September 02, 2005

We Were Not Prepared

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Add the aftermath of this disaster to the growing list of things I never thought could happen in America, even as recently as two days ago. Apparently, almost no one else can believe this is happening either. As the news crews have moved into hard to reach areas, the footage coming back is heartbreaking.

It's become exactly like a third world disaster area in New Orleans, complete with snipers taking potshots at the scarce relief workers and police. The looting that started with food and water, along with goods that were surely destined to find themselves on insurance claims, has turned into a street situation that isn't safe for anyone. It was hard to resent people, many of them too poor to evacuate, with no other access to food or reliable water scrounging for supplies. It shouldn't be a big stretch of moral calculus to decide that people trump things. But no other source of supplies has come in, desperate people have begun to despair of being rescued and it's all gone straight to hell.

Now they're saying they'll start arresting people for looting. Where will they put them? How could we have supplies airlifted all over Afghanistan at the beginning of the war there, but have nothing for the people of New Orleans?

More incredible, and every bit as infuriating is that the possibility this could happen was well known since 2001 and this government has continued cutting funding to repair these levees. As with every other test this nation has faced since January of 2000, credible warnings have been ignored and no accountability issues are ever pressed.

This should remind everyone of the 9-11 warnings. The measures you take to prevent possible hijackings are the exact same measures you take to prevent someone taking that hijacked plane and smashing it into a highrise. In this case, the government has had years to think about responding to the further terrorist attacks they thought were coming. They've also had at least a year to notice that, hey, we seem to be getting an awful lot of very bad storms just now. The response you need to put forth in a hurricane isn't that dissimilar to the response to a terrorist attack that took out an electrical grid. If you're not prepared for the one, you're not prepared for the other.

And this country is so clearly not prepared for a terrorist attack right now. We are not prepared for major infrastructure collapses and refuse to get serious about fixing anything until it literally falls over. Our leadership is asleep at the switch when it comes to deploying the best people to handle these situations as fast as they can. Offers of aid are coming in from all around the world, while here at home, FEMA won't even approve help for Florida residents who've suffered property damage.

This is the message of this disaster. If your city is devastated, the Bush administration will let you starve for days if you can't get out. What kind of national security is this?

Posted by natasha at September 2, 2005 01:10 AM | US News | Technorati links |