National Weather Service Warning.
This is the alert issued by the United States National Weather Service before Hurricane Katrina made landfall at the gulf coast:
- EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE KATRINA CONTINUES TO APPROACH THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA.
- DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL… LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE. HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY…A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT. AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS…PETS…AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK. POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS. THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.
And yet our President and the vaunted Department of Homeland Security seem to have taken no notice. I am aware that these alerts are written in advance, so some poor meteorologist doesn’t have to grapple with language as a disaster bears down. Still, the fact that they chose to release that particular pre-drafted warning suggests that the Weather Service pretty much thought Katrina was bringing hell on wheels to the coast.
I don’t really think this is an issue of racial bigotry, even though it looks like that now, and I don’t mind painting our radical right-wing government with that brush. But I don’t think President Bush and Karl Rove sat reading that warning on Sunday night before the storm arrived, laughing about the black people who would most certainly be the hardest-hit victims, and deciding to wait several days before even starting to mobilize a relief effort.
No, I think it was a matter of stupidity, arrogance and incompetence. These guys have an agenda, and outside of their narrow ability to fool people into voting for them on fraudulent grounds, they have no vision, no leadership ability, no real compassion, no sense of history and – despite their well-proven animal cunning – no genuine intelligence.
One of the main reasons we have a federal government and give them so damn much of our money every year is that we expect them to think about the unthinkable, and plan for the eventualities that, as a population, we don’t or won’t plan for. I don’t need them to tell me what orifices on which people I am allowed to fuck. I need them to build levees in coastal cities that are below sea level, to provide evacuation assistance for those who are unable to help themselves. But the agenda of our government is to make the world safe for corporatization, and so it seems perfectly OK to them to appoint a guy to head the Emergency Management Agency whose previous experience was as the head of the International Arabian Horse Federation. Oh, and Michael Brown was also a political crony.
When you look at television pictures of the refugees at the Astrodome, the Superdome or the New Orleans Civic Center, be aware that you are seeing the face of the brave new neocon future: If you can pay for services, you are entitled to them. If you can’t, you’re not. It is your failing that you don’t have enough money to flee the storm, to feed your child, to rebuild your home, to dress your emotional wounds. The Market dictates that you be winnowed from the herd, because you are weak, and you upset the charts.
Luckily, we as a nation still have enough outrage left to demand action – however belated – on this matter. God help us after we have all drunk the Kool Aid.