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August 24, 2006

Le travestie exécutif
Posted by Teresa at 12:12 PM * 84 comments

From USA Today, though there are scores of other sources that tell the same story:

Nearly half of New Orleans was still under water when President Bush stood in the Crescent City’s historic Jackson Square and swore he would “do what it takes” to rebuild the communities and lives that had been laid to waste two weeks before by Hurricane Katrina.

“Our goal is to get the work done quickly,” the president said.

He promised to spend federal money wisely and accountably. And he vowed to address the poverty exposed by the government’s inadequate Katrina response “with bold action.”

Yeah yeah yeah. He did the same thing at Ground Zero: came in for the photo shoot, did some posturing, made a lot of promises, then went back home and forgot all about it, except for the parts he and his cronies could usefully exploit. (See also: Mission Accomplished.)

The victims of 9/11, including the firefighters he posed with, didn’t get anything like the promised help. Meanwhile, Bush used 9/11 as his excuse to go to war with Iraq (none of the 9/11 suicide bombers were Iraqis), take out Saddam Hussein (who had nothing to do with the attack), and bring in appallingly repressive programs and legislation that don’t actually address any of the real security issues.

Which, as they’d tell me in New Orleans, is about par for the course.

A year after the storm, the federal government has proven slow and unreliable in keeping the president’s promises. “This is not something that is going to be able to be accomplished in 365 days,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

“Not everything can be accomplished in 365 days” does not excuse “Next to nothing has been done in 365 days.”
“The president has set the federal government on the course to fulfill its obligations.”

You know the guy in the meeting who, when asked to report on the progress he’s made on his part of the project, says “I’ve made some preliminary phone calls”? You know how that actually means he hasn’t done a damned thing since the previous meeting? “Setting the federal government on the course to fulfill its obligations” is just like that.

The job of clearing debris left by the storm remains unfinished, and has been plagued by accusations of fraud and price gouging. Tens of thousands of families still live in trailers or mobile homes, with no indication of when or how they will be able to obtain permanent housing. Important decisions about rebuilding and improving flood defenses have been delayed. And little if anything has been done to ensure the welfare of the poor in a rebuilt New Orleans. …

CLEANUP: The job still isn’t done. More than 100 million cubic yards of debris have been cleared from the region affected by Katrina. So far the government has spent $3.6 billion, a figure that might have been considerably smaller had the contracts for debris removal been subject to competitive bidding.

Working through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA gave each of four companies contracts worth up to $500 million to clear hurricane debris. This spring government inspectors reported that the companies—AshBritt Inc. of Pompano Beach, Fla., Phillips and Jordan Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., Ceres Environmental Services Inc. of Brooklyn Park, Minn. and ECC Operating Services Inc. of Burlingame, Calif.—charged the government as much as four to six times what they paid their subcontractors who actually did the work.

Ever wonder how well-connected businessmen siphon off public monies? One of the most popular ways is to enter into lucrative government contracts to provide goods and services, and then not deliver, or deliver stuff that’s not to spec. Their government buddies who gave them the contracts in the first place omit to prosecute for non-performance. A lot of Katrina-related contracted-for relief aid seems to have worked that way.

HOUSING: In his Jackson Square speech, Bush said his goal was to “get people out of shelters by the middle of October.” By and large that goal was met, with all but a few thousand of 270,000 Katrina evacuees out of shelters by mid-October.

Not that the feds did all that much to get them out.

But that didn’t solve the monumental housing problem created by Katrina. Most of the people who had been in shelters went to hotel rooms, with FEMA picking up the bill. About 50,000 families who had evacuated to other cities were promised a year of rent assistance, though in April FEMA began cutting off some who the agency said did not qualify for the program. More than 100,000 families moved into trailers or mobile homes parked either in the yards of their damaged houses or in makeshift compounds.

Meanwhile, FEMA flailed and flip-flopped on its contracting policies for trailers, mobile homes and other temporary shelter. The first big contracts were handed out non-competitively to four well-connected companies—Shaw Group, Bechtel Corp., CH2M Hill Inc. and Fluor Corp. Then in October FEMA director R. David Paulison promised to rebid the contracts after Congress complained that smaller companies, especially local and minority-owned firms, should have a chance to compete for the work.

A month after that, FEMA said the new contracts would not be awarded until February. That deadline came and went, and then in March a FEMA official announced that the contracts weren’t going to be rebid after all.

They stonewalled as long as they could.

A week later FEMA reversed itself again, giving up to $3.6 billion in business to small and minority-owned firms. “I promised Congress I was going to bid them out, and that’s what I’m doing,” Paulison said.

But they couldn’t hold out forever.

REBUILDING: Despite Bush’s Jackson Square promise to “undertake a close partnership with the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, the city of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities,” state and local officials had a hard time reaching a deal for federal aid to help residents rebuild their ruined homes. In January the administration rejected a $30 billion plan for Louisiana as too expensive. The White House also balked at subsidizing the reconstruction of homes in flood plains, a policy that would have excluded all but a small fraction of Louisiana homeowners whose houses were significantly damaged.

First: Bush & Co. haven’t made it a policy elsewhere to refuse to help reconstruct homes in disaster-prone areas elsewhere, from the California hillsides to the Florida coast. They were downright lavish with hurricane aid in Florida, a few months before the 2004 elections. “No rebuilding in flood plains” has definitely not been a general policy.

Second: There is going to be a city at the mouth of the Mississippi. The amount of bulk freight that travels over our system of navigable rivers would be enough to guarantee that, though the main reason is of course that New Orleans wants to be there. Given that the city’s going to exist, parts of it will be built on floodplain. Those areas are not going to stand empty. They will continue to be vulnerable to flooding. That’s what the levees and other flood-control structures are all about.

We can’t rebuild New Orleans without attending to those areas—which, let me repeat, are not going to stay vacant. All we can do by refusing to help is further oppress the poor, afflict the helpless and miserable, and fail to treat others as we would like to be treated.

Bush doesn’t care about the drowned districts. Nobody who’s important to him lived there, and there’s no glory to be had from fixing a mistake he was responsible for. The inhabitants aren’t rich and powerful, and they aren’t going to sing his praises no matter what he does. But last time I looked, those things weren’t supposed to be the measure of our national willingness to help each other out.

The state finally won funding in July for the $9 billion ‘Road Home’ program, which pays homeowners up to $150,000 either to repair their damaged property or rebuild elsewhere in the state. People who leave the state are eligible for a 60% buyout. The money, which is being distributed through escrow accounts to prevent fraud, is just becoming available a year after the hurricane.

You can save a lot of grant money simply by delaying handing it out. Over the course of a year, people die, or become incapacitated, or lose their necessary documentation, or make other arrangements. You can save a lot of grant money just by delaying giving it out, because the weakest and most marginal of the entitled recipients will drop out. Of course, they’re also the ones who need it most.

LEVEES: The federal government hasn’t broken any promises with regard to flood protection—mostly because it has assiduously avoided making any.

Yeah. They’ve been that way about real anti-terrorism security measures, too. A million bucks for photo ops, but not one cent for prevention.

White House Katrina recovery czar Donald Powell has said that the administration intends to wait for the completion of a $20 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study, due in December 2007, before it decides whether to enhance the flood protection system in southern Louisiana enough to resist a Category 5 hurricane.

Global warming—which is happening, which is not a theory—is going to mean more and bigger hurricanes over a longer hurricane season. It makes perfect sense to plan a flood protection system that will resist a Category 5 hurricane.

A preliminary draft of the study released in July was widely criticized because it omitted five projects that state officials say should be started right away.

We’ve seen this one before. You know why one of Bush’s first official actions, when the magnitude of the disaster became known, was to state for the record that no one could have foreseen it? It’s because they had been warned about exactly that possibility, in detail, long before; and they’d nevertheless stripped funding for levees and other flood control measures in that area.

There is no guarantee whatsoever that New Orleans won’t get hit again this year.

At the same time, it focused on a massive levee that would stretch hundreds of miles along the Louisiana coast while paying only lip service to the critical task of shoring up the state’s vanishing wetlands, which provide a natural barrier to hurricane flooding.

Protecting wetlands means saying “no” to wealthy real-estate developers with coastal projects in mind; whereas there’d be all kinds of contracts to hand out if you built a giant levee along hundreds of miles of Louisiana coast.

The federal government has committed about $6 billion since Katrina to repair and improve the Big Easy’s existing levee system. The first goal was to bring the levee system back to “pre-Katrina” levels by the beginning of the 2006 hurricane season on June 1. That goal was largely achieved. The next step will be to make improvements that will bring the system up to what is variously called Category 3 or 100-year protection by 2010. But planners and state and local officials say that the levees need to be brought up to Category 5 protection, a level that would cost up to $30 billion, if people are to have confidence moving back to areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Well, funny thing. Residents don’t want to build in areas that are excessively vulnerable to flooding. Could be they really do understand the issues.
POVERTY: Bush offered three proposals in Jackson Square to help combat poverty around the Gulf Coast region. Two of them never went anywhere—the creation of “worker recovery accounts” that would help evacuees find work by paying for school, job training or child care while they looked for employment, and an Urban Homesteading Act that would give poor people building sites for new homes that they would either finance themselves or obtain through programs such as Habitat for Humanity. A third proposal, the creation of a Gulf Opportunity zone, did come to pass. Signed by President Bush in December, the legislation gives $8.7 billion in tax breaks to developers of low-income housing projects, small businesses and individuals affected not just by Katrina but by hurricanes Rita and Wilma as well.

It’s a tax break, Rita hit Texas, and Wilma hit Florida. In this, at least, the man is consistent.
Comments on Le travestie exécutif:
#1 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 05:22 PM:

One small correction: Katrina, Wilma, and Rita all hit South Florida. The most days off from work I have ever had!
A few, very disjointed thoughts:
I was in New Orleans for the ALA conference. There's a novel, I don't remember by whom, that has tourists visiting Los Angeles after the Big One, mostly underwater and with holograms; and that's the feeling you get from New Orleans.Seeing the Mississippi empty--wow. Folks over there are just plain stubborn though, and as you say, they ARE coming back, no matter what.
While I was there, the Army Corps of Engineers (the Lord deliver Us from Evil)announced that all the work they had done on the levees was not good enough and would have to be redone and improved. Some insane sum would be needed, and, of course, it wouldn't be available because, of course, the blessed Corps (the Lord, etc.) had only asked for what they thought they would "need" for the year.
My idea would be to get some engineers from The Netherlands and give them free rein on the levees. Couldn't hurt and it would keep the Army Corps of Engineers out!

#2 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 05:30 PM:

“Not everything can be accomplished in 365 days” does not excuse “Next to nothing has been done in 365 days.”

Yes. Perfectly stated.

#3 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 05:37 PM:

Maybe they figure if they drag it out long enough, NO will get hit by another cat-5 hurricane, and they can justify kicking everyone out permanently.

#4 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 06:18 PM:

A couple of things here:

First, FEMA incompetence in small things as well as large:

FEMA changing locks on trailers

WASHINGTON (AP) - FEMA will replace locks on as many as 118,000 trailers used by Gulf Coast hurricane victims after discovering the same key could open many of the mobile homes.

One locksmith cut only 50 different kinds of keys for the trailers sold to FEMA, officials said Monday. That means, in an example of a worst-case scenario, one key could be used to unlock up to 10 mobile homes in a park of 500 trailers.

FEMA officials said such a situation was unlikely, but they still moved to warn storm evacuees living in Louisiana and Mississippi trailer parks of the security risk.

"We are working aggressively to establish the extent of the problem and determine the best solution for the safety and security of those who now reside in these trailer units," said Gil Jamieson, deputy director of Gulf Coast recovery for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He said FEMA was "asking residents to be extra vigilant and take precautions to secure the trailer that they occupy."

"We encourage them to work together to promote a neighborhood watch and help ensure the safety of all residents," Jamieson said.

It is unknown how many trailers will need to have their locks replaced, said FEMA spokesman Pat Philbin.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., called the lock risk "very troubling."

Remember, FEMA is part of DHS, the nice fellows in charge of all our national security. Wonderful to know that "security" is foremost in their minds.

Next, to show that DHS is incompetent in large things as well as small, do y'know how they found out that the levees were broken? By watching CNN. And since CNN Headline News didn't have the word that the levees were broken for 30 hours after they went down, DHS didn't get the word either. Here's the story on that.

Broderick [told] investigators that he rarely looked at his e-mail and had received seven hundred e-mail messages during the disaster that he had never even bothered to open. He admitted that he didn't read the New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picayune, which on the day Katrina hit had treated the collapse of the 17th Street Canal as fact and had written a long story describing the scene after two reporters on bicycles had visited the area. . . .

Finally, asked by exasperated Senate investigators what evidence he had collected showing the levees had not breached, Broderick said he had relied exclusively on two sources. The first was the Army Corps of Engineers, but the former general suspected even that agency of hyping the situation, since it had reported "extensive" flooding in New Orleans and "'extensive' is all relative," Broderick said.

The second source, Broderick allowed, was unimpeachable: CNN Headline News. Late Monday afternoon, the network aired a report from New Orleans. The focus of the video snippet was a scene on Bourbon Street, near the highest spot in the city, where people "seemed to be having a party," Broderick said.

"The one data point that I really had, personally, visually, was the celebration in the streets of New Orleans, of people drinking beer and partying because -- and they used, they came up with the word -- 'we dodged the bullet,'" Broderick said. "So that's a pretty good indicator right there."

#5 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 06:35 PM:

A preliminary draft of the study released in July was widely criticized because it omitted five projects that state officials say should be started right away. At the same time, it focused on a massive levee that would stretch hundreds of miles along the Louisiana coast while paying only lip service to the critical task of shoring up the state's vanishing wetlands....

So simply stated, BushCo is focusing attention on a long-range, high-cost solution (the massive levee) while ignoring the immediate solutions (wetlands, NOLA levees, etc). The long-range solution lets them posture, but doesn't require actual effort, because by the time it's meant to be getting started there's another THE SECURITY ALERT LEVEL IS ORANGE!

This is the case in much of Bush's environmental policy, not just the hurricane response.

Example: The so-called hydrogen economy. Sounds like a positive environmental step on paper, right? Wrong. The hydrogen economy is at least twenty years away; by focusing on it rather than immediate measures (encouraging hybrid tech, real research money for alternative power generation), BushCo preserves the current energy economy as it is today. And even when that hydrogen economy is in place -- guess what? The hydrogen will be generated either by fossil fuels or by electricity generated from fossil fuels. All it does is move the carbon emissions around. Without research into carbon sequestration, generating the fossil fuel emissions in a different place won't do a damn bit of good.

That's the pattern. Long-range, improbable project to garner good press and provide cover for the fact that smaller, more effective projects are being stonewalled. Once you know what to look for, it's striking.

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 06:37 PM:

As of August 14 of this year:

Spent & approved to spend in Iraq - $435 billion of US taxpayers' money

Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors

Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion

#7 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 06:55 PM:

An ounce of prevention is a loser for this administration. They'd rather have photo-ops: comforting the survivors, striking noble, sensitive, can-do poses on piles of rubble, and awarding a ton of reconstruction money to the Usual Gang of Cronies.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 07:00 PM:

Spent & approved to spend in Iraq - $435 billion of US taxpayers' money
Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors

Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion

Value of President posing in front of that clock tower: Priceless

#10 ::: Genevieve Williams ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 07:29 PM:

I was in New Orleans for ALA, too. Judging by the people I talked to (not to mention the t-shirts I saw), FEMA is a four-letter word down there. Can't blame 'em.

#11 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 07:33 PM:

Emma (1) - Thinking of "Dreampark" maybe? That has a hologram horror tour of underwater LA.

4 - Well, they could always go down to the hardware store and get new deadbolts. Oh wait, no. What are they supposed to do, put padlocks on the door? *shakes head*

I feel like starting a newspaper strictly to follow-up on stories like Katrina to show the actual follow through ("Get your news here last!"). The fact that Halliburton hasn't been crucified for overcharging our troops for MREs is obscene, considering the "Support Our Troops" fervor.

#12 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 07:44 PM:

Dolloch, this one's easy. The fact that Halliburton hasn't been crucified for overcharging our troops for MREs is obscene, considering the "Support Our Troops" fervor. If Rush and/or Bill haven't mentioned it loudly and often, if it hasn't shown up on a TV crawl, if there's a missing white woman to pay attention to first, then it isn't going to be noticed by half the country.

No, I'm not saying they're stupid; they're just not paying attention. Why should they? They don't have to. We don't have a draft.

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 08:14 PM:

"We don't have a draft."

And when we do, it'll be called the Overseas Opportunity AmeriCorps ("Challenging Inner City Youth to Excel since 2007").

#14 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 08:17 PM:

"... 118,000 trailers ... One locksmith cut only 50 different kinds of keys for the trailers sold to FEMA, officials said Monday. That means, in an example of a worst-case scenario, one key could be used to unlock up to 10 mobile homes in a park of 500 trailers."

If we assume this locksmith provided the locks for all 118,000 trailers mentioned, then 10 out of 500 isn't a worst-case scenario, it's a _best-case_ scenario. If fewer than 10 of 500 can be opened with key A, then more than 10 can be opened with some other key.

I'm not seeing how to do the math offhand, but with 236 500-trailer sets, it seems pretty likely there's at least 1 where more than 250 of the trailers share a key.

#15 ::: Skip ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Um, a nit. In French, "travesti/e" means "transvestite". The direct translation of the English word "travesty" is "travestissement" or "farce" or "parodie".

The fellow who calls himself "un travesti executif" is the fabulous British comedian Eddie Izzard.

Cheers

#16 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 08:35 PM:

118,000 trailers with 50 unique keys means
at BEST there are 50 groups of trailers, with 2360 trailers per group, and all trailers in the same group have the same key. Best case is evenly distributing the keys among the trailers.

Assuming BEST case, 500 trailers in an area would have 50 groups of trailers, 10 trailers per group, with each group sharing the same key.

Even if the keys are distributed 2360 trailers in a group with the same key, non-random lock assignment could give sequential trailers the same lock, and you might have a group of 500 trailers that ALL use the same lock.

If the locksmith did it in assembly line fashion, he likely did a bunch of locks with the same key, before switching locks. If those trailers were keyed in sequence and distributed in sequence, then there's a good chance there are large groups of trailers that can all be opened with far fewer than 50 keys.

Absolute WORST case would have 49 trailers with unique keys and 117951 trailers all working on the same key. At which point, 99.9% of all trailers have the same key.

This is completely ignoring the fact that the same locksmith keyed all the locks, which means every single person has a key that could be ground down to minimum values and used for key "bumping" as per an earlier thread. So unique key distribution is probably fairly mute for anyone with a file.

#17 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 08:38 PM:

the fabulous British comedian Eddie Izzard.

fabulous fabulous!

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 09:47 PM:

"We don't have a draft."

And when we do, it'll be called the Overseas Opportunity AmeriCorps ("Challenging Inner City Youth to Excel since 2007").

And you can bet that the children of High Government Officials will be exempt.

#19 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 09:57 PM:

Skip: I can guarantee you that Teresa knows about Eddie Izzard, and the title was written with that in mind.

The words "travesty" and "transvestite" have the same Latin root, and "travesty" (travestir in French) once meant to disguise as well as to parody.

#20 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 10:09 PM:

Mike, Teresa's pun would hold up better if it were either "Le travesti exécutif" or "La travestie exécutive." Can't have a feminine noun with two masculine adjectives...that's just perverted!

#21 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 10:23 PM:

But doesn't the mixed gender go much better with Eddie Izzard? (I was sent several DVDs of him earlier this summer, but haven't had a chance to watch yet.)

#22 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 11:20 PM:

And you can bet that the children of High Government Officials will be exempt.

Well, aren't we cynical. Of course these young people will be called on to serve. In the Future Leaders of America Cultural Enrichment Program, which offers opportunities to serve our country while learning about the ways of other lands. Staffing consulate offices in Canada, for example.

#23 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2006, 11:36 PM:

You are suggesting that America's sons,* who will hold the reins of power in their teeth while humping the planets of the galaxy (and Pluto too) into submission, be sent to a foreign country? Where they speak . . . French? To learn things? Are there no legacy admissions?

Disney World is quite foreign enough, thank you.

*Or "neosons," in the will-based language of tomorrow.

#24 ::: Joe Rybicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:23 AM:

PJ:

Dress to Kill.

Watch. NOW.

"Did I leave the gas on...?"

#25 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:23 AM:

How unlike the life of our own dear Queen.

#26 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:37 AM:

I remember, a year ago, tracking Katrina on the internet, downloading pictures from satellites and weather radar, listening to the radio and watching the local TV reporting the evacuation.

It's not good to think that I probably knew more about what was happening than the people running FEMA, and I'm not even on the same continental plate as New Orleans.

It's even less good to think of some of the other things that weren't being reported, like the prisoners in the local jail, left locked in their cells as the flood waters came in.

And I wonder how many people died in New Orleans, after the levee breaches, because the usual emergency resources available to a government, the military, were devoting so much effort to killing people in Iraq. It's easy to believe, a year later after all the stories of the slow cleanup, that nobody knows the real death toll.

It's easy to believe that Katrina killed more Americans than Osama bin Laden, and Bush can't blame that on the malice of outsiders. But it gave him a whole city as a photo-op.

#27 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 02:22 AM:

"We don't have a draft."

And when we do, it'll be called the Overseas Opportunity AmeriCorps ("Challenging Inner City Youth to Excel since 2007").

And you can bet that the children of High Government Officials will be exempt.

And that one of the big selling points to Middle America will be "getting gang activity off the streets". Yeah, just put 'em in the military instead of in jail; after all, since all references to the Geneva Convention have been removed from the Official Handbook, there's less need for soldiers not to be hoodlums.


#28 ::: Stanford Matthews ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 03:17 AM:

Mother Nature’s Cereal Bowl
August 24th, 2006

Based on another report from Reuters, Mayor Ray Nagin’s deflector shield is fully operational. However, it does not compare to Governor Blanco’s. While Mayor Nagin is still keeping the blame game pointed at President Bush and the rest of the federal government, Blanco appears burdened with local politics and re-election with the exception of filing a lawsuit to preserve gulf acreage. While the federal government has plenty to be ashamed of in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. All parties to the natural disaster share the blame for ignoring the fact that a city was built in a cereal bowl and Mother Nature poured the milk. Mayor Nagin, have you spent any time on addressing permanent solutions or is rebuilding before the next hurricane your plan. That way it can happen all over again.

#29 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 07:57 AM:

Just read an article that pointed out that all those tens of thousands of trailers sitting out in fields are too close to the coast in the event of another hurricane, and are so vulnerable that ALL of their inhabitants will have to be evacuated well before a storm hits their area.

What's even more disgusting is that there are still FEMA trailer parks from 2004 in Florida!

#30 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 08:57 AM:

Thanks, Dolloch!Trying to remember the title was driving me crazed!
Well, one good thing may be that a lot of moderate Republicans/independents are getting fed up with the incompetence. My father, slightly to the right of Genghis Khan on all things political, blew a gasket while watching Spike Lee's documentary. He spent over 20 years working in large construction projects--hydroelectric plants, that sort of thing--and he literally could not believe what he was seeing when they showed the levees.

#31 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 09:37 AM:

TexAnne # 20: I am reminded of the time Lord Peter Wimsey solved a crime because a cross-dressing criminal referred to himself with 'un' instead of 'une'.

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 09:40 AM:

If there is another disaster comparable to Katrina in and around New Orleans, a lot of people in the black community will be hollering that the federal government is quietly committing genocide, and they might well be right.

#33 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 11:31 AM:

There's enough lack of action in the Government to go around.

One of Congress's jobs is to approve the funding for the various government agencies before the next fiscal year starts. To the best of my knowledge, none of the appropriation bills for Fiscal Year 2007 (starts October 1, 2006) have been discussed, much less approved.

Now, with all the security theater going on, can you imagine what will happen if they have to shut TSA down on October 1st?

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 12:24 PM:

Stanford Matthews, I'm out of patience with articles that point out that New Orleans is naturally prone to flooding, as though the city's inhabitants had somehow failed to notice that fact. They know it perfectly well. New Orleans has had to deal with flooding throughout its history. That's why they were upset about the Bush Administration taking money away from levee building and other flood control measures. And if the levee that broke had been reinforced as it was supposed to, Lake Pontchartrain wouldn't have wound up in everybody's second-floor rooms.

Let's talk about cities that ought not be where they are. Let's talk about Los Angeles. It sits on a relatively narrow strip of land that has mountains on one side and the sea on the other, with notably unstable faults running underneath. Geologically, the area is being lifted up so fast that its cliffs and hillsides are bound to crumble and slide. It's subject to prolonged droughts. The original settlement here was small and poor because it had to rely on the local water supply. The native vegetation is so adapted to drought and brushfire that some species won't reproduce properly without being burned. When Los Angeles does get rain, it sometimes gets it in unassimilable amounts, causing floods, mudslides, and all manner misery. And then, of course, there are the earthquakes.

LA is nevertheless one of the great American cities. This has been made possible by more than a century's worth of water projects -- dams, reservoirs, canals, pipelines, and LA's mighty storm runoff system -- plus hill stabilization, firefighting and fire prevention, building for earthquakes, rebuilding after earthquakes, and a myriad other measures to make this area reasonably habitable.

A lot of that has been the work of the State of California, but the federal government has been right in there all along. In fact, the entire Southwest United States, and all the cities therein, owe their prosperity and their population levels to a vast system of federal water projects. What they pay for water does not and never has reimbursed the cost. It's been a vast government handout, if you want to call it that; or a vast government investment in the national infrastructure, if you'd rather put it that way instead.

Smirking about how New Orleans was built in a cereal bowl, but Mother Nature poured in the milk, is (1.) blaming the victim; (2.) a vast abrogation of responsibility not seen in the aftermath of other infrastructural disasters; and (3.) historically illiterate.

I don't think it would be considered a satisfactory response, the next time Southern California suffers some natural disaster, to stand off piously and suggest that since this part of the country is a house built on sand, we're justified in writing it off.

#35 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 12:35 PM:

I've concluded that there is nowhere on earth that is safe to live. It's a matter of picking your hazard: earthquake, hurricane, extreme heat, extreme cold, flood, blizzard, lightning strike, forest fire, tsunami, ice storm, or cyclone.

I am petrified by the thought of an earthquake or a hurricane, but I accept without blinking an eye the fact that we routinely get weather here below freezing, with snaps down into the single digits, and with 2' snowfalls.

Teresa is right, no matter where one chooses to live, a natural disaster is just waiting to happen. This is why I was annoyed at my mother, who says, "Why should they rebuild New Orleans? Those people should have known better!" when she lives 8' above sea level herself (NYC). I remember Gloria in 1985; a hurricane can hit NYC!

#36 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:03 PM:

If we're going to talk about cities built where they shouldn't be, you can add NYC, Memphis, Houston, Miami, Tampa, SF, Phoenix, etc, into the list. All of them are vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, etc, and since there were more safe locations available, then they are obviously in the wrong place.

I read where the Corps is now saying the levees have been "repaired" around New Orleans to where they will withstand a Category II hurricane. Uhhh, weren't they supposed to have protected the city from a Cat III storm (and didn't) last year?

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:06 PM:

I get tired of the 'they built NOLA below sea level' meme. They didn't build it below sea level. It was - if only by a small amount - above sea level when it was first settled, and it's sunk, because the soil shrinks when it dries out, and the levees get raised so the river level is ever farther above the level of the land behind the levees.

Teresa, thank you for your defense of CA. I get tired of 'it's raining and people in xyz are having their houses slide' in the winter and 'there's a fire and people in xyz are having their houses burn' coupled with the implication - sometimes they say it straight out - that *we deserve it*. (The people who say this mostly seem to have never been closer to CA than their television sets.)

#38 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:07 PM:

As someone noted earlier (Patrick, I think) there is a need for a port at that end of the Mississippi.

The only alternative to New Orleans that I can see is to allow the Mississippi to enter the Atchafalaya Basin, and then choose somewhere to build a port there. I don't think the residents of either area would approve of it.

Note -- this will not stop floods or hurricane damage, it just shifts the area where the disaster is likely to occur. I suppose it could be argued that if you're building from scratch, you can build with these problems in mind, and therefor will have solutions in place.

#39 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:14 PM:

Nancy C - you are exactly right, no one escapes. I live in earthquake country. We await the Big One. My brother lives in Phoenix, AZ, fastest growing city in the country, where they are busy depleting their water supply and the supplies of everyone around them in their insane rush to grow. I have personally experienced several hurricanes, one largish and a host of small earthquakes, blizzards, a tornado, one of the major fire disasters of the previous century (the Great Oakland Hills fire, over 3000 homes destroyed -- remember?) and some years of midwest winter in all its glory...

We have in this country a mutual association called "government" one of whose tasks is "ensure domestic tranquillity" and another is to "promote the general welfare." As far as I'm concerned taking care of each other in natural disasters (which includes the clean-up and planning for the next one) falls squarely into those categories.

By the way, I find it instructive that for the last 2-3 years one of my two copies of the Constitution of the United States has taken up what seems to be permanent residence in the little bookshelf next to my desk, and I probably refer to it and/or quote from it at least once a week. I am not complaining. With all its flaws, it's one hell of a document, and in reading and rereading it I have learned and continue to learn a great deal.

#40 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:26 PM:

cereal bowl

Damn these people building cities where there are no natural roads, no natural water delivery systems, no natural sewage disposal systems, and no natural electrical grid!

And don't even get me started about those fools who build cities where there is no naturally occuring hospitals, no naturally occuring education system, no naturally occuring police system, and no naturally occuring military defense.

Do they actually expect us to pay for them to build this stuff???

#41 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Nancy C, #35
routinely get weather here below freezing, with snaps down into the single digits, and with 2' snowfalls

Uh, here we get weather that routinely drops below zero F, and a cold snap in January is 20 below, F.

I've seen three feet of snow in 48 hours. And had to shovel it.

Worse, there were a series of tornadoes yesterday that seemed to have flattened parts of a few small towns and killed at least one person.

I still prefer Minneapolis to most parts of the country. I live on high ground, I can prepare for blizzards, and the tornadoes usually get stopped by the heat dome.

The New Madrid fault occasionally worries me, though.

#42 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 02:23 PM:

I think Lizzy L (#39) pretty much hit what I wanted to say, but I have one addendum: unlike much of the world, we're rich. We have the resources to plan for, mitigate, and recover from natural disasters. That's why the rest of the world watched the Katrina news unfolding with their jaws on the floor - how could this possibly be happening in the United States? More pointedly, how could the vast resources of this country be so mismanaged that we couldn't stop it from happening?

#43 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 02:30 PM:

LizzyL (12) - Gah. You're right - Out of sight, out of mind.

Emma (30) - You're welcome. I just read it for the first time about a week ago (he says, hoping his fan license isn't suddenly revoked).

PS - Love the numbering system!

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 02:37 PM:

It was - if only by a small amount - above sea level when it was first settled, and it's sunk, because the soil shrinks when it dries out, and the levees get raised so the river level is ever farther above the level of the land behind the levees.

Uhhh, not quite. Deltas naturally flow out to sea gradually, from the bottom. Additional silt accumulates on the top, which keeps the height of the delta more or less constant, and creates the illusion of a stable surface.

The leveeing of NOLA halted the second process, but not the first. NOLA is at about the level that the silt at the top of the delta would be by now had the city not been built, but it would be under a great deal of silt had the levees not been.

New Orleans is an essential city. It's not just a place to visit for fun; it's needed as a port for the US economy. To someone in Kansas who gripes about paying for the rebuilding of NOLA, I say "OK, you can quit bothering to grow corn and wheat, because it's gonna rot before you can transport it anywhere you can sell it!"

#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 02:49 PM:

Xopher, but it's at about the head of the delta now. Yeah, they've screwed the silt deposition process also, with the dams upstream and the levees preventing spreading into the swamps. And every time some starts talking about abandoning it, I wonder how they've managed to miss that this is a major port. (CA's delta is inverted: multiple inlets, one outlet; Stockton and Sacramento are *both* deepwater ports. The levees are old and decrepit, too.)

#46 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 03:04 PM:

#35 ...a hurricane can hit NYC!

or an earthquake

#47 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 03:27 PM:

Magenta (41) yeah, I realize the weather here isn't extreme, but to hear people who don't live here (Buffalo, NY) carry on because their ideas about Buffalo weather come from the Blizzard of '77. I really don't mind the weather here; the summers are gorgeous beyond belief, and the winters aren't bad at all.

Tracie (46), I remember one at 6 AM when I was a child. It sounded like a subway train passing through my room.

And Buffalo is on a major fault line, which is why the National Earthquake Engineering Laboratory is located here.

#48 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 03:48 PM:

TNH: I don't think it would be considered a satisfactory response, the next time Southern California suffers some natural disaster, to stand off piously and suggest that since this part of the country is a house built on sand, we're justified in writing it off.

Brava!

By the way, I've often felt that if California (especially the Bay Area) was hit by a major quake, Bush would fly over it and urinate out the plane door. He'd later claim that he was attempting to assist the firemen on the ground and wrap himself in a hero's mantle.

Come to think of it, he'd probably do the same if we had a quake here in Seattle.

[/rant]

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Sigh. People from California always gasp in horror at the sight of Co-op City (24-story brick residential towers). "One good shock and..." they shudder.

"And all those flat roofs in LA will collapse under the first good blizzard," I reply.

"There have been earthquakes in New York!"

"There's been snow in LA," I point out (of all the cities in the continental US, only one has always been snow-free, and it's not LA, or even Miami).

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 04:18 PM:

Friend, after going through the St Louis airport several times one summer: 'The world market for used brick is not that big.'

Actually, there are brick buildings in LA. A lot of them are very old, and (by now, I hope) have been reinforced ('Frankenstein bolts'). But we do tend to cringe at the thought of Unreinforced Masonry, knowing what happens to brick buildings when they get shaken hard enough.

#51 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 04:20 PM:

Xopher - I grew up in NYC, and now I go back and look at the highways and buildings with a nervous eye.

On the flip side, I recall driving up Potrero hill in SF and thinking, "What happens when it snows?"

#52 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 04:55 PM:

Larry: Snowball fights. (I remember, back when mobile camera vans were the Latest Thing, KPIX had one up on top of one of the hills when it had snowed. Snowmen and snowball throwing were going on, but I think people had walked up.) I think SUVs or other 4x4s could go up, without necessarily needing chains.

#53 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 05:03 PM:

Larry Brennan (#48): the Nisqually quake of 2001 was much less severe than it could have been.

Why? Because FEMA used to have this thing called "Project Impact", where they worked with local authorities to find the most important areas to prepare for a forseeable disaster.

Things like retrofitting buildings.

"With the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city of Seattle has spent $50 million since 1994 retrofitting public buildings, fire stations and bridges. By coincidence, the quake struck on the day President Bush proposed to kill a federal program designed to help communities protect themselves against the effects of natural disasters."

#54 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 05:17 PM:

If we're going to talk about cities built where they shouldn't be, you can add NYC, Memphis, Houston, Miami, Tampa, SF, Phoenix, etc, into the list. All of them are vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes, drought, etc, and since there were more safe locations available, then they are obviously in the wrong place.

Let's add Minneapolis/St.Paul to the list as a junior partner. It is estimated that a storm equal to the blizzard of 1940 would kill 4,000-8,000 people. Still wouldn't trade all our winters for one nasty hurricane season though.

#55 ::: Fear the Axe! ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 05:43 PM:

I have only true fear about living in Minnesota. I mean one that really keeps me huddled in terror, sweating my way through sleepless nights and keeping my eyes wide with anticipatory dread. The return of Paul Bunyon!!! I mean, Tokyo may have the occasional Godzilla-related disaster, and Martians do stage the occasional Halloween raid on the East Coast, but last time Paul and Babe came through here, they cratered our state with 10,000 new lakes! Just in terms of the loss of arable land it was a disaster of untold magnitude.

For God's sake, RAISE THE SECURITY LEVEL!!! What if it happened AGAIN TOMORROW??? We need to take more money from our over-funded schools, maybe cut more doughnut-munchers from our over-staffed police forces, defer ALL ecological and non-Bunyon related science research endeavours and devise a really huge and technologically advanced defense against further Bunyon or neo-Bunyonist incursions! Immediate laws, with massive government enforcement efforts, must be passed to outlaw the sale, distribution, and ownership of 40 foot long, 3,000 lb wood axes! OUR SAFETY DEPENDS ON IMMEDIATE ACTION! Don't waste valuable resources worrying about past disasters, or future disasters that might never happen! THE DANGER IS HERE NOW!!!

#56 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 05:43 PM:

Xopher #49: Which city in the contiguous 48 states has always been snow free? I've read of snowfalls in Miami (and there was one in the City of Lost Angles when I lived in LoCal), and crunched frost on the ground in San Diego, and I can't for the life of me think of where in the lower 48 would be permanently free of snow.

#57 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 05:55 PM:

Minnesota DHS Directive oh, about 300-ish

Effective Pretty Darn Soon, After Dinner at the Latest

Security Alert Level raised to Blue Ox.
IDS Center lowered to let moon and stars go by.
Metrodome filled with Powdermilk Biscuits and Summit IPA, just in case.
Don't worry too much about it, Babe's pretty nice if you don't make any sudden moves or smell like a bear or things.
Looks like rain, though.

#58 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 06:07 PM:

The return of Paul Bunyon!!!

Perhaps we should create a special military division to handle giant cow tipping as a way of at least incapacitating the blue ox.

#59 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Jim, #16, it's entirely possible that Haliburton won't be charged for overcharging. A federal judge threw out a judgement against Custer Battles for overcharging because the CPA is not completely part of the US government.

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 07:54 PM:

Fragano #56: Key West, FL.

#61 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 08:24 PM:

Does "Custer Battles" seem like a, you know, less than inspiring name for a military contractor? I mean, I know he was in other fights, some quite successful, but how many folks can name any of them? Does anybody talk about "Pickett's* Not the Charge"?

I suppose it does have a martial ring, and the alternative is probably something like "TRI Adjuncts, a division of Unspecified Services SA."

*Who, like Custer, graduated last in his class at West Point.

#62 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 08:28 PM:

because the CPA is not completely part of the US government. Marilee #59, I don't doubt you, but I am compelled then to wonder, if the CPA is not part of the US government, what is it a part of? The Iraqi government? The World Bank? The New World Order? Texas? Perhaps it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bechtel? WTF?

#63 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 08:58 PM:

#63 Mr. Ford,
I thought the company name was eponymous with those of its founders, and Wikipedia seems to agree with me:

"The company's founders are Scott Custer, a former US Army officer and defense consultant, and former CIA officer Michael Battles."

Nonetheless, if I were naming a security company I'd think twice about using the founders' names if they added up to that combination.

By the way, the "About Us" page at the company's website makes no mention of its founders.

#64 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 10:01 PM:

Linkmeister:

"It may be spelled like that, but it's pronounced 'so-DINZH wan-KEH'."

#65 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 10:44 PM:

TNH@43: ...LA's mighty storm runoff system...

big enough to run a drag race in, as seen in Grease -- as an Easterner, I didn't understand that scene until years later.

Magenta@41: does New Madrid really run that far north? There's a geekish ~story "The Great Nebraska Sea", in which the fault gives way -- turning the twin cities into a seaport, but not doing much other damage. New Madrid's reach is often overestimated; a seismologist lecturing at the Boston Museum of Science last year said the stories about the last big one ringing the church bells in Boston were nonsense, but the bells \might/ have ring later because there are additional faults, stretching through and beyond bluegrass country, that were shaken up enough to let loose in subsequent ~weeks.

#66 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 11:22 PM:

New Madrid's reach is often overestimated

There is (or was) a web site that had a lot of the original newspaper accounts of that set of Big Ones (big enough to scare this Californian). It's hard to tell how much to believe, because the stories got passed from one newspaper to another, usually without attribution, and sometimes with no placename attached either. The whole site was very interesting; there was even a map with estimated intensities from the reports that could be pinned down. (I can try tracking it down again.)

#67 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2006, 11:39 PM:

Here it is:
The Virtual Times: The Great New Madrid Earthquake
(has lots of links for the curious)

#68 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2006, 03:08 AM:

#64 Mr. Ford, I may be exceedingly dim this evening, but I don't get it. I realize that jokes needing explanation usually fall flat, but...

#69 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2006, 04:13 AM:

Linkmeister:

It was pretty oblique. The point was pretending that an unfortunate name is something else, for some sidewise reason.

I can see that those guys simply called the company after themselves, like Hart, Schaffner & Stalin,* but did it never occur to them that it added up to a phrase?

*"We are not to be taking our suits in. Let yourself out."

#70 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2006, 08:52 AM:

Lizzy L, 62: Hadn't you heard that Guantanamo Bay is not under U.S. jurisdiction?

Re disasters waiting to happen:
"Three of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in geologic history occurred at a place now visited by over three million people a year."

#71 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2006, 11:44 AM:

The problem with the New Madrid fault line is the rock is unusually dense in the region, so any tremor will spread the energy and damage out over a larger area than the California earthquakes. For example, another tremor similar in strength to the one that created Reelfoot Lake would still be a moderate earthquake in Knoxville and Chattanooga, 500 miles away.

BTW, tropical storm Ernesto is strengthening and heading in the general direction of New Orleans. Predictions have it possibly reaching Cat III by landfall next week.

#72 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2006, 02:02 PM:

Mr. Ford,
Thanks. I was puzzling through the pronunciation trying to make a sensible name out of it; that's where I went wrong.

On your Hart, Schaffner and Stalin line, at least I've seen the ads for those suits and can make the connection.

#73 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2006, 08:14 PM:

#67: wow, that earthquake zone covers a lot of land. From Topeka Kansas to Columbus Ohio, from Chigago IL to Shreveport LA.

That's a world of hurt waiting to happen.

#74 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Lizzy L, #62, the CPA (now dissolved) was multinational. The judge decided that charges couldn't be brought in US court because the US wasn't the only part of the CPA. If that judgement stands, nothing having to do with the CPA will ever be able to be brought to court.

#75 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2006, 12:43 PM:

I don't know if anyone else out there is crazy enough to have thought this, but when I see all the references to Tropical Storm (T.S.) Ernesto, I keep wishing some wag had named it Eliot instead. (If it makes landfall and causes mayhem, all such whimsical notions are thereafter banished from discussion.)

#76 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2006, 01:19 PM:

Faren -- there ought to be a TS Eliot sooner or later; it's a legitimate first name (cf Eliot Ness), and the naming authority seems to be having trouble finding male names. But it may take a while; I understand they have a limited rota of names and only retire them when one turns into a big storm.

#77 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2006, 02:15 PM:

#76 CHip: Limited rota indeed. This is from Wikipedia, but it's a direct copy of NOAA/NHS lists.

#78 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2006, 03:59 PM:

"Ioke is the first Category 5 hurricane to develop in the central Pacific since record keeping began in the early 1960s, according to the National Weather Service."

Nope, no climate changes here.

(Only Wake Island is under threat at present; it's 2000 miles west of Hawaii, and Pacific hurricanes tend to move east-to-west. Nonetheless, a hurricane this big in this location is a Bad Sign.)

#79 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 10:09 AM:

That's why the rest of the world watched the Katrina news unfolding with their jaws on the floor - how could this possibly be happening in the United States? More pointedly, how could the vast resources of this country be so mismanaged that we couldn't stop it from happening?

That was exactly the reaction I saw over here. This isn't a flood-free part of the world by any means, and everyone was horrified at such a monumental miserable cock-up in America.

#80 ::: lou ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 11:06 AM:

Fragano,
Miami has not had a snow*fall*. it's had snow maybe every 100 years, the last one in 1975 or 76 (I was in high school). Really, it was just a flurry that melted before it even reached the ground.
Hurricanes, on the other hand, are a reason not to live there, as well as the predilection of local officials to want to pave over the Everglades. South Florida has a big, fat bullseye painted on it. Talk about below sea level. The premise of "Their Eyes were Watching God" could happen again, especially after witnessing what happened in NOLA. There's a big huge dike that is supposed to protect South Florida from Lake Okeechobee (which is basically a man-made lake), but I wonder just how protective it will be.

#81 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 11:33 AM:

Lou #80: I've read a description of a snowfall (more of a flurry really, but it did reach the ground) in Miami in the late 1940s.

Florida's problem with hurricanes is not so much that it has cities below sea-level as that most of the state is pretty flat and big storms pass over it relatively easily (and can, in fact, cross and recross). Paving over the Everglades certainly does not help.

I would note that before a tropical storm reaches Florida it has usually caused devastation somewhere else then picked up strength in the Florida Straits or in the Gulf.

#82 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 09:04 PM:

Spam, ouais, mais si vous le lisez avec un lisateur Francais, on improve votre Franglais!

#83 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 11:44 PM:

Fetchez la vache!

#84 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2007, 01:17 AM:

Good catch, Dawno. My thanks to you all.

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