Sep 1, 2005

Hell-Storm Katrina


Left: Thousands of refugees walking on an elevated expressway in New Orleans - Reuters

The images of chaos from New Orleans have been haunting me for days, especially given the fact that the initial reports from the networks were that the city managed to avoid catastrophic damage. New Orleans is experiencing death and misery on a scale perhaps unprecedented in modern American history.

Left: N.O. Police officer guarding a fuel truck - London Times

Perhaps most disturbing have been the images of residents reduced to looting retail businesses. There have certainly been opportunistic thieves hellbent on grabbing flat-screen TVs, expensive audio equipment, and Oxycotin, but seeing desperate people wading through chest-deep sewage to steal bottled water, food, and diapers is horrifying. Would that I never have to live in a place reduced below the level of existence of the worst Calcutta slum.

Left: BP station at Central and Cherry - historymike

Closer to home, of course, we are seeing the unseen hand of the free market working its disinterested magic upon gas prices. Fears of long-term damage to oil refineries, offshore wells, and Gulf coast ports have sent the pump prices well above $3.00 a gallon. I was intrigued to see two BPs (Secor/Monroe and Central/Cherry) have different prices 15 minutes apart today ($3.14 to $3.19). Numerous stations have just given up posting prices on the marquee signs, since the price is seemingly changing by the minute.

Left: (clockwise) Mayor Jack Ford, Fire Chief Mike Bell, Cynthia Savage, Councilman Frank Szollosi, Juanita Greene (BCR), Traci Jadlos (Youth Commission) - historymike

Toledo Mayor Ford and numerous city officials gathered at 4:30 today to participate in a conference call with mayors from across the nation to discuss the destruction of New Orleans. The city is assembling a team of firefighters to send to New Orleans to assist with rescue efforts; these volunteers will be paid through administrative leave. Ford said that fundraising efforts will likely be coordinated with the local Red Cross.

The scale of this disaster is almost beyond comprehension; the destruction of buildings and infrastructure in New Orleans may be akin to that of Hiroshima or Dresden, since many of the city's buildings will have to be leveled once the water is pumped out. The idea that a modern American city can be reduced to utter devastation ought to be a sober reminder to all of us about how quickly one's fortunes can change.

To assuage the survivalist in me, I am going to stock up on a couple of cases of bottled water, some flashlight batteries, and a few extra canned goods.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Where did you get the Ford pic?

Anonymous said...

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historymike said...

I got the picture from the 22nd Floor of One Government Center, after interviewing the mayor for the Toledo Free Press.

Sorry, gotta wait until next week for the details of the interview.

Frank said...

Looking forward to those details. Appreciate your thoughtful approach to the aftermath of katrina. Its unlike anything I think anyone alive has ever seen - surpassing in scope of 9/11 & just as shocking, I think.

Anonymous said...

Why are you sucking up to Jack Ford?