Since everybody else is memorializing the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
, I'll say what I remember, watching it from here on the edge of the desert. First, I saw the warnings that this could be a category three or four storm. Then, I read about New Orleans being below sea level and below the river, and sinking. I learned that this exact scenario had been worrying storm planners for years, and that the levees and flood walls had been built lower than the expected storm surge and a Cat 2 or 4 storm.
The press performed their usual histrionics, showing the heartrending scenes of people who had ignored or been unable to evacuate, and reporting inflammatory rumors. And, of course, wailing "Where's the government?" by which they meant FEMA. Upon consideration, I remembered that FEMA is an advisory and coordinating agency, not a first responder. The first responders are supposed to be the city and state governments, as we had all seen in Florida in other hurricanes. I remembered that we're always being told to have a 72 hour kit for emergencies, with food, blankets, clothing and other necessities, implying that aid from government probably wouldn't make it before then.
Then the worst happened. And the city and state dithered and bungled. The Three Stooges could have handled it better. After all the pathos and relocating of surviors, we heard accusations against Bush and learned that the Coast Guard, which had authority that FEMA didn't, were the heroes of the hour, performing rescues throughout the night and following days. And, then there was Wal-Mart, which was handing out supplies and tools as soon as the storm was over.
Then we heard about rebuilding the city. I thought, why would anybody live in a city below sea level in a hurricane zone without transportation, and whether the nation should really encourage that. I also thought that the Democrats who ruled the city and state should have been run out of Louisiana. Of course, Nagin got re-elected.
Now we hear that many of the residents haven't returned and don't plan to, and that those who did return are predominantly white. If they rebuild, people are being advised to either raise their houses above flood level, or make them float. And "advocates" of the poor are demanding that they be reinstalled in the huge housing projects that they were glad to be out of. The President is trying to make up to the city for not having been advised how really serious this disaster was ahead of time.
The Democrats are blaming him again and hinting that it was racist.
In other words, not much has changed.
For a more thorough and cogent analysis, read this