Helping out with Katrina problems

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Ian

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May 4, 2005
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Adelaide, South Australia
Just a quick note to say that a good mate of mine, Strickland by name, might be calling in here soon seeking help and advice. He is part of a team trying to restore networks by using Rv's as the power and protection for servers and hubs in some of the disaster area. he lives down a bit from Baton Rouge and west a bit from New Orleans. He can tell you much more about it than I can but if you do see him, please say hi and hear him out, he's a nice guy and a good friend.

And my heart goes out to all affected by this natural disaster. We watch the scenes on TV, heck I watched the progress and kept Strick informed while chatting across Skype. I still cant believe that much damage and destruction. Awful.

Cheers,  Ian
 

Tom

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Hi Ian, long time no talk. I don't recall seeing any message from your friend yet.

This is truly a disaster the magnitude of which is not yet understood.
 

fredethomas

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Did you notice how well the people looked after themselves when the warnings came?  Did you see how well the cities were ready?  Thousands of empty school busses yet no transportation for the poor?  No emergency rations ready?  No deals with local warehouses to supply goods? Hospital  gensets setting where water to get to them.  Arms not secured?  etc.

Did you notice how little effort and planning had been done by the state?  No evacuation centers set-up in the high lands, no transportation contracts let to commercial bussing companies, trains setting idle in the yards?

Yet the media blames the USG.  Us your city ready?  Is Los Angles ready for the big one?  I bet not.
 

Ron

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I agree with completely on this one Fred.  I just can't imagine putting thousands of people in a sports arena, shelter of last resort, without planning for food and water to feed these folks, no porta pottys set up when the sewage system went down.  This is a terrible tragedy and I feel compasion for those affected.  However, that fact remains the city and state authorities were out to lunch when it came to planning.  Plenty of warning but insufficient action on the state and cities level.  Very unfortunate but as you indicated absolutely no planning or action taken in spite of the warnings.  May god bless those unfortunate innocent victims.

The news media hasn't been much help either IMHO.
 

BruceinFL

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Ron said:
The news media hasn't been much help either IMHO.

Usually I would agree with you, but in this case the media lit a fire under the gov's butt. Those unfortunate people would probably still be sitting in the Superdome and Convention Centern if it wasn't for the Bill O'Reillys in the media.
 

Tom

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BruceinFL said:
in this case the media lit a fire under the gov's butt.

That's how it seems to me too Bruce. El President made a big personal sacrifice by cutting his vacation short and proceeded to get his photo op in while folks were still still starving and dying.

A disaster of this magnitude clearly needed Federal help which was days late. Cities and states were clearly overwhelmed by the magnitiude and by the failure of infrastructure. Meanwhile, Federal agencies were wrapped up in senseless red tape. Nothing to do with placing blame, just total lack of leadership from the top.
 

Carl L

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fredethomas said:
? Is Los Angles ready for the big one?? I bet not. 

Bet.  As ready as most anyone can be.  We learned from the 1971 Sylmar, and we learned even more from the 1994 Northridge.  We have retrofitted most all of our bridge piers.  We have been runing EOC operations regularly.  Last I heard we have retained contractors and mutual aid agreements with all regional governments and utilities. 

Given all that, as Von Clausewitz once said, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
 

Jim Godward

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I have to agree with Carl that the LA/Orange Co. areas are probably more prepared than almost any others except in CA, and FL. 

The city and state are really at fault in my mind as the Feds can't move till requested.  I know, red tape, but that is the way mutual aid is set up.  You HAVE TO REQUEST IT!!  It should have been done before the storm hit but was not and then it was not requested in a timely manner.

Also the FEDS did not follow their Incident command system which we all have trained on up here in the boondocks.  CA has been using that approach for a number of years and it does work.  I was there in the middle of the whittier quake and saw it and was part of it.  BG

Very frustrating to the guys around here that work the forest fires etc on a regular basis.  BG



 

Betty Brewer

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Carl Lundquist said:
Bet.? As ready as most anyone can be.? ?We learned from the 1971 Sylmar, and we learned even more from the 1994 Northridge.? ?We have retrofitted most all of our bridge piers.? We have been running EOC operations regularly.? Last I heard we have retained contractors and mutual aid agreements with all regional governments and utilities.?
Given all that, as Von Clausewitz once said, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy.

I was an elementary school principal in? Southern CA for over 20 years.? In my 4th week as a? new school principal, we experienced the Whittier Quake.? Not too much damage at my school but? lots of very frightened people.? Ceiling tiles actually fell on my head in the early morning hour quake.? Our school community was prepared with food and water for our over 450 kids for up to 72 hours.? The PTA bought cargo containers and parents provided "earthquake Packets" which were a suggested list of provisions? as a regular school supply.? We stored those items? all year and on last day of school donated them to? homeless shelters to ensure freshness for the following year.? All classrooms were supplied with? batteries, flashlights, crowbars, solar blankets and various other supplies. We maintained 50 gallon water barrels on site.? We were trained that we would be "on our own" in THE BIG ONE.? We had no visions of rescue from the federal government.? We did preparations on our own.? We practiced, we drilled.?Teachers were assigned to search and rescue teams and trained in fire prevention and first aid? teams.? We had portable radios.? Our families worked with us. We had battery operated PA systems for communication to masses huddled on the grounds. We planned where the? "bathrooms" would be located on the playground. We? purchased tarps and planned where the morgue would be located.? Thankfully we never had to call those efforts to use, but with each tremor we renewed our resolve to be prepared.?
That said,? I don't know what might have happened if all of our supplies were under water.? I think this disaster is another reminder that we need to take personal responsibility for our safety and not to rely solely on the Government for rescue.? I think our?governmental agencies did?and are doing a heroic job given the circumstances and? magnitude of disaster.? What have you done to prepare your family for a disaster.? It is an individual question.? So easy to place blame over there, more difficult to ask what am I doing.?What have I done and? what can I do now ?

Betty Brewer
 

Tom

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Thanks for sharing that well thought out message Betty.
 

Jim Dick

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BruceinFL said:
Usually I would agree with you, but in this case the media lit a fire under the gov's butt. Those unfortunate people would probably still be sitting in the Superdome and Convention Centern if it wasn't for the Bill O'Reillys in the media.

I agree. The fire went as far as D.C.! It's shameful that it took 4 days for the President to even visit the stricken area!!

 

Ron

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Thanks for sharing Betty.  Obviously you were prepared and had plans including the necessities like food and water as well as potty facilities.  Not like we seen recently putting thousands of people in a sports arena with inadequate food, water, pottys.  It does take planning as well as action.
 

Jeff

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There is no question that the media helped emphasize the immediate need for action , but Bill O'Reilly, Please.  ??? ??? ???

Watching him and Horaldo take credit for all the relief showing up made me sick. There were scores of real newspeople that were there from the beginning that did the real reporting.
 

Bob Buchanan

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Hello Ian:

ilox said:
And my heart goes out to all affected by this natural disaster. We watch the scenes on TV, heck I watched the progress and kept Strick informed while chatting across Skype. I still cant believe that much damage and destruction. Awful.

Yes, I too have been watching with disbelief at the damage to the area, and the corresponding suffering to the unfortunate soul's who could not or would not leave before the waters came through the levee's. I was not familiar with the geography of the city before now -- and that has me shaking my head in wonder.

A major portion of my career was as a Civil Engineer and programmer for the Bureau of Reclamation. That had me involved at the design level of many levee's and earth fill dams -- such as the San Luis dam in CA that I can see right now from the RV park where I am currently parked. So my first thoughts were about the levee design -- and the fact that the city was a disaster waiting to happen. There was a point in time (as you have probably heard on the news) when a decision was made to design for a Cat 3 vs. a 4 or 5. The reasoning was the incremental cost in millions (at that time) coupled with "probabilities" that a Cat 4 or higher would ever hit. I was never taught to include probabilities into design plans that I might sign off on.

While at Reclamation -- and at school at U of K, all design that I worked with placed all the potential loads on a structure, then placed a safety factor of 2 or more on top of that -- so those levee's should have been designed for a Cat 5 or 6 (if there is such a designation as a 6). I believe the numbers are exponential as with earthquakes in that a 6 is not a linear number above 5, but exponentially higher. Will never forget one of my structural design instructors at the U of Kentucky warning us that, "When a doctor makes a mistake, they bury it. When a Civil Engineer makes a mistake, they have a mass funeral". Looks like he was right.

So anyway -- that's the only "blame" thought I have and hope this thread can move in the direction of what have we learned and were do we go from here vs. another opportunity to bash our President, the government, the news media, or anyone else.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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My vote is for failure at all levels of government across the board - lack of preparation and lack of a disaster recovery plan followed by a totally inadequate response when everything went into the crapper.    New Orleans is largely below sea level and surrounded by levees, for crying out loud, so floods are ALWAYS a looming disaster. What were the city and state people thinking of?

And FEMA!  I don't even want to go there...
 

Tom

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Bob Buchanan said:
another opportunity to bash our President, the government, the news media, or anyone else.

No bashing intended here Bob, but photo ops at a time when leadership is needed?
 

Phil

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Bob Buchanan said:
So my first thoughts were about the levee design -- and the fact that the city was a disaster waiting to happen. There was a point in time (as you have probably heard on the news) when a decision was made to design for a Cat 3 vs. a 4 or 5. The reasoning was the incremental cost in millions (at that time) coupled with "probabilities" that a Cat 4 or higher would ever hit.

Engineer says we need to make the levee stronger.

Taxpayer says will it cost money?

Engineer says yes.

Taxpayer says hell no.
 

Jim Dick

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Bob,

We were in NO a few years ago with the Nathans. We stayed at a park that claimed to be the closest to downtown. It rained the day we got there and the next morning the park and half the roads to the city were flooded!! The pumps just couldn't keep up with it. I can't imagine they would let anyone stay behind when they can't even handle a thunderstorm!

 

Ron from Big D

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You are all right and have some very valid arguments.  As a staunch supporter of our President, I'm ashamed of his performance on this one.

On another note, lets look at something overlooked in this discussion. It is the personal responsibility of all those folks involved.  (Don't jump me) because I do understand there are poor and helpless folks involved, but many with decent brains and means should have done more to protect themselves and others around them.  How about the major corporations with investments in New Orleans. Surely anyone living below sea level understands that a disaster is possible.  Living behind levees and depending on pumps? A simple power outage could shut down the pumps.  It didn't take a hurricane. Funny thing is:  Chicago has a similar situation and no one seems to care or be aware of the problem.  Sooner or later, they too will pay a price.

I think everyone down there was so entranced with the historical New Orleans and its image, they couldn't see the reality of their existence.  Like Betty said and I've said for years:  "No one looks out for number one, except number one"  Be prepared and be responsible.  If you can't, then don't complain and blame it all on someone else.

On another note, Mississippi is being left completely out of the discussion and they were hurt as bad if not worse than Lousiana.

 

BernieD

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Ron M.

Sorry, I think you missed the target on some of your premises and facts. First, Chicago is not below sea level, nor lower than the level of Lake Michigan. Flooding in Chicago when it happens is usuallyfrom significant rainfall and the storm sewers can't handle the flow, not from the lake flooding it. I saw a statistic saying that 21% of NO's population was below the poverty level. They didn't have cars or cash to pay for gas to get out, and if they did where would they go? The government does have some responsibility in situations like that.
 
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