a state of devastation

That’s how the Mayor of New Orleans described the scene as flood levels continue to rise, with 80% of the city already under water. The BBC also report that heavily armed police have been trying to impose a form of martial law to stem outbreaks of looting and that the stadium where 20,000 people were taking refuge is being evacuated. Fuller coverage can be found at, New Orleans newspaper, Times-Picayune website, as the media switches to the web. Also worth reading this Washington Post report on the situation, and this one on the massive relief effort ahead.

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53 thoughts on “a state of devastation”

  1. OK.

    Can someone explain why the links I put up were removed?
    I thought they perfectly illustrated the inherrant racism in some sections of the media.
    Please, I would appreciate an explanation as to why they were removed.

  2. I didn’t see the comments that were removed, but I understand they were removed under the heading of ‘taste and decency’, and insensitivity towards the circumstances of the flooding in Louisiana. Apparently, it was off topic too.

  3. No heavily armed police enforcing anything like that. Search and rescue and a futile attempt to stop looters. Can’t do anything with them anyway. I say shoot them if they loot private homes. BTW the Dems have continued to try and blame this on the Bush administration, rather than assist their communities.

  4. Bob,

    I’m over here in the USA (currently getting rained on by the remnants of Katrina), and I haven’t heard/seen any Democrats blaming the Bush administration for the hurricane. Can you give me a link to a news article that supports your contention?

  5. OK.

    I thought the topic was the flooding and the immediate aftermath of the same.

    I linked to two photographs from Associated press.

    One photograph showed a young black kid wading through the waters with a pack of nappies (diapers).
    The text said he had looted the goods from a local grocery store.

    the second photo was identical, but instead of a young black kid, it was a couple of white people with a loaf of bread.The text said that they had found the bread at a local grocery store.

    Since this thread mentions martial law, it seemed entirely relevant to highlight the media hypocrisy in reporting the two incidents.

  6. Bob,

    Yeah, that was a loopy tirade by RFK, jr. Our US Senator, Chuck Schumer, has joined in bi-partisan efforts to alleviate the situation.

  7. Alan,
    Amen. We, as a good country, have to marshall our efforts towards kindness and support. The bad guys must be dealt with swiftly and harshly, so we can rescue, and revive, the good people suffering from this catastophe. Race and politics have no place in this situation. Kindness, not weakness, will save this day.


  8. Alan and Bob

    RFK, Jr. may well be a registered Democrat (for voting purposes), but he is not a politician — and certainly not a recognized voice of the Democratic Party in the US. He is a concerted environmentalist, whose commitments and efforts (political and otherwise)are more Green than anything. His opinion in this instance, whether you agree with it or not, is driven by his root environmentalism, not his genetic association with mainstream politics.

  9. Criticism of the Bush administration is quite justifiable in these circumstances. During 2003, $70m of funding which had been earmarked for flood prevention in the state was cut. It’s pretty obvious where the funds were redirected. It’s best left an exercise for the reader (or voter) at home to decide whether or not the money was well spent.

    In a society where free speech is the accepted norm, it is generally considered normal for people to criticise decisions made by government which turn out to be incorrect. It’s disturbing how some people seem to have problems with this in the US.

  10. If you insist on such a juvenile approach to the world around you, Bob, the ‘bad guys’ are those at the top, who have looted the american public to finance an illegal and immoral war. Line them up, I say. And start with the CiC if you can get him back from his holidays. How is it that the richest country on the face of the earth could not have put together a small pittance to organize transportation out of the danger area for the poor left behind? (Oh, and load the shotguns when they scavenge through the wreckage for the means of survival). Isn’t it a reasonable assumption that the human toll is far higher than it might have been partly because so much of the National Guard, which otherwise would have assumed a prominent role in helping the effort, is deployed half way around the world fighting an imperialist war?

    Race and politics have no place in this catatrophe? Are you joking? Is it sheer coincidence that so many of those left behind are poor and black? There are two catastrophes underway: the first is a ‘natural’ one in some sense, although the extreme weather is at least partly attributable to the environmental crisis Bush and his friends in the energy industry are determined to deny; the second is a social catastrophe, rooted in the inability of a dog-eat-dog, market economy to respond to urgent social need.

  11. By the way, nothing new here. Have a look at John Barry’s _Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America_, and you’ll see that this is a rerun, with entirely predictable consequences.

  12. I just got the following message from People For the American Way, a well-known liberal advocacy group in the USA:

    Like so many Americans, we are overwhelmed by the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. As we prepare for the Roberts hearings and the other important business Congress will take up when it comes back into session after Labor Day, our hearts go out to the residents of New Orleans, Biloxi, and the other communities along the Gulf Coast.

    We ask that you join us in contributing to the American Red Cross’s efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina by visiting http://www.redcross.org/ or calling (800) HELP-NOW.

    –Your Allies at People For the American Way

  13. I hadn’t even noticed the RFK tirade myself so its certainly not mainstream democrats. Although he has a good point about Haley Barbour who as a lobbyist most certainly helped to scotch a number of emissions controls on energy producers set to be introduced by the Clinton administration on its way out of the door. But not really an appropriate time to debate the issue.

  14. More on the obstacles facing the recovery effort here

    Fema emergency response teams are being deployed and what it describes as “critical commodities such as ice, water, ready-to-eat meals, and tarps” are being sent to strategic locations in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

    On its website, Fema called for residents to stay away from their homes, and warn that “many storm-related deaths occur when residents return to their communities and homes, a statistic Fema is trying to minimise in Katrina’s wake”.

    And for those who don’t seem to have grasped the scale of this still unfolding disaster, the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, is reported here

    The attempts at political point-scoring are an irrelevant distraction at this time.

  15. Duncan,

    At the risk of stirring further this tempest in a teapot, what is “inappropriate” about the timing?
    Are you afraid that a discussion of the points and connections asserted by RFK,Jr. (and the scientific paper from the MIT climatologist) will deter humanitarian intervention in Louisiana and Mississippi?

  16. Thoughtful Americans with minds of their own will be asking why a government with the resources to bring ‘shock and awe’ to far corners of the globe could not have done more to avert the human catastrophe that Katrina has opened up.

  17. As I’ve already said, ‘spartacus’, “The attempts at political point-scoring are an irrelevant distraction at this time.”

  18. ‘peteb’:

    You write as if trying to grapple with the causes of such widespread misery can be reduced to mere ‘point-scoring’. That’s ludicrous. And why the rush to suspend critical thought in time of crisis?

  19. Bob – Looting is hardly a mortal crime especially in dire times like this… the foodstuffs will go to waste anyway. (I suppose you don’t hold the same view re corporate looting – Kenneth Lay/Enron scandal….)

    Afterall I think the area/s affected aren’t as affluent as some other states.

    Is there any possibility that this is another disaster caused by global warming?

  20. la D;

    You’re right, of course, even if it is a ‘distraction’. New Orleans’ poverty rate is somewhere around 34%, with much of it concentrated among African Americans. Outlying areas and, of course, affected parts of rural Mississippi, Alabama are not much better off.

    I’ll leave it to the scientists to tell us about the relationship to global warming, etc., but certainly human alteration of the natural environment (the levee system, especially) has stored up a crisis that is now being played out.

  21. La Dolorosa

    You’re faith that the looting is restricted to foodstuffs is touching, if naive.. and contrary to reports.

    But even if it was restricted to foodstuffs, and water, it would still be a problem.. as someone has written [apologies no link available]

    This means that the most critically needy people – the elderly, the sick, the children, the babies, don’t get food. That means that they die. Period. Every time you see looting on TV, you are seeing people die. Period. Unquestionably. In this situation it is absolutely critical that those tied down resources – possibly endangered by flood waters – get distributed, but looting is no means of successfully doing that. In New Orleans, the stores are being ‘looted’ by two groups. One is the State Police, which are taking non-perishable goods out of supermarkets whatever, and taking them to the 30,000+ people without water or food being sheltered around the city. There are literally people dying in those shelters, and who you’ll see dying on live TV around those shelters today because they don’t have fluids. The other group of looters are smashing goods, taking them out in to flood waters and destroying them, and hiding food in places that they’ll later have to abandon.

    That’s the equation you have to balance when you consider the reaction required to looters.

  22. Bob – “Real Americans will be helping their neighbors” – is that by shooting them?

    What did they do?

    ps, anyway, what’s a real ‘American’ ? – would you be including the likes of Lula, Chavez, Castro and Kirchener?

    “Blame everything but the looters…….???”

    For WHAT ?

    As the great man said “steal a little and they put you in jail.. (or, as Bob says, shoot you)

    “Steal a lot and they make you a king” (or the Pretzel of the United States of Amerika).

  23. If present company is anything to go by, I suspect being a “real American” is spending your day posting on a foreign discussion board to counter any anti-GOP commentary. God forbid that people might question the government’s handling of this crisis.

  24. btw my point was ‘ I say shoot them if they loot private homes.’ Like to see those scumbags feed the fam with someones watch collection……

  25. Dubya, back from the golf course, weighs in:

    “We’re dealing with one of the worst national disasters in our nation’s history,” he said at the news conference hours after an aerial tour of the area.

    “This is going to be a difficult road,” he added, and made it clear the impact could broaden well past the four states along the battered coast.

    “Our citizens must understand this storm has disrupted the capacity to make gasoline and to distribute gasoline,” the president said.

  26. You sad ass MFs. There are very bad criminal people stealing, and perhaps killing, unhindered. You decide to exuse the blacks and blame the whites. The shelters are full of good whites and blacks massing for the common good. The looters of any color have stayed out for one reason. To steal, intimidate, bully, period. In tribal times, they would be gone. The good tribe is where it should be. These roaming knuckleheads should be killed, period. For, mark my words, they are not roaming around for the good of the tribe.

  27. Bob, you sorry piece of shit (as long as we’re indulging in that sort of language):

    Can you point me to any comments on this thread where anyone has ‘exuse [sic] the blacks and blame the whites.’?

  28. try this for a more nuanced approach:

    ‘Thanks to George Bush and his “war on terror,” the levee system, crucial to the survival of a city surrounded on three sides by water, hasn’t been upgraded to withstand a Category 4 or 5 storm. During the 1990s, following floods that killed six people, the federal government established the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (known as SELA). The Army Corps of Engineers was put in charge of implementing the project and spent nearly $500 million shoring up levees and building pumping stations.

    “But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained,” wrote Philadelphia Daily News writer Will Bunch. “Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security–coming at the same time as federal tax cuts–was the reason for the strain…In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to [a] Feb. 16 , 2004 article in New Orleans CityBusiness.”

    According to Bunch’s research, though 2004 was one of the worst hurricane seasons in history, the federal government this year imposed “the steepest reduction in hurricane- and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history.”

  29. Bob, if my children were starving, I would kill to get them food. I am sorry if that offends you.

    If I sat the richest country in the world, stuck in the path of an oncoming cat 5 hurricane, for 3-4 days, waiting for my government to help me get to higher ground because my three minimum wage jobs for billion dollar retailers do not leave me enough at the end of the month to afford a car, and gas to put in it to get the fuck out, and my government which knew about the dangers of the levees breaking, did not try to help me, or even it seems have a plan.

    and then I survived by some miracle to watch the rotten stinking corpses of my friends and neighbors float past me for what is it now, 54 hours?????? bob?

    54 hours without the national guard doing so much as a military ration/clean water drop. I would be ready to kill someone too. UNBELIEVABLE WHAT A JUDGEMENTAL PERSON YOU ARE!!!!! shame on you.

    I know bob those IDIOTS could have walked out of the path of that hurricane, I mean it was only 100 miles in diameter. how lazy are they? stupid (insert the n word I know you are thinking here)

    the first 3-500 evacuees in the superdome were just evacuated a couple of hours ago. that hurricane was monday bob. there have been 30 thousand people stuck in the superdome, living with no food, water, airconditioning and surrounded by thier own excrement SINCE MONDAY! Shite stinks in boiling hot superdomes pretty fast bob


    Money To Repair Breached Levees Was Diverted to Iraq War
    “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us. — Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.

    In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for levees around Lake Pontchartrain. Those levees are now breached, and the city of New Orleans is inundated. 


  30. What a bunch of know nuthing yuurpean s***bags. You have alway broken new ground on the ‘help thy neighbor’ concept. HA!!

  31. i’m an american bob.

    I have the news on right now, and I am listening to a nurse calling from a hospital in tears to CNN BEGGING FOR HELP. they have all thier ventilator patients on one diesel generater, every two hours they have to scrounge for diesel, while the other nurses manually bag the patients, they have been doing this for 54 hours bob. with no one to relieve thier shift. they have not slept. there is no clean linens or water bob. the intensive care patients in NOLA are laying in thier own filth. the nurses are getting sick too bob. there are no meds as the pharmacy is flooded. how long does it take to deploy food drops bob? could the national guard have dropped some spare diesel and generators onto hospital roofs BEFORE bush got back from his VACATION bob? In the 4 days prior to Katrinas landfall, is it possible that we could have evacuated at least the INFIRM to higher ground?

    I know bob, they aughta toughen up a bit. pull themselves up by thier bootstraps eh ?

    damn looting jerks. I know you would be MUCH more sane if your ENTIRE LIFE WENT AWAY RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES AND YOU HAD TO WAIT 54 HOURS FOR SOME WATER. you are not like “those people” bob. are you?

  32. Bob “It comes down to ‘do you want to join our society, or not.’

    aka ‘ with us or against us”…

    reminds me of th old chestnut: “four legs good, two legs bad”

  33. When the powers that be leave people stranded, starving and helpless for more than 54 hours, there is no society.

    In case it has escaped your notice Bob, the whole society thing is a two way street.We expect people to obey the rules and act in certain way, and in exchange we offer them order and protection.
    The ones who broke this deal were not the people at the bottom.

  34. Molly,

    My wife is from Mississippi and currently has 2 of her uncles missing so it just seems to me that RFK debating the wider issue of how global warming has effected the development of hurricanes is a discussion for another day. The most pressing concern is the safety of the people who are suffering now. The discussion around levee funding and the piss poor preparations and response to this disaster seem to me to be valid criticisms and as they might stimulate more effective response from the relevant authorities are valid at this time. For me it’s just about prioritizing the issues and global warming is a long term problem that we can get to later.

  35. Why is this such a bad time to as political questions? Natural defences were allowed to be destroyed by developers, environmental problems are not being addressed, and relief in dealing with this emergency has been too slow.

    I hope this is not simply dismissed by some of the commentators on this thread whose postings are more remeniscent of lavatorial graffiti. It is not a partisan whinge, but a call for responsibility in a democracy. Why do seize the moral high ground and say ‘it is not the time’? It IS the time that those responsibe were called to task. If hurricane katrina forces the debate it is the only good thing to come of it.

  36. Duncan,

    At this most personal level, I respect the immediacy of your wife’s concerns. May she hear soon from those so close and unaccounted for.

    Her fears and sensibilities notwithstanding, I have trouble believing that humanitarian relief efforts are in any way compromised by questions of broader causes and implications being considered at this remove.

  37. join our society bob?

    I wonder is the irony of the fact that 200 odd yrs ago thier ancestors were taken from thier homes and families to build that beautiful city from the ground up. every stick of it. at the end of a whip. now today we are enlightened bob. we gave them the freedom to work harder than you bob, cleaning the vomit off of bourbon street after rich white girls who get too drunk to contain thier stomachs. this is thier option, they work harder, usually put in longer hours than YOU bob. you judgemental thing you. and they do it for barely enough money to survive bob. they average american black family makes 9 thousand dollars less per year than white ones bob. that 9 grand is certainly enough to get them out on nola and into a holiday inn for a day or two bob. but they did not have the option bob. they were too poor to count bob. because you do not count them and neither does half of this country.

    and now it is thursday, within an hour of the end of “Shock and Awe” our country started humanitarian food drops, MREs and water for the hungry. Had they started that on monday night in america, as soon as the winds died down, and given the people who pay taxes to buy food drops some food THEN we may not even be having this discussion bob. we might be proudly discussing the great banding together of humanity that happened in katrinas wake. you know I am right bob. this is our OWN FAULT bob. you and I are as much to blame as the (insert the word you and I both know you are thinking) who are doing the looting. they are looting because thier SURVIVAL INSTINCTS are at the forefront right now, because they are terrified. Thier consciences will surface once again when thier immediate needs are met.


  38. Katie:

    You have restored my faith in the good sense of the American people. Try though Bush and his supporters in the blogosphere might to rule out any intrusion of politics on this one, I am beginning to get the feeling that he has finally gone a step too far. The Iraq debacle took a long time to come home, in some ways because people had to see past the trauma of 9.11, but its great to see that the emperor has no clothes, and that his subjects are beginning to realize it. I love New Orleans, have always thought it one of the most bueautful cities in the world, and have fond memories of time spent there, but like every tourist trap theme park in on the planet, it is a playground for the rich and a hell hole for many of the citizens who wait on them for a pittance. One thing that this catastrophe has done is to expose the horrible, crushing, man-made inequality that exists right throughout every city in the ‘prosperous’ US.

  39. This is a non-political comment from an American.

    They just did a special one-hour edition of the evening news on NBC to cover the devestation. I could listen to it from the next room, but not watch it. On September 11, 2001, I was working. After the first plane hit, people found a television in the conference room and started watching. I could listen from my desk, but not watch it.

    This disaster is like 9/11 in slow motion.

  40. Thank you spartacus, I cannot stand when the bobs of this world besmirch the good sense that, although I sometimes wonder, I think that most of my country has. I had to speak up. perhaps this will be a wake up call to more americans? I hope. it is now over 100 hours from Katrinas end and the national guard is JUST NOW doing a food drop near the convention center. 100 hours with no food or water. the Mayor of Nola said today that he is thinking about seceeding from the US and declaring n’awlins its own country, that way he could ask for foreign aid. Apparently he knows it would be faster. Disentary has now officially broken out, children are dying.

  41. CNN is now broadcasting background on the re-awakening issue of links between global warming and increased intensity of hurricanes in the past 20 years. This is, of course, an “inappropriate” topic for consideration.

    (1)the Speaker of the Congress — a conservative Republican — expressed reservations about spending public money to repair the levees and rebuild the ravaged city of New Orleans
    (2)blatant price gouging for petrol has sprung up instantaneously at virtually every station around the U.S.
    (3)our own dear Bob-the-real-American insists on a parallel thread)that the only fitting response to opportunistic theft (looting)is summary public execution


  42. When I see what is happening to people in New Orleans, I think I understand a little better why the US government was so unconcerned about the fate of ordinary Iraqis after its nasty little ´war of liberation´. The Bush regime doesn´t even give a d*** about its own poor, so I guess it would be too much to expect them to care about the Iraqis. This is really sad.
    I hope the people affected by the hurricane get help soon.

  43. CNN is now broadcasting background on the re-awakening issue of links between global warming and increased intensity of hurricanes in the past 20 years. This is, of course, an “inappropriate” topic for consideration.

    (1)the Speaker of the Congress — a conservative Republican — expressed reservations about spending public money to repair the levees and rebuild the ravaged city of New Orleans
    (2)blatant price gouging for petrol has sprung up instantaneously at virtually every station around the U.S.
    (3)our own dear Bob-the-real-American insists on a parallel thread)that the only fitting response to opportunistic theft (looting)is summary public execution


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