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Monday, September 05, 2005

the big blow continues

Last week a lot of people were lauding Mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin's rant against the federales. Usually when someone in charge is so boisterous about other people's failures, my b.s. detector rings even louder. In this case, the Monday-morning quarterback was also the man who dropped the passes on Sunday. Sure, FEMA royally screwed up rescue and alleviation efforts. I also suspect Baton Rouge has a lot to answer for but this is mostly Ray Nagin's game.
The New Orleans' evacuation plan was at best laughable. That buffoon begged people to go to the Superdome. Fortunately, for the people who could not get there, he didn't think to send city or school buses to rescue them from the poorest neighborhoods. They were safer drowning in their attics anyway. He didn't bother to stock the stadium with adequate supplies nor did he order appropriate security. Nagin felt it was more important to protect Nike sneakers than little boys and girls. Reports are sketchy but it is apparent that people possibly as young as seven were raped and murdered in the shelters. So long as the shelters were controlled by hoodlums, there was absolutely no excuse for Nagin to divert his police force to stopping looters. The people he promised refuge to should have been his most important job. Instead of bitching to Washington he should've been at the convention center with a rifle hunting down the perps. But the best you could get from him was that when buses arrived to haul the damned off to Texas, Nagin had his privileged evacuees from hotels and the like escorted to the front of the line! When the flooding began, he begged more people to leave. Some of those were greeted by the police and promptly had their vehicles confiscated. Who the hell is going to take a chance on escaping when both the thugs and the police are carjacking?!?!

Mayor Nagin, your rant may have sounded good but it was as full of hot air as Katrina herself. If you are going to keep demanding that Washington do the job that was yours anyway, why don't you do the noble thing and resign?

2 comments:

  1. Bob Schaefer7:53 PM

    When the real (can you spell, "truthful"?) post mortems on Hurricane Katrina begin to be filed, Mayor Ray Nagin will fall – hard.

    Nagin knew (or should have known) that the levees surrounding New Orleans were engineered to withstand Category 3 and below Hurricanes. A year before Katrina hit, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans described what would happen if New Orleans were hit by a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. The newspaper’s description coincides almost exactly with what we’ve been watching on cable TV for the past week.

    I live in Destin, FL. We’ve been hit by two Category 3 hurricanes and a tropical storm over the past year. I KNOW what damage Category 3 hurricanes can do. Few remember, but Katrina was not initially forecast to hit New Orleans. It’s original course projection predicted landfall in Destin, FL early Monday morning. We in Destin took that prediction seriously.

    I work on the beaches in Destin. On Friday, August 26th we began to prepare for the storm in earnest. I went to bed fully expecting to be pummeled in a few days by a Category 3 hurricane. My personal plan was to evacuate ASAP if the storm became a Category 4.

    When I awoke the next morning I was shocked (and relieved) to hear the storm’s track had shifted dramatically (in fact, the most dramatic shift in the computer model projections ever experienced by the National Hurricane Center). Destin's good news was New Orleans' bad.

    Worse yet, the hurricane was forecast to be a Category 4!

    Saturday afternoon, as I returned from work (removing equipment from the beach and relocating vehicles to high ground) I heard Nagin on my car radio responding to a reporter’s question. He said he thought a mandatory evacuation order for New Orleans was premature. He said he thought he still had plenty of time to make that unprecedented decision.

    I couldn’t believe my ears! At that moment I muttered to myself: “That man is an idiot!”

    This is how The Times-Picayune described what transpired Saturday afternoon in the Mayor's office in New Orleans:

    “By mid-afternoon, officials in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne and Jefferson parishes had called for voluntary or mandatory evacuations.

    “New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin followed at 5 p.m., issuing a voluntary evacuation.

    “Nagin said late Saturday that he's having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he's been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses.”

    Legal staff!!!!!

    Nagin finally ordered a mandatory evacuation of his city approximately 18 hours later on Sunday morning at 9:30 AM. Presumably, by then, even his legal staff could see the handwriting on the wall. Katrina was already a Category 4 storm and experts expected the hurricane to slam into New Orleans as a Category 5!

    As you point out, it’s fortunate, after the storm hit, that Mayor Nagin didn’t think to send school buses to the poorest neighborhoods and haul people to the Superdome. Of course, he couldn’t do so because he didn’t even think to have the buses moved to higher ground BEFORE the storm hit!

    Nevertheless, two days before the storm hit those buses WERE high and dry and available to help the poorest citizens evacuate New Orleans.

    Nagin should have thought of that. Using school buses to move people out of the city is in the Mayor’s emergency evacuation plan!

    How many lives might have been spared in New Orleans if Nagin had decided to evacuate the city 18 hours earlier rather than seek legal cover for his political ass?

    God only knows.

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  2. Heck, nobody remembers she visited the MTv awards first. But it gets worse: the Hurricane Center had to pester Nagin on Saturday to make those evacuation orders. Unbelievable.

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