Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Chaotic Times

The aftermath of Katrina in the US South has sucked up almost all of my internet attention. My main portal to online sources has been the Nielsen Haydens' Making Light. They recently linked to Craigslist's New Orleans Lost& Found page, and reading just the titles of posts there made me weepy. The Nielsen Haydens also remind readers that one of the best reactions to emergencies is to prepare for future emergencies. To that end, I'm updating my own "jump bag" or "go bag" to reflect both James MacDonald's suggestions (very first-aid oriented) and the New York City OEM recommendations, which reflect the bureaucratic complications of refugee life.

Other links: I've been impressed by the ongoing local coverage at's weblog. Wikipedia, once again, has proved itself as a good immediate tracking and compiling resource. A good source for tracking the effects of this disaster on the oil economy is The Oildrum (a self-described peak-oil theory site). The best source for political outrage is Americablog.

On a more personal note, I really have to say that I'm not impressed by Bush's official statement this afternoon. He ran down a list of statistics about the response teams that were on their way (some of which were not due to arrive in region until Friday, he urged Americans to donate to the RedCross, and he asserted that New Orleans would persevere and rebuild. People are dying right now. I hope those response teams get there really damned fast, and on the government dime.

It's a wonderful aspect of US culture that people feeled obliged to give to private charities after catastrophes, but it's much more effective when governments use their resources in a well-coordinated effort. Which has more helicopters at hand, the American Red Cross or the US government? Whose orders in life-or-death situations are more likely to be obeyed, the Catholic Charity or the National Guard? It's really hard not to think that the federal response to Katrina has been too little, too late.

What weirds me out is that this is the only hurricane I've freaked out about beforehand, and I did so primarily because Teresa Nielsen Hayden blogged about it on Saturday and provided links to a Weather Underground site where commenters were predicting awful, dire things. This seems to be a case where the internet, passing through its better filters, really seems to have had the jump on officialdom.


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