26 April, 2006

Kanye West Doesnt Like Facts: Myths About Katrina

Everyone...and I mean you [points finger] should read this excellent Popular Mechanics article that debunks the myths of Katrina, which are still framing much of the debate about government response, racism in America and the plight of the urban (read black) poor. Turns out, federal response, aside from some bungling, was not that bad. Far from being, as one commentor put it, "the biggest abandonment of Americans on American soil"--everyone's response, including the Feds, was actually one of the fastest operations in history (contrast with the 10 days it took Clinton to send fed response to areas affected by Hurricane Andrew, which in fact was a more powerful storm than Katrina). Another myth (and this slightly destroys my argument about the ineptitude of NO Mayor Nigan): that evcuation methods failed. In fact, in the 38 hours prior to the storm's landfall, 1.2 million out of 1.5 million in the metro area were able to get out. The remaining 300,000? Turns out, according to later investigations, that many chose to stay!!! Thats right, many people--who later bitched and whined on TV about being abandoned by a racist administration--chose to remain behind to await the fun of surviving a hurricane. Yippee!

Anyway, read it. Its certainly an eye-opener. Money quote:

For nearly 300 years the interests of landowners, farmers, fishermen, oil companies, businessmen and politicians have all conspired against the natural will of the third largest drainage basin in the world. The Mississippi River was once a meandering, interconnected system of large streams. It flooded often, changed its course every 1500 years or so, and built up coastal deltas and wetlands by depositing 400 million tons of clay, sand and silt on southern Louisiana's coastline each year...

In the past few decades, however, scientists realized that the Corps' control structures, dams and levees were either trapping sediment upstream or spitting it out past the continental shelf, which meant that new coastal wetlands could no longer form and existing ones were diminishing. This, combined with rising sea levels, has meant that in the past century Louisiana has lost 1.2 million acres of coastal marshes, swamps and barrier islands.

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