Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Red Cross Blocked

The Fox News Channel's Major Garrett was just on my show extending the story he had just reported on Brit Hume's show: The Red Cross is confirming to Garrett that it had prepositioned water, food, blankets and hygiene products for delivery to the Superdome and the Convention Center in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but were blocked from delivering those supplies by orders of the Louisiana state government, which did not want to attract people to the Superdome and/or Convention Center. Garrett has no paper trail yet, but will follow up on his verbal confirmation from sources at the highest levels of the Red Cross.

What it's beginning to look like to me is that one of the things that went wrong in New Orleans is that concerns about crowd control outweighed concerns about the "crowd's" well-being. Same kind of thing with blocking off access to the highway thereby trapping thousands of people at the Convention Center -- they were worried about this crowd of potential "looters" flooding into the next town. And the way they just shoved supplies off the trucks, without stopping -- sometimes damaging the supplies in the process.

They were too scared to help. Now, there were some real reasons for concern; there were gangs with guns in the streets. There were snipers shooting at helicopters. But, to me, the whole point of establishing security was so the aid could get through, not so people could be helplessly trapped -- essentially left to fend for themselves without even the freedom that would allow them to do that. No doubt, if word had gotten out that food and water were being passed out at the Convention Center more people would have gone there. Folks started going there once word came that the Center was being evacuated. So, you're going to deprive people of food because they might show up to get some?

It's hard not to have the feeling that the agencies involved were fearful of the uncivilized hordes of the inner city -- the people that live in the bad part of town that even the cops avoid. It's like after the storm the Superdome and Convention Center became "the bad part of town". The first thought was control and containment, rather than getting help to them.


Anonymous said...

The answer the US Red Cross gives to the question, Why is the Red Cross not in New Orleans? makes interesting reading -

Karen said...

Thanks, Steve. I guess it comes down to the Red Cross can't be in New Orleans unless and until the authorities let them -- and that didn't happen. They can only take care of people once they are evacuated. Until then, the victims were screwed.