Essential Reading Roundup
While federal and state emergency planners scramble to get more military relief to Gulf Coast communities stricken by Hurricane Katrina, a massive naval goodwill station has been cruising offshore, underused and waiting for a larger role in the effort. The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore.The Independent:
A 10-year plan to strengthen levees after a 1965 hurricane was never completed. But the skimping has worsened since President Bush's election, particularly after 11 September. Federal spending on flood control in south-east Louisiana has been cut by almost half since 2001, from $69m (£34.5m) per year to $36.5m. Funds for work at Lake Pontchartrain, the source of the flooding, have fallen by nearly two-thirds over three years, from $14.25m to $5.7m. As a result, work on New Orleans' east bank hurricane levees stopped last summer for the first time in 37 yearsLA Times:
As a result, when the immediate crisis eases and inquiries into what went wrong begin, there is likely to be responsibility and blame enough for almost every institution in Washington, including the White House, Congress, the Army Corps of Engineers and a host of other federal agencies. For example, Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the Corps commander, conceded Friday that the government had known the New Orleans levees could never withstand a hurricane higher than a Category 3. Corps officials shuddered, he said, when they realized that Katrina was barreling down on the Gulf Coast with the vastly greater destructive force of a Category 5 — the strongest type of hurricane. Washington, he said, had rolled the dice.Washington Post:
To those who wonder why so many stayed behind when push came to water's mighty shove here, those who were trapped have a simple explanation: Their nickels and dimes and dollar bills simply didn't add up to stage a quick evacuation mission. "Me and my wife, we were living paycheck to paycheck, like most everybody else in New Orleans," Eric Dunbar, 54, said Saturday. He was standing on wobbly, thin legs in the bowels of the semi-darkened Louis Armstrong Airport, where he had been delivered with many others after having been plucked by rescuers from a roadway. He offered a mini-tutorial in the economic reality of his life. "I don't own a car. Me and my wife, we travel by bus, public transportation. The most money I ever have on me is $400. And that goes to pay the rent. And that $400 is between me and my wife."Washington Post:
Despite four years and tens of billions of dollars spent preparing for the worst, the federal government was not ready when it came at daybreak on Monday, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former senior officials and outside experts. Among the flaws they cited: Failure to take the storm seriously before it hit and trigger the government's highest level of response. Rebuffed offers of aid from the military, states and cities. An unfinished new plan meant to guide disaster response. And a slow bureaucracy that waited until late Tuesday to declare the catastrophe "an incident of national significance," the new federal term meant to set off the broadest possible relief effort.These are only highlights, if you have the time go back and read the articles in their entirety.
Hat tip to America Blog.