Monday, September 05, 2005

Newsweek tries to answer "what went wrong?"

The lengthy article The Lost City tries to identify the many problems that contributed to the Katrina disaster without blaming any person or organization. Evan Thomas clearly establishes that nobody was in control, as this snippet illustrates...
The skies in New Orleans gradually filled with search-and-rescue helicopters, but there was no central command to coordinate them. A NEWSWEEK reporter on a helo flown by the Arizona Air Reserve heard this conversation as the crew readied to leave New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport after dropping off two evacuees. FIRST CREWMAN: "F---, is he hearing us?" (referring to the air-traffic controller). LIEUTENANT: "I don't know, we should just take off." ENGINEER: "We just got back from Afghanistan. Organization's a lot better there."
...but he cannot (or did not) pinpoint who should have been in charge.
Probably too early for that, anyway. As the article puts it, the failures reach "from city hall to the White House".

I think one of the peripheral problems created by the situation is a feeling of helplessness throughout the country. Disasters happen: local emergency infrastructures mobilize, and FEMA and the Red Cross will be there. That was how it always seemed to happen before. Now, the citizens of the United States are seeing in haunting, graphic images that we're all on our own now...maybe there will be help from the government...eventually...


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