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Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans Breaking Down

I taught a Student Administration Basics class this morning, and I always make a point of treating myself to a full lunch hour after teaching, so I went to the Treehouse and had a nice turkey burger and sat down in front of the tv showing CNN. Watching that for 30 minutes, I was on the verge of tears more than once. Civilization is so fragile. That we could so quickly degrade into riots and shots fired over food and water and seats on a bus is heartbreaking. At the end of the day, we're terribly civilized in this country only because we have so much that there's so much to lose that it's not worth starting a fight. So many of those people have lost everything and are reverting to their basest nature. These are the times that show us our capacity for both heroism and barbarism.

And Wolf Blitzer on CNN is shouting about how nothing is being done, how it's Thursday and there's very little help yet. It's true, but I doubt it's for lack of trying. These things take time to mobilize. FEMA employees are just temps hired seasonally. Sure, my dad has been a FEMA temp on and off for 16 years, but he was busy on another project in Maine. If he hadn't been, he could've been anywhere. These folks are sitting at a desk somewhere waiting around for a disaster, ready to leap into action like Superman. They're generally hired locally at the time of the emergency, or are specialist who have to be reactivated and shipped from wherever as soon as possible. The same goes for most other national first-responders. I'm just surprised New Orleans didn't have a better emergency plan in place, but I also suspect this was far worse than anyone expected. This is the worst case scenario, and our money for infrastructure hasn't gone to natural disaster preparation in the last 4 years. Sure, I bet they've got plenty of anti-biotics to fight a bio-terror attack in those hospitals, but that doesn't mean they have a sufficient supply of bottled water.

Anyway, it's shocking, and also makes me fear for our next earthquake a little more. Of course, next time we have an earthquake, it won't be 106 degrees and putridly humid, so it won't be anywhere near as bad as New Orleans anyway. Riots and revolutions are more likely to take place in the heat of summer, so this was just a recipe for bad behavior.

Hunh. Rain in the summer. And hurricanes. That's just weird. And people ask me why I'm willing to pay housing costs in the bay area. Can't think of a reason...

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