Thursday, September 01, 2005

Still Fucked

Usually at this point, three days after a devastating natural disaster, the rebuilding begins. Shattered lives slowly inch closer to becoming whole again, and the concept of "normal" comes back into reach instead of remaining a lofty ideal.

But this isn't a usual disaster by any means, as we all have seen. This hurricane proved nothing short of catastrophic, a freak of nature that has changed the lives of not only those on the Gulf Coast, but the rest of America as well. We've all heard about the misfortunes of the hundreds of thousands of residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who have become refugees, the hundreds who have lost loved ones and are frantically searching for them, the thousands who may be dead in the toxic New Orleans swamp.

While this storm is certainly bringing out the worst in some people -- looting, arson, reports of child rapes in the Superdome bathrooms, someone firing upon a rescue military helicopter -- I'd like to acknowledge the graciousness and generosity of the people of Texas, who are stepping up big time to house the New Orleans refugees. The Houston Astrodome will take over as the main housing camp for the Superdome evacuees, while San Antonio just announced it'll take as many as 25,000 more. They may be a border state to Louisiana, but they are definitely going above and beyond.

The rest of us are safe and secure, but we're not unaffected: We're about to feel the harsh sting of a national energy crunch. Crude oil prices before the storm had already risen about 65 percent from a year ago, gas prices up more than 40 percent. Now, considering eight major refineries located along the Gulf Coast are completely shut down, and that region produces nearly 30 percent of our crude oil and accounts for almost half of our total refining capacity, we American Guzzlers are about to face a gas shortage and price hike unseen since the late Jimmy Carter was in office. Wait, he's not dead, strike "late."

Gas prices since the storm are rising above $3 a gallon as deliveries slow, but that's not the worst part. Prepare yourself for shortages, long lines and serious gouging. "Out of gas" signs have already sprung up all around the country, not just in places near the Gulf Coast. Some gas stations in Gerogia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona have all run out of fuel. And "gas prices jumped by more than 50 cents a gallon Wednesday in Ohio, 40 cents in Georgia and 30 cents in Maine," according to one report. I saw one BP station in Atlanta was charging $6.07 for Ultimate, $5.87 for regular.

But hey, if the price and availability of gasoline is the worst of your troubles, be happy. You're still healthy and you've still got a roof over your head. It's absolute Hell on Earth down there. They stopped the mandatory evacuation and rescue operations after "civil unrest" and violence broke out this morning, though some sources say that has resumed. Nobody really knows.

And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now estimates it may be three to six months before they can drain the billions of gallons of water that accumulated in the New Orleans city. If you're counting at home, that's 12-16 weeks before the town is even inhabitable, 2-3 months before the electricity comes back and 3-6 before they drain the water. Oh yeah, and just about everybody's home is destroyed.

Hopefully some people can be comforted by the president's fucking awful speech yesterday. This guy had three days to prepare some remarks, and instead it looked like he snorted some Valium and forgot his speech in the car (the New York Times has more on his pitiful attempt at leadership). What a douche.

So, please, if you haven't done so already, please donate to one of the many charities collecting money for relief funds, and even though I'm not a praying man, send some positive vibe-a-rinos down South at this time. Since I can't really find the words, take it away Mr. Garcia:

I wanna say to my sisters and my brothers
Keep the faith,
When the storm flies and the wind blows
Go on at a steady pace,
When the battle is fought and the victory is won
We call all shout together,
"We have overcome!"
We'll talk to the Father and the Son
When we make it to the Promised Land.

Here are another couple items of note:

--Satellite images of various spots around New Orleans before and after this devastating storm. (This link has been slow all day)

--As I asked in my And Now, Some Frivolity post from yesterday, "Did Allen Toussaint actually leave New Orleans or did he chain himself to the fairgrounds? Shouldn't this hurricane have been named Sneakin' Sally?" It turns out, I wasn't so far off with that joke: "Toussaint was one of the 25,000 people holed up at the New Orleans Superdome hoping to get on a bus for Houston’s Astrodome. I know this because he got a message out to his daughter, who relayed to it through friends," according to FOXNews.com's Roger Friedman.

--That article also contains some rather potentially grim news about music legend Fats Domino:

As the article says, "...one of the city’s most important legends, Antoine 'Fats' Domino, has not been heard from since Monday afternoon. Domino’s rollicking boogie-woogie piano and deep soul voice are not only part of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame but responsible for dozens of hits like Blue Monday,' 'Ain’t That a Shame,' 'Blueberry Hill' and 'I’m Walking (Yes, Indeed, I’m Talking).'

Domino, 76, lives with his wife Rosemary and daughter in a three-story pink-roofed house in New Orleans’ 9th ward, which is now under water. On Monday afternoon, Domino told his manager, Al Embry of Nashville, that he would “ride out the storm” at home. Embry is now frantic."

Let's hope he's okay...and everyone else, too.

32 Comments:

At 1:04 PM, Blogger John Howard said...

I don't know about Fats Domino, but one thing's for sure everyone else isn't ok. This is just such a mess from the damage of the storm to the damage from the flooding to the damage from the general lawlessness. Someone needs to step up and take control of things somehow. This is a time when we need a real leader instead of the pretend one we have at the moment. Of course, if we had a real leader, maybe things wouldn't have gotten so bad in the first place.

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

"Of course, if we had a real leader, maybe things wouldn't have gotten so bad in the first place."

Well, other shit's fucked up for sure, but you can't blame this particular tragedy on Bush...

You can, however, question the response of the government...I mean, weren't we dropping food and provisions into Afghanistan before and after we bombed them? We can't do the same here? Why aren't we getting adequate care and supplies down there? It really can't be that difficult, can it? I don't get it.

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

And here's this from the Drudge Report:

Eyewitness: Sec of State Condi Rice laughs it up at 'Spamalot' while Gulf Coast lays in tatters. Theater goers on New York' City's Great White Way were shocked to see the President's former National Security Advisor at the Monty Python farce last night -- as the rest of the cabinet responds to Hurricane Katrina...

 
At 1:33 PM, Blogger ethan said...

im no bush fan (he sucks ass for sure), but there's no way in hell this is anyone in washington's fault. i heard on the radio this morning some of the refugees were complaining that "they" (the nebulous they) didn't prepare well enough, why weren't there more warnings, engineers should've had some plan, etc. and that's bullshit. it could've been a lot worse than it is - for example, what if they only had a 3 minute warning instead of 3 day?

i understand this is a catastrophe and some people couldn't get out, but a lot of those stranded decided to try to ride out the storm even after there were numerous reports of this being one of the top 5 worst hurricanes EVER to hit the u.s.

and i'm certainly not blaming those folks for trying to stay either. i just think playing the blame game at all in a situation like this is a waste of time. there's a problem, find a solution. two years from now the gov't can spend all our tax dollars on some witch-hunt it that's what the public wants. but not now.

 
At 1:37 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Months and months and months ago Tom Friedman from the Times said that Bush had a golden opportunity before him to be the President that really addressed our need for energy alternatives before the situation reached crisis proportions.

He didn't. And guess what...?

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

What?

 
At 1:56 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

I just put $20 in my tank an it's nowhere near full. That's what.

Not that that in any way compares to what's going on down south. But you know, it's all connected.

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

We're alllllll conneeeeeected, New York Telephone.

I used to love that jingle.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Focus, Ace. Focus.

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger ethan said...

i'm in the same boat gypsy - i my commute is over an hour a day and my tank is never full. but at some point, individuals have to take responsibility for their actions or lack thereof, no? you and i both could've bought hybrids and been in great shape. like you said, we all knew about the impending energy crisis, but you and i (and bush) decided for whatever reason to sit tight with what we had. we all had alternatives but chose to ignore them.

 
At 2:21 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Umm. Yeah, but even hybrids require some gas and the lack of change on a macro level would still impact those costs.

But, I do hear you and I am about individual responsibility. Really I wasn't blaming Bush as much as pointing out the error in strategy.

If he had positioned himself, as Friedman had suggested, as a change agent for national energy, he could (when the smoke clears away from this) come out saying this is why my x x and x energy plans are so important.

Instead all he can do is scratch his chin and say sheeeiiit when reports of $6 gallons of gas in Atlanta come across his desk.

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

I personally don't think you could, nor should you, blame the administration for anything except the slow response. This was a natural disaster, plain and simple. What do you want the guy to do, stop the hurricane?!

Oil and gas prices would have risen regardless of whether we had a more comprehensive energy plan. It would have helped, but it wouldn't have saved the day. And Clinton and the First Bush are to blame as well.

 
At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Orleans hospital halts patient evacuations after coming under sniper fire, a doctor who witnessed the incident says. More soon.

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger Pink Lemonade Diva said...

good post.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger John Howard said...

I'm not saying to blame the whole thing on Bush, but I've seen enough stories in the last few days about projects to prevent things like this being put on hold because of lack of funding due to the war to think he needs to take some blame for it. Also, it seems like we ought to be able to restore order more quickly, and maybe if there were more troops available, we could. Either way, he doesn't seem to be doing much since, either.

 
At 3:51 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Bush #1 and Clinton did nothing so we should continue to do nothing? And wait for a Mad Max type scenario?

 
At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

This is the President's fault.

1. He cut funding to strengthen the levees and instead diverted the money towards the War on Terror and the war in Iraq.

"Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA [Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project] dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars." - Editor and Publisher

2. There was a 36 hour window when the entire country knew that the hurricane was coming. Not one real attempt was made to begin evacuating the poor.

3. On Tuesday, when the extent of the damage was fully known, Bush kept to his vacation schedule by playing guitar with a country singer and having cake with John McCain.

4. The lack of coordination in this type of scenario mirrors the lack of coordination that would happen should a dirty bomb go off in any major city. No food or water is getting in and people aren't able to get out.

Bush is fucking shit up. Bad. If this had happened in Flordia in an election year, he'd have been there in a heartbeat.

 
At 3:56 PM, Blogger ethan said...

you can't really be suggesting that federal money should have been put into improving new orlean's infrastructure, can you? for multiple reasons, that is just ridiculous.

also, there are still hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in the US. even if you wanted to impose complete martial law in the effected areas, we have enough troops at home for that.

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

FDR put people to work after the depression helping to fortify the country's infrastructure. Why couldn't we have done that when the economy was so bleak in 2001/2002? You can go ahead and start convulsing now, Ethan.

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

This is the President's fault.

This was THE WEATHER!!!!!
A lot is the President's fault, but not the weather.

1. He cut funding to strengthen the levees and instead diverted the money towards the War on Terror and the war in Iraq.

"Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA [Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project] dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars." - Editor and Publisher


Not strengthen. Raise. And Ethan's right anyway, New Orleans infrastructure is not the Fed's problem. Had they raised the levees it would have lessened the problem a bit, but the city would still be wiped out. And every time you raise the levee, you make it harder to pump water out later. This particular fix was better equipped to deal with prolonged rain, not a hurricane.

You are also demanding that the Fed be able to accurately predict hurricanes well in advance. That's just stupid.

2. There was a 36 hour window when the entire country knew that the hurricane was coming. Not one real attempt was made to begin evacuating the poor.

How did the 80% who left get out? What was the fed supposed to do, send people door to door? Even if this is true, and it's not, WHO made no real attempt to alert the poor?

3. On Tuesday, when the extent of the damage was fully known, Bush kept to his vacation schedule by playing guitar with a country singer and having cake with John McCain.

While that was an asshole thing to do, how exactly did it affect hurricane clean up and rescue?

4. The lack of coordination in this type of scenario mirrors the lack of coordination that would happen should a dirty bomb go off in any major city. No food or water is getting in and people aren't able to get out.

In the event of a dirty bomb, a city will not be covered in water. The biggest problem facing the rescue effort is transportation. Most vehicles don't work in the water, and there are only so many helicopters out there. Also, unlike a dirty bomb scenario, the FBI and CIA are not currently trying to hunt down the group that set off the hurricane.

Bush is fucking shit up. Bad. If this had happened in Flordia in an election year, he'd have been there in a heartbeat.

To do what? You should be happy he's been so politically tone deaf, and, as Ace noted, gave an absolutely terrible speech. He does not good by being there, and helps you by not being there.

Don't blame people for weather events. It kills your credibility. Blame him for supporting intelligent design, or screwing up trade, or Iraq or whatever, but pick something real.

I mean, it's only been a few days.

Jeez.

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger DanjerusKurves said...

Chiming in from Houston here ... it's looking to be an intense weekend for us. Perhaps I should volunteer to house a hot male 25 to 28-year old, or two.

... and before anybody snaps out a self-righteous whine about my humour, keep in mind: you don't live here, I do. This may be the last chance I get for a while to make a light-hearted comment. Carry on.

 
At 5:21 PM, Blogger John Howard said...

Of course it's not Bush's fault that there was a hurricane, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't done things that have made the situation worse.

Why shouldn't the federal government spend money on New Orleans infastructure? Their is obviously a national interest involved. Also, it seems that the federal government already was doing it and would have done more if not for the war, so arguing that it isn't their responsibility is kind of silly.

As for the troops, I'm sure that there are plenty of troops still left to handle things here, but in that case, where are they? They need to be mobilized more quickly, time is pretty critical here for a lot of people. Maybe there would be more readily available if not for the war. Maybe not, but it's a valid question.

No matter what is or isn't his fault, he's doing a pretty poor job of leading in this crisis, not that that is too surprising.

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger rednothing said...

States have budgets, they allocate the funds and disperse them as they need/see fit. Shall I start blaming Bush the next time my small Oregon town floods because of heavy rains? I mean honestly. I'm so sick of everyone pissing and moaning about Bush. Sure he can't talk himself out of a paper bag, but it won't do a damn bit of good for him to be there. It's been three days...realistically it takes ahwile to get recovery going on things like this when transportation is out of commission. I pity those of you that are so narrow minded as to think that this is Bush's fault. My heart goes out to those in the Gulf region, I spent five days last February in New Orleans and fell in love with the culture, excitement, heart, and sense of pride in that place. I'm fortunate to have seen it when I did, because it'll never be the same, if/when they rebuild. Thank you for the post, and please donate if you can.

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger Shakespeare's Sister said...

States have budgets, they allocate the funds and disperse them as they need/see fit. Shall I start blaming Bush the next time my small Oregon town floods because of heavy rains?

No, and nor would I blame Bush if my small Indiana town floods, but neither is comparable to New Orleans, which is one of the biggest ports in the nation. A national port needs to be protected with federal funds, because it provides a condiut for national commerce, not just state commerce.

I mean, it's only been a few days.

In conditions such as those in which the people at the Superdome currently find themselves - no fresh water to wash and no toilet facilities, leaving them exposed to feces and urine - dysentery becomes a dire concern in only four days.

 
At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Danielle said...

C'mon, you guys. You can't always make everything political. This is a natural disaster, and as much as we all wish for someone to blame this tragedy on, there really is no one at fault but Mother Nature, or maybe God if that's how you roll.

Sure, Bush isn't what we would call an environmentalist. But if you want to blame Katrina on global warming, don't say its Bush's fault. He has only been in office for five years. I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure that five years isn't long enough to create this situation out of thin air.

Anyway, global warming or not, natural disasters have been happening for all of time. Unfortunately, its the way the world is.

When the tsunamis happened in Asia, I would catch myself thinking, "Those damned terrorists!" Its natural to want to blame someone for it, in the world we live in today, when so much *is* caused by other humans. This is not.

And for those of you who are whining about how Bush isn't a real leader - America elected him. He may not exactly go down in history as the best president ever, but he is our president, whether you like it or not. So instead of complaining about something you can't change, why don't you start sending clothes and money and start changing things for yourself?

 
At 7:26 AM, Anonymous Chefra said...

The tsunami was a terror attack? It's not so much that Bush caused global warming, it's the fact that he's about 75% retarded and had no plan in place for this situation. He had 3 days leading up to the hurricane and 3 days since to devise a plan and still has no real solution other than dome-hopping.

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

The Fed has been slow in providing national guard support, that much is true.

Bush does suck, especially at this, apparently, but when I bitched at Andy it was for things before the hurricane hit.

THe govs performance in the aftermath has been reprehensible.

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger ethan said...

"A national port needs to be protected with federal funds, because it provides a condiut for national commerce, not just state commerce."

this is just plain not true. by this logic every coastal city in america (by the way, what exactly is a "national" port? do some ports not allow international trades?) would be entitled to some extra economic protection. so i guess washington better start doling out dollars to make sure the bridges in san fran don't collapse when some 9.0 earthquake hits. or to make sure the pier in hartford, connecticut can survive a harsh winter storm. give money to one city on this reasoning and you're headed down a slippery slope.

it also seems to be a common first reaction to blame the president for having "no plan". hey, what about the fucking state of louisiana, or city of new orleans?? what, are they just void of responsibility here?

it seems fair to say that most of ace's readers dislike bush. but the difference in opinion seems to be in that some believe the federal government is responsible for just about everything, while others realize this is neither true nor practical.

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

I think it's fair to criticize all levels of government here for not having a plan.

And it's been a long time now, and the fed is just now kicking into high gear.

 
At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Paul,
How can you be so short sighted and narrow minded? Now, I agree with you about the weather being at the heart of the issue. Obviously. And, the decisions that were made about the levees were made before Dubaya got into power, but he is, most certainly, f-ing up big time.

Where is the relief? Only today 3 days later are real troops getting down there. And, I can't believe you said, "it's only been a few days". I don't think you'd be saying that if it were you or your family that was dying of dehydration.

And, I don't care what anyone says. The job of a leader is to lead. Not hang out and have some cake with John McCain. When your the president and the country needs you, you get your ass back to work. It's not like you're working at Barnes and Nobel. This isn't a 9 to 5 job. And, while I'm sure we have a bunch of military here in the states, we have even more over seas. You're illustrating my point when you say that there are only so many helicopters. Yes, there are only so many in the states. That's because most of the military choppers are in Freakin' Iraq!

If we had more troops/military equipment, we COULD have been doing a hell of a lot more. ie air drops of food, water and life medicine. If the White house would have gotten on that sooner and had the resources available we could have saved many many lives.
People are dying right now of dehydration.

 
At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might not blame bush for this hurricane but, most experts agree that this is just the start. Due to global warming they expect hurricains to become stronger and stronger every year. Also due to global warming alot of experts belive the paths of hurricane are changing putting areas like New Orleans (which until now has escaped a direct hit) in much more danger than ever before. Because of Bush and other evil money-hunger men, who care more about money than human life or our environment this is only the beginning.

 
At 8:20 AM, Anonymous SpanishMiguel said...

Sorry, Danielle, but any political comment that begins with ¨C´mon you guys...¨ should be ignored.

Ditto goes for sentences beginning with, ¨Bush might not go down in history as the greatest president ever, but...¨

 

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