Monday, September 05, 2005

Bark: The knives come out

I've refrained from blogging about Hurricane Katrina over the last week, primarily because the situation has been a little too confused to get a clear picture of just what's been going on.

A week on, and the aftermath of the disaster is getting increasingly vicious - politically, that is. The Bush administration has been roundly criticised for its slow response and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been lambasted for the inadequacy and tardiness of its efforts. The reason behind such seeming incompetence? Well, strike a light, it couldn't be because our old friend George cut FEMA's funding, realigned its rebate towards terrorism cleanup operations, and consolidated the agency into the all-powerful Department of Homeland Security, could it?

And what was FEMA's response to such accusations?

Michael Brown [Director of FEMA] also agreed with other public officials that the death toll in the city could reach into the thousands.

"Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings," Brown told CNN.

"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," he said.

That's sweet. "You didn't leave, so you're to blame, bitch."
The people how didn't leave didn't *choose* not to leave. They didn't have any choice. These are some of the poorest people in America: they can't afford to run SUVs or even afford a ticket out of town. Not to mention the people who were too old, too frail or too ill to leave.

FEMA can't even get their story straight with the people who are in on the ground. Check out the discrepancies here. They're claiming all's going well, when it's emerging that people have been raped, murdered or even driven to suicide by the slow response.

Can there really be any excuses for taking so long to get the National Guard into New Orleans to provide security? It's not like they didn't know that the hurricane was about to hit the city. Weathermen had predicted it almost a week in advance. Little wonder that the disaster response effort has been labelled "a disgrace" in many quarters. The Bush administration has rolled out Condee Rice to defend against accusations of racism, which whilst not entirely fair, probably still do have an element of truth to them. You can't help thinking that the response would have been a darned sight quicker if Katrina had levelled downtown Miami, or Jeb Bush's house...
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