Monday, September 05, 2005

The wrath of Katrina and the failure of government

More grim news. The death toll in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast will be in the thousands, and it may take weeks or months before anything resembling a firm figure is reached. Here are three informative articles in The New York Times, The Times-Picayune, and the Toronto Star.

From the Times, putting it all in perspective:

Seven days after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the New Orleans known as America's vibrant capital of jazz and gala Mardi Gras celebrations was gone. In its place was a partly submerged city of abandoned homes and ruined businesses, of bodies in attics or floating in deserted streets, of misery that had driven most of its nearly 500,000 residents into a diaspora of biblical proportions.

And, if I may expand upon a recent post, here's more on Bush and the incompetence of the government:

The administration's problems in the crisis seemed to crystallize in a dramatic appearance on the NBC program "Meet the Press" by Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish near New Orleans. Sobbing, he told of an emergency management official receiving phone calls from his mother, who, trapped in a nursing home, pleaded day after day for rescue. Assured by federal officials, the man promised her repeatedly that help was on the way.

"Every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?' " Mr. Broussard said. "And he said, 'Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you.' Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday. And she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night."

Mr. Broussard angrily denounced the country's leadership. "We have been abandoned by our own country," he said. "It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area, and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now."

Congress, returning from a summer recess, is widely expected to undertake investigations into the causes of and reaction to the crisis, and even some Republicans warned that the government's response, widely viewed as slow and ineffectual, could further undermine Mr. Bush's authority at a time when he is lagging in the polls, endangering his Congressional agenda.

Yes, we need those investigations. We need to know what went wrong and what could have been done better. And what could be done next time to prevent a similar tragedy.

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