these lines from a "‘what if" piece in
the National Geographic of October, 2004:
the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more
than a million people evacuated to higher ground.
Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the
homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard
New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a
storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear
warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake
Pontchartrain. The water crept to the top of the
massive berm that holds back the lake and then
spilled over. Nearly 80 percent of New Orleans lies
below sea level—more than eight feet below in
places—so the water poured in. A liquid brown wall
washed over the brick ranch homes of Gentilly, over
the clapboard houses of the Ninth Ward, over the
white-columned porches of the Garden District, until
it raced through the bars and strip joints on
Bourbon Street like the pale rider of the
Apocalypse. As it reached 25 feet (eight meters)
over parts of the city, people climbed onto roofs to
drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated
by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who
survived the flood later perished from dehydration
and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took
two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big
Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment,
a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were
dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the
history of the United States .”
was written a year ago. You see, we did know.
We’ve known it was coming for years.
Big Easy is being buried now under a blanket of
this from a Sept. 4, 2005 Chicago Tribune piece:
federal and state emergency planners scramble to get
more military relief to Gulf Coast communities
stricken by Hurricane Katrina, a massive naval
goodwill station has been cruising offshore,
underused and waiting for a larger role in the
USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch
Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters,
doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can
make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And
it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when
Katrina came roaring ashore.
Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it
toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter
pilots flying from its deck were some of the first
to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents.
now the Bataan 's hospital facilities, including six
operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are
empty. A good share of its 1,200 sailors could also
go ashore to help with the relief effort, but they
haven't been asked. The Bataan has been in the
stricken region the longest of any military unit,
but federal authorities have yet to fully utilize
this from an Associate Press piece of September 7,
top U.S. disaster official waited hours after
Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast before he
proposed to his boss sending at least 1,000 Homeland
Security workers into the region to support
rescuers, internal documents show.”
did the best we could? That’s a lie. We did not do
the best we could. The federal response to this
disaster was a tragedy of incompetence.
Public Radio reported on Wednesday of this week that
a FEMA plane carrying injured victims of Katrina to
Columbia , S.C., landed in Charleston , W.Va.
administration failed us—and thousands of
Americans died as a result of that failure.
there will be hearings and inquiries. There will be
commissions of one sort or another. We had those
after 9/11, remember? What was that conclusion?
the government there were failures of imagination,
policies, capabilities, and management. The
most important failure was one of imagination.”
of Americans died as a result of those failures,
too. Was there any accountability? Were there any
firings? Any charges filed?
we got Homeland Security, a new federal agency with
180,000 employees and a $40 billion budget, an
agency that waited five days to respond to
Katrina--five days during which Americans died for
lack of a 90-cent bottle of water.
the effort to respond to this disaster had matched
the effort underway to cloak what happened in a Big
Lie, many of these poor people would still be alive
and I wouldn’t be writing this column.
September 19, 2005