Saturday, September 03, 2005

Back in town

With a couple of thoughts before bed.

1) What is the correlation between the size and scope of a natural disaster, and the amount of disruption in the daily functions of a city? In other words, how big does a disaster have to be before a person or a community accept the fact that their city will temporarily stop functioning? How big of a disaster should a city prepare for? How big an earthquake should San Fransisco prepare for? Surely not all the residential buildings and business offices are adequately prepared for the big one in terms of structure and foundation. Surely there are reports in SF saying Building A is only prepared for an 8.2, and at some point SF will experience a 9.0. How large of any disaster can a city feasibly prepare for?

I've been in Florida during hurricanes, including last year. The preparations were vast. The response was immediate. Nonetheless, power was out, trees were down, businesses were closed. If your city is a port city, and is below sea level, on a coast, surely you prepare for flooding. But what level do you prepare for?

2) The more I think about the two days between Katrina hitting and the subsequent damage, and when Bush seemed to notice, the more disturbed I get. Let's break this down. While on vacation, the president, any president, is surely getting daily briefings on various subjects, but we can't imagine GW was glued to CNN (ok, FoxNews) like the rest of us were. But at some point over those two days, surely an aide or administration official informed him of a flooded city, people dying in the streets, and the lawlessness.

Right? So either GW wasn't informed of the magnitude of what the rest of the nation was watching, even though every news channel in the country was showing it 24/7. Or he wasn't informed at all; hey, just another hurricane, everything will be fine like in JebTown FL USA. Or, he was informed of the dying, the flooding, and the lawlessness, and didn't do anything about it. And I'm not talking about Bush grabbing a hardhat and an airboat and rescuing people. I'm talking about a 10 minute speech to comfort the nation in a time of need. Did the Bush Administration truly drop the ball on this one? Is GW truly dis-connected? Did they not come out and give a press conference because they knew they didn't have anything to report beyond "Woops"?

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