Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

I have spent the entire day at my laptop. Away for the last week and the events of Hurricane Katrina, I spent today getting caught up on what has happened, is happening, and what is coming. I am depressed, angry, and feeling very useless and homesick.
I started with MSNBC, moved to Headline, CNN, and Fox News. I searched the blog world for more info, and hit up Le Monde and Figaro for info spun by the French. Today's news was not good (if, by some miracle you were able to escape coverage-- trust me: not good).
I am angry. This hurricane-- before it has even ended its destruction, has become political. That I have read so far: Venezuela and one Canadian province have offered aid.
1. Venezuela doesn't get any props. The offer came with sharp (albeit completely ignorant) comments, and their thinly veiled gesture of *ahem* charity just makes Hugo Chavez look like an ammatuer politician and enormous ass.
2. When I receive horrible service at a restaurant, I leave a tip-- I leave one quarter. This, unlike leaving nothing, sends a strong message of dissatisfaction (and, at times, contempt). Thanks, Canada.
3. $25 billion dollars is not going to break our back-- sure, we'll be feeling the aches and pains for quite some time, but we don't need the aid (at least, not desperately). But today, in a situation like this-- it's the thought that counts. Where are our friends? Where are our allies? Have we become so hated; does the world really see Katrina as our just desserts?
I returned to Paris yesterday by car. En route, I was informed that a hurricane had hit the south. My French companions were concerned (they had seen the news-- I hadn't [for several days). But I (rather arrogantly) explained to them: 'tis the season;' these storms hit the south every year. No big deal. When I got home last night, a friend called and explained to me what was actually going on. Needless to say, I have been glued to my ecran for several hours.
Reading criticisms of the gulf coast's cities evacuation plans, the city of New Orleans infrastructure, and President Bush at this time are difficult to stomach for me (especially when they are coming from people within the New Orleans city government).

New Orleans was aware that the city levees wouldn't hold in case of...well, in case of Katrina. But the city regularly practices evacuation procedures and was prepared for much. And the White House has very little to do with the immediate responses to a natural disaster. Its FEMA's job to work with local officials. The White House is certainly involved in aftermath cleanup, and (hopefully) works to streamline future relief efforts. George Bush is not at fault for New Orleans' current situation (or any other city affected by Katrina).
I am disgusted and dismayed at the situation some survivors are now faced with. The city has been destroyed. Completely smote by an act of God (Sonja, I was as speechless to read that article as you!) for which there is no Fight and very little hope of Flight from (I know: preposition at the end of a sentence. Kill me).
A few years ago, Seattle was hit by an earthquake they felt down in Utah. 1 woman died that day-- but of causes completely unrelated to the quake. Right now, in Washington State, Mt. St. Helen's has been blowing smoke and bubbling lava since last spring. She could go at any minute. If that happens, few injuries (and I doubt any deaths) will be incurred thanks to expert evacuation, search/rescue procedures. Even closer to Washington's largest metropolis, Mt. Ranier is scheduled to errupt sooner than later. When that does happen, the entire west coast of North America will suffer from crazy tides, and clouds of ash will block out the sun as far as Wyoming. Lava and mud will dessimate towns, and our big cities will be covered in meters of ash stopping traffic and halting all air travel. But, Washington State is prepared for this. We know it's coming and everyone that lives on or around Ranier participates in regular evacuation drills. When disaster finally strikes, few lives will be lost. Washington is also prepared for tsunami, avalanche, and forest fire. No plan, however, is in place should the giant super volcano growing in size and force under Yellowstone burst. And, let's face it, I don't think any of us have begun to think about that cosmic dust cloud ready to descend upon Earth.
These natural disasters are so called because they are DISASTEROUS! What part of 'Act of God' don't these people understand? Regardless of how prepared we are, a catausrophic event destroys that which man creates-- by definition.
Like most of you, I really don't understand what is going on at the NO Convention center-- or any other part of the city. I have all of the same questions as Harry Connick, Jr. If he can drive his car down there, why aren't more buses showing up, where are the tankers of water? Ect. And, because this is American politics we are talking about, a commision will convene, a report will be written (perhaps become a NY Times bestseller), and political careers will end.
In the mean time, flood victims are dying of dehydration.
AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!
New Orleans, the Jewel of the South, is dead. One of the most historic and culturally rich cities on the continent is gone (and much to the delight of city's Klan members, NO's destitute minorities are being "cleansed" from the face of the earth).
I am confused and feel impotent without a television to yell at; I am surrounded by a very international community, who personally are crushed to witness what is going on right now-- absolutely brokenhearted, but politically, want nothing more than to scoff. This is hard.
I'm sure you've all got something to say about what I've got to say. No doubt many have important comments to make. Please do so. Today's post wasn't exactly well thought out-- just the angry ramblings of an American in Paris.


"I gotta go Julia, we got cows." (and) "Debris, we got debris."

20 Comments:

Anonymous FEMA Chief Michael Brown said...

We learned about [the situation at the convention center] (Thursday), so I have directed that we have all available resources to get that convention center to make sure that they have the food and water and medical care that they need

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Mayor Ray Nagin said...

The convention center is unsanitary and unsafe, and we are running out of supplies for the 15,000 to 20,000 people.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous fEMA Chief Michael Brown said...

I've had no reports of unrest, if the connotation of the word unrest means that people are beginning to riot, or you know, they're banging on walls and screaming and hollering or burning tires or whatever. I've had no reports of that.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous cnn's chris lawrence said...

From here and from talking to the police officers, they're losing control of the city. We're now standing on the roof of one of the police stations. The police officers came by and told us in very, very strong terms it wasn't safe to be out on the street.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous fEMA Chief Michael Brown said...

Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Crowd chanting outside the Convention Center said...

We Want Help!

11:51 PM  
Anonymous mayor Ray Nagin said...

They don't have a clue what's going on down there.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous fEMA Chief Michael Brown said...

I actually think the security is pretty darn good.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous cnn's chris lawrence said...

The police are very, very tense right now. They're literally riding around, full assault weapons, full tactical gear, in pickup trucks. Five, six, seven, eight officers. It is a very tense situation here.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Serena said...

Just 2 pts. for today's quote. It's pretty easy, and offering any more is just obscene in light of recent tragedy.

12:06 AM  
Blogger single grrl said...

as soon as i realized the real devastation in new orleans, i couldn't help but think of the tsunami that hit south asia and the number of countries that raced to aid the victims. i wondered if they would come to our aid as quickly. perhaps america is hated more than we ever imagined. what a depressing thought. then again, as wealthy as this country is (or rather as some of its citizens are), we shouldn't need foreign aid. i don't understand why we're not hearing about celebrities writing checks for $1 million. donald trump, bill gates where are you? if they've donated and i missed the headlines, forgive me.

12:57 AM  
Blogger European said...

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH is all I can say anymore. My head is spinning, thus the Harry Potter seclusion.

3:35 AM  
Blogger European said...

But welcome back. I missed you. *blush*

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your right New Orleans officails knew this would happen. They told Dubya 3 years ago. What did he do? He cut the funding for fixing the levees for the last three years and diverted it to his war in Iraq. Get your facts straight. Most of this could have been pervented if Dubya had listened to the experts.

4:38 AM  
Blogger Serena said...

Thanks for the welcome back, S. It's good to be back. :)

10:51 AM  
Blogger Serena said...

Gosh, I am always open to debate-- and certainly welcome any corrections and/or opposing views.
But, next time please leave your name and site.

I would also direct your attention to the fact that I never said anything about President Bush's role in the current condition of the levees, but the White House's place in immediate response.
I am not so arrogant to assume that federal funding didn't play a role in the condition of the city's infrastructure, and I certainly would never comment on the value of adequately funded soldiers.
I will say this (again): the city mayor has no right to point fingers and blame President Bush for his city's current state of chaos.

10:52 AM  
Blogger The Dark Pig said...

The Lucid Dreamer:as soon as i realized the real devastation in new orleans, i couldn't help but think of the tsunami that hit south asia and the number of countries that raced to aid the victims. i wondered if they would come to our aid as quickly. perhaps america is hated more than we ever imagined. what a depressing thought. then again, as wealthy as this country is (or rather as some of its citizens are), we shouldn't need foreign aid. i don't understand why we're not hearing about celebrities writing checks for $1 million. donald trump, bill gates where are you? if they've donated and i missed the headlines, forgive me.

The world is trying to help http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2005/09/02/world-offers-help0902.html. The US governement did not immediatly respond to initial offers to help from the community outside. It is not that the US is hated, it's that it has a tendancy to be overly self-sufficient. While the rest of the world is still a Global Village, the US is a lone wolf, cowboy who often chooses to go it alone. While some countries are sending warships filled with supplies to New Orleans the US is continuing to use its warships for, well... war.

The US is not alone in this, just a little misguided.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Serena said...

That's an excellent point--even if it came from a Canuck :)
Thanks, DP

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Twister: different than hurricane, but pretty windy, just the same.

10:31 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

I agree, the Local officials of NO fell down on the job in a big way. The city of NO knew therye was a problem, they passed the buck to the state which passed the buck to Feds who siad sorry. Maybe I am a bit extreme but I expect local governments (state and city) to take care of LOCAL PROBLEMS.
The mayor of NO gets credit for issueing a mandatory evacuation notice but why didn't he follow through and use the city transit system to move peope without cars out of the city? Empty the hospitals and nursing homes? Why didn't the Gov of Louisiana activate her guard and her Emergency managment teams in the week while the storm rolled towards them? Whey didn't she pre position food and water for emergency use? Becasue she was trying to pass the buck on to Uncle Sam. It's her bloody state!
Blaming Bush is a cop out.

2:36 AM  

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