Blogging from New Orleans

Outpost Crystal is the blog from an employee of an internet hosting provider that decided to ride the hurricane. If this were Slashdot, I’d have marked it “+6 Insightful”.

Update: Interdictor quite sensibly says that he does not want to talk politics, and then equally sensibly launches into a long political rant. :-) Basically he says that politics by its very nature is incapable of solving the problems in New Orleans.

I have been wondering about this disconnect with reality, because it is so obviously not true. As Frank Tiggelaar notes, in 1995 half a million Dutch people and two million animals were evacuated without casualty when the Rhine and Meuse rivers flooded (via Reinder).

And Nelson Valdes and the BBC note how Cuba responds to a devastating hurricane: by getting out 1.7 million people, on time, and without casualty (via BoingBoing).

It has to be noted here that it is always hard to compare these things: Katarina was a combination of extremely powerful winds and flooding, which must have made any rescue operations during the first day difficult. But we’re no longer in the first day, and floodings with calm waters can be compared.

Leaving the reasons for Interdictor’s cognitive dissonance asside for a bit, there lurks a danger in his words. The past few days a lot of commentators have noted that now is not the time for the blame game; first, New Orleans must be helped. Although in principle I would agree with this sentiment, in the specific case of Hurricane Katrina the sentiment is wrong. The first morning after Katrina it was clear that aid was failing. On the second morning, it was clear that this was clear; only a very few pig-headed folks were claiming by then that things were going all-right. And of course by that time the blame game was being played.

We’re now in the fifth morning, and there are still people desperately in need of help in New Orleans. I think it is safe to assume that if they did not get that help three days ago, chances that they will get it today are slim. It is time to play the blame game; the blame game is the only way to confront a failing chain of command with its failures. It is the only way to offer the leaders of DHS/FEMA, of the National Guard, and of the municipality of New Orleans a chance to redeem themselves a little, so that the prison time they are facing for criminal neglect will be limited to a couple of years.

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