Katrina: The Third Storm

By August 27, 2006General

A year ago this week we all watched as Hurricane Katrina unleashed it terrible force on the Gulf Coast, the most destructive natural disaster in US history. This was storm #1. The second storm — purely political — was unleashed soon thereafter as the left began its ritualistic finger-pointing, a big partisan voice-over as we watched images of people massively dispossessed by the storm. The MSM piled on, making fantastic (and ultimately false) claims of its own — of mass murders, astronomical body counts, rescuers under fire — you name it. The third storm — also political, like the second — comes this weekend as the revisionists gather like the furious storm of twelve months ago. Think of it as a revisionist/finger-pointing gumbo, all weekend long.

Some facts, if we dare:

— The US Government has provided $110 billion dollars to the Gulf Region, for such things as relocation, rental assistance, infrastructure repair, education, removal of debris, you name it. This is an amount larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Hungary;

— The Administration is spending $6 billion — an amount roughly equal to Bermuda’s GDP — for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair the levees. As a result of the Corps of Engineers’ work this far, the New Orleans hurricane protection system is in equal or better condition than it was before Katrina hit;

— 103 million cubic yards of debris have been removed. This is an amount that would fill the New Orleans Superdome to the roof about 25 times over;

— All ports are re-opened and fully operational;

— All petroleum pipelines are back up and running and nearly all refineries are, too;

— As someone noted in a comment to an earlier post, FEMA is not a first responder agency — that’s not their role. But this will be overlooked — again — in the commentary and the post-mortems on the occasion of the anniversary. The President had to wait for the Governors to declare a disaster. Some acted more quickly than others.

Today, on her site, Louisiana Governor Blanco thanks the President — among others — for the recovery to date. Gov. Barbour of Mississippi has a full report that isn’t very whiny. And this link to “Bring New Orleans Back” on the City of New Orleans site inexplicably directs the reader to the Dallas Junior Hockey Association. Some things never change.

In any event, we thought these fact might be useful to keep in mind as you watch the anniversary coverage. In among the finger-pointing and the fight for political advantage, we ought not lose sight of the fact that an enormous response has been made to an enormous disaster. Maybe some day the various pundits and gadflies will dispense with the name calling and focus on the important work of rebuilding the Gulf Coast.