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Hamlette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:19 PM
Original message
everything you "know" about NO is wrong
http://biguenet.page.nytimes.com/?8dpc

"By the next morning, floodwater was pouring into the city from breaches in defective levees, inundating 80 percent of New Orleans. When the water finally found its level, in some places more than 10 feet deep, an area seven times the size of Manhattan had been destroyed. By the end of that first week, roughly 1,300 New Orleanians had drowned or died of dehydration and exposure. Katrina wasnt what killed all those people and devastated a celebrated city; it was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As the Corps itself admits in its own draft final report on the disaster, foundation failures occurred prior to water levels reaching the design levels of protection, causing breaching and subsequent massive flooding and extensive losses.

Another misconception that has persisted is the notion that many who died in the Lower Ninth Ward were stranded there because they had no means of transportation with which to evacuate. In fact, one of the most striking features I noted when I first toured the staggering devastation of that neighborhood after the flooding was how many cars and trucks had been submerged there. From the obituaries the Times-Picayune has published over the last year, it is clear that many New Orleanians who died had chosen to stay because, having survived previous hurricanes, they believed the Corps of Engineers assurances that the levees could protect them against a Category 3 hurricane. Though some people who died did not have transportation, many had cars and trucks available to them.

As survivors gathered in the Superdome and the Convention Center waiting for days for the Bush administration to send federal assistance to the area, the media offered sensationalized accounts of chaotic conditions there, with murders and rapes reportedly widespread. In fact, only one violent death, a suicide, was ever confirmed to have occurred in those facilities during that terrible first week after the levees collapsed. According to those who were there, despite utterly wretched circumstances thousands of people with no working toilets, in excruciating heat people comported themselves with patience, with generosity toward those with even less, and with as much dignity as they could manage. After the flooding, New Orleanians were roundly criticized by Congressional leaders for choosing to live in an area below sea level. In fact, only parts of New Orleans are below sea level. My house, for example, is a foot above sea level, and it still received four feet of floodwater. We were hardly as foolish as Americans living in earthquake zones like San Francisco and Anchorage are. After all, we had assurances from the Corps of Engineers that we would be safe in a hurricane of Katrinas strength. If we were foolish, it was in believing our government.

So theres a great deal about what happened in New Orleans that is widely misunderstood. On the other hand, what you think you know about FEMA is probably right. A few months ago at a neighborhood property owners association meeting, called to discuss the future of our area, a doctor who lives near me described how he had used his small fishing boat to rescue those stranded during the flooding. One evening, he found a group of people huddled on a rooftop, and he started ferrying them to dry ground. On the way back for a second load, he passed a boat with men wearing FEMA T-shirts. He shouted for them to follow him to pick up the remaining family members. The men refused, explaining that it was after 5 p.m. and they werent authorized for overtime.

end quotes

I have a particular hatred for the Army Corps of Engineers for destroying MY hometown in 1964 so this just confirms my experience. Wish this could get more play.
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bluerum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks for your post!
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:28 PM
Response to Original message
2. (Cat 5) Well Then According To The Logic Employed By The Residents
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 12:29 PM by Southpawkicker
it's their fault that they didn't evacuate when a Cat 5 storm was bearing down on the city. It wasn't Cat 5 when it reached the coast, but when Nagin said evacuate the city it was.

The Army Corp of Engineers is responsible for the failures of the levees. The people are responsible for not leaving?

This flies in the face of the fact that the ACE and everyone else knew that the storm was a Cat 5 when Nagin gave the word to evacuate.

No one could guarantee the levees at any level from what I've read. They were old, needed repair, and the funding kept being diverted by the congress of the US.

Now, a different question.

Since the sea levels are expected to rise a couple of hundred feet in the next 100 years. Is NO worth rebuilding as it will surely be flooded along with most of the LA, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida and other state's coasts?

Maybe we should be focusing on moving cities now. Stopping Global warming, although I don't think we can stop the seas from rising at this point.

Most of the people that didn't leave NO may have had cars, but maybe not money to fill them or keep them running?
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:36 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Bingo. During the years we lived at the poverty level
we had a car but we couldn't always use it.

And there's another thing that happens when you are struggling with poverty. It's akin to denial. I remember when I came down with apendicitis as a kid, my mom took me to two different doctors hoping that one of them would come up with a different diagnosis because she had no way to pay for the surgery. It's not that she was a bad parent, she was a great parent. But, we were poor and it must have been overwhelming for her to think about where those thousands of dollars would come from. The human brain can only take so much before it resorts to "tilt".
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. The fight over the levee system
It wasn't just a budget situation. There was also a fight over whether the levees were the right way to manage the river for both practical and environmental purposes. Improving wetlands, figuring ways to let the river build the delta again, they were trying to find the best long term plan for the entire area along with protecting New Orleans against a hurricane. Factor in the oil industry that just wants to do things in their best interest and distort all the other science. This was much more than a failure of the Corps of Engineers. In fact, it's like everything else we're facing, it was a political failure. We aren't dealing with virgin lands anymore, the chickens are coming home to roost.
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Brotherjohn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:55 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. You're right that it was a Cat 5 when the evac was ordered. But...
...the OP is correct in stating that it WAS design failure, that the Army Corps levees did NOT live up to their design capability. As a direct result of this, hundreds died.

And although it was Cat 5 for a day or so before landfall, it ended up being a Cat 3, and the surge in N.O. did NOT exceed the design capabilities of the levees & floodwalls. Many storms are stronger before they reach land, and people have to make judgement calls as to whether to stay or go, and whether to put their faith in the flood protection system (which is supposed to at least perform as designed). And the fact of the matter is, Katrina was a Cat 3 when it hit, and most floodwalls collapsed at water heights well below the design specifications.

Yes, more people might have been able to leave, and perhaps shouldn't have chosen to stay (the ones that had the luxury). But another thing people have misconceptions about, and need to remember, is that it's not easy to evacuate a large city. And it's impossible to do so completely. A lot of the people who chose to stay did so in large part b/c they knew that even by the time the storm had just ratcheted up to a Cat 3 (Fri PM, Sat AM), the interstates out of town were already clogged. And many had jobs from which they might have been fired if they simply left (supposing the worst case didn't ocur; it usually doesn't). By the time Katrina ratcheted up to Cat 3 on Sat, there was the very real risk that if you evacuated then, you may be riding it out on the highway. And the day before (Friday), Katrina was forcast to hit all the way over in the Appaliachicola, FL, area... and only as a mild Cat 1.

In any case, all evidence points to the fact that the 80% evacuation achieved from N.O. before the storm exceeded all expectations.

Yes, perhaps we should begin moving away from low-lying coastal areas. Much of the lower elevation footprint in N.O. may look very different by the time things are rebuilt (if only by default, where the money to rebuild will go). But that doesn't affect what HAS already happened. And that doesn't mean it's the only way to solve this particular problem. Another direction is to, say, use half the engineering capabilities and political will that the Netherlands have exercised, and completely protect N.O.L.A. from any storm likley to ever hit, even IF the entire town is 20 feet below sea level. It IS possible. It is expensive, but what do you suppose the costs of moving a city of 1,000,000, that's been there for 300 years, "somewhere else"? Where do you move it? HOW do you move it? Easier said than done, my friend.

And speaking of costs, the cost of the most expensive flood protection ideas yet proposed, including restoration of SE Louisiana's coastlines, is dwarfed by the costs the Federal government has thus far pledged to rebuilding the damage from Katrina (excuse me, from the poorly designed flood- protection system). Not to mention the costs of picking up and moving cities inland.

The N.O. area will, by necessity, remain a vital city to the country's security, by virtue of it being on the mouth of the Mississippi. There is much to be gained by setting up shop in such a geographically strategic and useful place (unlike in, say, San Fran or LA). But there is also some inherent risk. Proper engineering could have alleviated much, if not most, of that risk in the case of Katrina.
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #2
19. By the time they got around to evacuating, no gas available also.
It took hours to drive short distances due to traffic, no gas available, etc. Look at what happened in Texas the next month during Rita. Just because you have a car, doesn't mean you could get out. And yes, some stayed on purpose also. Looking at the number of drowned cars, upside down cars, cars crushed by houses, cars filled with trees and mud, how many people died?
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:57 PM
Response to Reply #2
23. the london avenue canal wasn't old!
how can you say the london avenue floodwall was old, it had just been completely re-done in the 1990s and was spiffy new!

the army corps of engineers just plain muffed it

by the way, th anks for your compassion, the next time you and your spouse are in your 90s and there is a 108 degree heat index, you be sure to get in your car and drive for several hours and see how or if you make it

evacuation kills too, in fact, evacuating did kill another of my friends

it is truly a shame that a year after the event we still have to educate people about really basic facts like this, it truly is
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:57 PM
Response to Reply #23
30. Responding To Me?
I said nothing about London Ave Canal

I don't think you read my post through or you would see that I am not blaming the people who didn't leave, I think that is the OP's posted article that does a good job of that.

so, either you didn't mean to respond to me, or you did and didn't read my post, or you are attacking me for no reason that I can see.

re-read my post if you are responding to me and get back to me

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ikojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:33 PM
Response to Reply #2
28. For those N.O residents who had a private
car..if they had no money for gas then they most definitely had no money or credit cards to pay for a hotel room. A month ago St Louis was hit by what they called a super storm. That sucker lasted an HOUR (I was at Busch Stadium during the storm) and half a million people were without electricity for at least a day...many longer, up to a week and a half.

Hotel rooms within a hundred mile radius of St Louis were booked SOLID with folks leaving their homes.

Low-income people don't have the resources available to make such choices.

I watched hour one of the Spike Lee documentary and it brought me to tears to see that again. How can this country say it follows any spiritual tradition when one of its great cities floods as did New Orleans. People were abandoned because they were not of the Republican base.

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etherealtruth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 02:59 PM
Response to Reply #28
38. That's just it ....
Where do people with no money or resources go ... what do they do?

Oh, that's right, in our (sick) society poor = shiftless and lazy ... "they" deserved to be left to die :sarcasm:

I don't have HBO ... when shows like this come up I regret it (but, then again, really great programs don't come along all that often)
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:31 PM
Response to Original message
3. Very important information. Thank you for posting it.
K&R
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
4. A car doesn't equate to gas
I think it was Maxine Waters who said if Katrina had hit after the first of the month instead of the very end, many many more people would have been able to leave. Having a car doesn't mean you've got enough money for gas to get to safety, or food to buy along the way. Wealthy people don't have to worry about finding a shelter, they just put all the costs on their credit card. While some people undoubtedly chose to stay, just like some in Mississippi stayed based on their knowledge of Camille, there were also those who truly couldn't leave. I don't think it's wise to mischaracterize how income disparities played into who died and who didn't.
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Arkansas Granny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #4
12. This is so true. If I had faced an evacuation order such as this
when I was single mother raising 4 kids, there is no way that I would have been able to put gas in the car for a long trip, feed everyone for several days and rent a motel room. We would have probably headed for the nearest public shelter and hoped for the best. Many people who have never struggled from paycheck to paycheck don't seem to understand the situation that some people were in.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
6. Everybody seems to have forgotten...
that two years ago there was a hurricane bearing down on New Orleans and an evacuation was called and the hurricane changed course at the last minute.

And everytime there's a false alarm, people are less likely to evacuate the next time.

And despite that, more people evacuated than emergency planners had expected.
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BOSSHOG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. That has been the case on several occasions
A hurricane heading to NOLA and at the last instant veering off the the east and reducing the damage in the city. People get psyched from such things. We evacuated for Georges in 98; there was some incredible scary news about that hurricane and what it would do to the city and surrounding areas if and when it hit us. Georges was a Sunday breeze compared to Katrina. But I do believe Katrina set the stage for the second round of complacency (stage one being Camille.) My home survived Katrina, why should I evacuate for the next hurricane?
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RB TexLa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #8
14. And if you are on your own property, no one can make you evacuate
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:05 PM
Response to Reply #6
24. no one has forgotten ivan, actually - your "facts" not in evidence
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 09:07 PM by pitohui
not to sound grumpy, altho i probably do, but your claim is manifestly wrong -- no one refused to evacuate because ivan didn't hit

it is true that ivan did not hit new orleans, however, it is also true that for katrina 80 percent -- an unprecedented number -- of people evacuated by car, the best previous prediction was that 60 percent would be able to evacuate by car

the whole blaming people for not evacuating is stupid and counter-factual, more people were able to evacuate than ever before because of the changes to the contra flow program orchestrated by kathleen blanco working w. state of mississippi and w. the parish presidents

thousands, probably tens of thousands, who would have been stuck in traffic in evacuations past, were able to drive to safety because of these efforts

no one stayed home because ivan didn't hit, everyone knew durn well that ivan hit somewhere and it could have just as well been us, we are not idiots, we have teevees like everybody else
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:56 PM
Response to Original message
10. I share your distaste for Army Corpse, but,
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 12:58 PM by antifaschits
let's be reasonable about NO.

yes, it was a cultural center, it was safe haven for those in poverty, and much more. It is also sinking into the gulf. Because of the levees and dams, the river and adjacent channels are keeping the land dry, whereas in the past, it would be repeatedly and gently flooded. The mossy wet earth has dried out, and is shrinking. Without periodic flooding, it will continue to sink below the lake and eventually, the ocean level.
Simply put, it will become uninhabitable in another generation.

Add to this the massive oil and gas extraction taking place underneath, and you end up with subsidence.

Finally, the region (because of all of the above) is gradually shifting and sliding into the ocean at an ever increasing pace.

Can New Orleans survive?
Do you want to trust 20 foot floodwalls? (designed by army Corpse?)
Do you want to rebuild it and redesign it as an American version of Venice?
Do you want to repeatedly suffer the same fate with each storm season, especially when storms grow ever fierced because of global warming?

as much as I loved the food, music and naughty atmosphere there, we are looking at a dying city.

on edit, ever visit Pompey?

I've been several times, each time with greater reconstruction and more completed digs.
When the nearby volcano blew, many left the city safely.

THEY THEN RETURNED, THINKING THAT THE DANGER WAS OVER.

and then they died.
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Anita Garcia Donating Member (869 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #10
16. Ever visit the Netherlands? n/t
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 07:47 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. many times.
they will be in trouble too.
however, their dikes are not sinking, their reclaimed areas are not sliding off the continental shelf and they aren't extracting large amounts of oil and gas from directly below an alluvial area that required regular, periodic flooding to replenish soil from upstream.
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. !
:hug:
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KamaAina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:35 PM
Response to Reply #10
18. The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated
yes, "our", though it's been 15 years.

yes, it was a cultural center... as much as I loved the food, music and naughty atmosphere there...

Do not be so quick to use the past tense! Someone else here pointed out that N.O. has been written off something like eight times in its history, and has come back each and every time.

Add to this the massive oil and gas extraction taking place underneath, and you end up with subsidence.

There's oil and gas underneath N.O.? When did this happen? Agreed, though, extraction elsewhere in the region has helped reduce the city's natural defense against storm surge.

Do you want to rebuild it and redesign it as an American version of Venice?

That is certainly preferable to the "no-build scenario"! In fact, one of the small towns at the tip of Plaquemines Parish, near where Katrina first made landfall, is named Venice.

What you're misunderestimating is the survival instinct of New Orleanians, and Louisianians generally, honed by centuries of floods, disease, neglect, you name it.
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #18
25. good thoughts, kind thoughts
i would only be nitty and point out that there are now some rigs in lake pontchartrain, perhaps this is what is being referred to

on another footnote -- venice, sadly, is utterly destroyed as a community, altho the industry is back underway and my husband has done some jobs there, but the workers are living on a cruise ship (if i understand correctly) or most of them in trailers

almost nothing is being done to restore the communities in lower plaquemines parish, those people have been utterly abandoned, something like 16,000 people in lower plaquemines parish scattered to the winds
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #18
34. horrors! not a re-built Venice! that would be downright...
Renaissance in nature.
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #10
33. Pompeii -- hopefully we'll at least spell New Orleans correctly
after it slides into the abyss.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:11 PM
Response to Original message
11. kick
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rudy23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:27 PM
Response to Original message
13. Thanks for mentioning false alarms and evacuation cost and difficulties
It took my friends 11 hours to drive from New Orleans to Baton Rouge when Ivan hit in 2004 (normally just over an hour drive). Katrina was a little different, and actually, the state did a remarkable job of evacuating, due to contraflow, and the coordination of the parishes.

Figure in the cost of a few tanks of gas, the frustration from sitting in traffic for hours without moving, the cost of trying to find a hotel room, and it's just not worth it for many people.
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klook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. Not to mention the cost of taking off from work.
After evacuating a few times for storms that don't destroy your home, it gets hard to justify leaving town every time. And NOLA has been spared so many times that people had a false expectation it would happen again.

But all of that's beside the point. As the OP pointed out, the key is that the levees and walls failed when they were hit with a Cat 3 storm. Ivor van Heeden of the LSU Hurricane Center agrees that the Army Corps of Engineers is primarily to blame.
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #15
35. or the inability to leave pets
sounds ridiculous... but you can't bring your pet to the shelter with you and that's why so many of my friends on the beach stay and have hurricane parties during the storms.

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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:51 PM
Response to Original message
21. been saying this for months
the couple i know that drowned could be confident to stay because their house survived betsy and the london avenue canal was greatly "improved" since that time, so where was the threat?

the army corps of engineers killed that couple as good as if they took them out and shot them in the head to my way of thinking

we had no way of knowing that floodwall was bogus
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:54 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. friend in St.Bernards Parrish had a friend who didn't evacuate
was found dead, drowned with a life vest on. Why? Must've caught on something. My friend says corps of engineers/administration killed him. Is greatly angered, deeply angered, burning hot.
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:23 PM
Response to Reply #22
26. i don't blame him for being angry - so many tragedies
i've told it here before, friends in st. bernard had to be taken off the roof of their house by the canadians because fema did not send any rescue units to st. bernard

fema baldfaced told the st. bernard sheriff they didn't know he needed help because they never heard from him for a week

WTF???? they didn't hear from him because there was a freakin storm and all communications were destroyed

somehow the damn canadians figured it out and came all the way from vancouver but fema couldn't figure it out?

people are angry all right, i wake up angry to tell you the truth


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Brotherjohn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 08:36 AM
Response to Reply #21
32. I'm so sorry for the loss of your two friends. Although I know many...
... who lost their homes (including my brother and many relatives), I and my family are lucky enough not to lose any loved ones (friends or family)... although my mother died as an evacuee of cancer that was already killing her.

I would be, and am, as mad as you.
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Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:27 PM
Response to Original message
27. There's a lot of misinformation on this board by people who claim to be
from here or claim to live here.

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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #27
36. there's a lot of folks who think New Orleans just needs to die
like... why spend the money...

to investigate...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

... or re-build...

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

it's a loss. write it off. just a bunch of "poorfolk and hookers," anyway.
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Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-22-06 02:33 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. Yeah, comments like that make me lose faith in my fellow Americans.
They want to just let us die because it doesn't fit into their world view of what is practical? Here's my knee-jerk response: I say fuck them in the ass with rotten pineapples!

Once we're gone, as well as other culturally unique coastal cities like SF and NY, all that will mostly remain is cookie-cutter America... shopping malls, fast food chains, Kroegers, Target, Wal-Mart, and millions of narrow-minded, inbred repukes watching corporate TV, and listening to recycled music that was, at one time, really great... :puke:

Me, I will move thousands of miles away where people care enough about each other to fight for each other's wellbeing. Like many others from here, I will bring New Orleans with me abroad, thus leaving the USA an isolated, cultural desert.

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Porcupine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:52 PM
Response to Original message
29. Remember the USS Bataan was offshore of New Orleans.......
with amphibious landing craft, hovercraft, water purification equipment, food, clothing and a hospital. A landing craft was dispatched up the Missisipi with relief supplies when it was called back by the Pentagon. Instead the whole ship was sent to Biloxi Miss., home of Trent Lott.

The people of New Orleans were denied available supplies.

Largely unused. http://tinyurl.com/p44c6
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:11 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. and the people of Mississippi got supplies?
People who experienced a 30 ft storm surge and stronger winds? Good that they got some help too.
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