Thursday, September 01, 2005


The situation looks increasingly grim. For those of you here or abroad who would like to donate or volunteer, I suggest the following...

Mercy Corps

Episcopal Relief and Development

For those that like to play blame games while corpses are warm, allow me to suggest you focus your energy where needed most: assisting survivors so that they do not become new fatalities. Exploitation is obviously bad (if not outright bizarre; we might as well go all the way and blame Ronald Reagan for Katrina: his decomposition is releasing greenhouse gases). But prudence is not unwarranted when complaints are valid, either. More probably could have done to impress upon the poor and the illiterate to leave during the evacuation, more people could have offered rides out, the evacuation order could have come sooner, etc., but there will be plenty of time to ready the crosses and nails later. Right now people need help, not recriminations.

Update: James Lileks: "FEMA’s list of charities is here. Note anything about what sort of organizations are doing the hard work? I keep looking for the Objectivist Mutual Aid Society, but it never pops up."

Update II: Don't forget all the little animals: The American Veterinary Medical Foundation. [Edit: Good only for American and Canadian donations. Everyone may donate to the Humane Society of America.]

Update III: By the way, at least a hint of moral support for the U.S. from certain parties might do some good.

Update IV: More on exploitation. (Via Instapundit, who also has a massive roundup of charities)

Update V: The rebuilding of New Orleans is already underway, with the Army Corps of Engineers planning reconstruction from Memphis (scroll down). See a report on Memphis-area relief efforts here.

Update VI: Our troop deployments leave many barracks at home largely empty, so here is a question for those with suitable experience: Why not use U.S. barracks to temporarily house evacuees?

Update VII: Mark Steyn talks to Hugh Hewitt, and nearly blames everybody... namely local, state, and federal governments.

Update VIII: Look, folks, there is more than enough blame to go around. The mandatory evacuation order could have been given two days sooner. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin could have tried to push buses into service from the very beginning to save lives, and U.S. President George W. Bush could have ordered the armed forces (there are plenty in the U.S. to do the job, they just haven't been called) to be ready to go just as quickly. New Orleans' and Louisiana's governments have known for 40 years that they needed a better levee system, and it is their responsibility (which is probably why Bush is the eighth president to gut federal upgrade funding), while the Army Corp of Engineers is partly responsible for the system that made the flooding so likely in the first place. Congress' spending spree, like the recent $250+ billion highway & transit bill, is taking money away from war and disaster preparation & relief funding we need. And as much as blowhards love to make this a race issue, it is a resource issue--so many people did not leave because they were so poor they did not television or radios to know what was going on, or were illiterate, or simply did not have the ability to flee, and the situation is so bad that even Canada refused to send in a search and rescue team at one point. The list goes on. If you insist on placing blame from the comfort of your air-conditioned home, at least admit that we are looking at bi-partisan and non-partisan stupidity, note that there will plenty of time later to call for heads to roll, and do more to help those in need. Alternatively, consider that everyone in charge is human and is overwhelmingly doing his/her best to set things right, and then do the best you can.

Former President Bill Clinton: Because when you say that they should have done this, that or the other thing first, you can look at that problem in isolation, and you can say that. But look at all the other things they had to deal with. I'm telling you, nobody thought this was going to happen like this. But what happened here is they escaped -- New Orleans escaped Katrina. But it brought all the water up the Mississippi River and all in the Pontchartrain, and then when it started running and that levee broke, they had problems they never could have foreseen. And so I just think that we need to recognize right now there's a confident effort under way. People are doing the best they can. And I just don't think it's the time to worry about that. We need to keep people alive and get them back to life -- normal life.

Update IX: "We pay taxes for this?!" is the latest complaint I overheard about government efforts. Let us take it as read that Americans are taxed less so that they have more freedom over exactly where their money goes and that the government offers special breaks for charitable individuals and businesses to encourage giving, because non-governmental donations, volunteer work, and trade are more efficient and help more causes than the halls of bureaucracy ever can or ever will. That is why America's federal aid can be comparatively low, but American private charity is unsurpassed. So I hate to say it, but in a sense the complaints are spot-on: Much of what we have seen so far illustrates P.J. O'Rourke's truism, "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." Except this time nobody is having fun in the backseat (nor the front, for that matter). [Edit: I suppose I am now griping rather than helping. Is it contagious?]

Update X: I am going to gripe. This looks bad, JunkYardBlog is on the attack, and The Irish Trojan's Blog blasts FEMA Director Mike Brown. We're gonna need more crosses and nails.

At least there is movement.

Update XI: Proof that nothing changed after Sept. 11?

Sen. Hillary Clinton must like the author's "Katrina Kommission" idea.

Update XII: River City Mud Company has an update on evacuee resources in Memphis, culminating in Theatre Memphis' offer of cheap "The King and I" tickets for storm victims...

Here is an entire blog dedicated to the Mid-South's Response to Katrina.

Free Will digs deeper into Louisiana's [non-]response (and, to a degree, defends FEMA's Michael Brown). So does a Chrenkoff reader.

Chrenkoff himself also offers more crazy quotes. Here are a couple of questions for Rev. Jesse Jackson and Kanye West: Do you honestly believe anyone heading rescue & relief efforts said, "Let's take our time. It's only blacks and deadbeats"? And if you do believe the leaders, inclusive of some of the highest-ranking blacks in American history, are criminally bigoted, why did you not do anything for those in need before the storm hit, and immediately after? You say there is "historical indifference" and that "George Bush doesn't care about black people", so you obviously suspected "poor people and black people" needed more help in advance. You have the connections and the money to do things, yet you concentrated your efforts toward press conferences and photo-ops. After the fact.

Also, Rev. Jackson, here is the definition of 'refugee':

One who flees in search of refuge, as in times of war, political oppression, or religious persecution.

'Refugee' sounds that much more appropriate with you adding political oppression on top of escaping a disaster area. Some could argue that your focus ought to be on showing a way up for all of those individuals with no ground to stand upon, or promoting actual tolerance and pluralism through this tragedy, but I understand why you would rather debate the meaning of a word. Apparently, calling class and ethnicity irrelevant to basic decency makes a person racist. Better for progressives to determine qualifications for providing aid on the basis of skin color, and to knock Lou Dobbs for noting that whites are not the only people in charge.

Update XIII: is helping those still looking for a shelter without "dome" or "center" in the address. For gay and lesbian (and presumably bisexual and transgender) evacuees, the folks at GayOrbit are discussing lodging. (Via GayPatriot)

A warm welcome and thank you to Tim Blair and readers. Hope you find this site better than dull.

Update XIV: You know those reports of rape and murder at the Superdome? Well, have you ever wondered about fact-checking by the mass media?

Update XV: FEMA's Michael Brown is almost certainly going down for his unmitigated cluelessness, especially after this report, though it should be said that the system itself seems to be the disaster's secondary catalyst (the hurricane of course being the primary catalyst, though you might never guess that by watching the stuffed clothes on CNN). Lots of people require a lesson in federalism.

What does it tell us when it was the most-upgraded levee that burst?

The mayor of New Orleans approves forced evacuations. Presumably, he now also approves the use of buses. A notable comment from this story:

"Bureaucracy has murdered people in the greater New Orleans area," [Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard] said on CBS' "Early Show." "Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot."

Because caring and sensitive idiots like teary-eyed Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco are doing such a brilliant job... Keep the 'caring'/'sensitive', but drop the 'idiot', and perhaps bureaucracy will stop being a murderer and revert to its status of robber & scoundrel.

Major relief organizations refuse clothing donations because of the resources necessary to sort and clean the garments, but if your priorities do not follow those of Teresa Heinz Kerry (after Hurricane Ivan) you can still donate to your local Salvation Army to support their efforts and ensure that a supply of clothes remains available for those in need following Katrina.

Update XVI: Christopher Hitchens offers a twofer on Iraq and Katrina.

Update XVII: Relief is available for people with disabilities. The site looks a bit dodgy--so be careful--but the links I tested were valid.

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