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Location: Arthur, IL

As much as anyone, I am appalled and heartbroken at the tragedy which has occured on the Gulf Coast.  At the same time, the residents of the region were ordered to evacuate the area, with as much as two days notice.  Many people chose to ignore the very grave, advance warnings which preceeded Katrina's landfall.  It's estimated that over 1 million people did evacuate.  Yes it's bad, but this could be a helluva lot worse.  Some people will call me on the issue of those who couldn't evacuate.  There will always be poor people and this will always been an issue in catastrophes, whether it's here or in a southeast Asian tsunami.  Be thankful for what you have, give your loved ones a hug, and do what you can to help those unfortunate enough to have been caught in it.  This, too, shall pass and life goes on.

Some people are using this as a platform to point out racial inequity.  You're right, but it was there prior to Katrina and will be afterward.  Sudden indignation at a time like this isn't helpful.  Do your part every day under less extreme circumstances.  I will also counter that you have to take into consideration where this occured.  A great deal of the deep south has a "minority majority".  The 2000 census reports that nearly 72% of New Orleans is non-white.  Of course, you're going to see a disproportionate number of "minority" survivors on your TV screens, 7 out of 10 should be.  Had this occured in Fargo, the survivor demographic would be entirely different.

As for the kooks who always crawl out of the woodwork at times like these and suggest that The End is Near or this is some sort of Divine Retribution, I won't even dignify that with a response.

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it's not sudden indignation, it's shock. likei can't believe this still exists to this degree.

and besides, you keep warning people to leave for hurricanes and then there's relatively minor damage, eventually it'll become "cry wolf" syndrome
and then this shit happens.

be safe geek.

Oh I know there's a certain cry wolf level to this, as many times as the weather service has been wrong, or geologists weren't accurate about volcanoes, Y2K will the total CHAOS, etc etc etc. I'm just suggesting that people did make choices and it's tragic. I'm not saying they deserved it or anything, just reminding people that this could be a LOT LOT worse than it is.

I wasn't aiming my "sudden indignation" comment at you necessarily, you're not the only one who has brought it up, nor am I knocking your view on that in anyway. But your admission that you're shocked that it still exists, and that it took something this catastrophic to drive it home for you is what I was kinda driving at. It was around before and will be around after... it's easy to be complacent about it when it's not in your living room every evening... it's easy for all of us that are pigmentally challenged. The change that needs to occur in the social fabric has to occur on a daily basis in ever day life. I'm just of the opinion that everyone from Jesse Jackson down to every well-meaning blogger needs to shut the hell up about it right now and get these people some help. We can continue the meaningful discourse at a time that's more appropriate.

I'm fortunate that I don't have to travel to that region of the country. Maybe with the way gas prices are going the highways will be a little less clogged for me in the northeast. ;-)

yeah, as most people have pointed out, it costs money to evacuate, and a lot of people in the south, particularly in NO, don't have any. with the size of this storm, evacuating anywhere worthwhile would have cost a LOT of money; most people were pretty aware of that too. storm track predictions fluctuate greatly in the last 24 hours prior to landfall, and with this thing growing to monstrous proportions, unless you drove 6, 8 hours out of your way, there was no way to guarantee you wouldn't just get caught in it anyway.

and as has also been pointed out, new orleans has been quasi-evacuated twice in the last year for naught. when they told everyone to run both times before, gas was $1.50 or $1.75 a gallon, not $2.60.

bottom line, there's no way you can evacuate everyone from a city on an evacuation order, and it is an outrage that the feds weren't in there on SUNDAY helping out, to say nothing of right now.

Right. It is tragic that a lot of people simply couldn't afford to evacuate if they wanted. At the same time, my insufferable pragmatism recognizes this is going to always be like this anytime anywhere. We can wax goofy about utopias and communism and demonize evil capitalism if you like, but there are always poor people. Always. And yes it's sad and we need to do what we can to help... but making this some crusade about poor people time and again when things of this nature happen is pointless. Can you tell I'm no socialist?

I think you're right that human relief groups and federal/state governments could have been more pro-active in the advance warnings, however, at the same time... I really don't think a LOT more people would've taken the opportunity given the choice... not enough that we still wouldn't be in the situation we're in now.

I also agree that with all of this advance warning, there should've been more people ready to swarm in and stabilize this situation in a more timely maner... in all of this, that is probably the largest crime. We are the US of goddamn A... then again, I guess it's not surprising given how well our quagmire in Iraq was planned and executed. I'm constantly amazed at how surprised folks are that people begin behaving desperately when things are... desperate. Military relief should've been on stand-by waiting to go in the second the storm was past.

It is just hideous, and only months after the tsunami. Christ. I don't believe in the Divine Retribution thing either, but after what's gone on in the last eighteen months, it's getting tempting.

"The 2000 census reports that nearly 72% of New Orleans is non-white. Of course, you're going to see a disproportionate number of "minority" survivors on your TV screens, 7 out of 10 should be."

Grrr, it's about time I saw someone mention this. I keep seeing people claiming the constant shots of black people on the news are indicative of racism by the news sources; I can't understand how these people can be so outraged over racial issues and yet not know anything about the actual population of the city, and surrounding areas. Those people are on tv because those are the people who live there.

It's why I mentioned it. :) I sometimes think people who are not familiar with the demographic of the deep south are ignorant of this fact. Most southern cities have a black majority. Hell, most rural areas have a black majority... and it's a foreign concept to people in the rest of the country. I think the issue of race in this, both in the demographic of the survivors, or that the slow response is somehow racially motivated is media sensationalism at its sickening finest.

it's not about racial injustice. it's about economics. plain and simple. the rich are gone. the poor are drowning.
and the crazy have the power...including president bush.

p.s. and the biggest problem *I* have with the lack of federal/state aid is that it was promised. it was promised and it didn't come. if you're not going to deliver, keep your big mouth shut...including president bush.

As I've blogged, I've been watching their local television since before the storm came ashore and I've been through several hurricanes, including Floyd who flooded-out almost every river town in my native Eastern North Carolina. Every storm always resulted in a sudden influx of National Guard, Red Cross, Salvation Army and Baptist Men, but Hurricane Dennis was the only storm that resulted in me being somewhat dependent on their aid and that's mostly because it cut the island in two, plus he camped-out overhead for about a week.

I've glanced at your friendspage and I realize that you're talking to many, but in my own defense, I'd like to point out that I feel the slowness of aid has been due to incompetence of the political leaders/appointees and my questions about racial issues have been mostly directed toward the media. On just their local tv, there's a lot of us vs them terminology and when I heard the twenty-something say to her cameraman about one of the first groups to be spotted camped on the interstate; "I don't think I should call them prisoners, if I don't know". I have no choice, but to see it.

Otherwise, good post and a very good point. Hurricanes disportionately affect African-Americans and the poor, by virtue of the demographic. Also, because you've got a pretty good "macho" readership, a journal from a guy trying to keep their local internet operational just came to my attention and I thought I'd use your space to pass along the addy.

I'm with you on the ineffectual nature of the response. I don't think it has anything to do with race. The issue of race is being perpetuated by sensationalist journalism and people who watch it not taking enough time to consider the demographic of the region and formulating a knee-jerk response. It's why I brought it up.

Me? A macho readership? Hardly. Actually, just to make sure before I called you on it and I went and counted. 138 mutual friends - 88 of which are female. This blog is estrogen friendly!

I think the main issue we are facing here is a sense of overwhelming hopelessness in the face of a significant event the likes of which have never transpired, versus a sense of indignation that it could have been prevented.

Could it? People have always known that NO was a disaster waiting to happen… but so are cities on fault lines (California), landfill (Chicago), and anywhere along the Atlantic/gulf coasts. It’s always been that way. As the realization set in over the years that New Orleans was in an increasingly perilous position, the reality of two hundres years’ worth of investment in commerce and infrastructure precluded walking away from it. You can’t fault people for staying in harm’s way. I recently posted that hindsight provides the only distinction between bravery and stupidity… without such luxury, they are one and same.

The response has been slow, indeed, but under the circumstances, could it have been better? Keep in mind that for the first day after the storm, New Orleans was breathing easy and getting ready to mock those who had evacuated… even mighty Interdictor was relaxed in the early posts - same old same ol’ story. No doubt the “routine standard issue” response had been cued up, held back in the face of a false “all clear”, and then was immediately overwhelmed as the true scope and aftereffects set in.

It’s all uncharted territory. Hindsight will always point out what could and should have been done better. There are serious shortcomings. The city is self destructing. Instead of bitching and blaming, we need to help who we can, however we can, and learn a grievously difficult lesson.

Well put. Acutally, any major urban area is going to reach a level of crisis in the face of catastrophe. Cram millions of people together then rip out the infrastructure and chaos will follow. I think a lot of people have always assumed that somehow this couldn't happen on this level here, in this time. It's an awesome reminder of the power of nature and that we are but a part of it and its mercy, for all our gleaming cities and technology.

I have to say there's a part of me that agrees with you that perhaps that it is only in our hindsight that we grow angry. How reasonable would it have been to have mobilized thousands of troops and forced evacuation on a what-if? What would've been the public outcry on millions of dollars being spent and the displacement of millions for naught?

And I'm totally on point with your last sentence, it's exactly the way I feel. Be thankful for what you have, count your blessings, help those who need it, and do what you can. We can worry about holding people accountable for the shortcomings the next go 'round.

Something that makes me sad is that a lot of us want to help more, but can't, due to physical distance or lack of money; and a lot of people who are perfectly capable of helping for whatever reason, won't. Because they don't think it's their problem.

I think most everyone wishes we could do more. What's important is that we do what we can.

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