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Hurricane Crisis

  1. Sep 4, 2005 #1

    I'm British and so my news feeds are perhaps biased but I was wondering what is the genuine feeling of the American people over the aid efforts (seemingly much delayed) and the conduct of Bush throughout the crisis? For it seems it took the US central government over 3 days to respond to the disaster and it is hinted (at least in UK) that this is due to the lack of involvement of the federal government in such matters and the fact that states have a great deal of autonomy. Is this accurate?!

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  3. Sep 4, 2005 #2


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    That's part of it, but FEMA is a federal agency and should have responded better. Its complicated - part of the problem was that the hurricane itself didn't do much damage to New Orleans, it was the flooding that took more than a day to manifest that caused most of the problems. The breakdown of law and order in NO due to 2/3 of the police force quitting was also a big part of it - the Red Cross, for example, was not allowed in to the city because of the danger. Mainly though, there was no plan in place capable of dealing with a disaster of that magnitude.
  4. Sep 4, 2005 #3
    FEMA is under the control of Homeland security. It is apparent (according to todays paper) That FEMA's ability to react has been affected by new methodologies associated with the Departnment of Homeland Security. Also I question the experience of FEMA's director. The guy has a law degree. His latest experience ( eight years) was running An Arabian horse trading company.

    The flooding in NO could have just as easily been caused by an act of terrorism, ie intentional breaching of the levees.
    If this is the best Homeland security is capabe of, perhaps Congress needs to rethink the relationship between FEMA and the Department of Homeland security.

    Why was there no alert system to warn of a levy breach? Battery operated lights and sirens would have survived the hurricane. The flooded area did not fill instantly, people would have had time to get to higher ground.

    Terrorist attack disaster drills have been held in most major cities.
    Were there no flooding drills held in NO, the city most at risk of having it's levy system attacked by terrorists?

    Billions of dollars have been spent and the only place that I have seen Homeland security in action is when I have had to take my shoes off at the airports.

    The Homeland Security, FEMA, government bureaucracy has just pulled off the biggest screw up in the nations history.
  5. Sep 4, 2005 #4
    The majority of the blame goes to FEMA, but also the gov. of Louisiana and the mayor of NO. The gov could've ordered the national guard into NO, and the mayor could have done a better job of fixing the leeves (years before the storm hit), because he knew that they could only take a hit from a cat 3, and also he could've had a plan to evacuate the poor.
  6. Sep 4, 2005 #5
    A hurricane breaking a leevee and a bomb breaking one are two totally different things. if a bomb busted a leevee, you would still have power to run the pumps and TV to get the word around, there would still be a police force... duering a hurricane, nothing is left. its like the stone age.
    But still, it was a screw up, just not one having anything to do with a terrorist bomb, and yes the director should go.

  7. Sep 4, 2005 #6
    How would ordering the national guard into NO have helped? How does a Mayor authorize a multimillion dollar project which falls under the auspices of the Army corp anyway? What is the National Guard situation in Louisiania?

    I'm sorry, you should look into this froma factual standpoint before commenting. The Mayor of NO has no control over the levees. Funding has been allocated and deallocated for levee repair in the past by congress(the people who pay the Army corp).
  8. Sep 4, 2005 #7
    Ordering in the Louisiana national guard would help keep the peace, and the Governor can order in his/her national guard. It has nothing to do with the leevees, its the peace-keeping.

  9. Sep 4, 2005 #8
    Not only that, but the Louisiana state government could have taken further steps to ease the intensity of the catastrophe at hand, by evacuating the people earlier (and not just a day before), or by getting FEMA and the National Guard to airdrop critical supplies in some of the key areas where no aid was being recieved.

    Loading a C-130 with medical equipment and food, and dropping them via parachute so that the National Guard in the area can administer and regulate the supplies shouldn't be too difficult. I'm not sure myself if this was done during the aftermath of the storm (it should have been at least if it wasn't) because I haven't been closely following the news reports.

    Then again, Louisiana is situated on the Gulf coast, and while it is as vulnerable in theory as other states like Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama, most of the emphasis on hurricanes is usually on the state of Florida, where the entire state is exposed rather than the southern edge of the state. In that respect, Florida's local hurricane relief and response teams were probably far better equipped, prepared, and trained rather than those of Louisiana.

    Usually it seems that most of the time, when a hurricane hits landfall in Florida and passes through into the gulf, it normally doesn't regain strength to its former level, so those states (Louisiana etc) bordering the northern portion of the Gulf don't usually get the brunt of the storm.
  10. Sep 4, 2005 #9
    Did you see the pictures of water up to the roof tops? The state had ~8000 national guard troops available---most of which were probably not on duty. How many do you suppose sought refuge out of state or had their phone lines knocked out or were in NO? New Mexico offered troop support on Sunday and Louisiana accepted but the pentagon was slow in getting the proper paperwork routed. This shows the Governor of LA was aware of the threat posed by the hurrican(it was a cat4 at the time) so your argument doesn't hold water.
  11. Sep 4, 2005 #10
    Do you really think that the mayor of a city, which has one/third of its population living in poverty, would have had the funds to do this. The city of Detroit just had to fire 75 firemen due to lack of funding.

    Regardless; the leeves have always been the responsibility of the Corp of Engineers which built them. The levels of the lake, the leeves and controlling the Mississippi river flow , are all a part of the shipping and transportation industry for the nation.
  12. Sep 4, 2005 #11
    Once FEMA took over, the LA national guard fell under the control of the federal government. The failings are at the federal level IMHO. Mississippi river levees are under the Army Corps control. The National guard fell under federal control when a state of emergency was declared. This was an engineering failure to begin with compounded by a botched response.
  13. Sep 4, 2005 #12
    The hurricane had passed before the levy breeched.

    With no one evacuated from the city, and without previous disaster drills, A terrorist bomb destroying the levy would have only left several hours for the evacuation to take place. Only a highly developed and well practiced evacuation plan could have helped.
  14. Sep 4, 2005 #13
    Generally, it's a feeling of outrage.

    There's a concerted Republican effort to blame the disaster on the Louisiana Governor and New Orleans mayor despite much evidence to the contrary. Pretty much all of the arguments above are standard Rush Limbaugh arguments. How this explains the bungled relief in Mississippi and Georgia is beyond me.

    Bush gutted funds towards the Army Corp of Engineers in New Orleans for levee maintenance and disaster preparation.

    Thousands of National Guardsmen, who are supposed to be stateside for just such an emergency, are stuck in Iraq.

    Likewise he gutted FEMA, putting somebody clearing incompetent in charge of the whole thing. This is pretty much the opposite of what was supposed to happen after 9-11.

    The federal government was officially in charge of the disaster since last friday, days before the hurricane struck.

    There's a lot of anger. Many consider it at the very least gross incompetence. There's very much speculation in the United States and all over the world that much assistance was slow on purpose, because it was mostly black people involved, and so that Bush could get a big photo op opportunity when relief did arrive.

    Since you're from the UK, I'm sure you've seen much of the same speculation in your own papers.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2005
  15. Sep 4, 2005 #14
    Previous research and a previous evacuatuion of NO indicate that not all residents would be able to evacuate under the existing plan.

    Hurricane Ivan mentioned above, also turned and missed NO. Ivan hit last year.

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2005
  16. Sep 4, 2005 #15
    Yes, and every time there's an evacuation that turns out to be a false alarm, like Ivan, there's going to be less people that evacuate next time.
  17. Sep 4, 2005 #16


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    Blanco had about 6500 National Guard troops available. Unfortunately, a lot of their equipment was in Iraq along with about 3,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard.

    Technically, Louisiana has to go through the federal government to request anything but pre-approved outside support.

    NORTHCOM was ramping up on the 29th - Bush's declaring the area a national disaster the day before the hurricane hit was enough to put things in motion. Air Force units have to wait for an actual order before they can deploy. I think they have up to 36 hours to respond upon being called up for support (at least, that was the requirements for the squadron I was in in 2001/2002). They received a request for support on the 31st and had planes and medical personnel in place by the 1st (I think a few C-130's were among the planes, although most were med evac planes)

    Governor Richardson offered the support of the New Mexico National Guard the day before the hurricane struck and Blanco accepted. Unfortunately, the support still had to be approved by federal offices in Washington. The approval came late Thursday.

    Edit: If you read the Louisiana National Guard article, it's kind of ironic that the interim plan was to receive help from the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida National Guard. The way things turned out, all four were hit by Katrina.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2005
  18. Sep 4, 2005 #17
    We are less than halfway through the hurricane season.

    I am betting that if another city gets hit in a similar way, it won't take the US govt three days to respond in a huge way.

    From that supposition alone, I would have to say that the slow reaction time New Orleans witnessed, had to do with lack of awareness on the part of the federal government, not clear division between state and federal.

    Incidentally, we all thought that New Orleans had dodged the bullet somewhat, as of Monday mid-day. It wasn't until the water flooded, due to breaches, that it became clear that things were going to get worse in the days *following* the hurricane. People in the government may have breathed a sigh of relief when the storm turned. In fact, on your radio four today message board, you can see a post by American conservative poster "whatam," titled "there it goes" that was written in the hours between the hurricane and the flooding.


  19. Sep 4, 2005 #18
    Something I find hard to rationalise is this - hurricanes - in this time of year - in that part of the world are expected or at least anticipated. As a result, shouldn't the US (at every level) be ready to serve its citizens? instead of standing idly-by as thousands of innocent men women and children die.

    I understand it is ridiculous to evacuate every time there is a risk of a natural disaster for this simply breeds impatience, but why was there not a rapid-response team in place? From what i have read, here and elsewhere, it woul dappear that the national Guard who would have performed this service where out of reach, occupied in Iraq or without equipment - surely as the state, or federal level, it should have been realised that this left the citizens wide open, and at the mercy of the elements - yet seemingly nothing was done.

    I simply do not understand how such things happen - in a part of the world that has so much money and so many resources. One may comment if America watched its own back yard than everyone elses, the sprinkler wouldn't soak them through.

  20. Sep 4, 2005 #19
    The war on terrorism is the short answer. Attention is being paid to 'foreign aggressors' in the likes of Iraq while the 'homeland' has been left vulnerable despite the passage of a sweeping 'patriot act'.

    I mean "Who could have foresaw a Hurrican causing devistation?" Who?

    NOTE: see other Katrina threads for the answer as to who could have foresaw such an occurance.
  21. Sep 4, 2005 #20
    this wasn't a run of the mill hurricane.

    My sister in law went through two of the major hurricanes last year in Florida. They "have it down" - how to prepare, how to clean up, the whole thing. The mentality became, around the end of September, "we're either preparing for a hurricane or cleaning up from a hurricane."

    I expect that sort of experience plays into why we kinda thought this one would be about the same. We evacuated, I'm sure things were battened down tight, I'm sure people have water and whatnot stored for emergencies in case water treatment fails, and so on. THe problem was - this was so much more huge - and it *wasn't* because of the hurricane, it was because of the breaches.

    I mean, the hurricane did tremenodus damage. But the problems came afterwards with the flooding.

    I dunno. I think we forget to realize how many thousands of lives were probably *saved* because of mandatory evacuation and whatever emergency systems *were* in place.

    As someone said elsewhere, one of the most tragic things is that it was those people who could least easily respond that were left to bear the brunt of the tragedy.
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