I've been reading WorldNetDaily and similar extreme right pundits and it's been bothering me, immensely, how bizzarely irrationally some people think. They blamed homosexuals, sexual decadence, tolerance, God's wrath, the lack of the ten commandments in state schools, liberals, the UN and foreign nations for the hurricanes and the way people are behaving. It's been bothering me that so many people could have such a perversely wrong and hateful view, and I was wondering if there was a left wing equivalent. Astrology and new age metaphysical silliness just didn't have the same oomph of fire and brimstone backwards idiocy.
I agree entirely that the federal government has been incredibly slow to act. FEMA is several days behind the media in learning about individual hospitals and centres where people have been gathered. The government seems to have turned down direct and speedy DART aid from Canada which would have flown in supplies and experienced, trained relief teams, and reportedly has turned down aid from Russia. I've yet to hear of them accepting aid from any of the 20-odd other countries offering help, although Condoleeza Rice has said they will do. Similarly, the National Guard has been slow in raising enough numbers to deal with the disaster, 30,000 people in or getting into the area only now, a number it's pledging to double. The National Guard by its very nature isn't under the remit of the government, though, and will take time to organise. That being said.
The job of the US Army Engineer Corps was not to decide what kind of levees were used, and the levee system itself is problematic to begin with, although they didn't know it at the time. They have a limited budget and provided the best support the money has allowed them; the new Orleans base had a severe budget cut over the past five or so years and was <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/s/ep/20050831/en_bpiep/didneworleanscatastrophehavetohappen">forced</a> to postpone a study into how New Orleans could be protected from force 5 hurricanes.
Many civilians stayed because they had no way of getting out of the city. A large part of New Orleans is incredibly, ridiculously poor - many living from paycheque to paycheque - and simply have never been able to afford bikes or cars, there is limited public transportation (which were used to ferry people to the superdome anyway, and train stations were closed,) and the extent of the flooding and damage almost immediately reached <a href="http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17018">extensive proportions</a>. Alabama and the Mississippi were also hit by the hurricane; hundreds have died in the Mississippi alone. Very few of the people still in New Orleans wanted to be. Hundreds, perhaps thousands will be dead by the end because they were poor. Bravo for crossing swords with them.
The looting, primarily, was and is of basic necessities. The police were deliberately ignoring or helping the efforts of people to steal food, sanitary products and water for themselves and their families. Sanitation, food and clean water are at a phenomenal low, and once the supply of clean water runs out and typhus (and more given the state of the water surrounding New Orleans,) becomes prevalent it's going to get much, much worse. Babies, the crippled and the elderly are already dying in droves and left to rot. Looting is the only thing keeping <i>anyone</i> alive. Of course they're desperate. Police officers who have lost everything that means anything to them are giving up in droves. The National Guard presence simply isn't large enough to help most people.
That being said looting has extended into electrical equipment, booze and other commodities. There was a large state housing project very near the French Quarter. It was one of the poorest areas, one of the least evacuated, and one of the most crime ridden. They are now even poorer and have even less. They have, reportedly, come together in gangs and have been stealing lots of things, and have caused National Guard and others to be diverted to try and stop them. They're using guns to steal the basic things we all need and more, take pot shots at policemen and Guardsmen trying to stop them, and to threaten choppers to come back with more water and food for their families. This has slowed down rescue efforts. Animals. Fantastic. Fine.
There have also been unconfirmed and limited reports of rape. Horrible, inexcusable stuff if true. Makes all of the survivors look bad, lets the entire team down.
And people drinking booze before horrendous devastation strikes? I think the best thing you can do, since you asked, is stop snorting cocaine.