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September 04, 2005

Pompeii on Ole Miss

An essay republished at Winds of Change is the best summary of the scope of the disaster I have yet to read. This is the first statement I have seen that not only addresses the scale of what has happened (and is happening) but takes on every easy criticism of the response to the hurricane and its aftermath.

Some way into the argument a single line stands out: "By now, you are hopefully beginning to understand the error in trying to fix blame, at least this early." People who have never worked in logistics, planning or policy need to read that line and take it to heart.

To those who would blame the mayor of New Orleans, I would ask you to prepare, in the course of three days, to completely evacuate and rebuild a city of approximately one million people.
Not only do you have to plan and build a new city in three days, that will house one million people, you must also facilitate the traffic flow of 800,000 of those people to an area that will not be affected by the rain of 450 kiloton nuclear weapons the storm will drop after it leaves your city.

You have to find, and physically force some portion of the 100,000 remaining persons to leave, and you have to find and transport the remainder of that 100,000 people who cannot do so on their own.

Whatever routes you choose to get to your brand new one million person city will be shared with mandatory evacuees from the entire two or three state region.

Beginning on the second day of your one million person new city construction project, every asset you and your staff possesses, cars, houses, offices, telephones, computers, and basic necessities, will be unavailable, under water.

Those wishing to develop an informed opinion would be well advised to consult an an expert in the subject whose thoughts are available at the Castle. Next stop should be the much criticized Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop some idea of the range of challenges they face on a day to day basis. And because it is remotely possible this is not the last hurricane the world shall ever know, or that hurricanes are not the only disaster that will ever again befall humanity, it might behoove some of the critics to prepare their own hurricane kit or bug-out bag by way of taking some small responsibility for their own survival such that the authorities might better concentrate on those who for reasons of illness, infirmity or impoverishment are not able to help themselves.

Update: More welcome and sensible thinking may be found at Babbling Brooks (thanks, John!) and more yet at Taylor & Co. The Toronto blackout has also been on my mind.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 4, 2005 12:11 AM

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Nicholas - While I actually cut the Mayor a lot of slack, given that the failure of his First Responders represents a rot of city politics decades-old, that two years in office cannot erase... and I agree, setting up refugee camps for 100K people on three days notice is outside the bounds of possible... check the links at SWWBO's for what the City of New Orlean's own plan said should be done with all those flooded busses...


A failure - for which I blame the professionals of New Orleans at least as much as the Mayor.

This discussion at Damian's is also illustrative!


But, for the record, I don't propose firing anyone at this point- let's just Git 'er done!

The electorate can decide later.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 4, 2005 12:48 AM

What electorate? Because of the incompetence of city officials there is no NOLA citizens to vote him out of office.

NOLA had a plan for a hurricane and they did not stick to it.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2005 08:21 AM

Andrew - while your point is taken, my view of the electorate is more expansive. State and federal, too.

I think, when next at the ballot box, all of us need to have Victor Hugo's A Fight With A Cannon.


Posted by: John of Argghhh! [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 5, 2005 03:52 PM