Thursday, September 08, 2005


From an article in National Geographic about a year back.

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 escape it.

Thousands 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.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.

Later on...

Such high stakes compelled a host of unlikely bedfellows—scientists, environmental groups, business leaders, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—to forge a radical plan to protect what's left. Drafted by the Corps a year ago, the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) project was initially estimated to cost up to 14 billion dollars over 30 years, almost twice as much as current efforts to save the Everglades. But the Bush Administration balked at the price tag, supporting instead a plan to spend up to two billion dollars over the next ten years to fund the most promising projects. Either way, Congress must authorize the money before work can begin.


At 8:33 PM GMT-5, Blogger Cathy said...

yes, I agree; unbelievable; this is why Bush is responsible;


At 6:49 AM GMT-5, Blogger budjesmuhyawkar said...

The following news report was published by The NewStandard an independent, nonprofit news project that is in need of your support.

Since last Tuesday, the Bush administration has essentially ignored an offer from a nation experienced in disaster relief to provide doctors ready to enter hurricane-ravaged areas with backpacks and on-the-street medical skills. [HTML version]


News Report
U.S. Offers No Response to Cuban Emergency Assistance Offer
by Brendan Coyne (bio)

On Tuesday, as flood waters rose in New Orleans, a nearby nation made a unique aid offer: mobile doctors with backpacks, ready to provide medical care on the spot to hurricane survivors. The doctors would work in small teams or alone finding and treating people in need of medical care on the streets and in their houses. The offer was not immediately acknowledged openly by the Bush administration, and a week later, the offer has not been accepted.

Though apparently no final decision has been made, the United States federal government appears ready to turn down the offer of hurricane relief from the Cuba, which is world-renowned for its health-care system. Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro, said he would send 1,100 doctors to aid in relief efforts, despite the four-decade-old economic embargo the US maintains against the tiny island nation. The first doctors could have begun arriving the day after an acceptance from the US.

The Cuban-trained doctors would be sent in three waves over three days, with each group carrying small packs with medical and diagnostic supplies to enable them to move into ravaged areas and treat people immediately, Fidel Castro explained in a speech Friday.

Sunday, the US Department of State announced it would accept relief offers from a number of nations, but it did not acknowledge the Cuban offer. Tuesday, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters that the US was unlikely to accept the assistance after the Department of Health and Human Services determined that volunteering US doctors would be able to handle the load. More than 12,000 US doctors have volunteered so far, the Associate Press reports today.

Cuban Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jose Luis Ponce told the AP that his nation had not received an official response to their offer. State Department executive secretary Harry K. Thomas Jr. will address international aid offers at an off-camera, on-the-record briefing today, the State Department said. On Sunday the United Nations announced that the US had finally accepted its offer of assistance from several UN agencies highly experienced in disaster relief.

In a statement Friday, Castro outlined a plan that included immediately flying 100 medical professionals to Houston or another nearby city, and then transporting them to New Orleans where they would work in small teams or alone to provide medical care to people suffering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Over the next two days, Castro proposed, Cuba would send two more teams of 500 similarly equipped doctors to the US. The workers would remain, "as long as is necessary," Castro said, and were proficient enough in English to communicate with patients.

According to the statement, Castro originally offered assistance last Tuesday, but did so through back channels due to the adversarial relationship the US and Cuba have endured since a communist revolution swept Castro into power more than 40 years ago. The US has maintained a crippling economic embargo against Cuba, which until recently, included medical supplies.

The restated offer from Castro came about after the State Department thanked a number of nations for offering aid but failed to include Cuba, Castro said.

Like most Caribbean nations, Cuba has extensive experience dealing with the fallout from hurricanes. Earlier this year, following the $1.4 billion in damage Hurricane Dennis caused the island nation, the United States proposed sending Cuba $50,000 in aid through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A number of groups criticized the amount of assistance offered as too little, and Castro opted to decline.

In the past, Cuba has sent medical brigades to other hurricane-ravished countries. For instance, following Hurricane Mitch and Hurricane Georges in 1998, Cuba sent medical relief teams to Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and other hard-hit nations.


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At 7:07 AM GMT-5, Blogger the prisoner said...

Good article, Mr. K. As for blaming Bush alone for this, that is ridiculous. Although I agree the federal response was painfully slow and funding cuts earlier reduced the potential resource pool, Mr. Bush alone should not take the blame.

I believe that state and city authorities need to assess not only the safety standards of NOLA, but also the thousands of poor that were left behind. New Orleans is the quintessential city of the "have"s and "have-not"s, where the wealthy simply ignore the poor around them.

That must be addressed in a future, rebuilt New Orleans.


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