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Sunday, September 04, 2005

What A Mess (Katrina Roundup)

Sorry that I've been slow on the posts; I've been glued to the coverage of the aftermath of Katrina (stayed in on a Saturday night - pathetic!).

It's quite clear that the scale of the disaster in New Orleans, in particular, has been helped along by a constellation of screw-ups at all levels, from the city to the state to the federal level. I've never been a fan of George Bush (which is an understatement) but Christ almighty I was ashamed to be an American when I saw him joking on tv about Trent Lott's house. It was just so so so awful.

It's been a fucking shambles all the way down the line, but Bush's weirdly flip demeanour had me shouting in rage at the tv screen.

I've not been particularly shocked by the chaos; New Orleans, from everything that I've read, has always been a very violent city. Here's an illustration for British readers, to give a bit of context:

Population of New Orleans: 462,269
Population of London: 7,172,000

Homicides in New Orleans in 2004 as of mid-August: 265 (and 192 for 2005 through mid-August!)
Homicides in London in the twelve months to July (put in rolling twelve month period for homicide): 182

Murder rate per 100,000 residents for New Orleans, 2004: 57.33
Murder rate per 100,000 residents for London, 12 months to July 2005: 2.54

Going off of these statistics, before the disaster New Orleans had a murder rate 22.57 times higher than London's in normal times; so when you think back to all of the reports about marauding armed gangs and wonder "was it really that bad?" the answer is, well, yeah, or at least in parts, but not everywhere.

Other stuff on Katrina that's worth a read:

Interdictor - Live blog from a guy working for directNIC, an internet hosting service. Contains a wealth of information about the situation at ground level in New Orleans. Grim reading.

Metroblogging New Orleans - Blog of a New Orleans resident, now a refugee (it's still really weird for me to think of Americans as refugees), has a variety of information, also includes this account of a rescue mission into New Orleans. Other first-person accounts can be seen here and here.

Some people in Houston are worried about the welcome mat the city is laying out for refugees from New Orleans.

Andrew Sullivan has lots of useful information. He's pissed. No wonder.

I was pretty incensed when I saw this picture of what, on a quick estimate, must be well over a hundred school buses sitting in the water. Why the hell weren't they put into service to get people out of New Orleans? Shocking stuff. It's pretty clear that at every level, from the city to the state to the federal, things have been disastrously handled.

You really should check out this video of Shepard Smith from Fox News going off at that blithering idiot Sean Hannity. Jack Schafer had a decent article on the rebellion of tv journalists against the usual constraints of the genre.

People have been predicting what has come to pass for some time.

This whole situation is just horrifying on almost any level I can think of. I have to stop linking now and go to bed as I'm so exasperated by the uselessness of the American government it is literally driving me insane.

|| RPH || 2:18 AM || |