Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Value of Blog Comments

The blogosphere gives us information insights and analysis that the lefty MSM either can't provide, or suppresses. This value can come from commenters as well as bloggers - here's an example of a thoughtful and articulate commenter with essential, first-hand knowledge, who picks up a blindingly obvious point that I (at least) had missed.

His comment is on CQ, he lives in New Orleans, his handle is Matt, and his comment is here (the "you" he talks about are the other commenters):

My name is Matt and I've lived in NOLA for the past 15 years and all I can say is most of you don't have a clue. Can we please stop all the outrage and finger pointing. Yes our governor is a joke, yes the mayor is in over his head, but nobody, nobody, not Giuliani or any other mayor or governor could have evacuated the city in time. What people don't understand is who is going to pay for all this? Let me explain.

Last year when we had a close call with Ivan, everyone knew this could happen, but what can be done? Everytime there's a storm in the gulf you cannot evacuate the 200,000 people who cannot or will not fend for themselves. How are you going to bus them out, feed them, shelter them with bathroom facilities for a week every time there's a storm in the gulf? Sunday morning, 24 hours before the storm, the predicted landfall error margin from the NHC is still 150 miles wide. If a grain barge hadn't gotten loose and broken the levee, we would all being talking about Mississippi where the storm actually hit. NOLA would be a non-story, a non-event. The storm missed us.

But back to my point about evacuating. Who is going to stockpile 10 million gallons of bottled water, 20 million MREs, etc., ? Are we going to open the Astrodome and all the other venues, mobilize the Army and Red Cross each and every time a storm is in the gulf? Are you going to pay for that? Check your facts people, 72 hours out, which is when you would have to start evacuations, the error margin is 350 - 400 miles wide. You could wind up evacuating people for no reason and to where the storm actually hits!

Don't say the city and or state should pay, there's no money. Financially speaking probably about half of the people you saw on TV, are a drain financially (yes I'm stressing that intentionally) on the city. Almost everyone who pays attention, and who could get out on their own did. Many of the people left in the city and on your TV screens, live in projects or section 8 housing at taxpayer expense, get food stamps, welfare checks, medicaid and medicare and on and on. There is a sense of entitlement in some areas of the city that you could never even imagine.

Many people didn't heed the order to leave because they KNEW Nagin would have no choice but to open the superdome. All you heard on TV was about all the elderly and the special needs people who were stranded and neglected. Give me a break! For the first 12 hours the superdome was open only to special needs people. It was all over the TV and radio, the city had a hotline and would COME PICK YOU UP and take you to the Superdome. They got 600 people in. 600!

If people will not help themselves in even the smallest ways, what can you do? Some legitimately have no means to get out, but that number is much smaller, (as someone suggested above with all the cars trapped in standing water) than the number who stayed anyway. That's probably because of the miss with Ivan and and so many other misses in the last 40 years since Betsy.

But that is still no reason not to be prepared with your own food and water. I had only lived there two weeks and friends told me if you have to go to the attic in a flood make sure you take an axe or something to breakout. That was 15 years ago! EVERYONE in NOLA knows the city's history with hurricanes and with Betsy in particular. In NOLA the local TV stations start with the Hurricane preparedness shows in May and run them repeatedly throughout Hurricane season. IF you don't have food and water for your family, you are an ass. Period. We all make choices on how to spend limited funds. You can buy dented cans at a supermarket for 10 cents a can. You can prepare regardless of your income or lack thereof, especially when you have 40 YEARS to get prepared. Bottled water doesn't go bad.

Nobody will even discuss these things because the PC thought police will crucify anyone who has the guts to discuss some level of personal responsibility.

As for the blame game, yes the president was slow, but only by about 24 hours. He should have gone on TV and announced he was waiting for the governor to ask for federal troops to put the onus on her. But it seems only people in NOLA know that Nagin got on TV saturday night and said the President called him personally and begged him to evacuate the city. He said he couldn't call for a mandatory at that time because of some legal crap about having the ability to enforce the call.

The governor is the real problem because active duty federal troops can't come in until she asks, and she sat on her butt and did nothing.

Yes, Nagin screwed up, but you've got to give him a pass on the evacuation part. It couldn't be done. Where he screwed up was tolerating the looting.

It goes on, entirely to the point, and puts me (at least) to shame.

As you'll see, Matt explains how the cost of false alarms combined with the uncertainty of the predicted point of impact of the hurricane made the decision to evacuate very difficult. I should have spotted that - decision making is my specialty.

I'll repair the deficiency in a subsequent post.