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Poor, Brown and Dead May 15, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Federal Flood, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Remember, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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But Americans get lots of warning when a storm threatens, can use their own cars or public transit to escape on efficient, paved evacuation routes, have sturdy homes or tall buildings to protect them from a flood and plenty of food and medical care in the aftermath, said emergency management experts at a hurricane conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Emphasis in this excerpt from a Reuters story on Yahoo is mine. I would like to know who that particular quote is attributable to. Americans, he says. Remind me again why I would want to be part of the same country as this unnamed idiot?

I would personally like to take this asshole and chain him to a roof down here for five days in August. After that, we’ll take him as far out into Mississippi Sound as we can go and have him in water, say, no deeper than his chest. Then we’ll leave him there to wade back to shore. Hopefully he has some sort of medical problem requiring medication, so we can make sure that we can make sure he has to go without it for a few days.

While he’s up there starving and dehydrating, we can discuss the relative impact on disasters of color and poverty versus having a corrupt and incorrupt government. The differences between Myanmar and New Orleans are differences of scale (vast differences but still of scale) and not of kind. I’m sure I could get him to agree regardless of his political views if I offered him a bottle of water on the second or third day.

“Disasters happen, but the underlying poverty makes everything worse,” said Florida emergency management director Craig Fugate.

You got that right, as we say down here. Again, the difference between there and here is one of scale, not kind. New Orleans was The Other, a place culturally and racially alien to the sort of people most likely to be sitting on a panel discussing disaster relief. Maybe they should have asked some folks from the Ninth Ward about those differences. As I wrote a long time ago (Sept. 2, 2005 and yes this is lazy but apt):

…that otherness became our downfall. The poverty left tens of thousands unprepared for the storm’s aftermath. It also made us seem, at first, unimportant to those who could save us. At the end, it left the Northern bureaucrats who arrived on scene so confused and frightened that they recoiled from helping us, as if we were the last leper colony on the planet

They closed the city off, and left the people there to their fate, awaiting troops who could suppress this alien populace, and make it safe for real Americans. They didn’t care why the people of New Orleans were in their situation, any more than they care about the ultimate fate of any other benighted third world country.

We were a people apart, to be treated as they would the angry, hungry people of Port au Prince or Tikrit, should they threaten the supply of oil or the price of coffee–pacified by force if need be, until they could bring us the bottled water of civilization.

The Reuters story quoted above also mention’s Katrina’s death toll of “about 1,500”. Lazy bastards. Let me help you out. There’s this thing called the Internet which has made doing your job much easier than it was back in the day when I had to go to the library to look up stuff like this. Try here to start. I’m sure those couple of thousands of families you excluded aren’t offended at being forgotten. I’m sure you’ll be just as careful in Myanmar to exclude people whose death can’t be clearly proven to have occurred directly as a result of the storm, so as not to be sensational.

Here on Toulouse Street, we’re never going to let the world forget what happened down here.

Remember. 1,723 people died in Katrina. Over 4,000 died as a result of the storm, the flood or the evacuation. Some died in the storm. Most died as the result of the direct neglect or negligence of the central government.

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Comments»

1. Marco - May 15, 2008

Mark, the stats don’t reflect the individuals who are still dying from the flooding of 80% of their city. It’s a low down dirty shame.

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2. Robert Lindsay - May 16, 2008

Great stuff! Get the word out there on the 4000+ death toll. Who knows, if we scream loud enough, maybe some day the media will discuss it. Heck, I would even like to see them *deny* it. Anything is better than being ignored. Regarding Marco’s comment, well, get some epidemiologists to work on extending the death toll in a scientifically provable way, and I will look at it. The 4000+ death toll is based on the theory of excess mortality which is widely recognized in modern epidemiology. That is, barring any other explanation, those excess deaths in the period after the storm are assumed to be because of the storm. Those saying they are not due to storm, well, the burden of proof is on them, actually, not on us.

Keep up the great work folks!

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3. Wet Bank Guy - May 16, 2008

Thank you for your diligent research, Robert. I’ve linked back to your site before and written previously on the death toll, mostly on my now retired Wet Bank Guide.

And no one mentions Cuba, where everyone is dirt poor. I can’t speak for their roads, but they do a damn fine job of handling hurricane evacuations.

People continue to die of poor medical care and causes related to the dislocation of the largest displacment of people in the United States and it goes unrecognized. And we haven’t even begun to get to the people (mostly brown, poor and undocumented) who will suffer poor health and perhaps slowly die from their work gutting houses filled with mold without proper equipment.

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4. KamaAina - May 16, 2008

Of couse no one mentions Cuba. There is no such country as Cuba. There hasn’t been since 1959, when it mysteriously disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle. La, la, I can’t hear you!

The odd thing is, if there were still a country called Cuba, it would have offered to send doctors to the Gulf Coast in that late summer of ’05 — and we would have coldly rebuffed them, just like the thuggish, murderous ruling junta in Burma is doing right now.

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