A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Let's stop complaining. Help is on the way.

Hurricane Katrina hit on Monday. It was quickly followed by massive flooding. The city of New Orleans is basically destroyed. The people have no electricity, no phones, no water, no food, no shelter, no medicine, no transportation, no gasoline, no roads, and no city.

There was no way to communicate. No way to know how many people were trapped or stuck in houses. No way to get in touch with someone across town or even down the block. No way to move large groups of people and, even if that were possible, no safe place to shelter them.

The police, those who are left, have been looking for survivors. Criminals began looting stores and homes. The police have had to divert attention to these rotten individuals, possibly losing the chance to save lives.

New Orleans is basically hell right now. No one knows what to do, where to go, who to turn to.

This is a situation that we in the United States really haven't faced before.

We don't know how to live without our electricity and technology, so we don't know how to communicate when they are gone.

Because we have never faced such a widespread, catastrophic disaster before, we are learning as we go.

That is why I think it is completely unfair for those citizens who chose to remain in New Orleans, and who are now trapped or being shipped in buses to the Astrodome in Houston, and people in the media and around the country to blame the government for this disaster and criticize the response time.

When has anyone trained for an emergency response to a huge hurricane followed almost immediately by huge flooding? I've heard of practicing for the aftermath of a terrorist attack, but has New Orleans ever done a practice run for the aftermath of a hurricane/flood of this magnitude?

Shouldn't those who are whining criticize New Orleans? After all, it is a city below the sea level. It was only protected by a series of levees, which evidently failed magnificently, and the Grace of God, who never fails. Shouldn't the people have been prepared for this?

I hear this sort of thing all over the place:

"This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace," said Terry Ebbert, the head of emergency operations for New Orleans. He said it had taken too long to evacuate the Superdome, a sports complex that quickly became a squalid shelter for tens of thousands of storm refugees.

"FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control," he said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans."
Stop whining and do something. Excuse me, Mr. Ebbert, but if you were the head of emergency operations for New Orleans, then you have obviously failed to do your job. You were the one who should have planned for YOUR city. You were the one who should have arranged for evacuation of the city, not to the Superdome.

It is one thing when a coastline is devastated, but the city further inland is not, as with the tsunami. It is a completely different thing when the entire city is basically a junkyard.

The government will do what it can, but there is no magic to suddenly fix everything that is wrong in New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama. That might take months and years to do.

Instead of complaining at the lack of transportation, food, water, and the accomodations, I would be thankful to God that I am alive and that I had a shelter for the storm, no matter how crowded and desolate and dirty that shelter was.

We the People are aiding the victims of Hurricane Katrina as fast as we can. We are giving our hard-earned money and, some of us, our time, to come to their aid. The people of New Orleans chose to live in a city below the sea level and those who remained chose to do so. Don't blame us for your choices.

Instead, get to work on rebuilding your city and your lives. Help is on the way.