Monday, September 12, 2005

Contra BBC/Guardian

Jack Kelly, quoting some people who should presumably know, bucks the received wisdom on Katrina disaster relief:

Journalists who are long on opinions and short on knowledge have no idea what is involved in moving hundreds of tons of relief supplies into an area the size of England in which power lines are down, telecommunications are out, no gasoline is available, bridges are damaged, roads and airports are covered with debris, and apparently have little interest in finding out.

So they libel as a "national disgrace" the most monumental and successful disaster relief operation in world history.

Worth a read.

(form Powerline)


Anonymous tired & excitable said...

Also worth remembering that all emergency preparedness plans warn residents to stock up with food and water good for at least 72 hours because of the unavoidable chaos and delays following wholesale damage to infrastructure.

This simple common sense -- lost on most Eastern media in the US and quite beyond the ken of Brit media -- is well known (I would say, nearly universally known and widely followed) to residents of California.

It is, of course, beyond fathoming to BBC idealogues such as the one-handed-typist Wells, pounding away in his friend's condo in Santa Monica, or to copy-and-paste "artistes" like Reynolds.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

The consensus opinion that's gathering among observers and public officials in the field (on the ground, helping relief efforts, recovering their own property) is that every government agency screwed up, local, state, and federal.

There has been some explanation for the federal mismanagement: FEMA was brought into the Dept. of Homeland Security after 9/11, and since then its focus was shifted to dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist attack, and de-emphasizing dealing with a natural disaster. It's still part of the mission of the agency, but the focus on natural disaster recovery and relief which used to characterize the agency has been lost.

What's unfortunate is that FEMA was basically the first responder in this disaster, since the state and local levels were derelict in their duties. Even before it was folded into the Dept. of Homeland Security, FEMA was not designed for this. It's having to redesign its bureaucratic structure on the fly.

What I've been hearing about lately, from eyewitness accounts from public officials, is that agencies at all levels, local, state, FEMA, and even FEMA-affilliated relief organizations, like the Red Cross, have been getting into "turf battles" with each other in the relief efforts. They have literally been battling each other over who has control of relief resources, and where they go, even commandeering local resources, owned by municipalities, without their consent. This has really been tragic. It's preventing aid from getting to people as efficiently as it otherwise would.

Volunteer-based, ad hoc relief groups have been having better success getting relief supplies in to those who need it desparately. What's unconscionable is that the relief agencies have actually been trying to intefere in the volunteer relief shipments, trying to get them to leave, and not deliver their goods. They keep telling them "we don't need this stuff," even though when the relief groups communicate with those in need, they say "YES WE DO!!" The reason that's been surmised from this behavior is that the bureaucracies consider certain areas of the city to be theirs, like they own it. They don't take kindly to outsiders trying to come in and do their own thing. It's almost total bureaucratic detachment at work.

The new head of FEMA sounds like a good guy though (Brown resigned yesterday). Hopefully he will stop this, and get the bureaucracies focused on helping the people.

Having said all this, by all accounts, the National Guard has been doing an exemplary job. It's the one government agency that's been doing its job effectively and really helping the people.

9:15 AM  

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