greg (grysar) wrote,

New Orleans

I do love the city, I've been there on the order of ten times, took every chance I could get. However, I've got to agree with a column today that said New Orleans was two cities. One of the cities was a mix of history and pleasures of this world, the one that I loved to visit. The other was desperately poor, the kind of concentrated poverty tourists desperately try to stay away from. Every city has its poor, but the breakdown of civil order shows problems deeper than income disparity, ones that were years or decades in the making.

None of this absolves the failures or preparation and response at the state and Federal level. Time and thoughtful analysis will sort out the correct criticism from the Monday morning quarterbacking, but the overall inadequacy of the response is self-evident. On the preparation side gross misjudgment is evident in cutting back levee programs and allowing the development of the wetlands. The risks were longstanding and well documented by competent officials.

One complaint missing the point: that the Federal government incorrectly focused on responding to terrorist attacks. This is partially true. We seem to have focused on terrorist prevention while doing little on the preparation, response, and recovery side. Similarly we seem to have neglected infrastructure when focusing on military and law enforcement solutions.

I support the idea that preparation, response, and recovery for terrorist attacks should be integrated into other sort of disaster management. Evacuation, communication, command and control are all key for both natural and man-made disasters. The problem is not that we prepared for terrorism. Instead, we seem to have prepared for nothing at all. Moreover, terrorism funds weren't focused on high risk areas but were instead spent nationwide. As a result, there is no excuse for Louisiana not having better disaster management infrastructure available.

None of these should be written off as a SNAFU. This is not how disasters normally go in America or in any first world nation. The government's performance was far below what we have a right and a reason to expect.
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