Certain facts about Hurricane Katrina and relief efforts have been overlooked in recent letters in this paper. For example, some writers seem to have overlooked the fact that individuals in New Orleans actually shot at the relief workers. Rival gangs were having gun fights in the streets. Doctors and nurses could not even evacuate the sick and injured because of all the violence in New Orleans immediately following the hurricane. I find this behavior among Americans to be embarrassing. After the tidal wave in India and Indonesia last December, the gangs had the good sense to call a cease fire to work together for the good of the community.
I'm also embarrassed at the looting. It seems that the term "looting" needs defining because some CSU students have a mistaken understanding about what constitutes looting. Taking food and clean water, the basic necessities of life, can certainly be overlooked. Flat screen TVs and X-Boxes aren't necessary for human survival and taking them is looting. It's downright stealing.
Finally, I'm embarrassed at the response of all three levels of government. (Or perhaps I should say lack of response.) There's no disagreement that the federal government did a poor job of providing emergency assistance. So did the local and state governments. And yet the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana are quick to point fingers of blame at the federal government. This behavior on the part of state and city officials provides an interesting contrast in the study of leadership. Compare Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in New York after 9/11 with the mayor of New Orleans.
The fact is that local government, as the level of government closest to the daily lives of people, is always the first responder in a disaster situation. They are also responsible for planning for disasters. A hurricane like Katrina had been predicted for many years. State and local governments knew that a category-5 hurricane was a threat that could occur one day.
One would think a city that lies at an elevation lower than sea level would have planned for such an eventuality. The local government had plenty of warning that this hurricane was coming and they were completely unprepared to help their citizens. In fact, more than two hundred school busses could have been used to help the poorest residents of the community evacuate the ravages of a hurricane that was predicted for several days. Rather, the city of New Orleans took no action and allowed those school busses to become inundated with floodwater. Smart state and local officials would have used those school busses, or at least have moved them to higher ground in anticipation of what was predicted to be a category 5 hurricane. They also would have had the Superdome stocked with food, water and medical supplies, and they failed in that as well.
All levels of government, state, federal and local, failed to come to the aid of its citizens. And Congress just passed emergency legislation allocating $50 billion plus to the federal government for cleanup? You'd think we'd learn.
Health and Exercise Science