Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bloggers on Katrina

Kevin Drum points to the Washington Post article on the floodwaters pouring into New Orleans through breaches in the levees that protect the city, large parts of which are below sea level, from nearby Lake Pontchartrain. In a separate post, Kevin reminds us that, given the devastation Katrina is causing for the millions of people in its path, bloggers on both the left and the right should refrain from using this natural disaster to score political points.

If you want to help, California Yankee has a comprehensive directory of relief organizations that you can contribute to. The Red Cross is at the top of the list, but there are plenty of others too.

The Red Cross Online Donation Page is here.

You can also donate by phone:


David at Daily Kos provides a thread to discuss Katrina-related issues; and points to a DK diary by Rena devoted to disaster relief efforts.

Shakespeare's Sister feels ambivalent about politicizing Katrina. She agrees it's more important to help and support the people in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi whose lives have been turned upside down by this catastrophe, but ...

...at the same time, I think both sentiments can exist in the same head simultaneously. Having compassion for the victims of this truly unbelievable disaster can indeed be mutually exclusive from the anger felt at an administration that diverted human and fiscal resources from the region. And although it should be noted by way of clarification that the funding changes to which D. referred would have not made a sliver’s worth of difference in this instance, as they wouldn’t have come into effect until this October (a widely repeated misunderstanding that I myself didn’t understand at first), the larger point about a laissez-faire attitude toward the area’s needs is still valid.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s exactly because I feel so terribly bad for the people struck hardest by this thing, people who will also be facing a horrendous time of hardship as their sources of income drown before their every eyes (inevitably made ever that much harder by a fucked economy preceding this time of struggle), that I feel so very angry about how this administration has repeatedly let people down. It isn’t about scoring political points; it’s about being a human, and feeling really shitty and pissed off. Right or wrong.

At Left Coaster, CA Pol Junkie writes at some length about the natural history of the land New Orleans sits on; and the environmental realities the Army Corps of Engineers ignored in order to make the city inhabitable. Ironically, the levees the Corps built to keep Lake Pontchartrain from flooding New Orleans have actually made things worse.

Unfortunately, what is happening to New Orleans isn't really a surprise, as it was only a matter of time. The city was built on the alluvial plain of the Mississippi River delta. It's an excellent spot for commerce and shipping, but a difficult place to live in the long-term. Floods are a natural part of the environment here, with each flood building up the land. Marshes abound naturally in the shallow water, providing food and cover for wildlife and acting as a buffer against the sea. Since regular flooding is incompatible with city life, the Army Corps of Engineers has channelized the Mississippi River to keep it from flooding. As a result, New Orleans and southern Louisiana in general has been sinking for decades without replenishment of silt from floodwaters. The sea level in Lake Pontchartrain is a foot deeper than it was 50 years ago. Marshes have disappeared as shallow water becomes deep water. Louisiana is losing about 35 square miles of land each year.

Josh Marshall points to an article in the Times-Picayune that has detailed information about the recovery plan for New Orleans's Jefferson Parish, which was particularly hard-hit. Apparently conditions there are so bad that local residents cannot return at all for a week, and then only to collect valuables and clothing -- and even to do that they will have to present ID to get into the neighborhood. After residents have gotten their essential items, they will not be allowed back in for a month.

TalkLeft reports on conditions at the Superdome, and they are horrifying.

The Humane Society has launched a massive rescue and recovery effort to save animal companions affected by the hurricane and assist their owners (if still alive) in caring for them. Please give if you can. Via Thoughts of an Average Woman.

And Laura Rozen of War and Piece notes that Pres. Bush's five-week vacation will end two days early. Bush will be flying back to Washington on Wednesday (tomorrow) instead of on Friday, as originally planned.

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