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The Fire or The Flood

October 29, 2007

Give me the fire.

Compare this:
Your average income is near or below the poverty line, you have no communications capabilities, uncoordinated local emergency response, and a 10-day delay in receiving Federal disaster assistants, 2-story high standing water for weeks, and many of your family have disappeared under the waters tow, either before your eyes or it’s suspected.

Oh, and don’t let me forget a cameo appearance by the President after the water recedes.

Who are you?  You’re a victim of this countries worst natural disaster ever.  You’re a resident of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans during Katrina.

Now picture this:
You live in an affluent suburb known for having occasional brush fires, your reverse-911 system is the most advanced in the United States, your only concern is getting out (because your insurance is the best available), the President visits before the fires are pushed back (not after it’s over). 

You have no water rushing into your streets, you have no communications failures.  But you do have suspected arson – you do have FEMA doing it’s job (actually moving assets toward San Diego before the evacuation warnings began), and you do have a populace with fluid assets and great options for physical mobility. 

Who are you? You’re a victim of San Diego Brush Fires. You pick who you want to be, as for me, it’s a no-brainer.  Give me San Diego’s fires.

This is a column I’ve been thinking about, but did not want to write.  However, Pres. Bush’s comments vilifying  the Louisiana local officials, and praising Gov. Schwarzenegger and the officials of San Diego slapped me in the face this morning. 

"It makes a significant difference when you have somebody in the Statehouse willing to take the lead." – Pres. George Bush

Read the whole story here:

Bush should be ashamed of himself.  To compare these two disasters is outrageous.  There is no comparison.  And it would appear that conscientious people agree:

"I think you’re comparing a paper cut to an amputation," said Sally
, the former press secretary to Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans
and author of a new book, “Eye of the Storm: Inside City Hall During
"We had no communication capability, we could not drive on
our roads, we had 80 percent of our city under water, we had no power." – Sally Forman, Former Press Secretary to Mayor C. Ray Nagin

The fact that Katrina posed a much broader array of challenges is incontrovertible.  So Bush’s comparison serves only to salt the wounds felt by those communities hardest hit by Katrina.

"This is a president who flew over the state while people were on their
roofs," Ms. Brazile said. "The president, of all people, should be very
careful not to criticize and reopen that wound, a wound that was so
deeply felt by the people of Louisiana." – Donna Brazile, Democratic Strategist and Louisiana native

As I said before, I truly did not want to write about these fires. I didn’t want to write about them, because I saw the handwriting on the wall.  I saw how quickly the rescue efforts were being pushed, how much more gravely the danger was being reported (both of which did not occur until after the brunt of Katrina had been felt), and I realized the kind of inequity that was going to occur.

Let’s be real.  Who doesn’t think San Diego is going to be re-built before some of the Lower 9th receive real assistants?  Not this observer.

Now we’re getting spin-doctored, with the hopeful result of a transferral of culpability by the Federal Government.  It is true that local officials were partly to blame in the failures of Katrina, but those officials had nothing to do with those levies breaking.  They had nothing to do with FEMA deciding to wait days before sending trucks of clean water and they are not to blame for the atrocious level of monetary aide (Federal) being delivered/received to the people of New Orleans.

The truth is, we are witnessing a rally around a national catastrophe that we did not observe (except in lip service) during Katrina, during the flooding after the hurricane or in-fact now 2 years later!

Give me a break Mr. President.

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