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» How Katrina Will Affect Europe from The Brussels Journal
America has been hit by a major natural disaster, the likes of which are simply unimaginable in Europe. Imagine a category 5 hurricane (the highest possible category) wrecking an area half the size of France (or Germany), thereby submerging and completely [Read More]

» Remember When...? from Daily Pundit
USATODAY.com - France heat wave death toll set at 14,802PARIS (AP) The death toll in France from August's blistering heat... [Read More]

» Comparing Disasters... from Technicalities
David's Medienkritik is reporting that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is comparing the European floods of 2005 and 2002 to hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Katrina was simply so much larger in scope than recent German floods that to speak of... [Read More]

» Clobbering Schröder on Your Computer from Stromata Blog
Illness having opportunely forced Jacques “Le Ver” Chirac to the sidelines, Gerhard Schröder has the EU division of the Race to the Bottom all to himself. The strident anti-Americanism that he displayed in his debate with CDU leader Angel Merkel [Read More]

» Het Leedvermaak van Knack from The Brussels Journal
Katrina was gigantisch. Het getroffen gebied in de VS bedraagt 233,000 km2. Dat is bijna acht keer België, of meer dan drie keer de hele Benelux, of bijna half Frankrijk of bijna driekwart van Duitsland. Daarbij werd, naast ettelijke kleinere steden, een [Read More]

» Europeans need schooling about storms from CDR Salamander
As the more reasoned reports come out of New Orleans, it is a good time to review some of the more-than-usual election time jackassary coming out of Europe. The European left is compounding their ignorance of our Federal System with a very un-Euro... [Read More]

Comments

SPON on the hunt again: Andrea Merkel, Chancellor Schroeder's contestant has "conceded" that she has "cribbed" parts of an old speech by former President Reagan. What's the big deal?, one may wonder. Well, that "former actor's" terms, we are lectured by SPON, were marked by massive surges in the defense budget, lower taxes and cuts in social welfare. In short: a belligerent, capitalist, heartless president of the rich. How inappropriate to even quote him !

Just a quick reminder, SPON: That man and old ally was a staunch defender of your county's freedom when times were less fortunate for "pacifists". Without his convictions and actions, she might still be divided, with the Sovies knocking on the porch.

A remarkable positive exception in the German media landscape is "Zeit im Bild", the news bulletin of the Austrian TV broadcasted on 3sat. The geogrpahic extent of the disaster was set into relation with the country by stressing that it affected an area three times at large.

Here is the average thought process of a SPON reader when they read that Toby: Reagan = Republican America = Bush = Evil.

Enough said? Of course SPON knows exactly what it is doing here. Do you have any doubt that they are supporting Schroeder here in his election push. Just look at what SPON has done earlier. Get ready for predictions of a tremendous miracle comeback.

PS: I fixed the link for you.

I hear this all the time in Germany ("well, this never happened to us - and we also had flooding").
It's sad, people are so fed up with crap like Spiegel and Stern that they cannot distinguish truth from fiction, as far as US is concerned
By the way, the new issue of Spiegel appeared (the cover is of course with a picture of NO, nothing wrong with that, but I don't wanna know what they say about this)

Well, this is my first post and I want to say that I really appreciate your work here. I have been reading your articles for a while, though.
I am also living in Germany but am very dissapointed with the way the Germans view things.

As about the two pictures here (Germany and Katrina), in my opinion it would be better if you would post two "equivalent" pictures. Germany is obviously two big. You should not give our friends over there (even if they have other opinions) the chance to say you distort the reality. Not as a critique, anyway ;)

Hoping for the better,
neocon


To begin with, the question should never have been asked. I think it was simply "hinterhältig" to do so. This was a stellar example of journalistic "bias" as the question was asked to embarass Merkel and give Schröder a chance to be floodmaster again.

I would have expected condolences for the victims from both, which never happened.

Of course comparisons pale. It's obvious that the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana simply couldn't cope. But blame has to go to the federal agencies as well. Too much haggling over competences is deadly in disaster management. Obviously there never was a "can do" guy in charge until yesterday. Lessons will be learned.

Germany does have a good track record in logistics and emergency management. Frankly I don't think that Schröder did contribute much to the flood management (in contrast to Helmut Schmidt in Hamburg). But he managed to master the symbolic part better than Bush who didn't look good in the first days.

When comparing pictures you should take into account that Germany is much more densely populated and the disaster zone of that gigantic storm is indeed much smaller.

SPIEGEL/SPON is not totally pro-Red/Green. This interview with Joschka Fischer, for example, is quite the opposite.
Of course I know very well that their logo isn't red for nothing, so that one's probably an alibi piece.

As for Schröder: he was talking nonsense, obviously, for election purposes. He could have phrased that... oh, hell, he simply shouldn't have said that. It was pretty stupid of Merkel, though, to say nothing at all on the matter safe "Uh... our government is right in helping. now, about...". She could have scored some points with me by displaying her sympathy and then saying she doesn't want to comment.

@ queerdenker,
The disaster Zone is indeed much smaller?

The disaster zone of Katrina would have destroyed 80% of Germany. You may only be looking at the city of New Orleans? Forgot the hardest hit area of mississippi, or alabama and all the way into Pensylvania?

The only differences are that the other States had better emergency planning than Louisiana, which had none at all.

What would Germany have done with such a devastation? remember, that Government would not have functioned at all anymore. In the US flooding in the midwest is an annual affair. It is just about 4-5 times the size of the flooding in Germany. They manage.
The East coast has several Hurricanes every year, we manage and cope.
The West has devastating Earthquakes and fires year after year, we cope. Local and state Governments are to manage 2-3 days worth of emergencies until outside help arrives, since it takes time. They had none.From a logistics point of view it is easier for locals to take care of the first 2-3 days since they know the layout. Unless my lying ears deceive me, I heard the mayor of New Orleans say, go to the superdome and bring 5 days of food and water with you. A plan? I doubt it.
It will be proven that greedy local politicians used the federal money on greedy non-essential projects, instead of providing for it's constituents.

@american by choice

The photo of the hurricane looks very intimidating, but only the "inner circle" is able to do the big damage. The outer bands would compare to a German "Gewitterregen". I've been through a few hurricanes in the Caribbean so I'm familiar with them. One was a Cat5.

If you look at Hurricane Ivan, which passed the western Tip of Cuba as a Cat 5 monster: It barely did any damage in Havana, which was only a 100 miles away. Hurricane Dennis missed Havana only by 30 miles or so and the damages in the city were not extraordinary, despite crumbling buildings there.

The problem New Orleans faces is unique. It's true that the mayor declared mandatory evacuation too late (but Katrina was only bumped from Cat3 to 5 hours before the mandatory evacuation). At that time NOLA had about 24 hours left. All the emergency experts say: It's simply not feasable to fully evacuate NOLA in 24 hours (the last hours would have been in very difficult weather already).

The Superdome plan wasn't the worst under the circumstances. It should have been stocked accordingly. And yes, you should expect people to bring enough food and water to last for 3 days. This is emergency standard all over the USA.

I think there is a lot of blame to go around. I think with "announced" disasters like this, the military should have been in charge from Day 1. This is difficult in federal USA where states and Feds often fight over competences. But the National Response Plan published by Homeland Security gives the Federal Government sweeping powers to go "proactive".

The two most problematic persons in all that were Governor Blanco and FEMA boss Brown. The mayor is third.

I don't know how Germany would have coped with such a disaster since we don't have hurricanes. The U.S. has them and they are mostly handled very well.

I don't know what the President did in the first three days. Probably more than we know. But his public appearances looked very strange. Condi Rice enjoying herself in NY didn't look good either. And Cheney? Is he dead? Not a word from him in more than a week? The guy who bashed Edwards for not beiung able to protect America?

Querdanker
>>the disaster zone of that gigantic storm is indeed much smaller.

Much smaller than what? The Katrina disaster zone is 90,000 square miles.

I'll bet if we think real hard, we can probably come up with a precedent or two where there was *real* large-scale devastation in Germany. Of course, we all know what was required to recover from that.

Maybe that's something people might be able to relate to.

Pamela, I'm talking about the deadly disaster zone. The area in which relief is operating now is not 90000 square miles

From the very authoritative Wikipedia, regarding Hurricane Katrina:

"Federal disaster declarations blanketed 90,000 square miles (233,000 km²) of the United States, an area almost as large as the United Kingdom."

From the, um, Department of Homeland Security web site:

"Federal disaster declarations are covering 90,000 square miles of affected areas."

It seems to be unanimous.

@ queerdenker
I live in florida and went through 3 'canes last year. no electricity or water for 4 weeks total.
Think again, 90 000 square miles sounds correct. Fro Alabama to west of louisiana , then north at least into tennessee and ky.
The hardest hit was Mississippi. "Gewitterschauer" in Germany?
You were kidding, weren't you?
The local and state officials did violate their own catastrophe plan and procedures.
How can you ask people to bring 5 days worth of food and water into the shelter? that's insane. The superdome was stocked and provisions were not released. Do you for a minute believe that one week before a NFL game, provisions were not stored in the Superdome? come on, use your head?
To this day Governor Blanco has refused to officially let the Guard be "federalized". just a powerhungry Bitch.

I agree with Querdenker on "Germany does have a good track record in logistics and emergency management." Still Germany would have had major problems with Katrina.

The liberals, who read the NYT know that:
"Experts in America say foreign flood-control projects are worth studying for inspiration about how to rebuild New Orleans"
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/06/science/06tech.html


@ Querdenker

I am amazed how patient, calm and polite you are, when dealing with all these rightwing, narrow minded readers here.


A couple of days ago, some readers have been kicking the NO victims of Katrina while they where down as well. So they are no better than Trittin.

@ Querdenker,
As we speak we are under a T.D. watch. I am looking out the window and the rain is coming down horizontally. :)
It hasn't arrived yet, just the outer bands.

@ Querdenker

Gewitterschauer only on the outside of a hurricane??
You are forgetting that the hurricane usually also spawns tornados that can be just as deadly as the hurricane itself.

"I am amazed how patient, calm and polite you are, when dealing with all these rightwing, narrow minded readers here."

I know what you mean. Anyone who knows that "states and Feds often fight over competences," and also that there are "announced disasters," obviously has something special going, including a mastery of English that Americans never will achieve. And it takes something even more special to figure out that "the military should have been in charge from Day 1" and "the National Response Plan published by Homeland Security gives the Federal Government sweeping powers to go 'proactive'" without going to a law school, or even reading the applicable U. S. Constitution and U. S. statute provisions, let alone the relevant federal case law. It just goes to show how great German education is. And how much you can learn from watching German television and reading German newspapers. If only we had all that in the USA, we wouldn't have to be ignorant any more.

The liberals, who read the NYT know that:
"Experts in America say foreign flood-control projects are worth studying for inspiration about how to rebuild New Orleans"

Heh? It's been known for decades that something needed to be done in NO about flood control. There were even funds earmarked for these upgrades. So obviously, many experts have been aware of the dangers for quite some time. Do you not think at least some of these experts aren't already pretty familiar with the system that protects the Netherlands? And, I'm quite confident that we had the ability to handle this problem on our own--not that it hurts to take a look at all possibilities. But, I don't need the NYTimes to tell me this.

The problem is that the necessary steps were not taken to minimize the danger. As more information becomes known about the chain of events that led up to this disaster, it becomes clearer that the state and local government has a LOT of explaining to do. Emergency plans that have been in place for years, simply weren't implemented. Remember, a large part of the local and state government of LA are Democrats--therefore, there's a damned good chance that they are LIBERALS.

2000 school buses could have been used to evacuate victims! It's part of the emergency procedure. Instead, the buses are sitting in a flood zone parked nice and pretty in rows.

It seems the governments of the other states hammered by Katrina are handling this disaster somewhat better than the government of LA. Why the discrepencies? I wonder if the NYTimes will take the lead in finding out why procedures were not followed in LA, and why known dangers were not dealt with? Hmm...I wouldn't hold my breath.

If I had Schroeder's inspirational record on reunification, job loss, inflation, low productivity, high unemployment, immigration, no UN seat, meager national confidence, watching genocide Darfur, promoting weapons sales to China, etc, etc . . . I would prefer to be talking about the Ami~Boogieman too.
But haven't we seen Schroeder's type in Das Vaterland before? Schroeder and his 'progressive' ilk have made certain bigotries acceptable again, and that is what makes me uneasy.
I just have this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that if you put the word "Turk" or "Jew" in there Schroeder's point would be the same . . . and, unfortunately, just as well received.

Tyranno

It just struck me . . . has katrinaSchroeder done the same thing to Deutschland these last seven years. . . that Hurricane Katrina did to the Gulf Coast of America in a day ? ? ?

Schroeder's Schaden freude; Sure I may be a disaster for Germany but at least, Thank God, I am not an "A-m-e-r-i-KKK-a-n" (said dripping with bile.)

Not unlike david duke, another smooth bigot in a suit, who is currently rotting in prison; "Sure, I may be a dumbass racist bigot wasting away in prison because of that . . . but at least I am not a N-i-g- - -r !"

Can someone articulate the difference for me???
What other western leader defines themselves only by what they are against! (ok, my mistake, leave chirac out of this.)
Schroeder and New Orleans do have something in common. As a bumpersticker in the last New Orleans election said, "Vote for the crook ~ it matters!"

So "Vote for Incompetence" ~ it matters! Or at least to schroeder it does!

Tyranno

If you are going to critique the handling of disaster relief and rescue in the US, you need to be familar with two US laws: The Posse Comitatus Act and the Stafford Act. If you review these two laws, you will understand the role that local, state and federal governments can play legally in the event of a major disaster.

On August 26th, Gov Blanco requested emergency FUNDING (not services or military) under the Stafford Act. She did NOT request emergency aid at that point. In fact she was very reluctant to ask for federal help because she was not willing to give over power to the federal government. Under the restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act, the President or the military is not allowed to take over emergency rescue and relief unless the Gov of the state requests him to.

A few tidbits for you of limited to biased reporting as your only news source. The NYT for years has led the charge "against" funding levee upgrades. Wouldn't know it from their recent coverage, would you?

Graft and corruption have been the norm for Louisiana (LA) - forever. Did you know the US federal government has poured billions into the states for emergency management for years? Did you know that FEMA has been trying to get LA to repay 30 million that got "lost" (and you can bet your bippies the LA governor isn't turning anything over to the Feds control with such a big paday ahead).

Did you know that LA is the only state whose laws are not based on English law? But rather the Nepoleonic code? Wonder now why there's such graft and confusion as to who's on first?

It's starting to be noticed in the USA - the pathetic "helping hand" we're getting from Germany (& Europe as a whole). The USA is there first and biggest for everyone else in the world. Yes, often bigger than all the rest of the world combined - I'm talking not only government but private support (you see, most of us still believe these things are individual and not government responsibilities). No, no, no! Don't point to all the "pledges" your politicians make while elbowing one another out of the way to get to the microphones and in front of the cameras. Let's compare pledges to deliverables. Think 25% might be about right?

What a coalition of great thinkers.
What would have happened in Germany when Katrina hit the country?
Nothing would have happened!
The 50000 inhabitants would have done the same what they had done 10 years ago, 50 years ago and 100 years ago...
Because if we would live in an area where once and a while the whole area is devasted by such a hurricane and that since 1000s of years there would be no Germany with 80 Million people...
So all these maps and comparisons are "für die Katz" (for the cat)

A German language blog I read and post to occasionally was discussing the “Are we prepared here in Germany for a major catastrophe” question. They were having trouble coming up with a large natural disaster, comparing the flood in Köln and even Welt Jugend Tag (!) to Katrina, so I suggested the Heat Wave of 2003, in which thousands of elderly people perished from neglect.

My suggestion was not welcome. I was immediately accused of being a malicious Bush apologist, though I had expressed my decidedly anti-Bush views on numerous occasions. I was also lectured that though the contributors of this blog were not anti-American, they certainly had every logical reason to be!

Lesson learned: It’s okay for Germans to discuss our failures, but it’s not okay for Americans to discuss theirs.

jane_m

You're wrong about the Posse Comitatus Act. There are a number of exceptions. One stipulates that the President of the United States can waive it in an emergency. The USS Bataan sitting idle in the Gulf is one example why it should have been waived.

And whatever the governor requested or not requested in the right way should not have held up a swift Federal response. The National Response Act (published by the Department of Homeland Security), is very clear about that. It had to kick in immediately even if Blanco filed the wrong request or none at all.

"Protocols for proactive Federal response are most likely to be implemented for catastrophic events involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive weapons of mass destruction, or large magnitude earthquakes or other natural or technological disasters in or near heavily populated areas."

Guiding principles for proactive Federal response include the following:

* The primary mission is to save lives; protect critical infrastructure, property, and the environment; contain the event; and preserve national security.
* Standard procedures regarding requests for assistance may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances, suspended in the immediate aftermath of an event of catastrophic magnitude.
* Identified Federal response resources will deploy and begin necessary operations as required to commence life-safety activities.
* Notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources.

As i stated before, there is a lot of blame to go around. But there were no legal impediments for anyone to do what was possible. It was clear from the start that Louisiana and Mississippi would never be able to cope with this disaster alone.

There is no reason for German arrogance or even Schadenfreude. I hope we will never have to find out the hard way how well prepared we really are. I hope we can help out with whatever the U.S. might need from us.

Leserin

The heat wave of 2003 was, if I recall well, more a problem of the French. I don't recall people dying in Germany in the thousands because of that.

Querdenker,

You are correct, most of the deaths occured in France. I should have stated more clearly that the discussion on the german language blog was not limited to only German natural disasters but European natural disasters in general.

The number of people who died in Germany due to the heat wave is a matter of discussion - here's an excerpt from an AP report on Sept. 26, 2003:

"In Germany, only 40 people are on official record as dying from the heat. The medical division of the German Weather Service is still compiling a country total, although it is unclear whether the federal government will do the same.

However, an AP survey of government statistics offices, ambulance services and undertakers showed that at least 806 more people died in 15 major cities and two states in August 2003 than in the same month last year. Similar figures from the other 14 states were not available.

Rolf-Peter Lange, director of the German Association of Undertakers, which represents about 80 percent of the nation's undertakers, expects up to a 10 percent increase in deaths for August, based on reports from funeral homes.

"I believe it can be linked to the heat," Lange said."

The problem New Orleans faces is unique. It's true that the mayor declared mandatory evacuation too late (but Katrina was only bumped from Cat3 to 5 hours before the mandatory evacuation). At that time NOLA had about 24 hours left. All the emergency experts say: It's simply not feasable to fully evacuate NOLA in 24 hours (the last hours would have been in very difficult weather already).

Is there a prerequisite that a hurricane must be a cat5 in order to evacuate? I mean a cat3 is considered a major hurricane. Two THOUSAND school buses unused--not including 300+ city buses. Even with only 24 hours remaining, the buses should have been used. The use of these buses is included in the long existing emergency plan. There's not much that could have been done to prevent the property damage, but there could have definitely been a lot less human suffering. The fault here falls squarely on the laps of the local and state government. The National Response Act goes into effect as a response to a catastrophic event. It does not permit the federal government to come in prior to the event. Now, it seems as though many are putting the brunt of the blame on the feds, who have been put into a much more difficult situation due to the utter failure of the government of LA. I'm sorry, in the wake of an unprecedented large scale disaster, things aren't going to appear as if they're running very smoothly. I don't think you can fault the feds too much for that. The media is always going to complain about something taking too long, or that the plan could have been better. However, there's absolutely no excuse for a plan not being implemented at all. I will bet you that a certain governor and a certain mayor are having problems sleeping at night.

The two most problematic persons in all that were Governor Blanco and FEMA boss Brown. The mayor is third.

From what I've heard, FEMA is not designed to be a first responder. It duties are to supplement rescue and aid already on the seen. To be honest, I was only listening with one ear at the time.

@Querdenker,
The Uss bataan is not sitting idly in the Gulf. That was a rumor bing circulated by the Anti-American crowd.

This is from the official site:

GULF OF MEXICO – The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) completed its sixth day of Hurricane Katrina humanitarian relief efforts in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast region on Sunday, September 4.

The ship is currently operating 45 miles south of Gulfport , Mississippi and was the first U.S. Navy warship on-station in the Gulf of Mexico . During the first two days of the relief efforts, Bataan steamed 100 miles south of New Orleans and since then she has steamed north to just off the Mississippi coast.

Four MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fifteen (HM 15), based out of Corpus Christi, Texas, five MH-60 Sea Hawks from Helicopter Sea Control Squadron Twenty-Eight (HSC 28), based out of Norfolk, Va., and Bataan's Air Department have conducted flight operations almost around the clock for six days to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

“We've been extremely busy this past week with more tasks than there are hours in a day,” said Cmdr. Jeffrey Bocchicchio, Bataan 's Air Boss. “The shortest day the department has had was 16 hours long, but they understand that everything we do is critical to the mission.”

"All of the divisions and Combat Cargo working together allows the ship to have a 24-hour flight deck with the manning for 10-hour days,” said Bocchicchio. “Military units are the nation's biggest assets and what better use for them than to save our own people.”

To date, the two squadrons have transported 1,613 displaced people and delivered more than 100,000 pounds of cargo. Bataan also provided 8,000 gallons of fresh drinking water to the ravished Gulfport , Mississippi area. Sailors filled eight 500-gallon water bladders with the ship's potable water and HM 15's MH-53 helicopters transported them from the flight deck of Bataan to land.

The ship also demonstrated her sea power when a Landing Craft Unit from Assault Craft Unit Two (ACU 2), based out of Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Va., went up the Mississippi River to conduct a survey of the river just days after the Hurricane ripped through the area. The LCU was gone for three days before returning to the ship's welldeck.

“Besides looking for navigational aids, our secondary mission was to help evacuate people and help the first responders, such as the Coast Guardsmen and policemen,” said Chief Warrant Officer William Fish, ACU 2 detachment Officer in Charge. “We could have provided meals, shelter and electricity if someone would have needed it.”

With all of the injured and ill refugees strewn throughout the Gulf Coast , medical personnel are in short supply. A team of 84 medical professionals from the Navy's Casualty Receiving and Treatment Ship Team Eight (CRTS 8) based out of Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla., embarked Bataan Friday to assist in hurricane relief medical operations. On Saturday and Sunday, 56 members of CRTS 8 medical fly away team left Bataan to provide medical support to Hurricane Katrina survivors at the New Orleans Convention Center , New Orleans International Airport and Biloxi High School in Mississippi .

Bataan 's involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is an effort led by the Department of Defense (DoD) in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Number of Bataan Visitors
Special Notice Navy leadership is sincerely concerned for our Sailors and their family members in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. In light of the communication difficulties created by the hurricane, BUPERS has set up a 24 hour helpline for both Sailors and families to call for information regarding their loved ones.

@ "Niko"

First of all, it's obvious you don't read our site much. Here's an article we did on Merkel and the CDU not long ago.

Secondly, we already have a commenter named "Niko". So I strongly suggest you find a new name if you don't want your comments erased as it is against our policy for people to use the same name. In this case it may just be a coincidence, but the other "Niko" has been on this site much longer and has priority for that name. So let us know what your new name will be (not Niko K. - something totally different please) and, from now on, use that name to comment. Thanks.

Querdenker,

I'm sure there are enough real failures for which to blame FEMA and the feds without having to participate in passing along rumors and unsubstantiated assertions by news organizations - yes, there are such things as "media/blog urban legends", and, as a previous poster points out, "the USS Bataan sitting idle in the Gulf" is one of them. I might also gently suggest that one read a little more deeply into the precedents, whys and wherefores of Posse Comitatus before expatiating so authoritatively on its stipulations.

That "it was clear from the start that Louisiana and Mississippi would never be able to cope with this disaster alone" is a strawman. Nobody was expecting the afflicted states to deal with this disaster on their own. What everyone (rightly) expects is for local government to fulfill their own primary response duties. Mississippi did, Lousiana did not. There were no doubt logistical screw-ups at the federal level (don't know why one would expect otherwise from a monstrous boondoggle like Homeland Security), but, contrary to the apparent popular belief, there are no magic large-scale teleportation devices in Washington for instantaneous delivery of relief.

And you can't have it both ways. If "the military should have been in charge from Day 1" because it was an "announced" disaster, then you cannot blithely let Nagin off the hook because Katrina was "only" a Cat 3 up to 24 hours before landfall. (Cat 3s trigger evacuations elsewhere, places a hell of a lot less vulnerable than NO.) Officials in Lousiana can access NOAA and NHC forecasting as well as anyone else in the nation.

Moira Breen

My comments on the Bataan were based on articles of the Chicago Tribune and the BBC, not blogger's comments. As it seems (after further checking) they were not correct, if we believe the reply of the Pentagon at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050831_2576.html.

I don't let Nagin and Blanco off the hook. They should have handled this much better. What you fail to mention is that a voluntary evacuation was in place way before the mandatory was declared and traffic was flowing out smoothly. The mandatory evacuation (a very unusual step) was declared too late, and at that point the Superdome (poorly prepared for) was seen to be the only viable alternative. I cannot substantiate the claim that the mayor had "2000 school buses" at his disposal. We don't know how many he had, how many were working, accesible (it was Saturday/Sunday) and unclear if enough drivers were available. It is a human instinct to look after your family first so the best emergency workers are those who know their family is safe.

I will withhold my judgement on what Bush actually did in the first days. What he did in plain sight didn't look like the response of the leader of a nation that is just about to lose a city. The Vice President, who is now supposed to "kick ass" in New Orleans, was not to be seen and heard for a week, and in the darkest hour of New Orleans, the Secretary of State was shopping and laughing it up in New York. This is something that should not happen.

FEMA's response was dismal in the first days. Journalists and private recuers could get to the Superdome every day. The bridge to Gretna (not affected by the flood) was intact and dry while FEMA was "training" fully qualified fireworkers in Atlanta and impeding the Red Cross to bring relief into the city.

@ querdenker
Slowly, but surely the truth is coming out.

At least one major media outlet has finally noticed that New Orleans had an emergency response plan for hurricances and evacuations that somehow never got implemented. ABC News yesterday asked why Mayor Ray Nagin not only did not follow the plan, but actively sent non-evacuees to a site that had no preparations to handle them:

New Orleans' own comprehensive emergency plan raises the specter of "having large numbers of people … stranded" and promises "the city … will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas."

"Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves," the plan states.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, however, that plan was not followed completely.

Instead of sending city buses to evacuate those who could not make it out on their own, people in New Orleans were told to go to the Superdome and the Convention Center, where no one provided sufficient sustenance or security.

ABC also asked Governor Kathleen Blanco's office about their response to the evacuation. They responded that they never asked for evacuation assistance from the federal government as part of their interaction with FEMA, only for assistance with shelter and provisions. They assumed that the city of New Orleans had followed its own evacuation plan.

That assumption wound up costing lives. Did they ask Nagin if his administration had followed the plan, and if so, what kind of response did they get? If ABC's report is correct, then the feds may not have known of the evacuation breakdown until the flood on Tuesday made it a critical situation -- and then were forced to respond by getting the correct assets in place within 72 hours for evacuation while almost all the roads and bridges were unusable. By that time, FEMA had begun to use what roadways were left open to move in the supplies and temporary shelter they had prestaged in the area. The feds would have had to quickly shift to a massive evacuation effort instead, a difficult and time-consuming transformation.

Kudos to ABC for asking the right questions. The answers will prove very disturbing for those who want to cast blame at the feds for what eventually will prove to be a heroic response, under the circumstances. The answers ABC published already prove most of that conjecture wrong.

Nice discussion, but who wants to know the truth? What matters is that Stern has just launched a TV ad for its next issue (featuring the Katrina disaster) with the screaming headline

WHAT BUSH DID NOT WANT TO SEE!!!!!

Obviously, you don´t need details and research to get the mob to buy your stinking rag.

They are actually looking into the possibility a barge hit 1 of the levees, since that levee was recently worked on.

Via Captain's Quarters - yah-friggin'-hoo, it's about time:

ABC News yesterday asked why Mayor Ray Nagin not only did not follow the plan, but actively sent non-evacuees to a site that had no preparations to handle them:

AND

ABC also asked Governor Kathleen Blanco's office about their response to the evacuation. They responded that they never asked for evacuation assistance from the federal government as part of their interaction with FEMA, only for assistance with shelter and provisions. They assumed that the city of New Orleans had followed its own evacuation plan.

---

Polls are pretty steady, response time not W's fault.

---

Blanco really screwed the pooch on this one. She wanted to keep authority, she's got it.

Now it's really going to get politically interesting, the underclass has been disbursed throughout America, will they want to return or make a new life - possibly success life - for themselves and their families?

And will the dems pay the price in LA?

9 Things I’ve Learned About Germans

After a couple of years reading the German press and of growing increasingly dismayed by their unchecked, snide anti-Americanism, I’ve finally had it. The smugness of their 20/20 vision about Katrina makes me ill. For me it’s painfully ironic, because I am a Bush non-supporter who initially started reading the German papers because I was dissatisfied by the American press and wanted to get another viewpoint. I never dreamed I would come to regard the German press as propaganda.

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of observations and conclusions I’ve drawn about Germans. I know a lot of Germans personally, and the ones who’ve become “Americanized” are no longer like this. Others are actually very nice, but have these traits nonetheless.

Germans:

1. Think they know more about America than Americans.
2. Are deeply disturbed and confused by the fact that Americans consistently beat them economically.
3. Feel disproportionately proud if they beat us at something – sports, a business deal, etc.
4. Distain our culture, but are ecstatic if they manage to make a blockbuster movie or have a popular music group.
5. Have reframed history to the point where they now see their parents and grandparents as victims of Stunde Null, rather than perpetrators of WWII.
6. Assume that just because they are obsessed with us, we are at least somewhat interested in them. They don’t realize that they are, for the most part, completely off the radar screen.
7. If they live in America for a while, go through three phases: 1) Initial confusion about why America is so different than what they expected, 2) Struggle to come to terms with the fact that they have been fed propaganda their whole lives, and 3) Worry about having to go back.
8. Do not understand that capitalism inspires self-confidence and necessitates self-reliance, the keys to success.
9. Believe that American and Japanese tourists visit their country because of the culture – art, literature, music – in other words, they think we are interested in their intellectual achievements. They are wrong. Tourists go there because it’s a Märchenland, a fairy tale country with castles and winding medieval streets, cute little stores, and huge pretzels. It’s like going to a theme park. All of the tourists know that the real world is not like that, but the Germans don’t.

This list is by no means complete. Feel free to add to it.


What the Germans have watched, and the majority seem to have missed is this. The dems have controlled New Orleans just about forever. They know they screwed the pooch (Americanism = screwed it up badly) and decided to get out in front of the story, get out in front of the tidal wave of criticism they knew was (deservedly) heading their way. The Mayor, police chief, parish council, the Governor, 11 of 13 state representatives, a senator are all . . . democrats!!!
So they did the one thing progressive liberals do best . . . they blamed it on someone else. Clever really, but unfortunately for them it doesn't seem to be sticking.

This is another thing foreigners (Germans) often miss. The MSM ain't what it use to be! Sure they rant and rave, hold their breath and stamp their feet as they realize that their "objectively" blaming Pres Bush for all the woes in the world, once again, isn't sticking.
Unfortunately, their bias prattling and smearing in the NYTimes or Washington Post is all a foreigner can usually see, to try to understand the U.S.A.
After living in Germany for six years I would say that in ratio, a much larger percentage of the NYTimes staff hates America than do in Germany.
The most unfortunate fact is that these cramped and bitter "progressives" feed the worst fears, paranoias and caricatures of an unknowing German public.
"Vote for the incompetent one, it matters!"

Tyranno

Querdenker: "The photo of the hurricane looks very intimidating, but only the "inner circle" is able to do the big damage. The outer bands would compare to a German "Gewitterregen". I've been through a few hurricanes in the Caribbean so I'm familiar with them. One was a Cat5."

You may have been through several hurricanes, but you are dangerously mistaken about them. The "inner circle", the eye, is the MOST dangerous area, but not the only part capable of doing serious damage.

The eye is dangerous for a reason most people don't associate with storms; the difference in the air pressure between the eye and the wall of the storm (the eye itself is an area of total calm) is what does the damage. In a Cat 3 to 5 storm, as the eye passes over, this difference in pressure is enough to suddenly blow the roof off of your house. It's air pressure inside your house that does that, not high winds. In lower Cat storms, this problem can be solved by opening several widows an inch or so to relieve the interior air pressure.

But the area of severe damages depends entirely on the storm. Each tropical cyclone has its own characteristics, each as unique as a fingerprint. Some of them are noted for high winds, some for high water swells on the sea, some for heavy rains. When Hurricane Kate struck my region in 1985, she was only a Cat 2 storm, but the hundreds of tornados she spawned did enormous damage to my city (Tallahassee, Florida). We lost electrical power on most of our city grid for about a week. Some hurricanes, even some of a higher Cat than Kate was, just blow through with high winds and rain.

For major storms, people like to compare Katrina to Camille (1969). Camille was a Cat 5 storm that hit the Gulf Coast like a meat grinder. But she was a very SMALL storm... small in width, but very intense. Katrina was side-swiped by some dry air on her way in and was reduced from a Cat 5 to a 4 before she struck land, but she was 500-600 miles wide. We were getting high winds enough to blow the tops off of trees and heavy rains here in Tallahassee about 300 miles away from Katrina's eye.

Further, one "side" of the storm is worse than the other. It depends upon where you are when it hits. The side that is blowing in from the ocean, which would be the east side here in the Gulf Coast area, is the "worst" side. The reasons is that the winds pick up strength when they blow over open water, and get "dragged down" when they pass over land, so the side that is where the winds are heading from land back out to sea isn't quite as troublesome as the side where the winds are coming in from the sea.

@querdenker: "The Superdome plan wasn't the worst under the circumstances. It should have been stocked accordingly. And yes, you should expect people to bring enough food and water to last for 3 days."

QD, here's the latest, the Red Cross had supplies, food and water stockpiled, ready to take to the Superdome. The State officials denied them authorization to take the supplies in, because the State officials (after New Orleans City officials urged people to go there) didn't want to encourage people to stay in New Orleans.

New Orleans and Louisiana had plans, they didn't follow the plans.

Well this is a very good position for the spd to take about expanding big goverment.

Besides the lack of jobs, the other thing Germany lacks is more goverment. So why not expand the goverment? This would create jobs and spread social justice. Germany could have an entire section in Berlin established to deal with nothing more than hurricanes.

This new office of hurricane responce should not only make the Germans proud but also make them feel very safe.

To pay for this there could be a new tax - say something on water and sewer a couple of percentage point increase. This would be the french answer - more spending more taxes.

It really is all about social justice.

@Jabba: "QD, here's the latest, the Red Cross had supplies, food and water stockpiled, ready to take to the Superdome. The State officials denied them authorization to take the supplies in..."

Let's see... so far, we've got Gov. Blanco dithering about what to do, refusing to declare an emergency (so Bush could send in the National Guard), and now refusing to allow the Red Cross to take in relief supplies. What else did she screw up?

This is truly infuriating. If Gov. Blanco doesn't get impeached over this clusterf*ck, we can probably attribute it to her being a socialist-Democrat! The blood of thousands is on her hands!


@Ray

Comparing Katrina to Germany like you did is misleading. Germany has about 8 times the population density of the United Stated. If Katrina had hit Germany, you would need a hurricane 8 times the size of Katrina to inflict the same damage to the US.

But the Germans would have a hurricane response office to deal with this.

It would be no problem at all no matter what the size of the hurricane might be.

As for population density, that seems to be a self correcting problem in the future.

Leserin, I enjoyed your accurate and insightful list, especially number seven.

@Joe

Europe is privileged when it comes to climatic conditions. There is not such thing as hurricanes in Europe. One of the worst natural disasters ever to hit Germany was the Hamburg flooding in 1962, which was both unexpected, and extraordinarily well managed. Hamburg was lucky to have the right man at the right time in the right place. In 1977, the very same man was the crisis manger in one of most spectacular and best managed terrorist attacks ever to strike Germany. Today, Helmut Schmidt is the editor of the best German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit.

Kid Charlemagne,

Thank you!

@MaDr -
It's starting to be noticed in the USA - the pathetic "helping hand" we're getting from Germany (& Europe as a whole). The USA is there first and biggest for everyone else in the world.

I don't think there's any reason to discount what help we're getting. Given the historic precedent (e.g., only Canada shows up to help us - sometimes) it's a statement in itself that offers are arriving at all. True, no one's undertaking any sort of Herculean effort to assist in the south, but there's a little coming from lots of places. We should be grateful for all of it.


@James W. -
From what I've heard, FEMA is not designed to be a first responder. It duties are to supplement rescue and aid already on the seen. To be honest, I was only listening with one ear at the time.

Correct. When the state and local services are overwhelmed, FEMA provides federal resources to make up for what's lacking. They also coordinate between the services on the scene and the services they bring in. In New Orleans, I have the impression this was about what you'd get if you brought in S.W.A.T. to coordinate with the Keystone Kops.


@Querdenker -
the Secretary of State was shopping and laughing it up in New York. This is something that should not happen.

Katrina was not a visiting dignitary. I'm not certain what you think that the secretary of state should have been doing.

> Here’s a list I’ve compiled of observations and conclusions
> I’ve drawn about Germans

A list that fits quite nicely to Scandinavians as well.

@Leserin

Leider, leider....haben Sie nur wenig verstanden von den Deutschen.

Punkt 7 läuft ungefähr so ab:

Phase 1) Man wundert sich, warum am Flughafen in Chikago die Arbeiter die Gepäckkarren mit der Hand schieben, anstatt wie in Deutschland mit funkgesteuerten Elektrokarren

Phase 2) Bei 38 Grad Celsius Außentemperatur und mitten in der Regenzeit in Miami steigt eine Gruppe Deutscher in einen Reisebus. In dem Bus laufen alle Ventilatoren auf höchster Stufe, die Klimaanlage kühlt auf 15 Grad und ein einsamer Fernseher rauscht vor sich hin... Auf die Anforderung die Ventilatoren runter- und den Fernseher auszuschalten schaut uns der Fahrer verwundert an. Er schafft es leider nicht, die Klimaanlage auf erträgliche Temperaturen zu bringen, da er erst die Schaltung nicht findet und dann feststellt, daß sie offensichtlich nicht merhr funktioniert.

Phase 3) Mitten in der Regenzeit in einem Wassernotstandsgebiet geht um Mitternacht die Rasensprenganlage an....

Phase 4) Werden alle amerikanischen Fahrzeuge kurz vor der Verschrottung noch als Taxi eingesetzt?

Phase 5) Wie kann es sein, daß das amerkanischste aller Getränke, Coca Cola, in Key West nicht trinkbar ist, da dort der Sirup mit Leitungswasser angemischt wird, daß vor lauter Chlor in Deutschland sogar zum Wäsche waschen verboten würde?

Phase 6) Besichtigung eines Krankenhauses, in dem Sonntags die Patienten gesundgebetet werden und ein koscherer Fahrstuhl am Sonntag nicht funktioniert...

Phase 7) Wer länger als 10 Minuten auf dem Hotelflur stehen bleibt, erleidet Erfrierungen 1. Grades...In einem kleinen, fensterlosen Kabuff mit 45 Grad Raumtemperatur versucht eine Eiswürfelmaschine verzweifelt drei Eiswürfel zu kühlen...

Phase 8) Amerikanische Hamburger sind nicht größer sondern nur fetter als deutsche..

Phase 9) In ganz Amerika gibt es nur einen Salat (Ceasar Salad), nur eine Sorte Lichtschalter und Toilettenspülungen...

Phase 10) Toiletten in Restaurants und Pubs in amerikanischen Kleinstädten: Uuuuhh...

Phase 11) Endlich wieder auf dem Weg nach Hause!


Verstehen Sie mich bitte nicht falsch. Amerika hat wundervolle Landschaften und manchmal ein tolles Lebensgefühl. Aber das dichte Zusammenleben von Wahnsinn und Verschwendung macht einen krank.

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