Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Thoughts on Katrina

Less than a week after the hurricane hit, nearly everyone has been evacuated. I can't see that as anything less than incredible. I think it was very hard to watch all the people stuck in NO suffering and the combination of shame and powerlessness made us want to blame someone, but at this point I think the overall relief effort has been incredible. Not perfect, but incredible.
This was a natural disaster of amazing proportions; we forget just how powerful nature is.

That said, there is enough blame to go around:

1. New Orleans for making no attempt to get those without private transportation out. Why not use all these buses? And why not have supplies stored at the Superdome if you are going to tell people to gather there

2. The thugs who lotted/raped/shot at evacuation helicopters etc. I have no problem with those who took food/water, etc. It wasn't like it was ever going to be sold anyway.

One lesson I learned was the importance of keeping order. Initially, I agreed that it was not a good use of police resources to stop looters. But it seems pretty clear that once the social order breads down you get people firing at helicopters trying to evacuate hospitals.

Parenthetically, what could one do with a plasma TV in NO right now? There is no electricity, no cable, and for most people no where to store it. So most of the looting seemed pointless. Similarly, what possible personal benefit could come from shooting at a helicopter? Could one really imagine the helicoptr would instead evacuate the shooter?

3. Whoever didn't get the Superdome and convention center under security control earlier.

4. Whoever had no plan in advance to get people out of the city once the levee was broken. It seems predictable you'd need to evacuate, but there was apparently no plan to obtain buses to get people out

5. The NO police officers who joined in looting and or walked off the job.

6. FEMA for not getting supplies in 24-36 hours earlier. Like the military they seem to never want to hurry up. A convery of supplies to deliver food and water a day earlier would have helped things immensely.


At 10:44 AM, Blogger ollie said...

It seems that there was much "infighting" behind the scenes as to who was in charge and who had the authority to do what.

That is why I love the story of the 18 year old who took a school bus to get survivors out.

But I think that this incident really points for the need to have some plan in place that would streamline the cooperation between city, state and federal agencies.


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