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Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans and human nature

It's amazing how human beings can become such primal animals after a major disaster due to their survival instincts kicking in. I'm talking about what's been happening in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

I must admit though that I have not been following the news before, during and just after Hurricane Katrina hit. I was sure that America would be like "Oh, guess what, we got hit by a hurricane, hmm, oh well, moving right along..." But I've just read a news article from the Anderson Indepent-Mail about the total breakdown of New Orleans. Emergency supplies are only just arriving but not reaching the people, people are suffocating and dying next to corpses, general looting, cops turning in their badges (!), emergency personnel held hostage... It's too painful to read, just too painful.

More stories courtesy of Google News: Mayor screams at the federal government for not providing aid quickly enough and President Bush pledges quick delivery of aid just before paying a visit to New Orleans.

I'm glad I'm not there now. And to think that I was in New Orleans for two-and-a-half days in 2002 (24 March, 25 March, 26 March). I can't believe that this bustling city that was more famous for flashers and drunken revelry has been reduced to a state of anarchy. What has happened to modern society that man just transforms into an animal during a critical time? Particularly so in democratic U.S. of A.

It's every man for himself and damn the consequences. Terrible, just terrible.

After law and order have been restored and the city has been rebuilt, I wonder if life will return to the same level of its Mardi Gras-inspired madness. Will the spectre of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath haunt the city in the near future? Only time will tell.

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38 comments:

Agagooga said...

A more interesting question: what would happen if Singapore were similarly afflicted?

Elia Diodati said...

Erm, there are several very important reasons why New Orleans won't be celebrating Mardi Gras next year:

1. Most of the Mardi Gras partygoers are college kids who fly in for the week. Whether the same kids will be able to even fly next year remains to be seen, with gas prices going stratospheric and pushing airlines closer to bankruptcy.

2. Will airlines even to bother servicing a city that is now 80% under water, with what few remaining inhabitants being forcefully evacuated? New Orleans is now a ghost town, save for the occasional emergency services worker and people still waiting to leave, period.

3. New Orleans is arguably the economic capital of the entire Deep South, or at least of the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Even shutting down the city for a month means billions of dollars of lost opportunity costs.

4. New Orleans is gone, period. It's unliveable. It wasn't just dampened by the hurricane, and Katrina didn't just chew up a few buildings and left; it is literally flooded. And the fact that most of New Orleans is below sea level means that getting rid of the flood waters will mean actively pumping it away, an operation that will take months, if not years, to complete.

5. Add in also the need to rebuild the inadequate levée system that was breached all over the place, not to mention rebuilding the entire city from scratch, and surely you'll agree with me that the problem of how to celebrate Mardi Gras is not exactly the top concern on most people's minds.

Elia Diodati said...

Not to mention that most people are in survival mode right now. If I were stuck in New Orleans and promised food and shelter, only for Katrina to blast a hole in the roof of the Superdome where you're taking cover, for mold to start growing on wet seats you were assigned, for the body odor of 10,000 other homeless people who haven't showered for days to keep you up at night, and for electricity and transport to be completely disripted, and for the promised supplies to show up one week late, I'd probably be looting my way to stay alive too.

Not to mention that the 0.5% or so who stayed behind were those that were too poor to afford even a bus ride out of town. 99.5% of the New Orleans populace is camping out across the US.


Not to mention that Bush still took WAY too long to respond to this emergency, and making empty promises he can't keep.

Elia Diodati said...

More reasons why this is not an appropriate time to pontificate about the feral beast lying underneath the veneer to civility:

In 2000, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report that the three most disasterous scenarios facing the US were:

1. Terrorists attacking NYC
2. Earthquake occuring in San Francisco
3. Hurricane chewing up New Orleans.

Guess which scenarios came true.

Guess who took a week to figure out what to do after Sept. 11.

Guess who caused the US Army Engineers to cut back on flood-control work due to budget cuts and having resources diverted to Iraq, beginning 2003.

Katrina struck on Aug 29. Bush gives a national speech on Sept 1 to the effect of "We need 50,000 pounds of ice and 10,000 blankets. Don't worry, everything will turn out fine".

Guess who said yesterday, in a speech broadcast to the nation, that "Nobody expected the breach of the levees", flying in the face of dozens of military, civic, and scientific reports warning that New Orleans did not have the necessary infrastructure to survive a hurricane. Lots of them even date back to 2000.

Guess who issued orders for military troops to do warm-up exercises and play basketball in a base next to a designated shelter, where thousands of the city's poorest and most infirm citizens, and judging from the pictures, mainly African-American, are dying, sleeping in filth and intense heat, getting raped, stealing from grocery stores, trudging through ankle-high floodwater mixed with sewage from burst sanitation pipes, and being left alone for days without food or potable water.

I don't want to end up comparing apples and oranges, but people were scrambling to help tsunami victims. Now it seems the world is watching Bush bumble through a natural disaster on his front lawn, and even having the cheek to complain that current relief efforts (mainly by NGOs such as the Red Cross) are "inadequate". Why?

I'm usually not so vehemently anti-Bush, but the facts speak for themselves.

P.S. Now that I think about it, I can understanding the looting and carjacking, but not the rape.

Anonymous said...

Re: the rape / serious crazies

New Orleans has a lot of crime and drugs. The police have been at war with the gangs for a long time. At this point its revenge time for the gangs. Its the end of the world for them and there are no real consequences.

I wouldn't expect some well ordered queue waiting for bottled water :)

-felix

Postmaster-General said...

Human nature also shows how nice people can be too. Every state in the Union is taking people in. Houston just hosted 50,000 people. Even Minneapolis is willing to take people in. Even in NO, people have been helping people. I know of people who've opened up their homes to anyone from Louisiana. That's human nature too.

Most of the violence is being carried out by gansters and hooligans. Most folks are just frustrated at being left behind. But the troops have moved in and many states are sending law enforcement and volunteers to help out in Louisiana.

I don't think New Orleans will be rebuilt. It'll be built on higher grounds, so I guess it'll be new New Orleans. And it may never be the same city again since most folks are not coming back. The middle class and businesses have fled, and I doubt will return.

I won't point blame at anyone. Lots of people were at fault. We can go all the way back to the French for founding a city below sea level as opposed to their other settlement St Louis which was built above the flood levels.

-ben said...

A point that your post (and other commentators) left out:

With regards to to the situation in New Orleans, what FEMA said is true, although the people crying for help now dun wanna hear it: these people must bear some responsibility for their plight. There were mandatory evacuation orders to leave. They chose to ignore it, citing that they have the right to remain where they are. Well, they have the right to swim now.

Cowabanga, dude.

TP said...

I guess environment takes a back seat when progress and development reigns supreme.

I still have this feeling that relief effort is very slow because the area is home to African American/poor community. I sensed discrimination here (and I thought the Civil Rights Movement 1964 would've shattered the racial discrimination).

Tym said...

-ben --- Yes, there were people who did not obey the mandatory evacuation order, but for the large part, it was because they could not. The people left behind were poor, too poor to own a vehicle or to know someone who owned a vehicle who had the space to bring them along. Why were they in that state? There are a host of possible reasons, to numerous and complex to examine here, but those reasons are irrelevant. It comes back to the question of whether you fault them for not having the resources to comply with an evacuation order?

"Well, they have the right to swim now", you say? Surely we can be more charitable than that. A civilised society is one that does not distinguish between who deserves help and who doesn't, and all the more so in an emergency situation! Even if someone blindly stayed on in their home in some irrational attempt to "protect" it against the hurricane, even if that person is now hurt, ill or in need of food and water, sheer human compassion compels us to extend a hand and provide basic support to that person. I quote from a Salon article, "The culture war over Katrina" (subscription required):

"Why shouldn't desperate human beings be deserving of the help the more fortunate can provide them? Once human beings start helping each other, society comes into existence. And once we have society at our disposal, we need no longer sit back and allow disaster to unfurl, irrespective of whether that disaster is caused by nature or our own ignorance."

This will not be the last large-scale disaster --- be it one caused by nature or our own ignorance or both --- that strikes a significant human population. Our best defence against the future is a sense of compassion and genuine society.

Anonymous said...

nice words that spout forth. alas, its merely words.

-ben said...

Hi Tym,
Thanks for the reply. Here's a duplicate of a reply on tomorrow.sg:

I see your view point, and admire you for your boundless compassion. However, I believe that when a mandatory evacuation order is issued, it is exactly that: mandatory. It does not mean, "if I have a comfortable SUV to fetch me and my 1000 luxury items, then I might feel like going." It means, even if you have to start walking with a pack, you go. Surely, the poor hasn't forgotten how to walk? Which part of that is so hard to understand? Oh, Grandpa can't walk far? Well, put in on a bicycle. Or push him on a wheelchair. Off you go. I am sure you can live without your cable TV for a few days.

I am not saying that I possess zero compassion for these people. I am just pointing out that what FEMA said (i.e. that the victims share a responsibility for their plight) has a grain of truth in it. There is help and there is enabling. It seems to me that a number of these people deliberately put themselves in harm's way (through ignorance, sheer laziness, a foolhardy sense of bravado, or all three), and it disgusts me that they are playing "victim" now. Try not to forget that there was an emergency evacuation order issued.

Anonymous said...

angry, disorganized and suppressed people takes an incident to trigger off unrest. many examples in history.

- indonesia 97/98 riots - oil
- yellow bandits in china

and lots lots more

Linus said...

Louisiana Governor had been asking why aid has been so slow and one conclusion is that majority of the New Orleans population is black, thus aid has taken tis long to reach victims

Kevin said...

As the Mayor of New Orleans said in a radio interview (also reportefd on CNN.com), most of the people who raped and looted were crackheads (people who did drugs). They looted hopsitals and drug stores looking for a fix and when they couldn't find any, they started to do other things to quell their urges. Like Elia Diodati, I tend to agree that we will be close to this when all is lost. It's a matter of survival.

paddychicken said...

Pretty damn sad huh. I was just clearing my bookshelf and came across my guide to New Orleans from 2003! Now all that's left are memories and pictures, like the twin towers that I never did get down to climbing.

agagooga: nowhere to run and no federal government; let's not go there.

elia diodati: with this many comments, I'm surprised you didn't do your own entry.

7-8 said...

Sorry, ben, but I need to ensure that I'm understanding you correctly.

A hurricane is coming, and those people without a car can just pack up their things and walk out of its path? I'm like, how much warning time do you have and how far can you go?

-ben said...

7-8,

In an emergency situation, you can fit everything you need to survive in a backpack. Even a large daypack will suffice. And you start walking. You can cover a lot of ground in 8 hours of walking. I have walked from Changi Point to Tuas in under a day. Walked from Changi Point in Chua Chu Kang between 11 PM and 6 AM.

A fair proportion of the people stranded in New Orleans, waving for help on top of their roofs, were able-bodied individuals. I don't see why they couldn't have made it.

By evacuate, I do not mean completely escape Hurricane Katrina's wrath, but merely to get to a place where the storm is less intense. For example, I am not suggesting you walk all the way to Canada to escape Katrina. That would be ridiculous. Just walk inland far enough away from the storm's path. Know of any other city in the state of Louisiana that has been hit as hard as New Orleans? You do not have to get to Shangri La. Just a safer place.

Wherever you live, you prepare yourself with an emergency plan to deal with the hazards unique to your local geography. That is Commonsense 101. I live in earthquake-prone California. I have 7 days of drinking water (and a little more for washing), food, camping stove and gas, and tents, and flashlights, batteries, medication, and a radio, set aside. This is because, in a major earthquake, there may not be electricity or water for up to 4 days. Stores will be closed as well. This is called personal responsibility.

I suppose it is easier to just sit back in the couch, watch MTV, pretend to be a millionaire going "bling bling," than actually do something constructive. Until the lights go out, that is. Then it is "Wah! Waah! Waaah! Save us!"

This cry of "It's all the government's fault! They should have saved us. They should have done more!" smacks of a mentality that requires a paternalistic government. In fact, it is reminiscent of a certain tropical-island-city-state, where its citizens obey the government's dictates of what to watch, what to read, what to write, where to go (exit permit), when to have kids, when to use contraception, when to withdraw their retirement savings, etc.

Tym said...

-ben --- I am honestly amazed and in awe at your readiness to either hole up for a week or evacuate to safer ground. Truly. I understand the principles of it too, especially if you live in a natural disaster-prone area like California, and I think our own government has tried (in its usual ways) to encourage people to do likewise.

But human nature is, uh, human nature, I guess. Not making excuses for it --- just accepting the fact that it's highly unlikely that any population will ever be fully prepared the way you are. Heck, I don't even own a flashlight, even though I know it's a good idea. And of course, in a blackout or other emergency, I'm gonna blame myself for that, even as I'm stuck up shit creek without a paddle thanks to my own lack of preparedness.

Moreover, I think there's a stubborn streak of human optimism or blindness that always feels, "Oh, it's not going to be that bad, it won't hit us that bad" --- until it hits, and then you realise this is the worst hurricane/tornado/blizzard/etc. in XX years, but by then it's too late. Human beings are gifted at thinking they're invincible and that we have conquered nature's power. Perhaps technology misleads us that way, to think we have done it all, to the point where it is only those who have suffered through a crisis like this know to immediately pack up and get the hell out of town.

But regarding your point about current complaints smacking of the need for a paternalistic government, I think that the role of any government (even in a non-emergency situation) is to have some kind of game plan for precisely this group of citizens that may --- through physical or economic disability or sheer pigheadedness and stupidity --- not be able to take care of themselves to the point where their lives are carelessly threatened. Not that I am suggesting that people should be forced to evacuate at gunpoint by their own military, but every avenue for leaving should be provided so that the only possible reason that they didn't evacuate was that they chose not to move?

I'm aware that I'm arguing for an idealistic scenario in which government action is forthcoming yet benign, not enforced. And I totally agree that during a crisis of such magnitude, people have got to try and take care of themselves, not sit around and wait for the government to do everything for them. I'm just wondering where the balance can be struck and, as usual, trying to figure out how government can truly be made to work for the people...

-ben said...

Tym - Your comment holds a lot of wisdom. Yes, not everyone is prepared. I, myself, when I take off on my solo adventures in the outdoors have been caught unprepared once or twice and learned harsh lessons. I also found that it is very different to be forced to spend the night in the wilderness when you are at the top of the food chain and when you are not. E.g. what is the worst that can happen to you if you are lost and forced to spend the night in the forest in Mandai? Apart from being bitten by a cobra or coral snake, nothing. But over here, there are mountain lions.

I like your comment about balancing personal liberty and government oversight. There are some optimistic examples around the country. E.g. in Grand Canyon, there are warnings that if you do something stupid AND SURVIVE (which precludes walking off the rim and falling 1 mile to the Colorado River below), you will not only be responsible for all costs associated with your rescue, but charged in court for endangering the lives of rescuers as well. I think that is a fair compromise.

Perhaps the same model could be used in situations like these. Although most people would balk at causing further financial hardship to individuals who have already lost about everything.

Compassion versus enabling. A pretty difficult distinction, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

TO Tym and Ben,
In times such as these, it is always easy to say in retrospect ' should have done this or that'.

Frankly, neither of you are wrong. It's just a case of which side of the fence you are on.

What Big Brother needs now is the helping hand from the World!

Countingpigs said...

If one ever talked to the poor or the homeless, whatever they have left is all they have. The ones that remained in New Orleans are the poor. And if the run down ghetto house or my monthly rented apt is all I have, do I want to go? And the other question is where? Did FEMA tells me where to go? Or where to get money so I can move to another place and survive for a few days? The guess one could walk to somewhere safer and beg in the streets and live in homeless shelters. Does it sounds nice? They have no money and no where to go. What they have left is blind faith that maybe things will not be so bad. But they lost the gamble. Period. And how is anyone to know that there will be looting and gunfire etc? It is just a bloody hurricane and lost homes and no food and no water. No one said anything about lives being in danger. Besides, there is the superdome. But that turns out to be crappy too. I guess what riles people is the slow response to the crisis, no matter whether there is an evacuation warning or not. Pardon for my writing in the middle of the night.

7-8 said...

Just came here and found to my complete surprise a civil response from -ben.

My argument is not that people do not bear personal responsibility for getting themselves out of New Orleans. They do. But I think that the idea that you can walk out of an evacuation area is quite ridiculous. Not everybody is a commando / guard like you. I only covered 24k in 8 hours. That route march took a few days to plan. I had the benefit of physical training, and I didn't have to carry my home, or children, on my back.

I don't believe that making the levees in New Orleans hurricane proof is economically viable. That would just be ridiculously expensive. It should have been shored up but in the event of a hurricane striking New Orleans nothing will stop the levee from breaking.

What should have been in place was a better evacuation plan, better disaster warning systems, that would have given people 3 days' advance notice instead of 8 hours. (Now if people were given 3 days like they should have, then I wouldn't argue with you about walking out of the city.)

Given that there's probably only 1 way out of the city, it's quite clear that a lot of planning and work has to be done in order to facilitate an orderly evacuation. Would be nice if that place had a better railway line wouldn't it? Wonder why I've not seen a picture of a single train so far.

I think that most of the disasters that take place also have to do with other parts of the government. You cannot say that the looting and the shooting was unforseen. You take any inner city / ghetto ridden with crime and gangs and wash it away with a flood, this is what's going to happen.

Question is: why don't these people have jobs, why don't they have education. And why on earth are they carrying guns?

Shooting and looting doesn't happen so much if the city is prosperous, all of its people living fruitful lives. The main reason why ppl don't leave is because their lives are already screwed up and they can't see how a hurricane would make it much worse.

Therefore the disaster exposes not only the inadequacy of the diaster relief aspect, but day to day aspects of the government as well.

This summer much of central Europe was flooded. Maybe the scale of disaster is not quite the same, but looking at the orderly way that that disaster was managed, (no shooting and looting, no refugee situation) I can't quite escape the impression that if Hurricane Katrina took place in Amsterdam instead of New Orleans it wouldn't have been quite as bad.

Guofeng said...

http://timblair.net/ee/index.php/weblog/comments/it_was_the_warming_what_done_it/#61471

How true is the above? Anyone living in the US? Elia?

-ben said...

7-8,

Amsterdam, ah. That will be an interesting place to live in. 64% of your paycheck goes to income tax but you never have to worry about healthcare, or taking out a second mortgage to pay for your kids' college tuition.

-ben said...

Don't know if you guys read this:

http://news.com.com/Weather+nerd+in+Indiana+warned+New+Orleans+mayor/2100-1038_3-5849260.html?tag=nefd.top

Tym said...

-ben --- Don't understand your point about Amsterdam. 7-8's point seems to be that it is a matter of having an organised and well-oiled system ready to handle emergencies. Is your point that Amsterdam charges high taxes, therefore they have the resources to pay for such a system, and also to take care of their citizens' education and healthcare?

-ben said...

Tym,
apologies for the delay in replying. I have been working on my blog. FEMA could have done more. Maybe. Even probably. My original point--and still my point--is that a substantial proportion of the 20% remaining in the city of New Orleans when Katrina hit, bear some degree of personal responsibility. I did not say all. E.g. that poor old lady who drowned in her nursing home when her son could find no way to get rescuers to her. Now, my point concurs with that of the chief of FEMA. Apparently, many readers find that pill difficult to swallow.

In my years here, among the many interesting people I've met are refugees. They have escaped, on foot, and with children, and barely any belongings, not only through hostile environmental conditions (try running barefoot for days through the jungles of Vietnam), but people trying to kill them. Did they sit around and wait for Hanoi to issue an evacuation order? I trust you see where I am coming from. Whatever happened to the concept of personal responsibility and initiative? Come on, you own a TV or radio and you don't know a hurricane is coming? What's the matter? 50 cent's video on MTV is more important?

With regards to Amsterdam, that was an aside. I know a few people who have lived in Amsterdam and loved it in spite of its high taxes. I was just voicing my opinion that it is nice not to have to worry about paying for your kid's college tuition. However, I draw the line at socialized health care. Don't even get me started about health care. I firmly believe that health care is not a human right. Socialized health care can have the side effect of enabling individuals in society to engage in self-destructive behavior, with society picking up the tab. E.g. in the case of smokers or alcoholics, I do not want to pay for your lung cancer treatment or liver transplant. That's your problem. You dug your own grave. Now lie in it. RIP.

You can accuse me of being "cruel." I consider that a better label than "stupid."

Anonymous said...

What do you think of some Christians who say this is a warning from God?

-irishman-

-ben said...

Hundreds Refuse to Evacuate
'We're Trying to Convince Them There's Nothing for Them Here,' Official Says

By Scott Gold, David Zucchino and Stephen Braun, Times Staff Writers

NEW ORLEANS — Search teams pressing to evacuate the living and find the dead after a full week under the high-water sway of Hurricane Katrina found their efforts complicated Monday by the refusal of hundreds of residents to leave the paralyzed city.

A senior New Orleans police official said Monday that some 10,000 inhabitants remained in the city, hidden inside flooded residences, apartments and housing projects, surviving on foraged scraps and food drops by the military. Searchers have been frustrated by hundreds of holdouts who have refused to leave their homes, fearing possessions will be pillaged, pets will die and their way of life will be erased.

"There are, to our surprise, thousands of people still in the city that we're trying to identify and locate," said Deputy New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley. "We're trying to convince them there's nothing for them here — no food, no jobs, nothing to let them live the way they're used to.

One Texas crew operating east of the interstate was turned way by 450 people living in houses surrounded by water. On Monday, the crew rescued 183 people but was turned away by 150 more, said Billy Parker, manager of the Texas Task Force One Water Strike Team.

"They have water up to the porch, but they don't want to go," Parker said. "They sit up on the second floor and say: 'We got food. We got water. We're staying.' " Parker said his crews had no authority to forcibly remove anyone but had passed the information on to state and city agencies.

(Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-katrina6sep06,0,2025142.story?coll=la-home-headlines )

7-8 said...

Hi ben, in case you're not aware (but you should, since they speak Spanish in California), siete ocho is Spanish for 7-8.

It's remarkable that we've had such a long argument on tomorrow when we both agree that victims bear some blame, that the authorities are unprepared, and the only point of contention is whether it's possible to walk away from the storm.

Concerning that article you posted, we were talking about evacuaees leaving the hurricane before it happened. If you've weathered the storm, there's rightfully some justification to think that you can stay, the worst is over. Although I would say they should leave because they'd be hampering relief efforts by staying.

Point is, 80% of the New Orleans population managed to leave. Of the 20% stayed behind, I'd say that more than half of them couldn't leave for one reason or another. And your article talked about, what hundreds of people not wanting to leave? A city of millions and you choose to harp on a few thousand? Gimme a break. There are more important issues, like the relief effort. Unless you want to go slap penalties on those people.

I'm very tempted to comment on your health care policy, but I'm not going to be drawn into another bloody quagmire with you.

-ben said...

> Unless you want to go slap penalties on those people.

Don't go tempting me now...

Anonymous said...

sick stuff! aboslutely disgusting.

irishman: those Christians may have a point after all.

Elia Diodati said...

Yeah I considered putting it together on my blog, but then I had to leave for a Labor Day trip I had already planned. Just got back today, so I don't really have time to put all this together.

Anyway now that more reports are coming in, there seems to be a growing consensus that no one agency/party is to blame, be it at the federal, state or city level; instead, it is the entire emergency reponse system (ironically enough, in the midst of being revamped after 9/11) that was not sufficiently streamlined.

Again, I reiterate that of the people who stayed, most of them were either too sick to move, or too poor to get out in time.

postmaster-general: building cities at the confluence of rivers, or at the mouth of a river where it meets the sea, is generally a very good idea and has immense commercial advantages (not to mention pre-modern sanitation ones). The French were not being stupid; merely pragmatic. The geography of the Deep South strongly suggests that if one wanted to build a city there, that's one of a very few choice locations.

Tym: on the balance between personal liberty and government oversight, it is one thing to choose to remain in harm's way, and quite another thing altogether to place one's faith in the federal government's emergency plans only for them to go awry. I am talking about the Superdome incident, where despite it being earmarked as a tornado shelter, Katrina managed to rip the roof apart, plumbing and sanitation broke down (only city systems, no emergency reservoirs!), and they had WAY not enough food and clothing for everyone. If we want to talk about this, we should divide cleanly the people who sought refuge from the authorities from the ones who stayed at home. And who's to say the stay-at-homes were dumb? At the very least, they didn't get gang-raped and murdered in their own toilets.

7-8: The gun issue is a very contentious one, as you probably know. I don't think George Washington checked his soldier's school certificates before mashaling them.

guofeng: I'm not sure what you expect me to say. Did they screw up in delaying in declaring a state of emergency? I don't know. Katrina wasn't aimed dead straight at New Orleans initially, but changed course after the National Weather Service tried to estimate its trajectory. And the vast majority of the damage was not direct wind damage, but caused by the breach of the levees.

Guofeng said...

Elia,

I was asking if you can confirm that the feds really could not do much without the permission from the governor. Is the USA really legislated that way?

Elia Diodati said...

So as I understand it, the Feds operate only under the sanction of all the member states. Each individual state retains its own sovereignty on its land, so the exercise of armed forces technically requires the approval of the state government. However I am not sure if and how the situation is altered in the case of a state of emergency, which is something that only the governors (at the state level) and mayors (at the city level) are empowered to do.

Elia Diodati said...

Correction: The President can also issue a state of emergency declaration at the federal level. So the question of who should be responsible for action is dicey.

Guofeng said...

Elia,

Thanks.

7-8 said...

Diodati: The issue of gun control is not whether it was a good thing more than 200 years ago, but whether it makes any sense now. And I would say no, because both the population and law enforcement officers should be safe from crackos who need to protect themselves from other crackos who need to protect themselves.

Which is not to say that I'd see the right to bear arms in the near future being abolished, it would probably take another civil war, but like Brian Wilson says, wouldn't it be nice?

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