Sense from Seattle

Common sense thoughts on life and current affairs by a Seattle area sexagenarian, drawing on personal experience, years of learning as a counselor to thousands of families and an innate passion for informed knowledge, to uniquely express sensible, thoughtful, honest and independent views.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

The magnitude of the Katrina storm catastrophe and the ensuing disastrous relief failure is overwhelming. After the first few days of watching the cable news coverage, I wrote a page of notes for use in this blog. More days of news watch has added to my mental notes. There is so much I could say, but much of it is being said elsewhere. I expect to comment on various aspects as the tragedy plays out, but for now here are a few comments and questions I have not heard covered in the mainstream media.

The negative fallout from the rush of Bush (who cut short his vacation at “the ranch”) and Congressional Republican leadershift into emergency mode to “save” Terry Schiavo from her legalship to right to die, pales in comparison to their failure to promptly shift into emergency mode to save thousands of trapped Katrina victims.

Why does a homeless storm trapped parent who takes food from a flooded store to feed his starving baby risk getting shot as a looter, while a gouging oil speculator seeking to profit from Katrina emerge unscathed? [Jesse Jackson spoke out on the Katrina relief failures, and he did speak to this question, but I have not been able to find the quote].

When Bush ordered Air Force one to drop low to fly over the devastation for 35 minutes, air space had to be cleared for security reasons. How much did that disrupt the helicopter relief efforts?

Who negotiated the deal for the Carnival cruise ships, was this part of a previous plan, and how much money is carnival making, or are they losing more money on the cancellations (which somehow I doubt)?

The building code for New Orleans should require every home to have an escape hatch to the roof.

Why was the Civilian Reserve Air Fleet program used in both the Gulf War and the Iraq invasion, but not in the Katrina disaster?

Should the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster play a greater role in disaster relief, such as unified fund raising and coordination of non-governmental volunteer efforts?

For an interesting perspective on the political ramifications of the Katrina relief failure, read the transcript and listen to this discussion from the News Hour on PBS last Friday, and note especially the comments of conservative David Brooks.

The word “hurricane” comes from the language of the extinct Taino people of the Greater Antilles and Bahamas, to whom it meant evil spirit. The word “loot” is Hindustani and traditionally meant the taking of booty by soldiers in war and by corrupt officials. It is now also commonly used to refer to thefts of works of art and antiquities. I am not sure when it started being applied to civilians in disaster situations. The Washington Post published an interesting article on the semantics of looting as used in the Katrina coverage and on the etymology of the word.


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