[percy-l] hurricanes

Tommy Armstrong tfa at brickengraver.com
Sat Sep 3 20:18:08 EDT 2005

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

And why the hell not--why did New Orleans City gov't in coordination with
Louisiana and then in coordination with the Feds not have a  plan and
resources. Every town and city in the US as had to come up with a
vulnerability study and had to create an emergency response plan--at least
all water plants did. It is truthfully absolutely atrocious that at least an
evacuation plan was not in effect--and I still stand by my contention that
such planning is ultimately the responsibility of the Town and State. Buses
should have been lined up far in advance of the storm--bottled water
supplies should have been warehoused as should have been food. And there was
lead time for this storm. I agree that this is a Big One, and that is all
the more reason that the City and State should have been preparing for such
an eventuality for years and years. 

Here in North Carolina, we have been through many hurricanes ourselves, and
after each there is a reassessment of what went right, and what went wrong.
There is a command and control center to coordinate all the multitudinous
things that have to be coordinated. I will hold judgment until later, as I
think others should do, to understand the causes of the massive failings of
this operation. But, for many in the world, including Pitas, who do not
understand the governmental structure of the United States and the role of
the Federal Government--let them understand that the individual cities, then
the individual states are the first responders. It is not the job of the
Federal Government to have emergency management plans for every potential
disaster in every location in the country. 

I think there is plenty of blame to be doled out--but the idea of the Mayor
of New Orleans saying he is pissed at FEMA is a bit absurd. He should be
pissed at his  own people, and at himself, to allow such a thing to get so
completely out of control. 

Save lives first, then property, if possible.

 It would obviously costs billions and billions to harden NO against such an
occurrence, and maybe the funds were not there, etc. BUT KNOWING THAT--the
fallback plan of not having the proper infrastructure should have been the
safety of the people--especially for those that did not possess the means
themselves. There are not but about 5 main functions of municipal
government--to provide water, wastewater, public safety, orderly growth, and
fire protection. NO failed miserably in planning for these things. And yes,
I do understand the enormity of the task, so when one cannot provide those
functions due to disaster, then one needs to make sure that the citizens are
evacuated to a place where they can be provided. 


Tommy Armstrong
PO Box 484 
Lillington, NC   27546
http://www.brickengraver.com <http://www.brickengraver.com/> 
"Science is extraordinarily stupid about people as people and the
consequence of this stupidity is going to do us all in if we don't do
something about it"
 Walker Percy


From: percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:percy-l-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Karey
Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 1:08 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: Re: [percy-l] hurricanes

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

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  <mailto:tfa at brickengraver.com> Armstrong 
To: 'Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical  <mailto:percy-l at lists.ibiblio.org>
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
http://www.brickengraver.com <http://www.brickengraver.com/> 
...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. " 


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