I'm out here on the central plains and we've got everything but the hurricanes.
We've been known to get the exceedingly rare and usually "Huh really? There was an earthquake" tremor (very, very low on the rictor scale but there is a *major* if largely inactive fault line right through the midsection of the US. About once a year, maybe twice we'll have a report that there was a 2.1 or something really puny, tremor) A noticable quake, let alone a *major* quake has never happened in recorded history, but the possibility is there.
Boy do we have tornados. The most "recent" major tornados disasters of scale in my memory was Grand Island NE sometime in the mid 80's got hit with 8-10 tornados in one night. Cousin lost their home then. And Hallum NE last year, which was literally leveled. Those stand out in my mind but tornados are very common occurences out here. Storm starts brewing you turn on the news and start watching the sky. And our storm chasers here are *volenteer* other than county PDs, as are our rural fire depts, majority of emts sandbaggers etc. We've got floods and the occasional ice jam trouble. Platte, Loup, Republican, Niobrara, Missouri they're all good for that. Deadly flash flooding several "creeks" which often are nothing more than muddy ditches until a storm hits. The Blue River. which in places is an utterly dry ditch about a foot or so wide, it mostly runs under ground. WHen it floods badly every 30-50 years it is absolutely deadly. My mom's cousin was caught and killed in the Blue flash flooding in 63. We get our occasional massive blizzard, even more commonly in recent years ice storms that take out power, phones and heat.
My biggest beefs start with the local levels...because for petes sake you *know* you're going to get at least a minor hurricane *every year* there should be high-ground at least somewhat stocked shelters all around the area and every time a storm comes near the Gulf they should take a minute of every dang local news cast to *remind* people of this.
Before the levee broke they were out partying "See we're fine" some reports are saying that LA's gov turned down help, didn't allow help in place before hand as a "just in case measure" and reports that the initial after Katrina hit, before the levees, that Lousianna turned down help *again* then so what (seems to be little) was set to go initially I'm assuming went to Mississippi and Alabama where you don't here quite the nightmare of New Orleans, though Gulfport got hammered horribly as did Biloxi and through there.
FEMA has truly dropped the ball. Our National Village Idjit seems to be trying in his ineffective and bass-ackwards way to get things going. But he's him, and no one else seems any more together. *shakes head*
The original organization and preparedness in New Orleans is just continuing right up the ladder and even what's coming in FEMA, Nat. Gaurds etc all defer to the local and state govs as to "where do you want us" "What should we do first" "Where are your most desperate folks likely to be" (certainly that's the way every disaster in this area has ever gone)
Here--if we had flood or tornado. Any one that could volenteer, had any sort of useful skill--would be. And not just the adults, the older kids that are big enough to have some muscle to haul a sandbag say 13-14 on up.
the ones that are trying, the agencies that are trying or waiting on "Where the hell do we go with what we got" *shakes head*
*nod* Ah the most recent batch of really horrible tornados recently in my memory is Oklahoma just a couple years ago. We sent a fair amount of stuff up for that one. I was living in North Dallas. Damn near took at the air force back in OKC where some friends of mine were stationed at the time. We had a few smaller tornados down in Texas that were more or less a part of the same system that went through. I believe my brother in law was called into the hospital to do a fair smattering of emergency blood donation too since he is O neg. He and my sister in law went to college at ACU.
Flash flooding is pretty scary. I've seen it happen a fair bit both in New Mexico and Texas. It is stunning to watch those normally dry structures turn into very effective means of water containment with no warning. The arroyo system in Albuquerque is so effective you just don't think about it other then to tell your kids not to play over there cause a flash flood could take them away.
I worked relief tables as a kid for Hurricane Andrew and a few other hurricanes when I lived in Florida. (I slept through Hurricane Bob (?) when it hit Hanscom AFB as my introduction to hurricanes as a natural weather disaster. I was little, the basement couch was comfortable, what can I say.) You can't always do much, but a little bit from a lot of people helps a lot. It is like sandbagging. One individual is pretty ineffective, a whole crew on the other hand can really get some work done. You just don't think about it, you go where they need you and do what needs to be done. It doesn't matter if you are just a kid if you can hold the bag open and tie it closed, that is enough to help get the job done.
I'm with you on the disgust with everyone from local officials on up. The screw ups start at the state level and just get compounded by the federal level as they get there. As for our village idiot, I'm starting to think Elgoose and Laughingrat are right, he is a narcassist. I didn't vote for him either time. I've met the man and I'm not impressed. I could scream for the things he has done to my party.
I don't think the media is really helping anything though. They are getting the stories out and making people aware of the situation, but there is something to be said for stepping back a bit and letting people regroup. I'm a doozer, I want to do things and raising awareness isn't my idea of doing something.
Part of the problem there is a failure of leadership. There isn't anyone who's stepped up to the plate and ordered things get done. FEMA sure as hell dragged their feet. It's Friday, and they finally got supplies in.
The Mayor, Ray Nagin, he did a lot of flailing about. We haven't heard from Aaron Broussard or Harry Lee in days. The governor, Blanco, she hasn't done a damn thing. The head of Homeland Security didn't even know there were people in the Convention Center, dying or not. There has been no Guiliani for this.
An unfortunate point. Those supplies should have been there sooner. It just makes me cringe to think about it all. Do you know if you still have a house?
2005-09-02 08:28 pm (UTC)
tornados, blizzards and volcanos!
Tornado alley also extends into part of Illinois, i'm on the cusp of it. a few tornados are year are not uncommon here, and we've had some bad ones. The interior of the house is used if you do not have a basement. if you have a house here yoou usually have a basement and thats the place to go.
Living here you can almost FEEL when conditions are right for a tornado. Also, yu don't always have much if anywarning- if the tornado forms over/near your town, boom, you're sort of the warning for the next town over. We sometimes get microbursts too that aren't tornados, they just come straight down of the air and latten things like the proverbial hand of g*d. We get it down to getting the family/pets into the basement as FAST as you can- becuase sometimes you literally have no time.
Blizzards aren't just difficult driving around in- an ill prepared city can be shut down for days, or a prepared one but faced with a very strong blizzard can be shut down for days. alot of people die,and it is often thepoor and disabled. if youre on medicaid for instance, your prescriptions wont be filled until 24 hrs before you run out. If that coincides with a blizzard, you get forced off your meds for days. If ambulances cant reach you because of the snow--- well you see the problem. And then there's heat or lack there of. Either b/c peopel can't afford it, or because theutils go out (or last major snowstorm in the 90's knocked out electric, gas and phone for over 3 days where we lived, and we were snowed in with no way to get t stores etc - it was worse elsewhere). you always hear cases on the news of ppl who die b/c of the cold or medical things, but its just mentioned in passing and people i think dont really think about it untilthey are in the situation where they realise how precarious things can be
One thing you didn't mention was Volcanos (northwest and hawaii). Look at Mt Ranier and the towns that have sprung up around that area. most peopple think volcano = lava and this is true andcan be a deadly horrible disaster (eg Mt St Helens). However, people don't often think of Lahars, which can move faster and flow more "liquidy". Ranier can easily produce another Lahar- its produced many and Pugent Sound area which has been built up very quickly, withhundreds of thousands of residents, is in fact on a lahar. They're also in a alley with limitted exit routes. they're 'plan' is to 'go to high ground'- butthat means going up the sides of valleys- finding a tall building will not work. That also means you need to have access to a car ASAP. and can you imagine the traffic- that won't be running from hurricane that you've daysnotice for, Thepeople of Orting will be lucky to have THIRTY MINUTES TO EVACUATE. Many towns are between orting and Pugent sound - if it reaches PS, they'll be luckyto have had 45-60 minutes to get out. Its not going to happen.
i cant imagine that. I can deal w. tornados and having a couple minutes noticeand hunkering down in the basement, becuase you still have a good chance to survive. There is NO hunkering down when a 30-ft wall of scalding hot mud is crashing toward you.
2005-09-02 09:20 pm (UTC)
Re: tornados, blizzards and volcanos!
Tornado alley is defined as just those four states, stupid as that sounds. I've actually seen more tornados elsewhere, mostly because I was inside when the sirens went off in Texas. In reality, I can't think of a single place here that doesn't get the occasional tornado.
Blizzards are dangerous for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I haven't lived in the north of the country since I was a young child so I have forgotten a number of things about them. Thanks for bringing those points up.
You are quite right, I forgot all about the volcanos which is very silly of me since I used to live right next to five dormant volcanos in Albuquerque. I knew I was forgetting something major that happens regularly. Pretty much with a volcano, if its going to go you are most likely screwed. I would not want to contend with a volcano, I'll take the rest of the country instead. *shudder*
2005-09-02 09:32 pm (UTC)
Re: tornados, blizzards and volcanos!
did they change it or something when i was in hs, in earth science class, i remember they had a map with a big red sort of a rectable across the middle, covering mainly those states but extending into a few others, andthat was what waslabelled as T.A. i they've changed it i didnt know. our teacher used to like to scare us w. things like our proximity to the new madrid fault line, microbursts that can just come out of nowhere and squish you and survivor tales of what its like to be struck by lightening, etc..
yeh, i figure, all things cnsidered, its not too bad here. i personalyl can deal with blizzards. im not afraid rely of tornados. (i do worry about Bugland and meds ia medicaid though). i wouldnt mind earthquakes, if i lived on a *farm* but i would never live in a city near a fault line.
2005-09-02 10:17 pm (UTC)
Re: tornados, blizzards and volcanos!
I think they did because I remember that big trapazoid thing too. I looked it up again just for this post and that is what I found. They called that small part tornado alley and the rest a regular tornado zone. My source could be wrong, the other still makes more sense to me.
I think you have a very legit worry about his meds. He needs them. Medicaid isn't that great a system at providing for its patrons. I've read a few of his rants on the subject.
I'll live wherever we need to to keep the family afloat. We have things worked out so that I don't have to work and can do all the things with the kiddo. Being aware of the hazards that come with living some place is only sensible.
interesting, i've never given much thought to how relatively stable europe is in this regard, or more to the point, how UNSTABLE the US can be just due to natural disasters. and we really do deal with alot of it. so much so that only the biggest occurences really garner attention, because otherwise we'd be worrying about it all the time. you start to 'get used to' the smaller, less disastrous events.
another thing...you say we'd like to think we'd be 'better' in this situation...i think that's an arrogant way to think. it doesn't matter where in the world this happens. it would happen the same way in NYC or LA or houston or chicago. people would be panicking. many people try to handle it as best as possible, but right now survival instinct is taking over. don't doubt the same scene would play out anywhere in the world under these cirumstances. people are people are people. i think i'd probably be one of those people screaming at others, if not getting into fights, because i know i have a bad temper. >.>
When I say better, I mean purely as human beings without regard to race, ethnicity, country or creed, both in the US and abroad. I want to believe good things about people all over the world. I don't think it is arrogant so much as hopeful, but once order breaks down it takes a lot of work and cooperation to rebuild it. The people in New Orleans right now have been failed, badly, and they are reacting.
I know where I'd be, heads down somewhere with my kid doing whatever I could to shelter him and looting for food and drink. I think that is what most parents are trying to do really, keep their kids safe and hope help arrives soon or trying to help themselves. Read the articles I linked too as well in the second half. One is ranty yes, but it does have some excellent points. The second also has a few very valid points to consider about the situation as well.
oh yeah, i know what you mean, but it becomes one of those 'lord of the flies,' 'heart of darkness' scenarios. i think we'd all like to assume that people are going to make the best of any situation, but i think everyone has a breaking point. it's a different level for everyone, and perhaps there are some true saints who would always turn the other cheek. but i think it's a matter of relative morals. how many people would choose 'not stealing' over 'we haven't eaten in almost a week, so it's every man for himself'? when people feel, whether correctly or not, that their survival is at stake, instincts take over. and when a large group of people goes into survival mode, it can get ugly. i guess my point is, it's a universal part of being human. civilization and rules and ethics keep us working together on a regular basis, but when the entire foundation of a community falls apart, the gut reaction is to go into survival mode. civilization and community are not the natural state of things. your social needs and respsonsibilites can easily go out the window when you've got basic survival and safety needs that are not being met.
I would not wait a week. Three days without water is the longest you can live without dying of dehydration. In that heat, you won't last three days. There is a difference between taking the necessities because you honestly need them and taking fancy electronics because you can. I can see a case for taking radios and batteries of all sorts just so you know what is going on if you can get a signal from anywhere.
We can discuss states of nature for weeks on end, but we won't get anywhere. My ethics classes have proved that at least to me.
true dat. there's a reason psychology and philosophy are such wide fields...no one really has all the answers.
Thanks for an excellent discussion -- don't have anything particular to add, but it's good.
Just trying to put some perspective on it for the people outside the US who don't have to deal with this sort of thing so often. Most of the rants and such from the US just don't make as much sense without the cultural perspective.
I just talked to a dear friend of mine who did the computer models for the Army Corps of Engineers in 2002. He says he is amazed the city faired so well. Thank God, he's safe with his girlfriend and her family. They went east and got hit anyway, but it was a cat 1 when it got to them.
I've been reading about the New Orleans disaster potential all my life, and here in Georgia, near Atlanta, we have tornadoes mostly, but many people have flooding problems, made much worse by over construction and paving everything in sight.
There were cerainly a multitude of things that were handled poorly or not at all in New Orleans, and I agree with your astute assessment. Perhaps the biggest shame of it all is the missed opportunities to take preventative measures before the storm hit (it seems that there were at least two days in ehich people were sure that New Orleans would be hit. That time could have been spent bussing people out to safety and provisioning the Superdome to handle last-minute refugees. People have been dying in that building because they have no access to medication which to me is heartbreaking. People dying in their homes waiting for someone to rescue them is also heartbreaking but not as unexpected because they are widely scatteres and nobody is sure who is still in those houses. From the news reports many survivors are on the brink of a full scale riot due to the horrendous conditions.
It's so very frustrating because there seems to be so little to do about it now. The relief efforts are hampered by the fact that the city has been made inaccessible due to the flooding. IMHO the first refugees to the Superdome should have been the first bussed out, along with the sick and elderly, but it looks as if that did not happen. There really doesn't seem to be any choice but to evacute almost all of the city's citizens until the flooding is controlled and the infrastructure restored but where on earth do you house that many people in any amount of comfort for what might be a month (or more)?
Food and water have finally made it to the evacuation centers. The fact is they should have gotten the flooding taken care of sooner rather then later because that would have prevented so much of this. There was time, there were opportunities, and they weren't taken.
How bad do you think the final investigations into what went wrong will be? If he could be reelected, I'm sure this mess would have prevented W from reelection. I somehow don't think the gov of LA will be reelected either. The mayor might, but he's the only one.
I highly doubt that the governor of LA has a snowballs chance of getting re-elected. This would also have hamper Bush's bid had he been eligible for it (the republicans' chances in 2008 may suffer still, though a lot can happen in that amount of time). The mayor of New Orleans has probably gained a lot of support from his impassioned pleas for immediate and drastic action. The investigations are going to be awful but ultimately will probably yeild little resolution. To me it seems that the situation was mis-handled from the beginning- decades before Katrina to be honest. New Orleans was betting a lot that no hurricanes worse than a level three would hit and the city and its people lost the bet in as bad a way as possible. It's gut-wrenching in the extreme to see people suffer and die when things could have been done to prevent at least some of the damage and death.
I'm more trying to give perspective than opinion. My friends list has a lot of Americans who are mad as hell at the so called people in charge in LA many of whom I agree whole heartedly with and just as many who I disagree with. I also have several people on my list who have never once even visited the US and they don't quite understand why we are so mad about this. It would be extremely hard for you to picture London under water, but the area has a simillar population size to London propper, plus a few suburbs. There were 1.3 million people in the greater New Orleans area. London propper had 768k in the 2001 census. The people who could not get out, mostly because it was get out on your own dime and pay for everything yourself, number somewhere just over 100k. Over all, that is a lot fewer then 10% of the population stayed behind. It would have been preventable with better evacuation procedures.
Suffice to say, this one will have a full investigation into why things went so poorly and it won't be a pretty one. The head of FEMA who was shooting his mouth off, the governer of LA, and the pres as well as anyone else who drug their feet on accepting help and organizing it all propperly, should be marched through down town NO and pelted with rotten eggs and then forced to sit in the sun for several hours.
< angry rant >
Okay so I've been avoiding discussing this in LJ because I had whining bitching. Angry bitching is all well and good but I don't think my mind can fully wrap around what's happened in New Orleans. I sit at work everyday and I actively go read the news. I haven't actively sought out and read the news since September 11th, I just really hate inundating myself with such depressing things I suppose. And all we'll talk about at work is NO so sufficing to say, when I get home, last thing I want to do is make an emo-y post on LJ about how horrible things are. I live in Houston and on Monday, my ass is going to be going down there to the Astrodome and I'm going to help because that's the right thing to do, period, the end. I'd go sooner but rent has to be met this month or I'll find myself homeless..^^; So sufficing to say, myself and hundreds of other people are going to go help these people because, to take a page out of Pete Wisdom's book o knowledge, it needs doing.
I have been hungry in my time, I have been without a home but in all the minor travails of my life I have never had to sit back and watch my life and all I've worked for blow away or be lost beneath swirling flood waters. I can imagine how horrible things have been for these people but I'd be wrong. I wouldn't even scratch the surface and so when people like Bush turn around and say they're not going to forgive the people looting and breaking the law in NO, that is when my temper hits the roof. Because if I hear one more pampered rich white person whine about how they're all breaking the law and how it's all their fault the rescue efforts are falling behind, I'll probably throw something at them. Because you know what, if me and my family was stuck there and my family was dying of hunger, thirst and the need of basic medical supplies, fuck that, I'd loot too. Where's a bloody store open for them to BUY the things they need!? I duuno, I'd had this conversation a lot in the past five days and you know what, every single time someone at work or my friends get all huffy and uppity about how they're looting there I tell them to just stop and try and put themselves in the shoes of the people who have to watch their grandparents and children die right before their eyes because they can't get drinking water to buy or food for them. I dunno, I guess I fall under the general label of people disgruntled and pissed off about how everyone has fucked this up left and right. And this is only in New Orleans, don't even get my started on how they're not even mentioning the people dying in MI and other parts of LA gragh....
</ angry rant >
I understand wanting to avoid this discussion on LJ. I find a lot of it on here because it is just so upsetting to people.
The only looters I have a problem with are the ones being foolish and taking electronics, not including radios, and other items that have no immediate lifesaving use. Heck, I can even see clean clothing as something you can make a case for a pressing need for that would require such measures. Everything was written off when the evacuation order was given, it isn't like the stores are losing all that much more money.
One point that I read on th eWashingtonpoast.com site was that there WAS water in the city in case of disaster, but that the winds smashed the building where it was being housed and it became contaminated. Also the reason that communications were down was not only because of lack of batteries but because the towers were all blown down.
My question is - Where were the satelite phones? Why didn't at least the critical organizations - the police, firefighters and ambulance personnel have reliable communication? I can't believe that no one thought about that.
I have no answers, just a lot of questions simillar to yours. All I know for a fact is that this could have been handled much much better. I may be biased by my background as a military brat, but this seems wrong beyond any yardstick of wrong I've ever had before.
Coming from someone who's not living in U.S, this is a good discussion you've made. I've seen news reports about this whole hurricane Katrina and I see it's a mess thinking that the government should have taken some action quickly. Looking at those dead bodies that are just scattered around (and from what I've seen in Fox news, the reporter was asking some officials who's responsible for getting those no one would answer.)
You know wildfires, earthquakes, land slides, flash floods, and tidal waves are all too common here. We have volcanoes - now here's a start... we do have lots of inactive volcanoes today but we have 24 very active ones... If you can remember Mt. Pinatubo being one of the worst volcanic erruption, and some other active ones to the point that everyday you get to see smoke rising at its crater.
But unlike U.S. that doesn't get hit always by hurricanes (or in our case we call them typhoons), we're always hit by a typhoon on an average of 20 and sometimes it reaches up to 30. So we're all to used to the idea of it hitting us.
I guess what I'm trying to point out is that people there didn't face it like we do. Floods like that is a natural occurrence, people don't go to fits of depression, and actions to give donated goods and clothes are given to people fast.
All in all I just wish that they can fix it fast so that it's all back to normal. And yes Mother Nature does gives us a lot of trouble these days. And I believe she's telling us a lot and we should pay attention to it.
Part of the problem is that the governments should have acted more quickly, your impressions are quite correct in that. One of the things that they aren't really stating is that there is also a well known problem in Lousianna with coruption. A good portion of the money that was meant to be spent on those levees actually went into people's pockets. The mafia has long operated pretty freely in New Orleans and the rest of the state as well.
It just makes the problem more complex. The people who are corrupt have in essence sabatoged some of the defenses the city should have had. It will take a very long time and a fair bit of research to fully understand the hows and whys of this particular disaster, but it will be known eventually.
Mt. Pinatubo I remember because of the US Airforce base that got caught out by that erruption. Many of the people who were stationed there were reassigned to Homestead AFB in south Florida, just north of Miami. Just as they were finally getting settled after having lost everything, they got hit by Hurricane Andrew. I was at Patrick AFB which is where the hurricane was supposed to have hit and where I worked the relief tables as a preteen.
Also, we do get hit by a number of huricanes each year. Somewhere around six with significant wind speeds. Anything below a catagory three is barely worth worrying about. Its the bigger storms that we find dangerous. The current reseach I've seen suggests that we are just comming out of a lull in the storm cycle.
The truth is that all of those disasters that I listed are common. Usually, we get in see what the damage is, make preparations, and then fix everything back up to normal as quickly as possible. What we have all witnessed in this case is anything but typical. Its the fact it is so far from typical that has us all so upset.
We do have a few legal issues that have to be ironed out when it comes to natural disasters and federal help cleaning them up. The first issue is the governer of the state has to request it from the President. The answer is nearly always yes, I can't think of a single instance of a "no" being given. Now, usually that process is gone through before the huricane has even passed through, often before it has even hit a particular area. Without the request, the federal government's hands are tied. A second legal issue is that the mayor of any given city will not have the same powers as the mayor of another city. It all depends on how the city was set up. I don't know how New Orleans' local government was set up, but the mayor may not have had all that much in the way of real power, or he may have and didn't exercise it correctly.
We move around a lot in the US. I have family in six different states for example and I'm from a small family. Families living multiple generations in one small area do happen, but they aren't anywhere near as common as they are in the rest of the world. So we have a lot of people educated in one area of the country coming to live and work in another area. That right there is part of the problem with the education of the citizens to the hazards where they live.
It won't be fixed fast in New Orleans, but it will be back to normal soon. Its just a matter of time. There are good reasons to rebuild the city and some really stupid ones too. It may not be as big or in quite the exact same place, but the city will be restored.