Instead of being asleep as I should because I have class at 8 AM and a 3.5 hour drive to Dallas tomorrow afternoon, here I sit writing about the Katrina aftermath.
No, I don't think New Orleans looters should be shot on sight. Even if they are carrying out TVs.
At first, I was mighty peeved by New Orleans people that I believed had ignored the evacuation order. After reading various posts and stories, it's becoming clear that many people didn't leave because they couldn't. I've read (couldn't verify with a couple minutes of Google search though) that airlines cancelled flights out, Greyhound ended service, and by and large there was no means of public transport out of the city. If you didn't have a car, it was the Superdome or stick it out, and with officials on TV expressing some reservations on the soundness of the Superdome under those conditions, it's perfectly understandable that some people saw no other option than to stay home. Even if they had the means to leave and refused, let's not be so callous as to leave them where they are as some have suggested.
My ire is reserved for the city, state, and federal officials who did not adequately prepare for this eventuality and the general blase attitude towards the destruction of wetlands through out the Gulfcoast that would have helped mitigate. The Independent has a great, succinct article about it. And gee I wonder how much less awful this would be if all those guardspeople in Iraq were home, ready to mobilize?
I wince a little when I see public officials and others use the phrase "our tsunami" to describe this tradgedy. While terrible, they don't compare. For the tsunami victims there was no opportunity for evacuation, the death toll was above 250,000, and it affected countries without the wealth and infrastructure of the US. Still, it's likely to be the worst natural disaster for the US in modern history.
Leaving aside all the people wounded or ill directly from Katrina and its aftermath, I can't help but think of all the previously ill people throughout the region and the desperate straits they're in. Diabetics without insulin. People needing dialysis. Cancer patients who's chemo and radiation have been disrupted. I've read about generators failing at hospitals and med staff having to ventilate patients by hand. What a hellish situation.
A couple Texas colleges are offering to take in students displaced by Katrina. Rice will allow registered Tulane students to attend available Rice classes for free. TSU is accomodating students as well. More details in this Houston Chronicle story. I wonder if UT-Austin will be making any such offers (no sarcasm intended)? Colleges in other states are making similar offers.
As noted elsewhere, New Orleans Times-Picayune is doing a tremendous job of reporting the news on their website despite having evacuated from their offices. They've also set up a message board to help people find family and friends.
This Craigslist page made me cry. I'm a cynical person when it comes to human behavior, so news of looting and carjacking wasn't surprising to me. Displays of altruism like the ones on Craigslist Katrina resources however give me hope and somehow that results in tears. Not sure if even I understand it.
Finally, a crisis manager is holed up in his company's building in New Orleans with some others and blogging his group's experience. They also have a live webcam showing the view outside and are being mentioned on CNN. He just posted that the city is under martial law, many NO police have quit their jobs, and some stranded people are shooting at rescue crews(?!).