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Washtenaw Flaneurade
6 September 2005
After the Deluge
Now Playing: Erik Satie--"Gymnopedie No. 3"
Even a week later, I'm still not entirely sure I can believe what's happened to New Orleans. I can't even begin to comprehend how people are actually staying down there and trying to survive. Amid all the competing ideas on how--and if--New Orleans should be rebuilt (with an interesting discussion over here), the best I can do is to hope that its people are able to reconstruct their lives or create new ones.

As just about everyone who reads this blog or knows me can suss out, I strongly disapprove of this presidential administration and its policies. That said, I think there's also enough blame to go around the New Orleans municipal and Louisiana state governments. Nobody's going to survive this catastrophe unscathed (and I find such musings counterproductive only if they actually impede the rescue and reconstruction effort). The colossal nature of the disaster, though, leads me to focus my ire on the federal government (which some will find unsurprising).

It's arguable that the levee system, Mississippi River, and the South in general have been neglected in the past under administrations of all political stripes. I think, though, that the problem's grown especially acute under Bush, and not just because of Iraq. The administration's officials, after all, have largely dedicated themselves to cutting "big government" down to its bare essentials. Whether these include disaster relief is questionable, and if anyone's read John Barry's Rising Tide (on the flood of 1927), it's remarkable to look at the similarities between the national governments' respective attitudes of the time. I wouldn't be surprised at such a situation, as the administration's ideological dedication to "states' rights" (and, it would seem, responsibilities) might lie at the root of communications difficulties and resentments between local, state, and federal government that flared earlier in the week.

I understand that there are probably a host of logistical difficulties involved in diverting troops, delivering relief, etc., but a lot of people will want to know why TV crews were reporting from the Convention Center on Tuesday, when genuine relief and evacuation arrived a few days later (and why water trucks were turned away, and a host of other questions). The good news: it looks as if most of the local population has been evacuated by now. The bad news: if what we're hearing is true, we might be in for some truly horrific images from the receding waters.

"Tomorrow": Last weekend.

Posted by Charles J. Microphone at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: 7 September 2005 5:24 PM EDT
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink | Share This Post

8 September 2005 - 7:28 PM EDT

Name: Mom

Sorry, honey. I think THEY (ALL of them) should all join hands, and say in unison: "I'm sorry; it's my fault, I/we screwed up royally." (FEMA has be come a TRUE four-letter word around here). That's what I truly think. There is so much blame to go around, and many, at the local, state, and national level can assume a share. That's the truth.
In the mean time: one of my "permanent" subs today told of an elderly uncle on Magazine Street who has, apparently, been the only owner of a land line all this time! The Coast Guard didn't believe him at first, but after using his line and finding it live, did, in fact, wish his humble home had been used as a command center from the beginning! There are also, as I'm sure you have seen, a motley crue (crew-Krewe; sorry, I'm not with the times) in the Quarter keeping bars open and holding daily parades. Surely, you can't be surprised.
Tonight, (Thursday), it MIGHT seem as though the predicted 20,000 dead might be a whole lot exaggerated. Let's please hope so.
You're friend, born in Kentucky and now a "British" citizen needs to know better: New Orleans has endured all kinds of diasters since its beginning--read the history. It WILL return. And thank God that it will!
When will we see you this fall?
Love,
Mom

9 September 2005 - 7:28 AM EDT

Name: Wendell

Mom, no argument on the first comment, although I still think that national attitudes have led to the initial confusion surrounding the situation, and which of the three has the most power? FEMA, after all, is a federal agency.

If history, which I know a little about, has taught us anything, it's that nothing stays the same forever. The Mississippi, the Gulf Coast--everything changes eventually, and it could conceivably happen now.

And my friend actually is British; there's no reason to put quote marks around her nationality.

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