September 09, 2005

Krauthammer on Katrina

As usual, Krauthammer provides a nice broad picture of the problems behind the response to Katrina. It seems to me the biggest problem is that the Mayor and Governor didn't order evacuations and that politicians and bureaucrats subsequently prevented (and continue to prevent) the Red Cross and private citizens from helping out in the city proper. I suspect it has a lot to do with bureaucratic processes and control (see Coyote here and here) but their rationale was that giving food and water to the refugees in the Superdome and Convention Center would encourage them to stay there, and that letting the Red Cross go in to help would make people want to return.

Apparently they're willing to see people undergo health risks (including death for the very young and very old) of not having clean water and sufficient food on the premise that refugees will make an informed decision to stay or go based on where the Red Cross provides aid. That is an awfully flimsy reason to risk lives.

The city should have been evacuated, the charitable should be allowed to help, and the state should have had a plan in place. The fact that they had to take valuable time (including Blanco's apparent need for 24 hours to decide whether to give Bush command control) shows they were flying blind. They needed a plan and they didn't have one.

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