Friday, September 02, 2005

Chaos in New Orleans

What's happening in New Orleans really goes to show just how thin the veneer of civilization really is -- and, of course in some of those poor neighborhoods where these trapped people come from, it's even thinner. Living in small towns all my life, it's tough for me to fathom. When we have floods, guys walk or boat around, checking on the elderly, and exchanging news. It sometimes has the feel of a neighborhood party. But big cities are so dependant upon the infrastructure that even a big power outage, all by itself, is an emergency.

It seems pretty clear to me that top priority has to be restoring enough order that aid can get through. We're seeing scenes like this:

Although obviously he has no exact count, he estimates more than 10,000 people are packed into and around and outside the convention center still waiting for the buses. They had no food, no water, and no medicine for the last three days, until today, when the National Guard drove over the bridge above them, and tossed out supplies over the side crashing down to the ground below. Much of the supplies were destroyed from the drop. Many people tried to catch the supplies to protect them before they hit the ground. Some offered to walk all the way around up the bridge and bring the supplies down, but any attempt to approach the police or national guard resulted in weapons being aimed at them.

They're afraid to stop and pass out supplies in an orderly fashion, so the troops just chuck the boxes over the side of the truck. I found this really sad:

The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

The buses never stop.

And, of course, there's been story after story of rescue workers being shot at, or vehicles being hijacked. Bush is making noises about lawlessness not being tolerated, but unless you get good guys with rifles down there, nothing is going to stop it. And as long as lawlessness reigns, people are going to die, first from lack of medical care, then from lack of food and water, and disease. So, what I'm asking is where are the troops? Where are the good guys with rifles?

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