The more I learn about the SNAFUs in the Katrina aftermath—ranging from the inadequate flood protection to poor preparedness to the poor communications to the slow response—the more I believe that we cannot summarily hold any individual responsible for what happened. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin is not summarily responsible. Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco is not summarily responsible. President Bush is not summarily responsible. FEMA director Michael Brown is not summarily responsible. None of these people should be forced to resign over this.
The problem is systemic. The procedures and policies used in addressing major events do not come and go with individual administrations. They are created and refined over decades. These procedures are the legacy of many successive mayorships, governorships, and presidencies. Pointing fingers at individuals will not address the problem, and it will delegitimize those with firsthand experiences of the problems.
The response was bad, but the only way I can fault the above people is if in the next few months they deny faults in their own areas of responsibility. As we move forward from this tragedy, New Orleans (what’s left of it!), Louisiana (what’s left of it!), and FEMA must learn and improve. New Orleans and Louisiana should have had a plan more extensive than just “corral the poor and wait for the feds.” And the feds should have been able to react more quickly.
On a side node, some buffoons, apparently fueled by sites such as Daily Kos (an idiotic left wing gripe rag which makes Michael Moore look like a physically fit, protestant Republican), are even going so far as to cite recent federal budget cuts as the direct cause of the flooding. (This nutty viewpoint has even infected Wikipedia.)
One of their “facts” is that work on the Hammond Highway Bridge over the 17th St. Canal caused the breach. Of course, they disregard the fact that this project was initiated in Clinton’s administration (link, search for the word 17th). Plus, look at the picture to the right. It shows that completed bridge at the top, the Hammond Highway bridge. Then look further down, quite a way away from the bridge, and you’ll find the levee break. Hardly a connection.
All of you Daily Kos-reading “let’s-not-let-facts-get-in-the-way-of-our-anti-bush-crusade weenies,” give me a break! Your silly arguments completely dissolve in the face of intractable questions like:
- Is levee protection of a specific locality a proper federal issue?
- Why is Louisiana apparently a beggar for critical projects, unable to act on its own? If the state cannot be economically viable and safe on its own, does it deserve to be rewarded with pork barrel projects like free levees?
- Louisiana couldn’t have made up any of the recent annual shortfalls, which at its worst was $16.1 million in 2005, for a “critical” project?
- Even if the money was paid in full, would the levees have been completed today?
- When has any local authority, especially in the 3nd most corrupt state in the United States, ever been honest with true needs? Just because only x% of the requested money was spent, does that mean that only a similar percent of the truly needed projects were able to be completed?
- Why solely blame the president when Congress is who creates and passes budgets? With the loss of the short-lived line item veto, the only legal authority the president has in the budgetary process is signing the budget bills.
The New Orleans levee system has been underfunded and incomplete for decades. It was supposed to be finished in 1975 (search for 1965). It is just coincidental that the consequences of the underfunding hit during the Bush administration. (Check out this funny weirdo who believes that Katrina was directly manipulated by something called the Woodpecker Grid. This nitwit is the weather anchor for a Idaho TV station. Is Idaho really that desperate?)
So far I have found nothing convincing to suggest that the current levee system could have been reasonably completed by August 2005 without an unprecedented and unusual windfall from the feds. But even if the current levee system was fully completed, it was not designed to withstand a storm like Katrina. The current levee system was inadequate for any hurricane over category 3.
It is true that there has been talk of upgrading to a levee system that can withstand category 5 storms. However, estimates say this will cost $2.5 billion (I probably should have said “at least”; when do big federal projects every stay within budget?) and would have taken decades to complete. (another link) It is silly to blame the lack of a category 5 buffer on any recent budget actions.
Another charge is that wetlands destruction caused this flooding. There’s a grain of truth in this. Every 2.7 miles of wetlands absorb about 1 foot of storm surge (link). And the cheery-eyed optimists, citing that wetlands are quickly rejuvenated (true), also use this to blame the Bush Administration.
Let’s not forget some important things:
- Louisiana alone accounts for 80% of coastal wetlands destruction in the US.
- The reasons for the wetlands losses are systemic, largely because of the levees that protect the city.
- The Louisiana wetlands have been disappearing for decades.
Don’t summarily blame individuals for this crisis. The response procedures were created and refined over time periods that include many administrations. I don’t think it’s reasonable to criticize any of these individuals simply because they didn’t effect profound, revolutionary changes before this event. However, they know better now. We need to hold their asses to the grindstone until radical improvements come out.
And you liberal weenies, quit selfishly using this tragedy to further your own agenda. That’s just nauseating.