Sunday, September 04, 2005

Good Katrina Blogging

Rivaling the streets of New Orleans in raw sewage and toxicity is the content of most of the partisan commentary I've heard, seen, and read on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I think it is safe to say that there are failures of organization, communication, and mobilization at every level here. The way to channel the frustration we all feel is into good deeds to aid and comfort those in the Gulf Coast and careful preparation for the next threat to our welfare, whether an act of nature or terrorists.

I've been following two new (to me) blogs lately, because I think they are making sense--asking the right questions and doing the right research to point the way to a better outcome the next time a potential catastrophe heads toward the area.

Matthew Kahn of the Environmental and Urban Economics blog is walking us through the decision-making process for how to think about the future of New Orleans and the sensible way to assign responsibility for protecting the city from surrounding water. Great posts and the making of a real contribution to the blogosphere.

Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye is providing some very thoughtful commentary on how Katrina should change our thinking about base closures, misguided attempts to affix blame too narrowly, and relevant examples of disaster and recovery (and the importance of local control in particular). Quoting from the last of these:

There are several key factors that were present in all of the disasters reviewed above:

* Civil order was maintained immediately (sometimes ruthlessly) even while the disaster was in progress.
*Reconstruction efforts began immediately and were completely under local (and mostly private) control.
*Funding for relief and reconstruction was almost exclusively through private investment and philanthropy.
*Although large parts of all of the cities were destroyed, large parts remained.

None of these factors are true in New Orleans.

New Orleans will be re-built if the people of New Orleans want to re-build it. And if they do it themselves it will be a New Orleans they can be proud of and love. It will be their New Orleans.

If, on the other hand, they wait around for someone else to re-build their city for them, it won’t be the New Orleans they loved. It will belong to somebody else. And New Orleans will be dead.

Maybe the best post on any topic that I've read in long while.

ADDENDUM: I should know better by now--if it's smart commentary on "organization, communication, and mobilization" you seek, the place to go is EagleSpeak. Great analysis of what South Carolina has and has not in the way of hurricane planning, using New Orleans' experience as a template.

9 comments:

Dave Schuler said...

Thanks for the kind words.

Mark Noel said...

Thanks for the pointers to good discussions and keep it coming. I've been in and out of the "Katrina Zone" for the past few days searching for relatives in Bay St. Louis, so once the dust settles, I'm really gonna want to weigh in on this stuff some more...

Anonymous said...

in addition to you analysis, i appreciated the direction to other blogs as well-

Anonymous said...

Do you propose taxing the fleeing inhabitants with perhaps a fee to exit the city or should the city simply borrow the funds to rebuild and see who returns to pay for it? Are you wllling to lend the money? What inanity.

Eagle1 said...

Thanks for the kind words, though they mostly owed to the article I linked to.

And thanks for pointing out some excellent posts.

Bibamus said...

Rivaling the streets of New Orleans in raw sewage and toxicity is the content of most of the partisan commentary I've heard, seen, and read on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I think it is safe to say that there are failures of organization, communication, and mobilization at every level here. The way to channel the frustration we all feel is into good deeds to aid and comfort those in the Gulf Coast and careful preparation for the next threat to our welfare, whether an act of nature or terrorists.

Surely this is one of the most unenlightened things you have ever posted. Holding accountable those officials who failed us is an essential and legitimate part of preparing for the next threat. And apologizing for those responsible for those failures is just as toxic a form of partisanship as anything else you might be referring to.

Andrew Samwick said...

Surely you don't think I keep track of such a list. Maybe you should re-read the post and provide an example of where I suggest that we not hold accountable those officials who failed us or apologize for those responsible for failures.

Bibamus said...

You are correct that I cannot see where you suggest that we not hold accountable said officials.

But then, I don't see where you call for it either. And you are very specific in this post as to what you consider good and bad outlets for the frustration we all feel:

Bad:
1) partisan commentary

Good:
1) provide aid and comfort
2) prepare for the next threat

Now, given the inextricability of accountability and partisan commentary, it is really very difficult to read this post in any other way besides: "Stop criticizing the government and move on." Perhaps you intended otherwise, but I don't think I've made any tremendous leaps here.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...
Two more blogs to read.
MK thinks about giving cars to the poor. Access to jobs seems reasonable. Escaping floods - weak.

Glittering factor this.
NOLA is below sea level and thus has no future until levees are built and pumps drain the bowl.

Below sea level...

That one factor makes NOLA's disaster different from earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, bombs, river floods and storm surges. In all of the regular disasters folks, industry and government KNOW they can begin assessment and remediation in a short while. Minutes in the case of a tornado or an earthquake. Hours or a couple days for fires or river floods.

Most folks and organizations in NOLA do not really know when they will be able to begin this process.

Next week?
Next month?
Will NOLA be fortified against Cat 3 hurricanes or will it be Cat 5?