There's been a great deal of criticism of the response of 'government', especially the Federal level, to help the flood victims. If one takes a step back and looks at the big picture, one wonders if the criticism is justified. Perhaps the emotional pictures of people suffering are skewing emotions. Perhaps old fashioned politics is playing a role.
There's no doubt that this is a major disaster and people are suffering horribly. Even Bush says so.
There's no doubt a thorough and impartial review of what happened when is required.
But for now, let's take a look at the logistics and communications.
What troubles me is that many of the critical internet posts and editorials and clearly political in nature, that is, writers previously disliked Bush and are fishing for more reasons. Any writing that mentions Iraq, 'uncaring government' (like David Brooks of the NYT did), past funding, were obviously badly biased. A lot of people don't like Bush or Iraq, but that does not necessarily mean the response now is bad.
I can't help but wonder if TV's constant views of human suffering tugs on emotions and not logic. I wonder if there should be more shots showing how difficult it is to transport supplies in a flooded area where roads and communications are down. I understand the Army has been trying to repair the broken flood dikes all along but there were very few TV pictures of that work. Maybe TV scenes of sandbags aren't as 'grabbing' as people suffering, but it IS a big part of the story and I think more should've been featured on the news.
When I mentioned my concerns to people, they responded, "well, just look at TV!". Our news from TV is very selective. TV is not always objective because it must always be interesting to hold the viewer's interest. No viewers, no reason to exist.
I've seen flooded areas and was impressed at the enormous amounts of police / fire /resuce / cleanup services required. These areas were far smaller in size -- a couple of square miles -- with only about 500 affected people. Helping 500 people is a lot easier than helping100,000 people. That means multiplying a massive expensive effort 200 times!
My biggest question is the daunting logistics of caring for many THOUSANDS of people, perhaps a full 100,000 people. It does appear that a great many people -- for whatever reason -- could not or would not evacuate the city and were left behind. Obviously some water was getting to them otherwise they would have died by Wednesday. With most roads cut off and poor communiations, how does one get water for100,000 people into a destroyed city and then distributed, in an orderly fashion, to those who need it? What about food and medicine? Where do these supplies come from? Where will the delivery trucks come from? Who organizes and dispatches the effort?
Another issue is the time delay. In other floods, the water recedes after a few days allowing transport to resume and cleanup to begin. So, emergency supplies are only needed for a few days. But, New Orleans won't dry out for some time so supplies for many more days is needed. Again, where will these come from and get distributed?
Likewise with evacuation. In the flooding I've seen, they've opened schools on higher ground which can accomodate 500 people and usually still have power. Where do you put 100,000 people when a whole area is devastated and there's no place to go? Who has 100,000 cots just waiting around nearby? How will people get to the emergency centers, especially if they're located many miles away and roads are blocked? One newscaster said they should've used army trucks.
Think about it. A bus holds 50 people. You'd need 2,000 buses to move 100,000 people. Suppose a bus can make 4 trips during the evacuation, so you only need 500 buses. Who's got 500 buses, fuel for them, and drivers, all just sitting around ready for use on the first day? An army truck, as some newscasters suggested, holds even less people. Do they have 500 trucks, fuel, and drivers just sitting around close to New Orleans?
I don't know what the people did who got trapped in the city. The first question is why they could not or would not leave as directed; but obviously providing transport and shelter for so many people before the storm on short notice would've been terribly difficult.
I don't know what the city and state emergency plans were. The city and state have primary responsibility in this situation. I don't know when the recognized the magnitude of the disaster and what their responses were. When did they call in the feds and what did they ask for? (Local officials have to make the call to the feds.) I wonder how many Louisanna State Police and local police from other La. towns were brought in as soon as the flooding started. Who was in charge of operations in the city?
In looking over the logistics -- many thousands of people needing help NOW! -- I wonder if our expectations of government miracles are too high. We're used to instant gratification from the Internet and TV. But maybe in the real world things work a little differently.[public replies only, please]
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Lisa makes some very good points. I do not intend to kick those people while they are down, but there _was_ a lot of politics involved as well. An alternative point of view is also presented in this issue of the Digest, from Miss Betty Bowers who is frequently known as "America's Best and Most Fabulous Christian". Ms. Bower's commentary appears in the final spot in this issue, a place which is usually reserved for the Last Laugh. PAT]