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08/31/2005 Archived Entry: "Wogglebug on New Orleans"

MORE ON GOVERNMENT AND NEW ORLEANS. The Wogglebug, who knows the city, writes:

I agree with Thunder's assessment about the multiple failures of government in New Orleans. Though it should be noted that the levee and flood wall program was designed for a Cat 3 hurricane, not a 4/5 such as Katrina.

That said, multiple screwups occurred this week to ensure the catastrophe was worse.

First, the pumps in Jefferson Parish (Metairie, Kenner, Jefferson, etc.) were evacuated - even though the pump stations are of very strong construction and above sea level.

Second, the pumps in NO, including the 17th Street pump apparently could only pump for a short time before being damaged. (!)

Third, 3,000 lb sandbags are in place all over NO to help with flood wall breaches - yet none or very few actually were placed at the breaches. According to the Mayor, the helicopters responsible for doing so were rerouted to rescue operations. He was pretty pissed about that. That's when he gave his "Too many chiefs..." quote.

These bags were in place to ameliorate exactly this situation. Also, quite a few projects were still under way around the city, these bags were placed to literally shore up the unfinished walls, levees, and spillways scattered about the city. Many have cranes nearby on barges to do the lifting. I have no idea of the dispensation of the cranes, but I would suspect they're damaged, and certainly unmanned.

But all of the above are only "acute" screwups, and don't answer the chief question: "Why would anybody build there?"

The answer, of course, is because of government. I'll answer that question with a question:

"Who is the *only* flood insurer, by law, in the United States?"

You have three guesses, and the first two don't count.

I lived in New Orleans for 7 years, and Slidell for 2. I recognize ALL of the bridges and overpasses (aka "New Orleans Campgrounds) in the videos. I have many friends that live there - though most of MY friends have the ability to have evacuated.

A lot is made out on the forums lambasting the people for not leaving NO before the hurricane. It should be noted that NOLA is not a rich city, and at least half would not have the money to hop into a car and live in a motel for an indeterminate amount of time.

Finally, lots of looting pictures, and consequent tirades about same. I won't deny that there's some nasty looting going on. But many of the pix *I* saw include people running out of a store with food, diapers, and beverages. I would submit that these people are being smart under the circumstances. They don't want to wait for government to come rescue them. The stores are closed and / or under water, and the products will be disposed of anyway. There is literally no other way for them to prep, even for a day or a week under these circumstances.

If you're living on an interstate overpass with 500 other people; your home is under water; the gov is missing in action. What do you do?

That last may be a rationalization, but I suspect that I would do the pragmatic thing in their shoes.

Posted by Claire @ 04:29 PM CST

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