Friday, September 02, 2005

My Hurricane Ramble

Some semi-random thoughts I've had while reading about the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.

I've started to lose hope about humanity's ability to really plan for the worst. It was said that the failure to anticipate a 9/11 style attack was a failure of imagination. The preparations for a hurricane hitting New Orleans seems to be much the same:
Army Corps personnel, in charge of maintaining the levees in New Orleans, started to secure the locks, floodgates and other equipment, said Greg Breerwood, deputy district engineer for project management at the Army Corps of Engineers.

"We knew if it was going to be a Category 5, some levees and some flood walls would be overtopped," he said. "We never did think they would actually be breached." The uncertainty of the storm's course affected Pentagon planning.

Complaints about the pace of aid getting into the city are missing a major aspect of the problem. It doesn't matter how much are waiting to get in, which is mind-boggling yet not enough, but the means of getting it in have been destroyed. Between debris and water, there are no roads. We know where the aid is and where it needs to go, but right now, you can't get there from here. If you compare the geography of the places, swamp and bayou vs. desert, it would be easier to get those supplies to Falluja than New Orleans. Distance isn't the issue, the problems are the obstacles.

It is beyond just a physical breakdown occurring in New Orleans. There is also a social breakdown occurring. I don't have much to say here, other than the bastards who are shooting at hospital evacuations should go to hell and the sooner the better.

Further rumination: Perhaps good old-fashioned denial had hampered the planning. When you have an evacuation plan, announced in advance of the city getting hit, that did not include mobilizing hundreds of school busses, it becomes clear that the screw-ups started at the very bottom of the line.

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