by cara (666 Posts), Tue Sep 06, 2005 09:34 am
OK...here's my rant....I am from New Orleans, have many family members with no homes to go home to whenever the city does get up and running. I also have a degree in Emergency Management and worked for the State OEP for almost 2 years and now I do private consulting on the matter at hand. Needless to say, this has hit home very hard.
There were a LOT of problems with the response, I understand that. But any other figure in office could not have made any decisions any better than the Governor did. I am not her biggest fan in the world but I honestly do not believe that anyone else could have saved those people. You have to remember that the individual Parishes have to let the State in first, before the Feds can come in as well. New Orleans is VERY infamous in this state as a "We can do it ourselves" jurisdiction. You also have to remember that the people who wanted to be saved had thugs shooting at helicopters, ruining their chances of being brought to safety. I know this state and the officials in it personally. This was their biggest nightmare come true. They knew it was coming and warned people about it at the start of EVERY SINGLE hurricane season. If people didn't watch the news or read the newspaper (b/c there was a week long article about what would happen if a storm of this caliber hit the area) then that was their own fault. That may sound harsh but it is true. Everyone in NO knows about "The Big One". They just never thought it would ever come. Well, after years of near misses, this one hit it. It wasn't even a direct hit either.
As for the Guard, someone asked why they weren't mobilized faster. Well, here you go...half of our Guard is in IRAQ. We literally have about 5,000 soldiers in Iraq. My husband's unit was activated LAST SATURDAY. The Guard was in place to do things that they usually do...sandbags, cots, ice, water, water buffalos, MREs, etc... We just needed more people.
As for having means to evacuate everyone in a city of 1.3 million people, I would LOVE to see a similar jurisdiction's plan for that. No one has a plan to evacuate poor people. That's just the truth. Buses were sent around the city to pick up people who wanted to ride it out in the Superdome. You also have to understand our traffic infrastructure. There are only a few ways out of the city. At 40 mph winds, all law enforcement, fire, EMS, etc are pulled off of the streets for safety reasons. That can be hours before the storm hits. What good what it be to pick up a busload of people only to have it overturn in high winds?
I know that there were a lot of mistakes made. I am not taking up for people but there is a limit on what people can do in a situation like this. It is unique from any other city making evacuations or being flooded. If it hadn't been for other Parishes coming in and other jurisdictions from other states, they'd still be shooting each other down there. Hopefully this was a powerful lesson learned. New Orleanians have a notorious mindset of staying when storms approach.
As for me, personally, we have finally found apartments and housing for all but my mom. She'll be staying with me for a little bit. My dad is still working in Jefferson Parish. He's doing ok and was able to get to their house yesterday. A lot of my friends lived in Lakeview, which was an area that was hard hit and they have lost their homes.
We are stressed to the breaking point. I get to see my husband about 30 minutes a day. He works in the office that is being blasted by everyone. I know that he is doing the best he can do, but being a worker bee, he doesn't make decisions.
I guess just keep that in mind...This is the field I work in, my husband works for the State, and many of my friends are public officials that make decisions. It's hard being on both sides of the spectrum. It's a no win situation for the officials here. You can't make calls when the hurricane is more than 3 days out. It's still pretty outside, there's the chance it may not come there...for example, the first forecast had it hitting Destin FL. What if the State chartered 100 buses, picked everyone in the city up, took them somewhere and the storm hit FL? Then they would be criticized for wasting MILLIONS and for jumping the gun. People become complacent and wouldn't leave the next time. It's a very difficult position to hold.