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Federal Evasion Management Agency September 6, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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So, I’m listening to some FEMA spokescritter on WWL-AM try to explain the “transitional assistance” program to house people whose homes are still uninhabitable. Someone finally nailed him on FEMA’s promise earlier in the week to help pay for evacuees hotels.

The mouthpiece tried to make it sound like a regional press flack mispokes hisself to the Associated Press.

Bullshit.

Secretary Micheal Chertoff announced on CNN in primetime while 2 million people from southeast Louisiana were glued to their TVs and promised assistance with evacuation hotel costs. Period. it happened. I saw it. FEMA cannot lie it away. And the hosts at WWL are apparently too timid to corner them and nail them on this.

The lessons we relearn here are the one’s we already know. FEMA are liars. FEMA cannot be relied upon for assistance. We are on our own.

But, frankly, we already knew that.

So, just to update FEMA and C. Ray “mother of all…900 mile wild storms” Nagin, we have got the message.

Don’t leave next time. If I can get my 87-year old mother on a direct flight to Kansas City and my sisters, trust me: we won’t.

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Don’t Let It Bring You Down June 20, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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As the scenes in Iowa slowly turn the sullen depression of the last year into a warm and encouraging anger, we continue our program of leaning heavily upon ripping off the song titles of our youth to get our idea across.

Good Morning, America, How Are You June 19, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, 8-29, Corps of Engineers, Federal Flood, Flood, flooding, home, levee, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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GULFPORT, Ill. – Juli Parks didn’t worry when water began creeping up the levee that shields this town of about 750 from the Mississippi River — not even when volunteers began piling on sandbags. ..
Then on Tuesday, the worst happened: The levee burst and Gulfport was submerged in 10 feet of water. Only 28 property owners were insured against the damage…
It is unclear what, if anything, the uninsured Parks would get in government disaster relief. “We’re hoping to rebuild, but it depends what FEMA says and how much we get,” said Parks, who is staying with her husband in a horse trailer…

The rest is here.

A horse trailer: that is where Juli Parks and her husband are staying.

What will it be like to live in a horse trailer for a year. Or two. Or three? Better perhaps than to live in a FEMA trailer and learn too late you have been poisoned, that your children will suffer the rest of their lives.

What our brothers and sisters in Iowa are discovering is the hard truth learned in New Orleans. The levees will not protect you. The government will not save you. What you have still to learn I will get to in a moment. For now, know this: you are on your own.

I blame George Bush.

Wait, stop, don’t hit that comment button yet. Bush didn’t dynamite the levees or destroy their homes. Still, he is the top man in the political establishment that spun the story of New Orleans into a myth with no basis in reality, the ugly story on cable news and AM radio that said what happened in New Orleans couldn’t happen to real Americans. It was “those people” and their corrupt ways that flooded New Orleans. It was the stupidity of people who would choose to live in the shadow of a levee and feel safe.

What happened in New Orleans had nothing to do with you, they were told. Move on. Listen, we have a war to win and we can’t get bin Laden unless you go shopping. Who knows how many more blond high school girls might disappear in suspicious circumstances if you don’t convert to digital cable and get that iPhone. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

It was all a lie.

And now the people who, almost three years after the Federal Flood, chose to live in the shadow of a Federal levee without flood insurance are learning the truth the hard way. You will lose everything, and the government will give you little or nothing. Maybe you will get your own Road Home program that offers half the replacement cost of a house. Perhaps the mortgage holder will lie to you and insist you have to sign that money over (you don’t really have to but they will lie to you as they lied to us, just as your insurance company lied to you when it said you were covered.) You will be left with a piece of land you can’t afford to build on.

When you try to rebuild you anyway will find the cost of construction materials has doubled and tripled since 8-29. Your insurance will increase five-fold. You will have to bear alone the full cost of rebuilding every thing around you. Your grocery bill will double to pay for the new store. Your utility company will gouge you to pay for what they lost in the flood. They will sell off the current power contracts while the power’s out and when it comes back on, the rates will have tripled. Your children’s schools will go without books for a year, if they have schools at all.

You will be told you will be better off if you move away from your home and leave it behind, to go somewhere else. Perhaps it won’t matter. The last place I lived people changed houses like they bought shoes. People cheerfully uprooted themselves to follow careers or just for a change. America has become a rootless people. Perhaps you won’t care.

Or are you more like us? Did you grandfather or great grandfather first break that earth? Did he found a town, its first bank or oldest church? Do you feel an irresistible compulsion to stay? My family has lived in Louisiana for almost 300 years. I am not going anywhere. If you follow in our footsteps, you need to forget everything you’ve heard about New Orleans, and look hard at us, at the real story of what happened here 8-29- and all the days since, because ours is the life ahead of you.

You will have to max out your credit cards, empty your savings accounts and 401ks, and still it will not be enough. You will have to cram your family into a tiny travel trailer and live there for years, even if it is slowly poisoning you. You will need to go to work all day, and come home and rebuild you house yourself all night. If you hire contractors, many will be the same predators who descended on us. They will take what money you have, and disappear. You will go back into your trailer, and you will weep in front of your children.

And still I think many of you will rebuild.

I think those of you who live in the houses or on the farms your parents or grandparents built, in the towns founded by your families generations ago, will insist on rebuilding just as we have. Somehow you will survive it all. I have a tremendous respect for the American people. They have come in the tens of thousands and still come to give of their time and effort to help us rebuild. Many of you who flooded are of that stock, are perhaps people who came to Chalmette or the Ninth Ward to guy homes or hammer up drywall.

If I sound discouraging I do not mean to. I just want you to open your eyes and see what the people of New Orleans have lived. I want everyone in American who sympathizes with you today to understand the truth. What happened in New Orleans can happen to you, and any suggestion that what happened here was unique or the fault of the victims is a lie. Not an exaggeration, or a distortion, or “spin”: a lie. It can happen to you. Perhaps because it has happened to the good people of Iowa and the other Mississippi River states people in America will wake up.

I hope that now they will realize that the country is full of levees that could fail at any moment, bridges like the one in Minnesota that could collapse. They need to know that the government the ruling political classes have worked at gutting and making ineffective for the last 30 years cannot help you, not in its current form or with its current leadership (not just one party or the other: Reaganomics and Clinton Bubblenomics have both gutted our ability to do anything as a nation). Everyone in this nation needs to know that tomorrow it could happen to them if something is not done, and what it will mean to them when it happens.

I have hope for New Orleans. For a long time, I had lost hope for America. I wrote these words many times in the last several years: the American experiment is over, and the results are in. It failed. Part of me does not want to believe that in spite of all of the hard evidence around me living in a city still half a ruin three years later. I want to find the fire that made me take a job that paid nothing as a journalist, the spirit that left me in awe when I walked the halls of Congress because I worked there. I want to remember what it was like to believe in a perfectible world, in something as big as a continent worth fighting for. I believe in New Orleans, and will fight for it, but I don’t know if it is enough.

I want to believe that the people of Iowa and Illinois will make common cause with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi, will insist that things change, will demand that the United States once again be about its people, will be a nation and not just an economy: of the people, by the people, for the people, never to perish from the earth.

People in the Midwest with flooded out lives have no time to think of this right now, but the eyes of the nation are upon them. Those of us who have walked that path must tell this story, must demand on their behalf and for all of us–even as we reach out to help our brothers and sisters in the baptism of the flood–that the levees must not fail again somewhere else, that the slow motion, disaster-without-end lived in New Orleans and the whole hurricane coast from Cameron to Gulfport should not be repeated there or anywhere.

And if it floods, why do they need water? June 5, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Courtesy of Scout Prime of the always excellent First Draft: FEMA: No More Ice during Hurricanes

Suspect Device:” Ice, Mr. Paulinson, is what we put the bodies on.”

Let us never forget this excellent suggestion regarding FEMA: We should armor the levees with their skulls.

The Sunday Blues Paper May 25, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Leave that Sunday paper rolled up on the porch, except perhaps for what I still call the funny papers, because frankly all that gray matter is just another flavor of the funny pages. And don’t you dare turn that TV on yet: stay away from all of the inane high school popularity chatter and who’s pregnant gossip that passes for news discussion. And don’t you even think about letting yourself sink into a mindlessness of battling chefs or cottage flipping for fun and profit.

You need to read this instead.

There, now you’re free to go fire up that grill and contemplate all those who have died to bring us to this place, and wonder what the fuck for.

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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