Never again?

These are four days of world and national newspapers from three years ago in the aftermath of Katrina, the hurricane that threatened and then destroyed much of the Gulf Coast and flooded New Orleans.

But, in the end, it was not the hurricane that was the story. It was the unrelenting view of the incompetence of all levels of government and the racial and class divisions that pre-existed before the storm.

I remember watching this event unfold on TV and saying, “Is this the United States of America?”

Now, Gustav.

Mayor Nagin (re-elected) signed the mandatory evacuation order. President Bush visited FEMA headquarters.

Where is the only competent human being I remember from Katrina? General Russell Honore?

He’s retired and a talking head consultant for CNN.

©Pat Coakley 2008

9 comments on “Gustav”

  1. You are so right. Katrina was a major disaster in more ways than one. Your visuals speak to the incomprehensible incompetence of our government to deal with such things. It does make one fearful indeed.

  2. Let’s hope that this time around it’s just a whimper. That in three years the area has come up with ways to prevent a repeat disaster. But it’s not encouraging that the best they could come up with is “Let’s run!”

  3. truly it is true a sad united state(ment) it seems no one hears

  4. A wallpaper to chronicle the lowest, saddest , most shameful time in our history that I can ever recall. I kept thinking that if this is how our government protects its’ own population, we, as citizens are truly expendable.

    Having passed by somewhat safely, how fitting that Gustav ( who is surely a Democrat! ) would dump its’ appropriately wet blanket on the RNC.

    A post script: also fitting is the just announced pregnancy of the unmarried 17 year old daughter of the Republican VP Candidate.

    Some scripts you just can’t write.

  5. I’m going to whack a hornets nest here.

    If Americans ever wonder why there is so much anti-American sentiment out in the rest of the world, might I suggest it’s because we keep on (and on and on and on and on ad infinitum) hearing from you guys how great you are. Yet we see an American government that clumsily interferes with so many other governments around the world (in the name of democracy but really it’s only protecting it’s own economic agenda) that can’t even look after it’s own back yard.

    I just can’t understand why a country with such a large military has a hard time dealing with national emergencies.

    I count my lucky stars that I’m not a poor black person living in New Orleans.

    The whole situation is a monument to incompetence, mismanagement and hubris.

    Oh well at least Burma and India could handle it worse.

  6. Good morning, campers! It is the day after Labor Day and fear not, all bees (and hornets) are gone as summer has also departed.

    No criticism leveled at this country from the outside is as searing as that within, Razz. So, fear not. You are not rattling my cage. I happen to think your brush is a bit broad and dismissive of our more generous impulses, but our failures have been so historic in the past few years that I understand that subtlety may have been totally lost.

    The aftermath of “Katrina” is what totally opened my eyes, so blinders I once used to limit my gaze are gone.

    I still like our chances to learn from this, however. As long as we can sort out as a nation what is false “righteousness” and what are our true virtues.

    End of Speech! I mean it.

  7. Have you seen the photos of what Gustav has done in the Caribbean? My heart goes out to them, it really does.

  8. Pat

    I’m glad you didn’t take offence as none was intended. As for the “generous impulses” of your fellow country people, what really saddens me is that such good intentions are so often manipulated for very cynical ends.

    Save Iraq from a murderous dictator becomes a naked oil grab.

    I was shocked to hear that three years after Katrina, some levees weren’t ready. I have to say though, I’m glad that Gustav wasn’t as bad as expected. The Cubans copped a hiding though.

  9. You know, Sanity, I haven’t seen those pictures, or if I did, it was simply as an intro to the US Gustav threat. Another issue we could talk about it, isn’t it?

    Yes, Razz, those pictures of the water pouring (I think they call it overtopping officially, I call it pouring) over the levee that HAD been worked on by the US Army Corps of Engineers was alarming, although not shocking unfortunately. It has been widely reported here that the “redesign” and “reinforcements” planned were still not the optimal choices for a engineering challenge such as the protection of this city. Many will not be complete until 2011 but even when they are, as was seen by Gustav, a slightly stronger storm and you are not protected.

    I can also predict that if any of the other tropical storms currently out there…Hannah, Ike…if they veer toward New Orleans, they will not have as many evacuating as they did this time. People simply can’t do this “run for your life” thing over and over and over again.

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