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September 11, 2005

Walking out on a disaster
Posted by Teresa at 12:51 PM * 39 comments

Cherie Priest is irked at some of the comments she’s gotten in the wake of that striking post she put up last week. Here’s one variety that got up her nose:

Some of you asked gently (but cluelessly) why all the car-less poor people just didn’t walk out of New Orleans when they heard the bad weather was coming … and bless your hearts. If I seriously need to explain the logistics of that to you, what a precious and sheltered life you must lead.

Perhaps an object lesson is in order: I’d like to take you, all of you “walking escape” advocates, into a dense urban area in the middle of a thunderstorm … and turn you loose on the street carrying bottled water, some food, your children, your wheelchair-bound grandparents, your pets (if you have any), and tell you to get the hell out of Dodge within the next day or two. And … go! I sure do hope you’re in a superhero state of health, because otherwise you ain’t getting far.

If you’re in the middle of a violent thunderstorm, or for that matter an ice storm, blizzard, nor’easter, tornado, or hurricane, you’re not going to get far on foot. You’re also unlikely to get far in a vehicle. Unless you’re in immediate danger, take shelter and hang on tight until conditions improve. It’s only sensible.

I’d like to address the overall question of walking evacuations, because I spoke in their favor in What we did on our vacation. I was commenting on Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky’s account of being mistreated and effectively imprisoned in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Here’s what I said:

Until I read this story, it had never once occurred to me that law enforcement might be keeping people from leaving the city on foot. That’s mainly how New York City evacuates when we have a disaster. If you’re prudent, you keep a pair of comfortable walking shoes at the office where you work.* It may take you hours to reach home, or a place with working transit, or just an area that’s less affected by the disaster, but you’ll eventually get there.

Walking out lightens the load on services in the city core. It frees up resources that can be better spent evacuating people who are injured, elderly, frail, or disabled, or who commute long distances by rail. It means everything doesn’t have to go into and out of one small central area. In the case of New Orleans, it would move people who need relief out of the worst-flooded areas, which could only make things easier for everyone.

If anyone took that to mean that informal pedestrian skedaddles are a substitute for a comprehensive emergency evacuation plan, they’re much mistaken. And anyone who took it to mean that a refugee who can walk a few blocks unaided must therefore be personally at fault for not having gotten out of a disaster area, has clearly been putting real work into being mistaken.

I may be big on walking as an evacuation strategy, but like all New Yorkers I know it’s not a complete answer. Single parent with one or more little kids? Frail, elderly, disabled, or caretaker for same? No way. This isn’t rocket science. There obviously have to be other means of evacuation.

Walking is for those who can; for those for whom it’s easier than any other means of evacuation; and for those who have no other means of evacuation and are in immediate danger. It’s a natural strategy in New York City, where on weekdays we have godzillions of people working in Manhattan, many of whom live within ten or fifteen miles of their workplace, and we also have a very limited number of routes on and off the island. You can get a couple of thousand pedestrians over a bridge a lot faster than you can move the same number of cars.

However, I’ll argue that walking can be an applicable strategy in areas where things are more spread out. You don’t have to be able to reach your final destination, or even know what it’s going to be, in order to get away from the worst of a disaster. The trick is to get out of the center and into a less-affected zone where there’ll likely be more resources, more options, more information, and fewer refugees. See where you can go from there.

More rules of thumb (mine; others may have better sets):

In a crowded situation, if everyone cooperates, keeps moving, and maintains a calm, orderly flow, you can get lot more traffic through than you can if a few jerks decide to play “it’s me or them” and jam up the flow.

Non-ambulatory evacuees are the responsibility of first responders, civil authorities, and relief workers. If friends, family, or private commercial transportation can get them out, that’s great, but it’s nothing anyone should count on.

On the other hand, if nobody official is around to move non-ambulatory patients, and it’s urgent that they be moved, accept help from anyone who volunteers, and use anything that rolls.

Those who can walk out on their own, no problem, should assist those who can almost manage it.

If you have time and the plumbing’s working, fill your water bottle(s) before you go, and use the john. If you’re going to be walking a long way and it’s seriously hot outside, consider soaking your shirt or dress with water, then putting it back on.

A cooperative group of pedestrians can carry a lot of weight if they frequently swap out the people doing the carrying. That’s how a lot of wheelchair-bound evacuees got down the fire stairs following the first WTC bombing.

Don’t assume everyone got out until you check. Once you do check, consider putting a sign on the front door of the building to keep other searchers from wasting their time and energy.

If you’ve got a bunch of pedestrians (students at your school, employees at your company) who’re heading off in different directions, take a moment to sort yourselves out into groups of people who are walking in roughly the same direction. That way you can take care of each other. Also, traveling in groups increases the number of people who know who got out and where they went, so they’ll be able to pass on that information later.

You-and-yours should agree in advance on someone in another city with whom you can leave messages in an emergency. It’s often difficult to contact people who’ve gotten hit by the same emergency you have, but if you can both get through to Aunt Minnie in Bangor, she can pass along messages in both directions.

Get help along the way. Give help along the way. Be cheerful and pleasant. Pay attention to the news.

And so on and so forth. Like I said, this isn’t rocket science. It’s just a good ground-level strategy.
Comments on Walking out on a disaster:
#1 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 03:26 PM:

By the way, This American Life, an NPR show, had Lori Beth Slonski on as a guest today (Sunday, 9/11).

Before Lori Beth, there was a fascinating woman (whose name I missed) on who had stayed in the Convention Center. She had very nice things to say about the "gangsta" guys who were toting guns and who were looting, but they provided more protection in some areas of the Convention Center than the National Guard did, and the gangsta guys also brought many people food, water, clean clothes and beer (none of which was provided by "the officials"). Almost like Robin Hood, she said.

Also, another individual trapped in New Orleans is further collaborating Lori Beth's crossing-the-bridge story.

#2 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 03:38 PM:

Hear! Hear!

I'm in decent shape. I've spent a lot of time carrying a lot of crap on my person. Even at that, 20 miles in a day is a fair bit to walk.

Walking out of New Orleans, before Katrina hit, is something I'd never attempt. Blown off my feet, my gear strewn to the four winds and completely exposed to the elements. That's suicide.

She was 400 miles wide. Hunker down, ride it out, and then, if needs be, start walking, but there was no way to get out from under on foot.


#3 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 03:39 PM:

i wonder a lot about the vastly differing stories about how people got around. i read this interview with Brian Williams over and over again and i keep thinking "how is it that you got out of the Superdome and went back to your hotel room, and you took no one with you?"

#4 ::: Carl ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 04:20 PM:

He had a press pass and a face some people would recognize, and at least the potential to get the truth out - they couldn't strong-arm him the way they would an ordinary person. I have no doubt they checked him and his crew as closely as they could.

Frankly, I'm giving him points for going on Stewart's show and being as honest as he has been. WOnder how long his job will last, though.

#5 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 04:30 PM:

Of course you cannot walk out of a hurricane. Anyone who thinks that you can has never been in one.

Risa, good point about Brian Williams -- and yet, I know that fear narrows the focus. We tend to think only of own precious skins, or of the skins of those we consider precious. In certain situations, when there are not enough seats on the plane leaving Saigon, for example, it leads to terrible choices and terrible behavior. I have great sympathy for people caught in that trap. I read the interview -- thanks for posting it -- and it seems to me Williams was frightened, disturbed, shocked and showing it, not doing the usual "defend the Bush administration at all costs" bullshit that I have come to expect from mainstream media.

There is an interesting article about the hurricane preparation, lack of, in todays's NYTimes magazine, and a fascinating article by Mark Danner about the war on terror. Danner's analysis is pretty bleak. Another disaster that we are not going to be able to walk out of...

#6 ::: Eric Jarvis ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 04:36 PM:

Back in my twenties I walked both into and out of the centre of London several times. To Caterham in Surrey and from Watford. Both walks of around twenty miles. Both done carrying nothing. For some years I regularly used to walk ten miles in AND out of town from the suburb I lived in.

I'm pretty sure I know what walking far enough from New Orleans to have avoided the hurricane would have entailed in good weather and carrying nothing. I'd not even make an attempt at it these days. I don't think anyone under the age of 12 would have had a chance of managing it. I don't believe there are many who could manage it carrying much more than a change of clothes.

Which doesn't mean that nobody could have managed it, but does mean that it was a better bet for most people wiuthout transport to seek shelter within the city.

#7 ::: risa ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 04:38 PM:

oh Carl, i'm totally with you on that - his honesty is commendable and i'm very appreciative of his position and what he's done with it. it's just that Teresa's commentary on how individuals - particularly able-bodied vs. disabled individuals - could deal with disasters makes me think about all the resources that were there, but being used for other things.

Lizzy, you're right about fear narrowing the focus. i'm definitely giving Williams kudos for his even-handed portrayal of what he went through. i'm just wondering if it's a horrid truth of journalism that you must do your job regardless of the little help you could give to relieve human suffering... i wouldn't be able to do it.

#8 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 05:25 PM:

Eric: Thanks for reminding me. Back in '93 I used to walk from my house to the Huntington Gardens, about three times a week. It wasn't until much later I realised it was 6 miles each way (plus the wandering while I was there; no wonder Basic Training wasn't as hard as I thought it ought to be).

Even then, no way in the world would I try to walk out of a city to avoid something which was going to chase me down.

Where would I be going?

#9 ::: Scaramouche ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 05:34 PM:

Walking out might have been the best option, especially if you consider this post on Evacuations/Numbers.

#10 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 06:16 PM:

Just a quick note to people -- I recently received an e-mail on the address I use for posting to this site suggesting I purchase something from a particular web shop in order to help the victims of Katrina. Undoubtedly others among you have or will shortly receive the same e-mail.

I think donating to a recognised charity would almost certainly be a better way of achieving this. The Red Cross are accepting donations.

#11 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 06:41 PM:

Looking at the map, it's about five or six miles from the Superdome to Troy State University New Orleans and Behrman Memorial Park, or the Oakwood Center Mall. A couple of miles further to the Westwood Medical Center, other schools and various country clubs. In the satellite photos they appear unflooded. I'm sure the resources would have been overwhelmed in all those places, but it would not have been as bad as keeping so many people concentrated in the Superdome and Convention Center without food, water, power or working plumbing. Just getting them to places where they could dig latrine trenches would have been a lifesaver.

It might also have been practical to walk to the airport, but it's a long way, and I don't know about hazards.

#12 ::: Stephen M (Ethesis) ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 06:50 PM:

The story by the EMS conference attendees was at:

http://www.emsnetwork.org/artman/publish/article_18337.shtml

it has been pulled.

Bottom line, they tried to walk out, the bridge was blocked by police with guns who forced them back. When they were not allowed in shelters and built an encampment, the same police sent a helicopter to blow the shelters (over over 200 people) away so that they wouldn't be a nuisance.

Sigh.

#13 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 06:59 PM:

And anyone who took it to mean that a refugee who can walk a few blocks unaided must therefore be personally at fault for not having gotten out of a disaster area, has clearly been putting real work into being mistaken.

Aside from the fact that I agree wholeheartedly with the intent of this post - and I do - I have to say it's sentences like this that keep me coming back here.

#14 ::: Lizzy Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 07:02 PM:

I want to clarify my post. I said: Of course you cannot walk out of a hurricane. Anyone who thinks that you can has never been in one.

What I meant was, you cannot walk out of a hurricane while it's going on. I imagine that an able-bodied, healthy person with a supply of water could have walked from a low-lying region to higher ground before the hurricane swept in. But it's pretty clear from what is being reported that getting to high ground in NO would only have postponed your eventual evacuation. And as others have said, you would not be able to do it accompanied by kids, pets, an elderly parent, a disabled friend, or some variation on the above. Far better to hunker down in the safest place you can find with all the supplies you can find and wait for the government to bring busses, food, medical supplies, etc... Except that there were very few safe places and the government didn't come.

#15 ::: Eric Jarvis ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 07:45 PM:

Tomli: I would guess the reason for choosing the Superdome and the Conference Centre was that most residents of New Orleans would be able to find them easily. The refuges didn't just need to be safe, they also had to be well known. HAving thousands of people wandering around lost as a huricane approaches probably isn't a great idea.

#16 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 07:53 PM:

I'm pretty sure the other woman on this week's This American Life was Denise Moore; one version of her account is at http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/9/6/211436/8987
.

#17 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 07:53 PM:

I don't have any problem with the plan to use the Superdome and the Convention Center as storm shelters. They worked. But everyone knew that it wasn't going to work to keep people there for days after the storm passed. They had experience from previous hurricanes where the Superdome became unlivable.

The people trapped in the Superdome and the Convention Center should have been allowed to leave. The resources that were applied to keeping them there should have been applied to guiding them to safety.

#18 ::: LeeAnn ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 08:05 PM:

I was searching for something else entirely when I ran upon a report sent to the President this past April. I found it to be timely-the section about "Improving Access" especially.
http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2005/saving_lives.htm
(Sorry I do not link to it;html is just a word without vowels to me.

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 08:28 PM:

An unburdened healthy adult human on clear flat terrain walks three miles per hour.

Given that fact: How long will it take you to walk ten miles? How long will it take you to walk twenty? How long will it take you to walk four hundred miles?

How far can you personally walk in twelve hours? In twenty-four? Have you tried? Can you honestly walk for twenty-four hours straight?

#20 ::: T.W. ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 08:45 PM:

Most people today are huffing after 20min of walking. I suspect those that say "they, could have walked out " fall into that group, car fatten asses that they have. Just how small do they think NO is?

#21 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 08:55 PM:

Todd, yes, that sounds pretty much like the story I heard today (though I missed the first few minutes of it).

On "walking out," there are shockingly few comments about flooding and water, and the facts that there were alligators and snakes wandering around in areas where they frequently weren't wandering before. And it was also pretty damned hot. ANd people kept being told that there were busses coming...

#22 ::: GH ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 09:18 PM:

slightly off topic, I hope you don't mind but i'm not spamming, or if I am it's in a good cause.

I think most of us know the story of Jabbar Gibson by now, It's been discussed here and there in the media, on message boards and, of course, on blogs.

He's the kid that 'stole' a bus in New Orleans and drove 100 people, including small children and the elderly to safety during hurricane Katrina.

You might also remember that when the story first broke there was some talk that Mr Gibson could face criminal charges for the theft of the bus. It was that outrageously petty reaction by officials that first got our attention and made Mr. Gibson's story stand out among all the others.

Of course the small minded bureaucrat who ( I assume) couldn't seem to see beyond the fact that a "black kid stole a bus" soon realized it wasn't good public relations to arrest a hero and that idea was dropped... but still....it's amazing that it was ever considered at all.

So a few of us who gather at a small BBS decided that we should try to do something for Mr Gibson. Not just because he did the right thing and acted bravely and resourcefully in a bad situation but because... well, because we can't do something for all the people who acted heroically during Katrina. Mr Gibson has become our symbol.

Please see our petition.

[Complete text of petition deleted here. That's what links are for. --TNH, Moderator]

#23 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2005, 10:37 PM:

EMS story is still up here:

http://www.socialistworker.org/2005-2/556/556_04_RealHeroes.shtml

#24 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:24 AM:

I'm haunted by the image of what looked to be over a hundred school buses sitting in rising flood waters.

Over and over a small voice keeps asking why weren't these commandeered to take people out of the city? Or if they couldn't do that, to take people to the shelters of last resort?

An even more nagging question: If the local government intended to use the Superdome and convention center for shelters, why weren't they stocked with supplies and porta-potties?

Does anyone know if any level of government in New Orleans actually USED the plans they'd gamed out in the 'Hurricane Pam' scenario?

Lori Coulson

#25 ::: Katherine Mankiller ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 11:30 AM:

Walking out of New Orleans also presents the small problem that if one doesn't walk fast enough, one will be caught in the category four hurricane level winds--that's 131-155 mph--and likely struck by flying debris. Like, you know, an SUV.

#26 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 03:14 PM:

Speaking of spam:

I'm told that there's an awful lot of "Katrina Disater Relief" email spam out there.

If you get a letter supposedly from the Red Cross that has a link in it to click on to give a donation -- don't do it.

Oh, and I got a great piece of Katrina-Spam today:

You can help them, visiting our site and buying anything on this site you will incrase the money fond wich will help us to supply hundreds of thousand victims.

Wow, spammers' spelling skills still haven't improved.

#27 ::: Zed ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 05:28 PM:

Whoops, turns out we were all mistaken. The federal response to Katrina was the BESTEST EVAR!

#28 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 05:37 PM:

Post-Gazette's echo chamber idiot wrote:

"The levee broke Tuesday morning."

Bah, what's 24 hours in a universe that's 6,000 years old?

#29 ::: Jenny K ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 06:55 PM:

Lori,

The superdome had enough water and MREs for 15,000 people for two days (provided by the National Guard). They had about 10,000 more people than that and they didn't start getting people out of the Superdome until Wednesday (evening, I think). Since the storm hit Sunday night, that means people were there for a minimum of four days, not two. It wasn't that they didn't have food, but that their estimates were waaay off, both in terms of number of people, and how long it would take the feds to resupply them and get people out.

Yes, thoses buses could have been used to get some people out, but 26,000? Before the storm hit? It would have been a better use of resources to use them to stock up on more supplies, or go around and pick people up and take them to higher ground (they did have buses running from collection points to the Superdome).

I don't get the portapotties thing either though, it's not like it was a surprise to anyone that the sewer system backed up and the pumps stopped working.

re: Hurricane Pam: DHS apparently never got the funding to write up their report and analysis of the exercise, so rather than anything actually learning or improving anything, the government just spent a bunch of money practising.

#30 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 09:01 PM:

Yes, thoses buses could have been used to get some people out, but 26,000?

Maybe not 26,000, but maybe a good portion of that 10,000 extra people at the Superdome:

They had about 10,000 more people than that

Which might have eased the food/water problem just a tad.

Every person evacuated before the hurricane is one less person to rescue/feed/move after the hurricane.

#31 ::: Jenny K ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2005, 10:45 PM:

Lin, not saying it wouldn't have helped (a lot) just saying it wouldn't have solved the problem by itself. After all, even if the buses had been used to get 10,000 people out, there is still the fact that the National Guard only supplied the Superdome with two days worth of food, but took much longer to resupply and start getting people out.

I think it was a waste myself. I'm just getting annoyed with the people who act like it would have been easy to do so on short notice, or a complete solution.

It's not just a matter of getting the buses out, but collecting people and getting the buses out. Within two days. Or less.

(I also wonder how many of these buses were being used on Sunday to get people to the Superdome. Does anyone know what buses were used to do that?)

And every person you get out isn't one less person to feed later (or even move). You would have had to feed and shelter the people you did get out (and quite likely move them elsewhere later), it just would have been much easier because transportation to and from whatever shelter(s) you set up would have been much more accessible.

I think that a lot of people dropped the ball, that's why I want an investigation. It just seems obvious to me that some of the blame being put on NO and LA in terms of immediate response (as opposed to long term planning) is as much wishful thinking as anything else. If we can't expect the feds to supply tens of thousands people with food and water within two days, how can we expect local governments to evacuate ten thousand in even less time?

#32 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 01:14 AM:

The feddies were supposed to evacuate people out of the Superdome, according to Time or Newsweek...

#33 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:46 AM:

The Post-Gazette's idiot -- I notice that he says, "A former Air Force logistics officer had some words of advice for us in the Fourth Estate on his blog, Moltenthought...."

A former Air Force logistics officer with a handful of ad hominems. You forget that some of us have met Air Force officers. If this one likes ad hominems so much try this one on for size: Being in the Air Force means that his brain doesn't work below 5,000 feet. If a war started at 1500 on a Friday the Air Force wouldn't find out until 0800 the following Monday morning.

Back when he was spending mornings playing golf and evenings squatting on a barstool in an air conditioned officers' club, the grown-ups were learning that the world doesn't work the way he thinks it does.

Let's look at other parts of that article:

For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992.

1992 -- remember that was Bush I, back when FEMA was a nice sinecure for political hacks. That was before Clinton cleaned it up and put in professional disaster managers -- grown-ups with experience, not the frat boys and failures that the Bushes -- father and son -- dumped there.

When were those other hurricanes that Jack Kelly quotes Jason van Steenwyk (who he mentions is a Florida National guardsman, with no other mention of his expertise in disaster planning):

The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne.

Hurricane Hugo, 1989
Hurricane Andrew, 1992
Hurricane Iniki, Hawaii, 1992
Hurricane Francine, 2004
Hurricane Jeanne, 2004

How amazingly wonderful that no hurricanes struck the United States while Clinton was president and James Lee Witt was director of FEMA!

Or could it be that hurricanes did strike the United States, and fast and effective mobilization and federal disaster relief mitigated the effects?

Yeah, the latter.

As far as Air Force logistics officers, apparently they've fogotten how to count on their fingers. People went into the shelters on Sunday. The levees broke on Monday. The first official aid came on Wednesday, in the form of palletloads pushed off the backs of trucks that didn't even slow down. Too little, and by then three days in. It wasn't until Thursday that the feds even found out that there were people at the Convention Center, not until Friday before food and water arrived in quantity, and not until Saturday that the last of the survivors were taken out of the shelters. That's a solid week, Air Force Logistics Officer -- seven days (I know, in the Air Force a week is only five days, and you started counting two days after the disaster started, but trust me on this one -- the real number is seven). Human beings without water live three days.

I've seen Maytag washers that didn't have as much spin as that piece.

"The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network.

Three college kids from Duke got to the New Orleans Convention Center in a two-wheel drive Hyundai days before the National Guard did.

And let's not forget the New Mexico National Guard -- mounted up and ready to ride on Sunday, the day before the hurricane hit, while people were still going to the shelters. They didn't get permission to roll until the following Thursday. That holdup wasn't at the local level, guy. Your "grown-ups" running FEMA were too busy doing Tequilla Shooters in college and pretending that being an intern in an assistant city manager's office was the same thing as being an assistant city manager to figure out that you have to be fast off the dime when real people will lose real lives if you're hanging out with one thumb in your mouth and one in your ass playing "switch."

"You cannot speed recovery and relief efforts up by prepositioning assets (in the affected areas) since the assets are endangered by the very storm which destroyed the region.

No, numbnuts -- you preposition them outside of the area. Say -- New Mexico. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Then you move them in. Do I have to explain all this to you? I already mentioned the New Mexico troops who were hanging out waiting for the order to go. Shall we mention the civilian contractors in Wisconsin with truckloads of water and ice who were held up, then misdirected by hundreds of miles to the wrong locations where no one was present to offload their supplies?

"No amount of yelling, crying and mustering of moral indignation will change any of the facts above."

No amount of spinning, whining, or lying by omission will make this anything other than a botch from top to bottom. And any time you're ready to present facts rather than puffed up excuses, I'm ready to listen.

Those "Hurricane Pam" plans that were supposedly made? They weren't made or promulgated-- they were cut from the budget. And during that exercise FEMA spent its time blowing smoke, promising supplies it didn't have on a timeline it couldn't meet, using assets it couldn't locate. Only later did the local guys who were relying on FEMA to hold up their side of the bargain discover that it was all big talk from small men.

"You cannot just snap your fingers and make the military appear somewhere," van Steenwyk said.

No, you don't do it by snapping your fingers. You do it with planning. You know the Seven Ps? Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Out in the world that's the way things really work.

Guardsmen need to receive mobilization orders; report to their armories; draw equipment; receive orders and convoy to the disaster area. Guardsmen driving down from Pennsylvania or Navy ships sailing from Norfolk can't be on the scene immediately.

Guardsmen all over the country were getting their mobilization orders on Friday and Saturday before the event. They were standing by (the ones that weren't in Iraq). FEMA was sucking its thumb.

After the event is a hell of a time to start thinking of what you're going to need. Planning. What grown-ups do. Remember?

Norfolk to New Orleans by way of the Florida Straits is around 1,600 miles. At a 20 knot speed made good, that's 80 hours. If a hospital ship and a couple of amphibs set sail when Katrina turned north on Saturday morning, they have been at New Orleans by mid-day Tuesday.

Thinking ahead. Planning. Coordination. What FEMA was supposed to be doing. These were supposed to be grown-ups, remember? They'd been given important jobs and were receiving serious paychecks for doing them.

Brown and Chertoff weren't engineers. They were lawyers, and not terribly good ones. They had fancy friends who gave 'em nice cushy jobs. Not a lad among 'em had a lick of common sense or a day's experience with genuine disasters, planning for them, or recovering from them.

There's your scandal. An incompetent put other incompetents in charge of something important.

Relief efforts must be planned. Other than prepositioning supplies near the area likely to be afflicted (which was done quite efficiently), this cannot be done until the hurricane has struck and a damage assessment can be made. There must be a route reconnaissance to determine if roads are open, and bridges along the way can bear the weight of heavily laden trucks.

Only the first sentence of that paragraph is true.

And federal troops and Guardsmen from other states cannot be sent to a disaster area until their presence has been requested by the governors of the afflicted states.

Like New Mexico's troops?

So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history.

If that was a success, Lord save us all from a clusterfuck.

I'm looking forward to a full, honest investigation of this fiasco.

I'd like to see it soon. I'd like to see it followed up by indictments. And jail time.

An impeachment wouldn't be a bad idea either.

#34 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 07:59 AM:

Even in the best shape I was in in my life, when I was routinely walking 8 or 10 miles a day just for the hell of it, I would not count on my ability to outwalk an incoming storm. Unless I knew for a fact there was safe shelter within that range, I would hunker down and pray.

(In my current condition, I would not count on my ability to outwalk an incoming snail.)

#35 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:13 PM:

Yeah, I saw that talking point start to surface a couple of days ago: trolls coming by the big liberal blogs and simply announcing that everyone was stupid, the government responded as fast as it was supposed to.

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 03:32 PM:

the government responded as fast as it was supposed to

Too bad they didn't let people know in advance that the response was supposed to be that slow. But maybe that announcement is supposed to be next week?

#37 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 08:34 PM:

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2005, 02:46 AM:

The Post-Gazette's idiot -- I notice that he says, "A former Air Force logistics officer had some words of advice for us in the Fourth Estate on his blog, Moltenthought...."

I have known Air Force logistics types who were not "day wienies" and who were competent.

A former Air Force logistics officer with a handful of ad hominems. You forget that some of us have met Air Force officers.

Hey, I used to be an Air Force officer! Can't-think-of-his-name-in-Colorado (no, not Wil McCarthy, another Colorado SF novelist) was an Air Force officer....

If this one likes ad hominems so much try this one on for size: Being in the Air Force means that his brain doesn't work below 5,000 feet. If a war started at 1500 on a Friday the Air Force wouldn't find out until 0800 the following Monday morning.

Unfair, unfair, unfair. I spent holidays working in Cheyenne Mountain and in the Tactical Operations Room in the BMEWS Site in Greenland, in places that were definitely NOT up flying around up in the air. The inside of a mountain on a midshift is NOT a airplane, and went the power goes out....

Back when he was spending mornings playing golf and evenings squatting on a barstool in an air conditioned officers' club, the grown-ups were learning that the world doesn't work the way he thinks it does.

The golf course on Mt Dundas involves first climbing UP Mt Dundas, and the way of getting down, involves a lot of sliding on one's rump on the rocks and dirt.

[snip]

As far as Air Force logistics officers, apparently they've fogotten how to count on their fingers. People went into the shelters on Sunday. The levees broke on Monday. The first official aid came on Wednesday, in the form of palletloads pushed off the backs of trucks that didn't even slow down. Too little, and by then three days in. It wasn't until Thursday that the feds even found out that there were people at the Convention Center, not until Friday before food and water arrived in quantity, and not until Saturday that the last of the survivors were taken out of the shelters. That's a solid week, Air Force Logistics Officer -- seven days (I know, in the Air Force a week is only five days, and you started counting two days after the disaster started, but trust me on this one -- the real number is seven). Human beings without water live three days.

More slur--look -up- the chain of command. I saw Air Logistics officers working 24 X 7 on an exercise years ago, with cargoes coming and and going out, planes offloaded and on-loaded... but Blunderbush the Bumbler wasn't involved and his buddies appointed for their campaign funding skills which had nothing whatsoever to do with government operations execution and management and competent and other appartchik patronage putzes were far out of the loop and not invovled.

I've seen Maytag washers that didn't have as much spin as that piece.

Anything Schmuck and his buddies are involved with, the most energetic movement is the spin and distribution of more funds to stinking Halliburton and Bechtel and such.

"The United States military can wipe out the Taliban and the Iraqi Republican Guard far more swiftly than they can bring 3 million Swanson dinners to an underwater city through an area the size of Great Britain which has no power, no working ports or airports, and a devastated and impassable road network.
Three college kids from Duke got to the New Orleans Convention Center in a two-wheel drive Hyundai days before the National Guard did.

They were acting on their own volition, they didn't have a pack of Bushwhipped general officers more interested in keeping their asses integral and their jobs than in the wellbeing of the nation--or the were like stinking Boykin, maniacs of the same noxious religious imperialism as Bush.

And let's not forget the New Mexico National Guard -- mounted up and ready to ride on Sunday, the day before the hurricane hit, while people were still going to the shelters. They didn't get permission to roll until the following Thursday.

Once again, malfeasanse and incompetence etc. at the top and down the chain of command. The "commander's initiative" in the Schmuck Misadmininstration is unenlightened self-interest and job security. Arguing with Schmuck's orders is bad for the continued employment and position outlook.

That holdup wasn't at the local level, guy. Your "grown-ups" running FEMA were too busy doing Tequilla Shooters in college and pretending that being an intern in an assistant city manager's office was the same thing as being an assistant city manager to figure out that you have to be fast off the dime when real people will lose real lives if you're hanging out with one thumb in your mouth and one in your ass playing "switch."

Schmuck is happy festooning the US Government with syncophant and asslickers who if they ever had any competence running federal operations and management federal programs, compromised their integrity and dropped doing things that need to be done/should be done to pander to Schmuck and his particular values and attitudes and whims.

"You cannot speed recovery and relief efforts up by prepositioning assets (in the affected areas) since the assets are endangered by the very storm which destroyed the region.
No, numbnuts -- you preposition them outside of the area. Say -- New Mexico. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Then you move them in. Do I have to explain all this to you? I already mentioned the New Mexico troops who were hanging out waiting for the order to go. Shall we mention the civilian contractors in Wisconsin with truckloads of water and ice who were held up, then misdirected by hundreds of miles to the wrong locations where no one was present to offload their supplies?

Cronies incompetent asslickers flunkies gutless gormless wonders all the way down the appointee and most of the promotions lists....

"No amount of yelling, crying and mustering of moral indignation will change any of the facts above."
No amount of spinning, whining, or lying by omission will make this anything other than a botch from top to bottom. And any time you're ready to present facts rather than puffed up excuses, I'm ready to listen.

Schmuck must have been given some doping chemicals, he admitted blame on himself today.... but otherwise the whole thing has been playing Big Lie games.

Those "Hurricane Pam" plans that were supposedly made? They weren't made or promulgated-- they were cut from the budget. And during that exercise FEMA spent its time blowing smoke, promising supplies it didn't have on a timeline it couldn't meet, using assets it couldn't locate. Only later did the local guys who were relying on FEMA to hold up their side of the bargain discover that it was all big talk from small men.

Potemkin Presidency with Potemkin structures promoted by the Schmuck and his skuz associates and subordinates.

"You cannot just snap your fingers and make the military appear somewhere," van Steenwyk said.
No, you don't do it by snapping your fingers. You do it with planning. You know the Seven Ps? Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Out in the world that's the way things really work.

That's where there's process and competence and intention of doing positive things and making the world a better place and having the people being affected being involved, in positive fashion. There's a lot of incompetence, malice, greed, selfishness, willful ignoring, stupidity, etc. etc. etc out there. I saw the Boston Computer Society destroyed, with incompetence part but not all of it. Lack of openess was another part with Star Chamber tactic involved, and lots of self-interest and selfishness and power-hunger and disdain/lack of concern for other people's interests and well-being seemed to be involved, plus lack of concern about things like finance and other people's feelings and values.

And what about the facilities that were in the area? What about all those miltiary and reservers and Guard in Texas, Louisiana north of the coast, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, etc.?!

Guardsmen all over the country were getting their mobilization orders on Friday and Saturday before the event. They were standing by (the ones that weren't in Iraq). FEMA was sucking its thumb.

FEMA's thumbs were up its ass. Sucking its thumbs is way too generous.

After the event is a hell of a time to start thinking of what you're going to need. Planning. What grown-ups do. Remember?

Patronage pukes who don't know and don't care about the position and competences germane to the positions there were awarded, don't hand and don't want a clue. They just want the money and the prestige and the trappings and the perception of power.

Norfolk to New Orleans by way of the Florida Straits is around 1,600 miles. At a 20 knot speed made good, that's 80 hours. If a hospital ship and a couple of amphibs set sail when Katrina turned north on Saturday morning, they have been at New Orleans by mid-day Tuesday.

And what about the stuff at e.g. Pensacola, and on the west coast of Florida? What about the stuff at Guantanamo Bay, and again, Texas?

Thinking ahead. Planning. Coordination. What FEMA was supposed to be doing. These were supposed to be grown-ups, remember? They'd been given important jobs and were receiving serious paychecks for doing them.

They were Gag Order George Blunderbush appointees. Competence and experience other than financial support and loyalty are irrelevant...

Brown and Chertoff weren't engineers. They were lawyers, and not terribly good ones. They had fancy friends who gave 'em nice cushy jobs. Not a lad among 'em had a lick of common sense or a day's experience with genuine disasters, planning for them, or recovering from them.

The people who put them there there is nothing polite to say about. Brown and Chertoff were winners in the spoils patronage system, rewarded for being good appartchiks down at relatively low positions bringing in the bucks to fuel the operation of the scorch-the-planet-Republican sack-the-world-robber-barons-take-all machine.

There's your scandal. An incompetent put other incompetents in charge of something important.

It goes beyond that. The entire lot of them serve what I have to regard as evil causes and purposed and use evil ways to accomplish their goals. They treat others with disrespect and disdain, they circumvent and dismantle laws written specifically to ensure clean water and clean air and reducing the release of toxins like like mercury into the air to come down and poison children. They promote destruction of forests and marshes and wetlands and waterways and forests, which provided natural barriers helping protect cities and towns and farms and houses from natural disaster of storm and flash flood and wildfire. They promote injustice and lack of recourse for the poor, cut funding of education and healthcare for those who can't work or can't find work that pays a living wage and provides for essentials like healthcare.

They gag order information they don't like that contradict/are offensive to their their particular religious sects' values (but aren't offensive to others of other religions and branches of the same religion), and censor and rewrite studies paid for by US taxpayers when they don't like the results or the results disagree with their attitudes. They remove information about birth control and other medical informatio and replace it with noxious lies. They tell women who have menstrual cramps the equivalent of "In pain thou shalt bring forth children" and prescribe prayer if even that for the pain--some of them doubtless feel that menstrual cramps on on the continuum ranging from purely imaginary to Biblical literalists who believe in the Curse of Pain imposed on Eve and inherited by womenkind.

Relief efforts must be planned. Other than prepositioning supplies near the area likely to be afflicted (which was done quite efficiently), this cannot be done until the hurricane has struck and a damage assessment can be made. There must be a route reconnaissance to determine if roads are open, and bridges along the way can bear the weight of heavily laden trucks.
Only the first sentence of that paragraph is true.

And federal troops and Guardsmen from other states cannot be sent to a disaster area until their presence has been requested by the governors of the afflicted states.
Like New Mexico's troops?

So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history.

If that was a success, Lord save us all from a clusterfuck.

It's old-fashioned Big Lie techniques. Declare the situation won and pretend it's a victory and keep reiterating it.

I'm looking forward to a full, honest investigation of this fiasco.

I want an independent investingation of a bunch of things, including US Government actions and US Government-funded actions in Afghanistan, in Iraq, participation by the International Red Cross, and I want the World Court involved--I don't trust ANY arm of the US Government to investigate this impartially and without shielding Schmuck.

I also want the FBI records on Whitey Bulger and Bush I's dealing in the Gulf War, and in Irancontragate, unsealed. Some suspicions occcured to me as to WHY Schmuck put an Executive Order Secrecy Gag and General Gag Order on the FBI records that included the FBI Washingtons' dealing with James Bulger, who made chumps out o the US Federal Government for YEARS and almost literally was given a license to kill by the FBI, his and his buddy Flemmi murdering people and the FBI -colluding- to send three men innocent of murder to death row, to rot in jail until death or the determination 30 years later of false testimony under oath and conviction of murder on false testimony. The FBI knew that the three men were innocent, but colluded in sending them to Death Row. It was only because Massachusetts had stopped carrying out executions that they weren't put to death. One of them died in jail, the other two were freed, after three dacades in the state penitentiary.

And stinking shithead Bush when Congress was having hearing regaring federal collusion that protected James Bulger from arrest for decades and let him escape with his ill-gotten blood money millions to a very comfortable life wherever, imposed an Executive Order sealing off the FBI records.

I'd like to see it soon. I'd like to see it followed up by indictments. And jail time.

An impeachment wouldn't be a bad idea either.

Jettisoning Gag Order George would be much better than that. Impeachment is merely a charge, it's not conviction of malfeasance....

#38 ::: Raphael sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2009, 06:28 AM:

The author seems to have followed some weird kind of free word association or something.

#39 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2009, 09:00 PM:

Re #39: Didn't stop them from posting the exact same thing word for word in 246 other weblogs.

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