This morning’s news from New Orleans, reported in the Los Angeles Times:
But partway through the story, you get this:
Police May Force Out Residents
Bacteria Counts Off the Charts, U.S. Warns …
NEW ORLEANS ï¿½ Police officials threatened Wednesday to resort to forced evacuations by the end of the week to clear out residents who had not left, pointing to environmental tests warning of dangerous bacteria levels in the floodwaters. …
Police and military officials were focused on saving the lives of those still holed up in the shells of eroding houses and apartments. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin is counting on a toughly worded evacuation order he signed Tuesday night to persuade thousands of residents to leave.
Nagin instructed police and National Guard troops “to compel the evacuation of all persons from the city of New Orleans, regardless of whether such persons are on private property or do not desire to leave.”
What “natural time”?!
Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency—who is under fire for the agency’s slow response to the flooding—said Wednesday that scores of police and volunteer firefighters from around the nation, as well as trucks loaded with donated water, were even now being prevented from entering New Orleans while troops conduct house-to-house searches.
“They can’t just yet,” Brown said during a briefing in Baton Rouge. “There is going to come this natural time when we will release this floodgate of cops and firefighters who want to help. It’s the same for anyone who wants to volunteer—we have over 50,000 offers of donations from the private sector. It has to be coordinated in such a way that it helps.”
The natural time for aid to come into the city was as soon as the hurricane had passed!
AND THAT WAS A WEEK AGO!
(Note: That was not “shrill.” That was a roar.)
A person who has no drinkable water will die in three days. The survivors of Hurricane Katrina have been stranded twice that long—and still Brown doesn’t think it’s time to send in aid! With the authorities now threatening to evacuate the city, the only “natural time” he can possibly be waiting for is the point where no one who needed help is still alive in New Orleans.
Brown has been actively prohibiting aid to the city. Under his direction, FEMA has repeatedly and unambiguously prevented aid of all kinds from getting into the city. There are no excuses for this delay. The survivors’ needs are apocalyptically simple: Rescue. Food. Water. Medical care. Transportation out of the city. Shelter. People have died and are still dying there for lack of basic assistance which Brown won’t let reach them.
The White House doesn’t think Brown’s doing anything wrong. They’ve put no pressure on FEMA to change its policies. While it’s true that Bush & Co. did come up with a big plan to address complaints about their response to Katrina, it had nothing to do with helping the survivors and cleaning up the wreckage. It was all about containing the political damage. This was a two-pronged plan: have high-ranking administration officials do meaningless photo ops in the Gulf Coast area (Bush does that a lot), and meanwhile try to shift all the blame for mishandling the situation onto local officials.
Elsewhere in the news, federal emergency teams have succeeded in delivering at least one batch of supplies to the Gulf Coast disaster area: 25,000 body bags. They’ve pulled more than thirty bodies out of one nursing home alone, at St. Rita’s in St. Bernard Parish. They found fourteen bodies in an abandoned hospital. Many, many more bodies are expected. Those death and casualty figures you’ve been seeing are risibly low, completely unrealistic.
How serious is it? FEMA is trying to keep reporters from taking pictures of the bodies of the dead. They’re claiming it’s in bad taste to show such things. They are wholly contemptible.
These guys are willing to let innocent refugees die in filth and misery. They let corpses lie unattended in the Superdome, some of them undoubtedly in the sight of the grieving relatives. Their body-hunting crews are tieing the corpses they find to trees and fences for later collection. One of the relief crews they wouldn’t let into the area was a bunch of professional morticians. FEMA didn’t want them. The Gulf Coast dead are going to be jumbled into body bags. Identifying them is going to be a nasty, nasty business. FEMA says people ought not find out that their loved ones are dead by seeing them in a news photo, but they’ve made almost no effort to identify the dead, and they’ve made it impossible for anyone else to find out that information.