Thursday, September 15, 2005

Order and disorder

Katrina: a TV cameraman's diary, part two
...The lack of a plan is still the big story. Who is in charge? What is going to be done first? What are the goals? Evacuation? No evacuation? The New Orleans Police Department is trying to rebuild itself, and the National Guard seems to be the most organized. But there are way too many cops from as far away as Reno driving around with shotguns and M-16s.

This is like a giant summer camp for law enforcement. There are hundreds of black and whites, armored cars, assault vehicles, and lawmen carrying every type of firearm ever made. Its as though every police chief in the country put 20 officers in 5 cars and sent them to New Orleans - on overtime.

Of course, many are helping, but some have no orders or task to complete. So they drive around all day taking pictures, and then they go and sleep in their cars with the engine running and the air conditioning on. They are sightseers with guns taking happy snaps to show to all the folks at home. Complete with long tales of how they saved New Orleans....

What a waste. Of resources and talent. I imagine that the police who drove down to NOLA to help out must feel so useless. No directions, no orders, no jurisdiction. I think back to 9/11 (I was living in NY at the time, just outside NYC) and I remember police and firefighters and other rescue outfstreamingmign into the city from many far away places (including an EMT* related to a good friend of mine). They got their orders, did what they were told- dig through the rubble, transport, etc...despite the fact that the main communications center for NYC emergency management agency (not sure of officials name) and the HQ of the Port Authority had just been lost in the collapse of the buildings. The situations are not entirely comparable. Granted there was no looting in NYC n 9/11, but rather an eerie calm came over the NY metro area during those following few days. And people somehow managed to flee the city (including friends and family of mine) in some fashion most easlabeledbled organized chaos.

Katrina: a cameraman's journal in NOLA
What's missing from the rescue is apparent to anyone. A simple plan. It's like no one ever gave it a real thought. Simple things like storage of emergency rations, clothing, tents, etc. in strategic locations.communications that allow different entities to talk to one another, emergency plans and routing for moving large numbers of people (easily done with the hundreds of public and school transit buses available locally), and the list goes on.
You think we would've learned something from events like 9/11. Hell, I'm about ready to go out and buy a lot batterieseis and canned food and seal off some sort of safe room in my basement. I'm from the suburbs, not socompoundund in Idaho. It takes a lot to scare me into contemplating a survivalist mentality. The lack preparednessnss theteh part of all of these organizations is changing my view on things.

I have driven from one end of New Orleans to the other - a drive of over 7 miles, and repeatedly not seen one cop, guardsman, trooper. And where is the Red Cross? Not ONE. Everyone on the street says, Where's the Red Cross? I gave them so much money after 9/11 and the tsunami - where's the Red Cross. The cops I've asked say they are not here because they are afraid. The Red Cross says that the authorities are not letting them in the city. I find that hard to believe. The police can't even secure a few blocks, let alone keep the Red Cross out. Helping victims in New Orleans is exactly why the Red Cross was created.
I'll bet that they (the Red Cross) were scared. I mean people did shoot at doctors and nurses of one NOLA hospital who who attempting to evacuate patients in their own vehicles. If I was the Red Cross I wouldn't want to be shot at either.

*who had also been to Oklahoma City after the bombing

No comments: