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Katrina - reprise - three questions

By Deadly Ernest ·
OK before the two questions. I just finished watching a Discovery Channel special on Katrina. It mostly dealt with the problems at the Super Dome and the Convention Centre, and the delays in relief support. I got the impression that many people saw the problem as mostly the bureaucrates not getting off their rear ends when they should have.

1. Why are the government and its employees getting the blame for a bunch of excetra heads who would rather steal and rape people than help them? Part of the problem was resources being redirected to deal with lootres and other criminals instead of relief.

2. Why were so many people NOT helping themselves the day after the hurricane? They just sat there waiting for help and bitching that it wasn't coming fast enough.

3. Why did the USA have such a big problem dealing with this when they had the example of Darwin Australia 30 years before hand? Did they not see and learn any lessons from that?

Admittedly Darwin did NOT have the extensive flooding that New Orleans had, and it had a lower population. However, when cyclone Tracey struck, the whole city got totaled. And it was a good 24 hours drive from any where that a relief force could come from. It was even too far for helicopter support at first. Yet the Australian emergency services were there within 12 hours of the news getting out - yes it was so remote and the systems so damaged that it took a few hours for the news to reach the rest of the country.

We have what we thinks is one of the most hide bound bureaurocracies in the world, yet in what was a bigger disaster (in relative populations terms, i.e. the percentage involved, distance, per capita resources, and older level of resources) we managed a lot better. There are only two reasons why I can think we did so much better:

a) We do NOT have a huge bureaurocracy like FIMA to deal with these things. We have a State Emergency Service who handle these things (organised at regional levels) and a federal body that does emergency planning and scenario work, it supplies no other services worth talking about. When Tracey it, the matter was handed over to the military and the politicians (local, state and federal) had to keep out of the way.

b) When the relief forces arrived they found the vaste majority of people had either got themselves out of the danger area, or getting themselves out, or helping others out. Many walked out of the areas that were health risks due to the damage, and those that could were on the way south to other towns etc.

What really frightens me about the Katrina special is that it showed up how the political infighting between the various levels of government and the stupidity of having a bureaucracy trying to manage an emergency; and yet the answer is to build a BIGGER bureaucracy. What they need is to **** most of it away, and just have a few people with authority to call the military services in, and then let make everyone else keep out of their way.

Comments please, especially from anyone who was actually there. I kow what we get on the TV and documentaries is just a fraction of what really happens, so your input would be most valuable.

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Ernest, this is what you get when. . . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Katrina - reprise - three ...

...people refuse to take personal responsibility for their lives, and they expect (strong emphasis on expect) the government to rush in and take care of whatever it is that afflicts them. It doesn't matter what it is, big or small, or whether it's a natural disaster or normal day-to-day issues; the result will always be the same. And then people further expect (again, strong emphasis on expect) more of the same.

Making a society more dependent on government only breeds more dependency. And pretty soon, there are more dependents than providers. It's no coincidence that New Orleans, one of the most dependent-ridden cities in America, failed so miserably in every aspect. They're pointing a finger at other people -- anybody and everybody -- but they only have three more pointing right back at them.

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Hey Max, that was the impression that I got at the time

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Ernest, this is what you ...

and it's been greatly reinforced by these specials. But I wondered if it was just the media. What really got me was one of the specials (there's three on the various Foxtel/Austar networks at the moment) showed a scene in the Super Dome on the day after the hurricane itself stopped. Big burly able bodies men, bashing the beejays out of a drink vending machine and whining about no buses to take them away. If they put one tenth of the nergy they were using on the machine into walking, they could've walked to Texas in two days. But not, bash and bemoan is all they did.

On top of that if the majority of the people insisted on enforcing law and order, instead of leaving up to the few police and National Guards, I doubt they would have had the crime problems in the Dome that they had. A few rectums, did something nasty, no one objected so more started in. If the first few had been stomped on by the general public, then I doubt any more would have happened.

But I wasn't there and I'm trying to second guess from the few media and first hand reports I have.

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I agree.

by stress junkie In reply to Ernest, this is what you ...

Some Americans expect the government to fix all of their boo boos. They think that the government exists to smooth out the hardships that anyone is likely to experience. It makes me sick.

I was talking about this the other day. The person that I was speaking with brought up issues that Lyndon Johnson spoke of when he instigated affirmative action in the workplace. She was saying things like "You can't expect people who have been hobbled all of their life to act responsibly in an emergency." I disagree. Niether of us persuaded the other to change our opinion.

Prior to Franklin Roosevelt people didn't expect the government to take care of their daily personal hardships. If you built your home in a flood plain and got flooded out then you had to absorb that loss and get on with your life. Several decades ago I was watching some travel log type program about New Orleans. They showed an ocean going ship sailing up the Mississippi. The levy was above the tops of the buildings. I thought then, as I do now, that having a city on a river or ocean that is below sea level is idiotic and the people who live there are idiots.

But that's too real. It requires that individuals take responsibility for their actions. It's better to blame emergency services that didn't work properly. It's better to blame people half a continent away, in Washington D.C., for all of the problems that happened during and after the hurricane. Sure! That's the ticket! It couldn't be the fault of the people who live there. That's not the American way!

Six months later when the federal government was saying that they wouldn't pay for the hotel bills of disaster refugees I thought "Hey!. It's been six months. It's about time that these people started to take their own steps to put their lives back together." Apparently this is also not a popular point of view. Do gooders raised the hue and cry, "We have to keep paying for these people to live in hotels. We cannot expect hurricane refugees to help themselves. That's just not the American way!"

I am sick to death of people who expect the various levels of American government to take care of them on a daily basis.

There. I said it. (Any David Spade fans out there?) :-)

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"...people who have been hobbled all of their life..."

by maxwell edison In reply to I agree.

A simple -- and very true -- retort is that I give people more credit than that. People have within them the wherewithal to overcome just about any obstacle they face, if only they'd believe it. Unfortunately, there are too many people who continually try to convince them otherwise. And to a person of faith, one only has to suggest that God didn't give anyone a problem without also giving that person the ability to solve it. Moreover, for him to suggest that "people who have been hobbled all of their life (can't) act responsibly in an emergency is to suggest that nobody has ever done it. How silly is that? And since it's obviously not true, neither is the generalization. In so many cases, a person can either be a victim, or he can be his own rescuer. The choice is totally his.

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How do you define hobbled - the only person who

by Deadly Ernest In reply to "...people who have been ...

can truly hobble a person, is themselves.

In emergencies I've seen late 20's early 30's people with Down Syndrome take action and save lives while others, with no problems, dither and worry. It was almost funny to see some Down Sydnrome people hussling workers out of a govt office block because the fire alarm had gone off. The general workers were ignoring it as another false alarm. But the Special Care Assistants (as they were called) were saying the alarm had gone, you go and they weren't taking no for an answer. Some people were shocked to find the back half of the building ablaze when they got outside.
Since starting this thread I've discussed the programs with y 18 year old son and a few points that came up in the discussion but not yet mentioned were:-

1. Home video footage on the morning of day 2 after the hurricane, shows big burly mid 20s people at the dome bashing vending machines for drinks. If they put that energy to walking, they would have been safely out of the area by nightfall. Most of the people in the dome and the convention centre were reasonably fit and could have walked 15 to 20 miles a day. How far did they need to go to get out of the disaster area and to fresh food and water? One day two days walk.

During every military conflict refugees have walked hundreds of miles in a few days. Many of the USA pioneers walked across the country to set up new homes. But the vaste majority of those in New Orleans were able to walk about bitchin' and lootin' but not fit enough to out of the city.

I wonder if part of this was Robert Heinlein's quote of "Think of it as Evolution in action."

2. The weather reports had been talking about the hurricane hitting New Orleans, or there abouts for a ten days before it did, why didn't people take action earlier? Just reminds me of one of my favourite quotes:

"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity."

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Disregard - Double Post

by maxwell edison In reply to How do you define hobbled ...
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This is a typical retort

by maxwell edison In reply to How do you define hobbled ...

Not that I'm suggesting you're doing it; you're probably playing devil's advocate.

You listed the exceptions, not the rule. Most people are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves in such (or any) situations. Not only are such people relying on others -- make that EXPECTING others -- to take care of them, but in the process, they are diverting assistance from the truly needy.

The same argument applies to the myriad social programs sold to the public under the guise of "helping the needy".

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Maxwell I think that it's a sign of the times

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to "...people who have been ...

Recently my sisters pet dwarf pig escaped by digging under part of the fence that had not been concreted in to stop it getting out. The fact that the kids had let it into the area where it wasn't supposed to be was beside the point. But what I couldn't get over is the way that so many people driving up the road had to stop and look but not consider getting out of their cars. The thing was walking up the footpath and looking for a way back in but by this time had moved up a few houses so when it finally found an open gate the person who lived there panicked because the pig wanted to get into the house. This thing is fully grown and only stands about 12 inches at the shoulder so it's obviously A Dangerous Animal all it could do was go from door to door looking for a way in and then cry when it couldn't get back into the house.

I can not but wonder how these people would survive not having light when they flick a switch or what type of panic they would be in when no water comes out of a tap when they turn it on. These people just expect things to be there without a second thought and panic when it's not.

Sometimes I just give up on people as they are always looking for someone else to blame when things don't work out the way that they want. Personally they drive me nuts with their constant whining and pathetic attitude.


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by TonytheTiger In reply to I agree.

If you built your home in a flood plain and got flooded out then you had to absorb that loss and get on with your life.

Nowadays it depends. If a single house gets flooded, it's no big deal, and the goverment will be less likely to help. Make it 100 homes though, and see what happens.

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Lyndon "Great Welfare Society" Johnson

by Too Old For IT In reply to I agree.

New Orleans has forever been divided into two groups. Those who make it work and those who are waiting for the government to drop off a check.

Katrina has shown us, if nothing else, where the water wants to go when Lake Pontchartrain becomes disturbed. Much like Los Angeles, New Orleans should build concrete ditches to direct the runoff the way it wants to go. And if that means the substandard housing in the Lower Ninth does not get rebuilt, so be it.

If you ever want a scare, read Atlas Shrugged, then read LBJ's "My Hope For America" and realize that there are still true believers that one can tax "them" to provide for all of "us".

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