It seems like only yesterday we watched Hurricane Katrina bearing down on New Orleans. The devastation was incredible, the aftermath an international disgrace. Inadequate preparation, criminally inadequate levees, abysmal federal response.
And now, here comes Gustav, currently a category 4 hurricane, taking dead aim on New Orleans. Is the city ready this time? My impression, without doing any research, is that New Orleans is little better off than it was a few months after Katrina roared through.
The broken levees, source of most of the flooding, were repaired. “Repaired” meaning returned to their condition before Katrina — and that condition was inadequate for Katrina’s cat 3 onslaught. Those levees needed upgrading. I don’t know how much of that was done, but officials are now saying residents should not rely on those levees to hold.
The voluntary evacuation of New Orleans is underway and becomes mandatory this evening. Free bus and train rides are being offered to residents who can’t get out on their own — although that assumes they can get from their homes to the buses and trains. I hope someone is going into the neighborhoods, hospitals, and senior housing, helping people get out.
The National Guard is moving in, doing what it does best, but with much of its manpower deployed in the Middle East. I’d like to see a contrite President Bush down there before the storm hits, acting like he’s really concerned this time. (Contrition is a big word, though; I doubt he knows what it means.) And I’m not expecting anything from FEMA; they’re probably still trying to find New Orleans.
I’m always railing that life’s not fair and, of course, it isn’t. It just is. But this — dammit — this is unfair.