[percy-l] hurricanes

Karey karey at kareyperkins.com
Sat Sep 3 13:07:55 EDT 2005


I think you are underestimating the enormity of this crisis.  No one city government could handle a crisis that has been compared to: the "Big One" hitting California, or a major terrorist attack (greater than 9/11) hitting New York City (see article below) - years before it happened.  There were a variety of things that needed to be done - before and after - at the city, state, and federal level - that weren't done, for whatever reason. The solution to preventing or lessening the impact of this had to come from all levels.  At this point, after the fact, NO can't do anything more than what it is doing, and some say Mayor Nagin's impassioned plea was strategically planned to get the feds in action when they were dragging their feet and making the tragedy even worse.  Whether it was or not, whatever planning NO or any other city might have been able to do for this, they would have needed more help - sooner - than what was provided.  


Poor, sick, aged left in the lurch
No plan ever made to help New Orleans' most vulnerable
Leonard Witt - For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, September 1, 2005
Leonard Witt is the Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication at Kennesaw State University. 

Each time you hear a federal, state or city official explain what he or she is doing to help New Orleans, consider the opening paragraphs of a July 24 story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. 
"City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans' poor a historically blunt message: In the event of a major hurricane, you're on your own." 

The story continues: 

"In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm's way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation." 

The officials made those statements fully knowing that those 134,000 people were very likely to end up in dire circumstances or even die. 

Here is what National Geographic magazine wrote in an article published in October 2004 about a possible hurricane scenario for New Orleans: 

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great." 

In that article National Geographic predicted with eerie accuracy that more than a million people would evacuate, but some 200,000 would remain, including "the carless, the homeless, the aged and infirm." 

The New Orleans Times-Picayune ran its own series in 2002 in which it wrote: 

"If enough water from Lake Pontchartrain topped the levee system along its south shore, the result would be apocalyptic. Whoever remained in the city would be at grave risk. According to the American Red Cross, a likely death toll would be between 25,000 and 100,000 people, dwarfing estimated death tolls for other natural disasters and all but the most nightmarish potential terrorist attacks. Tens of thousands more would be stranded on rooftops and high ground, awaiting rescue that could take days or longer. They would face thirst, hunger and exposure to toxic chemicals." 

And yet apparently there was no emergency plan and no resources to evacuate "the carless, the homeless, the aged and infirm." 

In this era when we are a nation at risk of terrorism and natural disasters, we can only hope that what is happening in New Orleans is not built into the fabric of our national homeland security policy. We should provide security for everyone, including the poor, aged and infirm. 

We have the resources. On Wednesday, it seems FEMA found 475 buses to help with the belated evacuation effort. Unfortunately, when it comes to looking after the carless, homeless, the aged and infirm in our country, we --- in our quest to become an ownership society --- seemed to have allowed our good senses, good will and compassion to go on vacation. 

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Tommy Armstrong 
  To: 'Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion' 
  Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 8:34 AM
  Subject: Re: [percy-l] hurricanes

  I am at a bit of a loss about all the ranting and raving about the Federal Government's response to this huge disaster. As a member of local government and the super of the water treatment plant and the wastewater treatment plant (albeit in a very small town), I am at a loss as to where the City of New Orleans' emergency response plan was?  Even we have plans in place and on the shelf to put into action in response the the eventuality --and that word means what it says--eventually it WILL happen--of a hurricane or other natural disaster. To hear the mayor of New Orleans say he is pissed at the Fed. Governments response, if I was a citizen of NO, I would be pissed at the City's lack of adequate planning and pissed at him, the commissioners, and the whole damned City government . It is first and foremost the responsibility of the local officials. They above all others should be the "First Responders." They know their city, their vulnerabilities, their citizens.  The city and state of Louisiana should bear the brunt of the the criticism in my opinion. Where was the back up water supply located (bottled water,etc)--where were the backup food supplies located, where was the means and organizational structure to distribute them, etc. etc. What should the procedures be to get the people out of harm's way in event of a disaster--after all this is over--someone should study the failures of not the Fed Governments response, but the response of the City of New Orleans. There was no evacuation plan not because the Federal Government did not have one, but because the City of New Orleans did not have one, or if it did, did not competently put it into action. And after the town is evacuated, who should provide security. Should not the mayor of NO have immediately had his request for the National Guard to come ready to sign or already signed? 

  The order of business in such circumstances as disaster planning seems to be for local governments " Its just too costly and complicated for us to do and the Feds will come in anyway". Now I am in perfect agreement that the Feds should provide relief--and the bulk of the aftermath rebuilding, but in their main role is as support troops to implement already in place strategies that the local governments have in place.  

  If it had happened on Martha's Vineyard, I dare say that the FED govt. would not even have to have been involved, as the officials there are probably competent. And that has really nothing to do with race or economic factors.  

  The Quote:
  "yes your all correct. did you know that our federal government, has strict guidelines on how it must respond to the sufferings of african-american people. the lack of help, was actually due to a specific wait time, we must follow, whenever there is a crisis involving poor black persons such as just happened. our governing officials actually sit and watch and chuckle at their suffering. then at the last moment, decide to send in help. oh wait, actually, they knew what was going to happen, and could have prevented it. "
  Is completely without basis--not everything that goes wrong in the world can be distilled down to "racial bigotry". The severity of the disaster in New Orleans had nothing to do with racial bigotry. It had to do with an incredibly destructive "Act Of God" and a lot of incompetent (and in many many instances, competent) planning and/or incompetent execution of those plans. No matter how well any plan was conceived and executed, there would have been great amounts of damage--but I do find some fault in the City of New Orleans for not adequately preparing for the safety of its citizens. 

  Tommy Armstrong
  PO Box 484 
  Lillington, NC   27546

  ...with the method of science one beholds what is generally true about individuals, but art beholds what is uniquely true.

  Walker Percy
  Signposts in a Strange Land

  From: percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Robert_Pauley at oxy.com
  Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 11:17 PM
  To: percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org
  Subject: Re: [percy-l] hurricanes

  Agreed, Mr. Mitchell. And while we are human and fallible, some of us also are exceptionally corrupt and incompetent, as, for example, the entire political infrastructure of New Orleans, which knew about its weak sea walls for years and did nothing, and which tolerated also for years a violent and increasingly brazen criminal element (a violent crime rate 10 times the national average). New Orleans cannot manage itself on a good day, and so if one wants to know why it could not coordinate a swift and effective response on a sequence of very bad ones, one may of course look for blame to the distance as it one's predictable political cant, but it would make more sense to look no further than an inept, third-world city hall. 
    -----Original Message-----
    From: percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of KMitch2626 at aol.com
    Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 7:56 PM
    To: percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org
    Cc: peirce-l at lyris.ttu.edu
    Subject: [percy-l] hurricanes

    well since both list are talking about it, and since both share common readers... why not chime in a piss people off. 

    yes your all correct. did you know that our federal government, has strict guidlines on how it must respond to the suffereings of african-american people. the lack of help, was actually due to a specific wait time, we must follow, whenever there is a crisis involving poor black persons such as just happened. our governing officials actually sit and watch and chuckle at their suffering. then at the last moment, decide to send in help. oh wait, actually, they knew what was going to happen, and could have prevented it. 
    we are human and fallible, and im certain mistakes were made and will be. but if you think this is race driven... call me cold, kick me off your listserves, but your full of shit! 

    my rant amidst a time of great sadness for those hit by a hurricane, 
    ken mitchell 


    "It's the first week of school and I am utterly haunted by the horrors  
    of the Gulf Coast area (Why is help taking so long? Why isn't the  
    media asking the class or race questions?) I know these are not  
    direct Percy points, but I think there are parallels. Your point  
    about mimetic desire would be a lovely thread at which to pull.  
    Surely this applies to Tom More and the man on the train (pre-crash)  
    and even Will Barrett." 

    "IMHO the most significant anachy assoicated with the disaster in New Orleans is the US Federal government's woefully indifferent and criminally inadquate  response to the suffering of poor black americans.  As an american I'm ashamed of our religious and racial bigotry.  First Iraq and now this.  May god forgive us. " 


  An archive of all list discussion is available at http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/percy-l/

  Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/percy-l/attachments/20050903/ebaf3ae8/attachment.html>

More information about the Percy-L mailing list