This is about nine days too late

New Orleans Steps Up Evacuations

The trick, really, is to evacuate BEFORE a predicted, known, and visible threat hits the city. A few snippets:

Louisiana officials again accused the Bush administration of being slow to respond to the flooding of New Orleans and then trying to shift the blame to state and local governments.

Though no big fan of FEMA, I just fail to see how they can be blamed for not taking care of people post-storm after the state and local governments failed to take care of them pre-storm.

Dan Packer, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, said Sunday afternoon that he expected to bring lights to at least parts of downtown by that night. “I feel confident that a part of the central business district will be lit up tonight and the rest tomorrow,” he said. “As the city drains, we’re going to get fixing.”

If, indeed, lights burn tonight in the city, it will be quite a feat. And maybe some of the “nobody is doing anything” talk will die down a bit.

Episodes of looting, which peaked Wednesday, have dramatically diminished, as police and National Guard troops patrol the streets of the French Quarter and the business district.

Which demonstrates that all looters aren’t idiots. For what it’s worth, I DO think that the troops should have been sent in more quickly and with liberal rules of engagement. No one could do a lot about the flooding or the food shortages, but enforced law and order would have helped those trying to do what they could. A potential problem for authorities is people refusing to leave.

Some residents say they want to protect their homes. Others fear the hassles of evacuation, particularly if they have pets, which are not allowed on the evacuation buses.

People like that give actual victims a bad name.

Shawn Lazana, 36, an artist, and Kay Kennedy, 41, a writer, had been trying to stay in her uptown home when a military unit arrived with automatic weapons to evacuate them. Their street is flooded, and Lazana said he had seen the bodies of an elderly woman and a young child in the water. But they were trying to ride out the hard times so that Kennedy could continue to care for her cats, Armand and Gabriel. “We were basically forced out at gunpoint,” Lazana said.

Let me restate that: They saw a dead woman and a dead child but wanted to stay to care for cats. I see no reason to add anything.

And get this:

“They’re gonna have to leave,” New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said. “The issue of life safety is really becoming a serious issue for me,” citing the presence of toxins and bodies in the water.

That’s rich. Now he says they have to leave. The “issue of life safety is really becoming a serious issue for him“.

And finally:

Several residents said they would leave if the evacuation process promises not to be too miserable.

Because, apparently, being stranded in a city with no power, water, or food and surrounded by toxins and dead bodies isn’t miserable enough.

Let’s just keep in mind that the vast majority of the victims aren’t idiots like these morons. They’re actually deserving of our pity and our help.


  1. The Guard was there from the beginning. The Superdome was managed by the Guard. The problem with any organization is that it needs leadership. The La. Guard responded just as its commander, the governor, did, until some backbone was imported from Washington.

  2. That’s a good point Chuck, that I had sort of overlooked. Thanks for making it. What I was getting at was the anti-looting force aspect of what the Guard was doing, though they were involved all along as you pointed out. You could very well be right about them not having a real sense of what they were supposed to be doing, though. Seems to fit events.

  3. Though everyone has agreed to wait for the crisis to calm down before playing the blame game, the parking lot full of busses is recieving lots of play time. Has anyone stopped to think that those $5.00 to $7.00 dollar per hour, part time, bus drivers may have been taking care of their own families. Could you imagine thoses busses clogging up the highway during the middle of the hurricane? Command plus law and order types, fire, paramedics, etc, should have been garned outside the perimeter of the calamity and/or heading that way immediately. Even a Brigade or 2 from Fort Hood or Fort Sill would have helped.

  4. So, like you think that even though FEMA, et al, could not muster enough resources to evacuate 30,000 people in five days after the storm, somehow the mayor of New Orleans could have been able to evacuate 60,000 plus people (assuming they’d go) in the 24 hours before the storm hit?

  5. rosepetunia, Well, duh. With available unused transport (literally hundreds of buses that are now partially submerged in the Nagin Memorial Motor Pool) and undamaged roads and bridges before the storm versus damaged roads, downed bridges and massive flooding after the storm. What do you think? Besides, if the Nagin had followed New Orleans own plan, they wouldn’t have had only 20 hours to evacuate, they’d have ordered 48 hours before the storm hit. That might’ve made a big difference, don’t you think?

  6. rosepetunia: To be very clear…YES, that’s *exactly* what I think. And I think it for the reasons outlined in my posts and and by Larry.

  7. One detail overlooked: the military is restrained by law from engaging U.S. civilians without a rigorous process. The National Guard has to be federalized, then can act in specific ways under presidential order. Active duty troops are also restricted. By and large, this is a Good Thing. It prevents an enraged governor from ordering troops to open fire on every looter carrying a bottle of water for example. But it also kept troops from being even called up until an order could be issued. Once orders were issued, the military moved quickly and competently.

  8. 11Echo : Of course, one would need to bring in bus drivers and police from unaffected adjacent states or cities to pick people up and drive them out. They could be paid very well for flying in and then driving out with a busload of evacuees. That seems like the kind of thing that could be arranged with neighbouring local governments, or even without their help, fairly easily. There have to be lots of bus drivers in the USA with a spare day who would like to earn a lot of money for one or two trips. What’s more, it would have paid for itself; just the fact that the busses would have survived intact would have offset any costs associated with bringing in drivers to drive them out, not to mention the tens of thousands of people who wouldn’t have to be rescued, etc.

  9. I have a little different take on those people that do not want to evacuate. We all do many things that entail risk, be it skydiving, walking across the street outside of the crosswalk or eating ceviche. The constituition gives rights of property and freedom of movement. My feelings is if the people of New Orleans want to stay in their homes, with knowledge and acceptance of the risk, let them. Yes it is going to be a stinky, bug infested stew but immenent danger, I don’t think so. If it was that dangerous Blackwater would have to offer more than $200 a day for security guards which is their present offer.