Northern Valley Beacon

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Let the incompetent times roll!

Eugene Robinson examines the levels of incompetence that still attend the Katrina aftermath:

First, an administration that since Sept. 11, 2001, has told us a major terrorist strike is inevitable should have had in place a well-elaborated plan for evacuating a major American city. Even if there wasn't a specific plan for New Orleans -- although it was clear that a breach of the city's levees was one of the likeliest natural catastrophes -- there should have been a generic plan. George W. Bush told us time and again that our cities were threatened. Shouldn't he have ordered up a plan to get people out?

Second, someone should have thought about what to do with hundreds of thousands of evacuees, both in the days after a disaster and in the long term. As people flooded out of New Orleans, it was officials at the state and local level who rose to the challenge, making it up as they went along. Bring a bunch of people to the Astrodome. We have a vacant hotel that we can use. Send a hundred or so down to our church and we'll do the best we can.

Tent cities aren't a happy option, but neither is haphazard improvisation. Is the problem the Bush administration's ideological fervor for small government? Does the White House really believe that primary responsibility should fall on volunteers, church groups and individuals? Or is it just stunning incompetence and lack of foresight?

At the big shelter here in Baton Rouge on Sunday, some student volunteers from Louisiana State University took a group of children outside to get some air. The kids were using sheets of cardboard as sleds and surfboards, zooming down the grassy levee next to the Mississippi River and then scampering back uphill for another ride. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and the scene warmed your heart. But those college students are going to have to go back to their classes, and then how will those kids from New Orleans spend their days?


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