So there I am on Sunday the 29th and I’m listening to NPR It was Hurricane this and hurricane that until I finally turned on the TV to see what was the big deal. The weather channel was squeezing coverage out of the waves in Florida, the wind in Alabama, and the line of cars leaving New Orleans and there was a satellite photo of a very very very big storm filling up most of the Gulf of Mexico. Then there was the mayor of New Orleans telling people that Hurricane Katrina was on its way . They had to evacuate and had better do it right away.
Okie dokie then. Got my attention.
Next we switch to a young women sitting in the playground with her son. The reporter asked her if she was going to leave and she said no.
That would be a negative as in “No I am not leaving.” Why? Because I have no car. What about a bus? I have no money for a bus and nowhere to go if I did. So I’ll just stay and go to the Superdome I guess. More pictures of people not leaving. Back to a satellite of the storm and more reporters filling air time. Then an interview with a little bald man, the mucky muck in charge of emergencies in New Orleans or something, who was nearly shouting. A Category 4 or 5 hurricane would be a disaster, he says. A disaster. If the levees fail – thousands of people dead. Thousands of people. The World Trade Center was 3,000, he says – this could mean 10,000 dead. Or more. Or more! Then another hurricane expert and he, too, agreed this was an emergency.
Next came the Governor of Louisiana saying this is an emergency, then the Governor of Mississippi saying this is an emergency, then the Louisiana Senator who had made it out of New Orleans was saying this was an emergency. No mention of busses or planes to get the stranded people out of town. But an emergency for sure.
Even George Bush said it was an OFFICIAL Emergency just before he left town to go to the dry states. Emergency. You bet. Yessiree. Everyone agreed. Then we had a time warp where all these people went someplace safe and cards or clipped their toenails or had lobotomies or something. Because the hurricane did hit big time, and after it did they all emerged into the light of day still saying this was an emergency.
I mean the state people did. The Federal people were – well George Bush was in Arizona and San Diego with his constituants sending prayers and good wishes. The head of FEMA was pretty much a deer in headlights, and the head of Homeland Security was finishing up his tan.
Come to find out the people in Louisiana thought it was enough to say they had an emergency and wait for the Feds, and the Feds were waiting for a written invitation to the party. Which would have been sent I’m sure except that the mail, and all the phones, and the televisions, and the air conditioners, and the ice cream machines, and the beer coolers, and the party lights, and the pumps, and the life support systems, and the dialysis machines, and the insulin refrigerators, and the busses out of town, and the toilets weren’t working.
Television crews were working. My television in New York was working so I saw people screaming from their roofs. I saw people crying in the Dome. I saw people dead on the street. Now you would think that seeing something like this on TV would count as an invitation to the Federalies to come on down. Apparently not.
Or – Maybe people in Washington just don’t watch television, or maybe they just don’t like television., or maybe they just don’t believe the news that they haven’t created.
Either that or. Maybe they just don’t like all these people in Louisiana and Mississippi being so damn needy all the time and interfering with a decent bowl of gumbo in the French Quarter which is every God fearing tourists right.
Think about it. 25% of Louisiana was on Medicare before the hurricane. These people talk worse than the President. When they’re angry they start drinking and shooting. When they have a problem with one of their teeth they pull it out. The really poor ones live in a swamp and the rich ones live on stilts in estuaries. These are not smart people. Other than the fact that they sit on top of an oil highway – how much are they of value?
As it turns out – not much. Not much at all.
No matter, though. Half of them have been farmed out to other states. Other states who will probably start to resent them sooner rather than later – like they did in California in the Dust Bowl days. No matter – the Federal problem will diffuse, and the states will be on their own.
As well, signs of recovery are emerging. The French Quarter is dry. Halliburton has a contract to help rebuild. Michael Brown has resigned as head of FEMA. U.S. fire administrator David Paulison is replacing him. You may remember Mr. Paulison. Two years ago he was the one who issued the recommendation that we all keep duct tape in our homes to seal windows and doors in case of a biological or nuclear attack.
Looks like we are nearly back to normal.