Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina devastation growing--how to help--and what our response to weather says about our response to terror

Online Donation Form for the American Red Cross: By making a financial gift to Hurricane 2005 Relief, the Red Cross can provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need.

FEMA's resource page of ways to offer assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina


I still can't quite get my head around the fact that an entire US city is going to be uninhabitable for months. That a three state region has been devastated, that bodies are piling up in morgues. That bodies are floating in the streets.

Much easier to grasp are things like the economic impact of the disaster. Bloomberg today ran a story discussing the fact that oil rising to $100 a barrel is not out of the question. Gas has already been rising three days straight with 91% of the nation's oil production halted.

The number two re-insurer in the world estimates the final tally of claims related to Katrina to be in excess of $500 million dollars, with final cost the insurance industry in the region of $20 billion.

The President says that recovery from Katrina will take years, not months.

It might not be the time for finding blame in terms of mistakes made in preparedness for this disaster, but when that time comes it isn't going to be difficult. Cutting the budget for hurricane response didn't help. Federal flood control spending for southeastern Louisiana has been chopped from $69 million in 2001 to $36.5 million in 2005, according to budget documents. Federal hurricane protection for the Lake Pontchartrain vicinity in the Army Corps of Engineers' budget dropped from $14.25 million in 2002 to $5.7 million this year. Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu had requested $27 million this year. Transitioning FEMA from natural disasters to terrorism won't help either.

I guess this administration never heard of "a stitch in time saves nine" but I'm not as interested in pointing a finger of blame as I am in pointing out that if we were this unprepared for an attack by weather, with a week of watching it move toward us, how prepared are we for the massive terrorist attack we've been warned to expect for the last four years?

Katrina is a test of how well we could deal with the aftermath of such an attack with a WMD, without the distraction of deciding who to invade after it happens.

So far, we're not doing so well. We are confronted with an astonishing array of things we could have done better in preparing for this disaster. We're also forced to consider how the cost in dollars, soldiers, and resources of the War on Terror overseas will affect our ability to respond to this level of devastation at home.

The estimated price tag for Katrina sounds staggering. It is. But remember that every single month we are spending $500 million more on this war than we spent monthly on Viet Nam. (adjusted for inflation)

We are currently spending $5.6 billion in Iraq every month, making it the most costly war in more than 60 years. At nearly $300 billion dollars so far, Iraq spending would pay for 15 Katrinas. 15.

It is irresponsible not to consider how waging that war affects our ability to addres domestic concerns.

Investing everything we have in a doctrine of pre-emption without an adequate investment coping with what happens if the pre-emption fails is an awfully big gamble.

We've bet the farm and can't afford to lose.

Sources:

3 Comments:

Blogger Archie Levine said...

A good NYTimes op-ed on the subject of George's speech yesterday. I taped it, but haven't had a chance to watch, still, the review of this speech seems to be consistent with his other "successful demonstrations of leadership."

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/01/opinion/01thu1.html

Also, sorry about having to do the verification thing for comments, it was just taking up too much time deleting the work of the spambots.

You can still post anonymous, you just have to prove you're a human being first. Proving that even Republicans who post their disagreements with my wisdom are, in fact, human.

8:59 AM  
Blogger R said...

Let me Archie. Let me POINT A FINGER. Please. I am FRANTIC. Just absolutely frantic, as a mother, a southerner, an American and a HUMAN BEING watching people die for no reason before my very eyes. How many news reporters, camera men, producers have to stand up and say "Where is the help?" The mayor sending an SOS FIVE DAYS after the hurricane because there is still NO HELP. Hell my hometown of Houston organized the Astrodome for thousands of people in less time than it is taking them to get water to the people back at the Superdome. This thing is being run like the Republicans run Iraq. Understaffed, unprepared, ill managed, and without the proper money. Sick making. Absolutely.
We all know that New Orleans is a dangerous city full of the poor IN THE BEST OF CONDITIONS. We all could have told them that vast amounts of the population downtown do not OWN a car, cannot GET to the Superdome, because of age, illness, do not have a credit card with which to check into a motel. They were barely eating BEFORE. The city officials knew that. So why the unpreparedness? And where the hell are the national guard that Colorado and Penn and several other states supposedly sent? Are THEY WALKING to New Orleans?

12:31 PM  
Blogger frstlymil said...

Put together in concise form as you have - it presents an even more frightening take on things. But I'm with Rhonda - I'm looking directly in the direction of this administration and saying WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO US!?!?!?!?!

1:40 PM  

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