Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Local Government and disasters

If you have not read it, go over to Right Wing Nut House and read his Hurricane Katrina timeline. It is an illuminating and essential tool to distinguish truth from fiction in the media fueled blame game surrounding disaster relief.

The following is a timeline that details the response of local, state, and federal authorities to the disaster in New Orleans.

I have not included any information for other areas hit by the storm.

I used one source almost exclusively – the online editions of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (hereinafter referred to as TP). I daresay the paper will receive a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage. (9/6): More sources have been used as they have become available.

IT IS NOT MY INTENTION TO PLAY THE “BLAME GAMEBY PUBLISHING THIS TIMELINE.. In fact, if you have a link to a story that contradicts or adds to this timeline, I urge you to send it along. My sole purpose is to place this timeline on the record to dispel the rumors, the spin, and the outright falsehoods being flung about by both right and left bloggers and pundits.

The timeline runs from Friday, August 26 to Friday September 2

My own arguement has been: to see where failure lies, compare Louisiana with Mississippi. True, New Orleans has special circumstances, it sits in a below sea level bowl, but disaster is disaster and how people respond matters.

Read it? Good now go read protein wisdom. (uh, Jeff usually isn't hesitant about blue language FYI)
Which shows not the failure of federalism, but rather that local elections have material (and potentially dire) consequences. And if we don’t make that case over and over again, I fear MORE federal control, where less federal control—and better local preparation—is the answer.

Am I happy that FEMA is wrapped up in DHS? No. But that particular bureaucratic misstep is bi-partisan—the product of Senators from both parties wishing to show that they were doing something in the wake of 911. And I’ll be happy if the structural flaws of having increased bureaucratic layers are exposed and remedied as a result of this disaster. But that’s for later.

A smaller government is a more agile government. In Fantasia, "Dance of the Hours" is so hilarious because of the juxtaposition of large lumbering creatures treated as lithe, airy dancers. Large, byzantine beauracracies do not predicate speed of response. Louisiana state and local government lended itself to incompetence precisely because of over complexity.

Our country is a union of fractious governments, some states were countries of thier own before joining the union. My grandma came west from Oklahoma and retired back there. She related a story of sitting on her porch watching a tornado blow past. Another time her congregation did not notice tornado warning bells while they sat in church on a Sunday morning. I listened to this stories in amazement, I felt the same wide eyed disbelief at reports that folks wouldn't evacuate in the face of a Cat 4 hurricane. (Yes, I am aware that there was an unusually high percentage of uncarred individuals in NO) When Mt. St. Helens was rumbling again I was more entertained than alarmed. It is the nature of people to think that thier regional danger du jour is not as dangerous as it is because they are familiar with it. This is both the strength and danger of local goverment, local governments are made up of well, locals. We can know the danger down to the ground but we don't always have urgency about it.
UPDATE: Thanks Basil for the link! If you didn't come from there, please go and check him out, always cool links that some of the big boys miss. (Like mine!)

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