EOPSupplement1a.pdf
Washington Post Articlehttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/03/AR2005090301680.html
Wikipedia, Hurricane Katrinahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina
Wikipedia, Hurricane Ritahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Rita