Monday, August 28, 2006

Nagin's still a moron

How's that for a post title?

I watched 60 Minutes last night. I know, what was I thinking? After Mike Wallace interviewed Iran's President Ahmaninejad (which I refused to watch), I swore I was done with that program. But like a bad train wreck I could not turn my eyes away and watched the program last night.

Oy vey!

Last night's train wreck was an interview with Ray Nagin, mayor of the "Chocolate City". Oh sure he talks a good talk but a year later New Orleans is still in despair and he's talking about Trump Towers being built there. You know what? The people, however many voted for him, deserve what they get. When questioned as to why progress in New Orleans isn't moving faster he instead points the finger at NYC and says "hey you guys can't even get a hole in the ground filled" (referring to the site of the former twin towers) and says "let's be fair here". I looked at DH who was already shaking his head with that oh so recognizable "WTF" look. What could I say? I was in total agreement with him and neither of us had to say a word! And then we had to listen to Nagin's political advisor talk about how the white folks plan to turn New Orleans into some kind of playground for the rich and famous and all the black folks will be forced to stay out of the city.

When asked if he takes any responsibility for the deaths in New Orleans, surprisingly Nagin said yes. That surprised me. But did he say it BEFORE he was re-elected? Probably not.

What gets me is that simple PLANNING would have avoided this nightmare. If action had been taken not just in the days before Katrina hit, but in the years before it hit, those levies would not have been breached and there would have been a system to move people out of that city. Everybody in positions of power from the local up to the federal level knew the levies wouldn't hold and yet money for that project was diverted elsewhere.

The people of New Orleans had a responsibility. But all you will hear is that the poor people were left to fend for themselves while the white people packed up their families, gassed up their cars and escaped.

My opinion isn't popular with many but I will say it anyway. We are each responsible for our own lives and destinies. With that said, it is hard to break out of poverty and oppression if that is all you know. So the question is WHY didn't mayor Ray Nagin and his predecessors who say they care so much for the poor people of New Orleans have programs in place over the years to help get these black folks out of poverty and into good jobs and education? If they cared so much about these people, why didn't they do EVERYTHING in their power and beyond to change things? 13,000 people lived in public housing, most likely ALL of them have been displaced by the storm. Did they bear some responsibility? You bet ya. I can sit here all day and talk about how they could have fought the oppression and broken out of it but you know what? That won't solve anything, it's said and done. What angers me is that Nagin sat there blaming every single government agency but his own office. His inefficency caused a lot of injuries, property loss and death. Poor planning on his part, the part of the city, and the people who live there, caused great loss and destruction.

Now we'll be hearing about Katrina for at least the next two weeks, Katrina this, Katrina that, and Bush didn't do this and Bush didn't do that. It's as if the entire failure to prepare for Katrina was Bush's fault.

Nope, the failure to prepare lies with the people, Nagin, and the Governor of Louisiana.

In the meantime, Tropical Storm Ernest is about to hit Cuba and you'd think it was Armageddon. Jeb has already declared a state of emergency, but I wonder if it's out of hype and not logic. And if you think creating a state of emergency and all the bulletins on radio, tv and in print for the last 365 days begging people to be prepared for hurricane season has had an effect on people, I would have to say probably not, at least not those who never prepare. YOu're always going to have those who get as prepared as they can be and those who are still in denial that their area can suffer a direct hit.

Katrina in 2005 was only a category THREE storm.

Frances in 2004 was only a tropical storm when it covered the entire state of Florida for nearly three days, drenching us and causing power losses for up to three weeks for to MILLIONS of Floridians.

Jeanne in 2004 was a category THREE hurricane which caused millions of people (the same millions who lost power two weeks earlier) to lose it again, this time many lost it for much longer. Many hadn't even had their power restored yet when Jeanne hit.

Charley in 2004 was a category THREE hurricane when it made landfall causing millions in the central Florida area to lose power for weeks.

And finally Hurricane Andrew was a category FIVE hurricane when it made landfall with winds in excess of 165 MPH.

Andrew's aftermath:

Obliterated 102 miles of power lines & 300 towers
25,000 gallons of oil spilled into Biscayne Bay
7 million fish killed due to depleted oxygen in waterways
8% of all Florida agriculture destroyed
300 square miles of total devestation
1.3 million without electricity
2,200 traffic lights destroyed
90% of small businesses destroyed
1 Billion dollars damage in Louisiana
25 Billion dollars damage in Florida
In Homestead 80% of homes destroyed
10,000 acres of nurseries ruined
100,000 homes damaged
63,000 homes badly damaged
7,500 out of 26,000 families in Homestead left homeless
phone systems overwhelmed with 80,000 calls per minute
calls to police before Andrew 1,500 per day & after andrew 6,000 per day
14% of Dade County residents temporarily unemployed
300,000 homeless right after the storm
41 killed as a direct result of the storm
140,000 unemployed in Florida
1 week after andrew 300,000 still without power

If people still think it can't happen to them they are just plain crazy. If they refuse to put just a few $$ away each payday to buy supplies, if they don't realize they will need extra canned goods, flashlights, batteries, WATER, fuel, a generator to run fans, cash on hand, and every other thing that will help them keep SOME comforts of life in the aftermath, then I just don't know what to say.

I know it's hard at times because some people can't afford to do this, but done over a period of a year doesn't cost much. The most expensive thing is a generator. It's a one time purchase. It amazes me that after Frances, some people actually RETURNED their generators they had just purchased! And then two weeks later Jeanne hit.

It's like this folks, if you can afford a satellite or cable you can afford supplies. If you can afford high speed internet you can afford supplies. If you can go out for dinner a few times a month, you can afford supplies.

And remember this, we should ALL help each other out before and after the disaster. There's better survival in numbers. No person should have to go through it alone.


  1. We lost most of a house to "only a tropical storm" (Frances) as well as a category THREE storm (Jeanne) in 2004. Our friends and neighbors also suffered huge losses, some were never able to return to their homes. No amount of planning on the part of our mayor could have prevented the storm surges from hitting us at high tide, which happened on both occasions. No amount of supplies would have allowed us or our neighbors to stay in our homes. Two years later, we are still not finished with restoration.

    FEMA practically begged us to lie to them and claim this house as our primary residence so they could pay us. Of course, this was before Ivan and Katrina drained the coffers.

    I know you dislike Nagin, but the levees are, in fact, the responsibility of the federal government. And they failed. And everyone knew they would fail. And even if all the people in public housing stocked up on water and batteries, and even if Nagin hadn't called New Orleans a "chocolate city", Katrina destroyed thousands of lives. Our government was not prepared for what happened in New Orleans or Mississippi. The whole mess has been handled horribly, not just in New Orleans.

  2. It's true that no amount of planning could stop the storm but plannign of some kind at least helps in the aftermath. We had water, food, and a gas stove. I think the biggest thing for us was water, we had four or five 50 gallon barrels of fresh water we were abel to use to bathe in and we had plenty of water to drink and cook with. Some folks don't even stock up on that. So it isn't a matter of preventing the storm as much as it is being able to survive it afterwards.

    I dislike Nagin because he refused to take responsibility for the aftermath. He refused to take responsibility to get his city prepared. If the levees are responsibility of the federal government but why did the mayor and governor not push harder for funding? IMO they had other more primary concerns. Nobody thought the disaster would ever happen but everyone knew it was a possibility. They were living on borrowed time. We can't prevent these storms but we can make surviving them a little easier if we plan ahead!

  3. Good post, Jess. I posted on Katrina, too. The fact of the matter is that while the levees are indeed a federal responsibility, they are managed by the Levee Board in New Orleans, a local and extremely corrupt board. It is a board full of political patronage and bloated salaries. They were the first to fall down on the job. There's plenty of blame for everyone.
    Wonder if Nagin's wife and kids are still living in Dallas...