These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced
(no more than 5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.
here to return to the Table of Contents.
Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
Katrina: The Political Mother
of All Storms
On August 28, 2005, morning broke along America’s Gulf coast and things will
never again be the same. From Alabama to Mississippi to Louisiana, from the coastline to five or more miles
inland, hurricane Katrina wreaked a level of destruction never before seen in our country’s recorded history.
Although most of the media attention has been played out in New Orleans, the extent of the damage is much greater
than one flooded city. Indeed, the total annihilation of commercial buildings and private homes along the Alabama
and Mississippi coast greatly exceeds that of New Orleans. Long-term effects of the loss of life, tending to the
displaced citizens, removing the debris, rebuilding cities, towns and neighborhoods, and repairing critical
strategic industrial infrastructure are certain to be severe.
“America’s Tsunami” is a title being given to
the effects of hurricane Katrina, and aptly so because when one looks at
of New Orleans before and after the storm, thoughts of Sri Lanka’s devastation last December immediately come to
mind. Similar pictures of the
Pascagoula, MS, region have not been splashed all over television and the Internet news sites. Neither have
the satellite images of
Biloxi, MS. Katrina’s wrath went far beyond the Gulf Coast, however. Her path up the west side of the
Appalachian Mountains flooded out many additional areas and caused
to multiple millions of homes. Damage estimates now exceed $200 Billion. The toll on human life, even now really
inestimable, could be 10,000 or more. As Americans, we have spent over 200 years coming to the assistance of
civilizations around the world as well as tending to uncountable disasters here at home. We shall overcome this,
What has happened in the aftermath, and in particular within New Orleans, has been exactly as one
might have expected. Those who have spent a lifetime accepting responsibility for themselves and helping others
extended their outreach and love for their fellow human beings by selflessly assisting family, neighbors and total
strangers in an effort to survive until help could come. Those who have spent their lives blaming others for their
problems and selfishly looking out only for #1 resorted to a well-practiced theme of stealing from their
neighbors, sacrificing the well-being of others to fend for themselves, and even resorting to thuggery by robbing
people at gunpoint and shooting at rescue workers. It has been a display of utter good and sheer evil.
Predictably, the news media has exploited the people caught up in this tragedy to point fingers at both the
federal government and the local government for not responding rapidly enough to the disaster. A mass of reporters
arrived on the scene a day before hurricane Katrina was due to make landfall, equipped with ample food, water and
clothing for themselves and their support crews. Most importantly, however, they knew that whatever happened, they
would be able to be extricated from the affected areas if necessary. These heroes descended upon New Orleans and
strategic, high-interest areas along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts with visions of award-winning coverage of
the human tragedy bestowed by the storm upon the citizens they would otherwise never be caught dead around (pardon
the dark analogy).
One particularly pathetic example occurred last night (Friday) on Fox News. Heraldo Rivera stood in front of
the camera, microphone in hand, and proceeded to have a tirade about how sufficient relief had not yet reached the
souls in his presence and implying that they were being abandoned. Being certain to place his lily-white,
well-fed, freshly-clothed self in the midst of a crowd of black Americans who had been days without provisions, he
had the gall to practically snatch a small child out of the arms of his mother and thrust him in front of the
camera and rant about no help having yet arrived. The poor kid was about to start crying so Heraldo handed him
back to his mother. Heraldo then started waving his arms and besmirching the military and civil response teams for
their ineptness and lack of concern for fellow citizens. Ironically, he started the segment admitting to having
just arrived there himself, from New York. He repeatedly spoke of it have been “six full days” since Katrina
struck the area, when in fact it had been not quite four-and-a-half days. I was so sickened by the display that I
had to turn the channel. A compassionate, responsible comportment would have help induce a claming and hopeful
presence. Instead, he incited as sense of betrayal. An e-mail has been sent to Fox News.
Not accounted for
by the media and other critics of the responders is that fact that 10,000 or more National Guard and Reserve
troops cannot arrive instantly on the scene in every location when the need is spread out over an area much
broader than just in New Orleans. Folks in Mississippi and Alabama are actually going unserviced because such
pressure has been brought to bear on attending to New Orleans just to appease the selfish reports’
self-importance. Our nation’s reporters apparently deem themselves front line commanders charged with calling in
support to their locations, knowing that they wield the power to make the rescue operations look bad – and
themselves look good - if their demands are not met. Haphazardly inundating all the affected areas without first
properly organizing the operation has the potential to make the situation worse rather than better. Real people
with real lives and families had to be brought together from around the entire country and organized. Men and
women left jobs and families behind to care for their fellow countrymen. They loaded supplies onto trucks and
airplanes, checked equipment and headed out as quickly as possible. They were headed into a situation that
training can only begin to prepare you for.
When the troops arrived, coverage was concentrated on pointing
out how late they were at arriving and how ineffective their efforts were once on the ground and in the air with
The rescuers had no part in the decision that those they were there to help had made about living where they
did in disaster-prone areas. New Orleans’ mayor ranted on television about how President Bush did not care
about people there because they are mostly black. Local thugs shot at rescue helicopters and at military members
there to help them. Television talk shows rounded up the usual suspects and provided air time to go on in a
diatribe about racism and global warming, and that if we had only signed the Kyoto Treaty a few years back, then
Hurricane Katrina would have never happened. You know them - they are the same ones quick to blame America for not
warning of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
Who is to blame for the disaster? Nobody, and everybody.
According to NOAA and other weather expert analyses, a 30-to40-year cycle exists with hurricanes where periods of
maximums and minimums emerge. We are entering another period of maximums. We have been warned repeatedly. The
previous two decades, which have been in relatively benign times (save for Hurricane Andrew in 1992), have seen
unprecedented build-ups of business and residential enterprises in some of the country’s most hurricane-prone
areas. Engineering firms planned, government officials granted permits for, banks approved money for,
constructions companies built, and people purchased and occupied, at their own free will, all of the houses,
factories, shopping malls, condominiums and office buildings that could be put up. Responsible adults made
conscious decisions to put their kids in harm's way. Everybody knew the inherent risks. Nobody thought the worst
could happen to him or her.