Saturday, June 14, 2008

Iowa's "Katrina"? 

The flooding in eastern Iowa has reached the point of catastrophe. Towns are overwhelmed, businesses destroyed, and crops are gone. A fifth of the corn and soybeans are gone. Fox News is calling it "Iowa's Katrina." Here is a gallery of aerial phtographs at the web site of the newspaper I used to deliver every afternoon, the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

The thing is, though, the people of eastern Iowa seem to be stepping up in the Iowa stubborn way. I have seen any number of man-on-the-street interviews, and nobody is complaining. They all seem to be working to solve their problem, which is not surprising because Iowans do not complain about tragedy. They complain about hot weather and dry weather, but not tragedy. And I have looked for reports of looting and come up empty so far.

Katrina has become a metaphor for many things beyond natural disaster, including governmental and individual incompetence (depending on your point of view). In Iowa there is a 500 year flood, but the people are not paralyzed, whining, or looting. There will be no massive relief effort from around the world, and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans. Yet years from now, there will be no Iowans still in FEMA camps.

The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood.

UPDATE (late Sunday afternoon): This post obviously touched a nerve. Oops. I certainly could have chosen my words more carefully. Sorry if I ruined Father's Day for any of you.

In any case, the University of Iowa, home of the Hawkeyes, is mounting its last stand.


By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sat Jun 14, 11:05:00 PM:

"The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood."

Damn straight.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:13:00 AM:

Funny how white people are quickly praised for putting up with a little water but blacks are ripped for not being able to control a virulent flood that killed 10,000 people.  

By Blogger mythusmage, at Sun Jun 15, 12:20:00 AM:


The difference is, the people in New Orleans have been taught to be helpless, the people in Iowa never learned that lesson. There is a class in our society that derives meaning from the dependency of others. Without a permanent helpless class they have no reason for being.  

By Blogger Cervus, at Sun Jun 15, 12:22:00 AM:

Didn't take long for the accusations of racism to start, did it? Death toll was about 1,800, not 10k.

Tigerhawk, when you say "1/5 of the corn and soybean crop lost", do you mean nationwide? Or just the state of Iowa? That's very important right now.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:23:00 AM:

How many people are we talking about?

I know you're trying to bolster folks in Iowa during their time of struggle, but with all due respect, your post comes across as somewhat offensive.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:23:00 AM:

Um, Anonymous....nobody said anything about black people. I understand how you *could* take it that way but I don't think that's the point since there are plenty of white people affected by Katrina that fall into the "FEMA Camps" category.

The point is to applaud the "I can do it myself" spirit rather than "why the hell hasn't someone done this for me yet" attitude. If you think that these attitudes break down by racial categories all I can say is that it is a shame that you look upon black people that way.

Also, Katrina didn't kill 10,000. Final death counts were just above 1,000. Also, while I too would characterize Katrina as worse than the flooding here, surely you recognize that this is far more than "a little water."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:24:00 AM:

I'm not sure if "anonymous" is trying to be funny, but he's not. I lived in Iowa for 60 years before retiring last year. I know Iowans, and I know they'll take care of themselves and their families without any help from FEMA or anyone else. By the way, 10,000 people did not die in Katrina.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:25:00 AM:

I believe the Katrina death toll was around 1800 people -- not 10,000. That initial report was almost immediately disproven, yet people continue to cite it.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Jun 15, 12:30:00 AM:

I am increasingly of the opinion that anonymous comments shouldn't be allowed here any more...  

By Blogger The Grey Man, at Sun Jun 15, 12:34:00 AM:

I'm terribly sorry, but I must disagree.

First, I must tell you that I'm lifelong south Louisiana, originally from New Orleans, and have lived just north of the city for 24 years. I worked in the city until a few months ago. And I was part of the rescue, going in and out of the city and the water.

The nation saw just what the media showed. The Convention Center, and the Superdome. They missed 90% of the story and got only 10% right of what they did cover.

Yes, some people behaved badly. And some still are. But they were, and are the minority.

And remember that those in the city had been told, for sixty years, by "responsible" liberal politicos that nothing was their fault. Ever. And there is no personal responsibility. They were fed the "government will take care of you" for generations. And I'm surprised at how well we did, when one considers how they were trained. Fortunately, most people, black and white, chose to ignore the government claptrap and took responsibility for thier own lives.

95% of the people acted responsibly, evacuated when wise, and are either rebuilding or have made a new life elsewhere. We took in neighbors, relatives, and strangers. We forgot color. We did what was necessary to survive, to rescue, and to rebuild.

In my own area, we have not only recovered, but are thriving. We cleaned up, provided for our new neighbors, and welcomed those who decided to stay.

Notice that the whining and suchlike is from a major liberal urban center, a city that's been dying for decades. You don't hear the same from the Northshore, or the Mississippi coast.

I'm proud of my area, although not New Orleans.

Enough ranting. On to important things.

I'm sorry that Iowa has to go through anything similar to what we did. Your response does you credit. May your damage be as light as possible, and your road to recovery be swift.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:37:00 AM:

I'm from Cedar Rapids, and to be clear, the water actually rose higher than the 500-year level. If it were just "a little water" my office would not have been flooded to the top of the door. Now the offices in all 11 stories are out of commission (at that location) for who knows how long. Katrina came on faster, and damaged communications systems, and was more wide-spread. So I have to say that it was worse. But the government elected officials and payrolled people could have done much better in preparing. We have been extremely blessed with public servants who thought and planned ahead, and with volunteers at our time of need. Together they have been responsible for minimizing injuries and loss of life.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:40:00 AM:

Help is coming, just not from the government, Christian NGOs are on the march. You'll hear little about them, though.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:50:00 AM:

"Iowa's Katrina" is just silly. Iowa's Tropical Storm Allison is closer, and bad enough.

No doubt about the character of Iowans, and I hope this doesn't get much worse.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 01:04:00 AM:

What, no whining for the government to step in to save them from their own folly?

This is the difference between a culture of dependence vs. independence.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 01:20:00 AM:

No offense to Iowans, their flood is dramatic and their gumption is impressive, but Iowa is nothing like Katrina. When levees failed in New Orleans, they wiped clean BLOCKS of houses and killed hundreds. The water took over a month to pump out. The entire city - over a million people - was evacuated for weeks. Iowa doesn't have the problem with dense pockets of poverty that New Orleans has. Iowa's water can flow away.

And to blame a culture of dependence because a few thousand poor people chose to stay in the Superdome instead of take a bus to evacuate? New Orleans had been evacuated two or three times in the previous few years. And the Superdome had always been used as a safe haven. It wasn't a questionable decision except in hindsight. And a large proportion of those who died in the flooding were old, white women who lived alone, widows, etc.

There are a limited number of good-for-nothing people anywhere who would leech of the government for as long as they could. Their cases are the extreme, but dramatic, minority of evacuees. Using this flood to suggest it somehow proves the superiority of Iowa to New Orleans is absurb. It's not apples and oranges, it's apples and watermelons. You should be ashamed.  

By Blogger Dan Kauffman, at Sun Jun 15, 01:23:00 AM:

One of the sandbag locations filled 7000 that is seven thousand bags in two hours, A LOT of volunteers.

High and Dry, 3 blocks from the Evac Zone. I have been a good boy, haven't turned on my taps or flushed my toilets the City only has 3 days of water left.

DokotaTransplant can correct me if I am mistaken but the South East Side near the river is a Black neighborhood and no one left them behind.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 01:40:00 AM:

@ anon:

The population of New Orleans prior to Katrina was not over a million, but about 475,000. That's a little over twice the size of Des Moines.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 01:52:00 AM:

Lord I hope the waters rise no further. I know the grand people of Cedar Rapid and the surrounding country will take care of themselves. But I pray that they will have little more to deal with.

Tough, strong, independent: fly over country. Like a rock.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 02:02:00 AM:

When or if the demoncrats win and have obamy in the Black house?. Then there is the yearly floods, fires, mudslides in Califoriniction and hurricanes, plus other natural disasters that rip up this country. How many still will blame the terrible Bush? I think many will, cuz the sweet woman I live with still thinks ole Bushie is the AntiChrist. God forgive us. No wonder this country is going down the tubes. I really feel like the liberals in the 60's should have been blown away along the idiots at kent state.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 02:32:00 AM:

Putting aside the race issue, can we all agree that New Orleans residents are the biggest government dependent idiots in the world? They reelected Nagin for god's sake! Kind of like DC reelecting Marion Barry.  

By Blogger Ralph Thayer, at Sun Jun 15, 02:37:00 AM:

Let us not overlook that New Orleans is some 10 feet BELOW sea level. That could explain why the flooding was worse when the levee burst, but not why anyone in their right mind should have been surprised. The Dutch are quite good at keeping dry behind their dykes. Trouble was, the Dutch weren't running New Orleans -- the lame political descendants of Huey Long were. For instance, emergency radio communications were flooded out because no one thought to put the equipment ABOVE the possible high water mark. Evacuation buses never rolled because no plan had provided for drivers. And when it came to calling for Federal assistance, Governor Blanco completely screwed it up. Competent citizenship, which includes electing competent officials, is a significant factor differentiating pre-Katrina New Orleans and today's Iowa.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 02:52:00 AM:

I lived in Iowa for three years, and have spent a fair amount of time in Louisiana including New Orleans. There is little comparison between Hurricane Katrina and the situation in Iowa.

Hurricane Katrina was a far more powerful storm, with damage occurring in a much shorter period of time, in (with respect to New Orleans, anyway) cities with far greater numbers and population density.

Those affected by Katrina were, on average, considerably poorer than in Iowa, with far fewer resources at hand. And, when it was clear that a human catastrophe was at hand in New Orleans, the federal government sat on its hands and did nothing to help.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 03:16:00 AM:

If Katrina was proof that Bush hates black people, is Iowa proof that he hates whites? If not, why not?

And can we assume that since less Federal funding is going to Iowa, that he hates white people even more than he hates blacks?

Who knew he was so diabolical? We'll all be lucky to survive to the end of his term.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 04:37:00 AM:

Perhaps I'm misreading this, but the following paragraph seethes with contempt for Katrina victims:
"In Iowa there is a 500 year flood, but the people are not paralyzed, whining, or looting. There will be no massive relief effort from around the world, and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans. Yet years from now, there will be no Iowans still in FEMA camps."

Why do you have such contempt for your fellow countrymen? Do you hate this country or what?  

By Blogger mythusmage, at Sun Jun 15, 04:53:00 AM:

Herb, because some people deserve contempt. Now gloat and be dammed.  

By Blogger belloscm, at Sun Jun 15, 05:14:00 AM:

Sorry, but the observation that: "The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood" is what best defines this issue.

Most don't know or, have chosen to forget, that 30 miles east of N.O., Katrina came ashore with 135 mph winds and a 30 ft storm surge; I don't remember the citizens of coastal Mississippi assuming the victim's pose and sitting down and waiting for help to come. With rare exception, they did what they had to do in order to mitigate the damage, salvage what they could and then to begin the rebuilding process. Git-er-done. Sounds a lot like the citizens of Iowa.

I call B.S. on: ...the federal government sat on its hands and did nothing to help." In actuality, the feds failed to push aside Blanco and Nagin "...when it was clear that a human catastrophe was at hand..." and it was blatantly obvious that neither one were up to the task. Unfortunately petty concerns about the proper relationship between the states and the Fed Govt got in the way.
Damn federal system!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 05:58:00 AM:

Mythusmage, Yes, some people do deserve contempt...but an entire region? Of your own country??

I do not think things are as simple as that. The victims of Katrina are white and black, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, lazy and hardworking. If you wanted to quantify them with one word, that word should be Americans.

You know who cheers on the deaths of American citizens and the destruction of American cities? Terrorists.

You know who doesn't? Patriotic Americans.

Which one are you?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 06:10:00 AM:

belloscm, in a democratic republic (the form of government we enjoy in the United States) the federal government cannot just "push aside" the local or state governments....

And imagine the outcry if they had: It'd be the reconstruction all over again - but this time the Yankee Carpetbaggers would have been going after minorities.

The people of NO got the government they elected, and deserved, and that government gave them what they demanded.

Too bad it was so poor an answer to a clearly anticipated and preventable problem.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 07:05:00 AM:

"The difference is not in the severity of the flood, but in the people who confront the flood."

Funny you say that because that is exactly what the difference is. You can not compare the two.  

By Blogger belloscm, at Sun Jun 15, 07:35:00 AM:

Because the Feds were, at the ouset, constrained from doing what many thought should be done, they allowed the system a chance to work. This forebearance was not recognized, but ridiculed, with no reference whatsoever to the proper Fed/State relationship.
You are absolutely correct in that the level of howling that would have acommpanied any pre-emptive circumvention and/or marginalization of Blanco and Nagin would have been ear-shattering.  

By Blogger Simon Kenton, at Sun Jun 15, 07:47:00 AM:

I am in emergency services. In a serious, region-wide disaster - either Iowa or Katrina so classes - you have to organize and set up a small city which provides support to a large one. This takes about 4 days, depending on how much planning and efficiency the locals have accomplished and can provide. The techniques for doing so were pioneered by the Forest Service and have been generalized to other emergencies.

New Orleans had about 200 years to set up and run a city. FEMA, about 5 days. In the liberal mind, FEMA is at fault; New Orleans is not.  

By Blogger Dan Kauffman, at Sun Jun 15, 07:47:00 AM:

"Mythusmage, Yes, some people do deserve contempt...but an entire region?"

That is certainly true, not the entire region, I think not mentioned enough is the 1/3rd of the police and fire dept that did NOT leave their posts in New Orleans

Now that is what I call REAL Heros.

Standing your post when you have a buddy on each side of you is one thing,

Doing it when you look to each side. (1 out 3) and realise they have run out is another thing entirely.

PS this " When levees failed in New Orleans, they wiped clean BLOCKS of houses and killed hundreds"

Would best be suited in the ground inspiring turnips. You get that hysterical lie from Daily Kos or the Democratic Underground?

Did you see the photo of the parking lot with hundreds of school buses a mile or so from the Super Bowl? The corrupt local political establishment just came apart like wet toilet paper when it came time for them to earn their pay.

Oh and if we are going to start comparing Floods? Katrina was not that big a deal, not when compared to the Great Flood of '29. The Mississippi was almost 100 miles across all the way up to Memphis

Now THAT was a Flood!  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sun Jun 15, 07:51:00 AM:

Many good comments. Just to elaborate, I did not intend to minimize Katrina's catastrophic nature. I appreciate that it was really harsh, and probably will, when the counting is done, be found to have affected many more people than the flooding in Iowa (especially if the entire impact of Katrina is taken into account). That said, if you have been watching the news coverage you cannot help but be struck by the stoic determination and independence of the Iowans. I have not yet seen one complaint that government has somehow let them down. Perhaps those will emerge, but the tone of the discussion of the crisis in Iowa is massively different from Katrina. Is that only because the flooding is in fact less severe, or are there important social differences at work?  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 08:06:00 AM:

Katrina - "The government did nothing".

Nothing. More evidence of the effectiveness of lefty propaganda. The government in the form of the US Coast Guard rescued THIRTY THOUSAND people.

And that doesn't count the same rescue effort by the Army National Guard and the Navy.

Even if only a fraction of them would have died, that would be an immense amount of suffering and death.

Instead we get a focus on the government's ineffectiveness on providing ice on time.

If Clinton had been President the media would have trumpted that he individually saved every victim. That is the nature of the imbecilic media world we now inhabit.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 08:13:00 AM:

Unfortunately race is usually mentioned when it should be class. It does not matter if you are black or white, what matters is what class you are from. White trash and black trash is all the same, being lazy and wanting to be taken care of. Lets stop the negative racial statements heard nationwide, and recognize there are classes of people in our country.  

By Blogger belloscm, at Sun Jun 15, 08:23:00 AM:

I was waiting for someone with your background to post.
I recently retired from the military and one of my last jobs was as a Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) Planner. In this position, I became aware of the the scope of the Inter-Agency response to disasters. Emergency response goes through a considerable amount of time (rule of thumb-72 hrs) and multiple layers of government (city, county, state) before the Feds (at the invitation of State and Local govt) can weigh in with significant impact. Blanco was both late and hesitant in calling in the Feds.

George- Are many people aware that Coast Guard and Navy helos were rescuing people from rooftops in N.O. within a few hours of the storm's passing?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 08:24:00 AM:

Most of the commenters here drank the Rovian Koolaid. A perfect example of how easy it is to create a fictional scenario based on right-wing bigotry and rascism. See this article
for how it was done. Rove knew FEMA had been politicized and gutted of any real muscle for any problem, much less Katrina. So he did what any right-wing blogger does: Blame Democrats for everything. He took Bush's failings and made them Democratic failings. He swiftboated Blanco and Nagin after co-opting Nagin and boxing Blanco.

None of the facts in the linked article are in dispute, but most of you can't see past the eyeholes in your sheets.

Then the sliming continued downhill from there to the racist fucks who blamed black people. Apparently you're proud of that, by the comments here. Congratulations.

Almost none of the comments here show any intelligence, just regurgitating Fox/Rove spin; sadly, you're unaware of it.  

By Blogger Brian Macker, at Sun Jun 15, 08:41:00 AM:

The Swift Boat Vets were accurate in their accounts. I investigated that in detail. So what are you telling us James, that Nagin did screw up? Well we know that's true anyway. He did screw up. Bigtime.  

By Blogger mythusmage, at Sun Jun 15, 08:43:00 AM:


Why the avidity for imputing motivations? Did I ever mention race whereto New Orleans and Katrina? Or were you thinking of media reports of the period?

Or is the reason closer to home?

Why do you think I was thinking of blacks?  

By Blogger mythusmage, at Sun Jun 15, 08:47:00 AM:


Have we ever met?  

By Blogger Punditarian, at Sun Jun 15, 08:52:00 AM:

Interesting discussion, a lot of good points have been made. Let me add a couple of brief items for perspective.

1) Hurricane Katrina herself did little damage to New Orleans. She devastated the Mississippi coast, but did not pass directly through New Orleans.

What damaged New Orleans was the failure of a levee, and the resultant flooding. While that may have been caused by Katrina, the hurricane herself did not directly hit the city, and there was very little hurricane damage in New Orleans.

So in fact the comparison between the situation in New Orleans after Katrina passed by and the situation in Iowa today is very apt. Both areas are being damaged by flooding. The flooding in Iowa is coming on a little more slowly, but rising water is relentless.

2) The rescue operation after Katrina was in fact one of the most effective ever mounted in this country or elsewhere. The media chose not to report this story, emphasizing anything they could to hurt the Bush administration.

Look up Lou Dolinar's articles. You should be able to find them on the internet. He amassed some of the evidence. Tens of thousands of lives were saved by prompt and vigorous rescue operations of the National Guard and Coast Guard. I think we all remember General Russel Honore, and how he aptly noted that the press was "stuck on stupid."

3) The Mississippi Coast was devastated by the full force of Katrina. But the State administration there did not respond with the kind of dysfunctional hysteria we saw in Louisiana, and rescue and rebuilding efforts there have continued without fanfare.

4) Criticizing the local Louisiana and New Orleans governments is not racism. The governmental entities in New Orleans cultivated a culture of dependency for many years. And in the run-up to the storm, for which they had ample warning, they did not evacuate the city in an orderly way, and did not use the resources they had effectively.

5) The political culture of Louisiana is changing. Governor Jindal has begun reforming the system. I think things are looking up for the Pelican State!

6) I think we can all agree to pray that our fellow citizens in Iowa continue to find the courage, strength, and ingenuity to cope with this unusual flood, and that the region will emerge better off as a result of confronting this challenge.  

By Blogger EscutcheonBlot, at Sun Jun 15, 08:54:00 AM:

Ummm...not to denigrate Iowans or praise Louisiannans (if that's how you spell it), but in Iowa there were no hundred-mile-an-hour winds blowing (ok...in a few, tragic tornadoes) and unlike in New Orleans...you can walk a few blocks to safety under sunny skies...not scores of miles in flooded bayous. The comparison is unfair.  

By Blogger Punditarian, at Sun Jun 15, 08:59:00 AM:

Uh...Robert . . .. see my post above . .. the flooding in New Orleans started after the hurricane had passed by . . . check the timelines . . .  

By Blogger Shelley, at Sun Jun 15, 09:23:00 AM:

You live in Iowa, but you've neglected to mention how the flooding in Iowa is different than the flooding in New Orleans, both by the nature and the terrain.

The flooding in Iowa will quickly drain, as the crest of the flood follows the Mississippi. The flooding in New Orleans did not, because New Orleans exists below sea level and the water had no where to go.

Iowa is subject to frequent floods and the infrastructure is in place to support flood victims, while flooding is not something that's happened at New Orleans for decades.

Many of the impacted Iowans are financially better able to deal with the flooding, as these types of floods send impact across a greater number of economic classes.

Almost all of the worst flooding in New Orleans impacted people who were incredibly poor.

Iowans have friends and family they can count on who are not impacted, while many in New Orleans knew no one that wasn't underwater like themselves.

Iowans knew this was coming from April; New Orleans folks had about 2 days warning.

I could go on. Next time, you need to think outside your pride and practice a little empathy, as well as just plain fact checking.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 09:25:00 AM:

I'm not going to register for Salon just to read an article I can already safely assume is ridiculous. The Bush politico you want to pin this all on is Rove? How flipping amazing must Karl Rove be that he can inject himself into any part of the political bureaucracy at any time to achieve any result he wants? Why just yesterday he caused my local school board to be underfunded, the fiend!  

By Blogger Shelley, at Sun Jun 15, 09:26:00 AM:

PS National Guard were also not "afraid" to go into Iowa because of "rumors" of lawless bands of thugs roaming the street. Let's not forget the people left in the dome or abandoned on their own throughout the city because we did _not_ respond in a timely manner. It's only later that we found out none of the rumors were true, after an entire city's worth of people felt like this country had abandoned them.

How you can forget those images, and the circumstances, I'll never know.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 09:45:00 AM:

Gov Blanco and crew - refused to allow help from the Carolinas into the state. This was medical help that wanted to get to the Superdome. They were not allowed to enter the state.

Gov Blanco was calculating in her timing - she waited much too long before ordering New Orleans to evacuate - She blocked aid so she could blame Bush. Democrats worked hard to use the suffering in New Orleans for political gain.

Mississippi was also hard hit by Katrina - yet they have recovered much faster on less aid from the Federal government. Republican Gov. Barbour had his state organized to response and help his citizens.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 10:00:00 AM:

The Iowa flood is, of course, nothing more than an expression of God's anger at the arrogance and foolishness of Iowans and their silly caucuses.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 10:05:00 AM:

Eastern Iowa may be subject to more frequent flooding than NO. However:

1) the scale of this flood is unprecedented in the 157-yr history of Cedar Rapids in particular, having actually exceeded the bounds of the 500-yr statistical flood plain. This may also happen/have already happened in some of the other eastern Iowa cities as well. The regional severity of such an event might be expected to overwhelm existing defenses and planning. Shelley, your suggestion that they knew a flood like this was coming in April is quite simply laughable.

2) The city of NO has been known for decades to be a deadly trap in case of a worst-case strike by a major hurricane (which Katrina was not), potentially killing tens of thousands, and the local government's failure to have in place major evacuation capabilities was simply appalling. The risk factors have all been known for some time--city in a bowl surrounded by water, no way to escape once it starts, minimal lead time expected, significant numbers of poor/dependent in the population--and the state and local government evidently did not have a plan that could withstand even an indirect strike by a powerful but weakening storm. From a disaster planning standpoint, NO actually had 2 days plus several decades of warning...

Part of that failure rests on the shoulders of the NO/LA government and its attention to planning and infrastructure, but as Tigerhawk suggests, I think part of it also has to do with the difference in culture. The can-do-it independence of the Iowans helps backstop the shortcomings of the government, which tend to be inevitable in any realistically complex situation, and to me that does confer a sort of cultural advantage.

I have plenty of empathy for people faced with any sort of disaster, having weathered several of various sorts myself. I have a lot less respect for systemic governmental failure in the face of decades of foreknowledge.

FWIW, I also lived for a time in one of the many parts of Cedar Rapids that is now underwater, so feel free to take that into consideration as I rant!


By Blogger SwampWoman, at Sun Jun 15, 10:16:00 AM:

I know that as a Floridian, I was appalled that Katrina was heading towards New Orleans, the weather forecasters were predicting disaster, and Lousiana's incompetent government hadn't even bothered to attempt to safely evacuate the tourists.

The tourists and the infirm--those are ALWAYS the first to be evacuated. ALWAYS.

I'm also not surprised that Iowa has state and local governments that actually work, and evacuations were ordered on a timely basis. I'm also not surprised that Iowans, who do not live below the level of the rivers, didn't actually have to be ordered to evacuate.  

By Blogger commoncents, at Sun Jun 15, 10:22:00 AM:

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 10:30:00 AM:

Some of you don't seem to understand the severity of the floods in Iowa. Comparing it to Katrina is beside the point. 400 city blocks were flooded in Cedar Rapids, including the whole downtown area. Cedar Rapids is a city of around 250,000.

Iowa City is next to be hit. The flood is expected to crest on Wednesday. I live near and work in Iowa City. It's impossible to get into downtown right now, and it will get worse. The University of Iowa and most businesses are closed. It's unprecedented, surpassing the floods of '93.

Storms continue to pour rain into the area. I-80 is closed east of Iowa City. I-380 between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City is closed. It's serious for people living through it. Comparing it to Katrina is useful only to emphasize the magnitude of this disaster.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 10:38:00 AM:

This blog entry shows the ugly heart of America. Tragedy should not be the cause of political oneupmanship. I am telling you you know NOTHING about what happened in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. It is not your fault because the media could not get their asses away from the center of the city. What IS your fault is being intellectually lazy enough to swollow the swill you were given. The federal government deserved the anger it received. It was incompetent, inept and filled with cronyism, So was state and local government. The mistake the locals made was to believe the promises of aid given to help. If you want to see self reliance, come see New Orleans today. It was rebuilt by brave people that only had themselves to rely on. Your comparison is just plain wrong at its core.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 10:46:00 AM:

Thanks for the clarification, Tigerhawk. I think it's safe to say we'd disagree on many things, but I am heartened by your willingness to engage and not just demagogue.

To clarify my (loaded) statements, I should say this:

I find the idea that Katrina victims deserved their fate because they were poor or black or voted Democrat or lived below sea level or because they relied on FEMA or any other reason to be disgusting, immoral, and un-American.

No one deserves to have their lives or livelihoods destroyed by natural disaster. It happens, and when it does, we should let our human decency determine our attitude, not our political affiliation.

Stay strong, Iowa. You're just as important to this country as New Orleans.  

By Blogger Punditarian, at Sun Jun 15, 11:05:00 AM:


I find this thread of comments to be an interesting illustration of the fact that most people hear only what they want to hear, and pay close to zero attention to what the other guy is saying.

NOBODY in this thread said that the victims of Katrina "deserved their fate" for ANY reason whatsoever, let alone their race, poverty, or voting habits.

That's in your imagination, my friend.

What folks have been trying to point out is that once a disaster hits, there are different ways that different people and different governments have reacted.

What you are seeing in Iowa is more responsible and effective than what you saw in Louisiana.

As doctorj2u points out, New Orleans is being rebuilt by people who are relying on their own efforts.

That's the way New Orleans was built in the first place, and it is the only way that great cities get built or rebuilt anywhere at any time.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 11:09:00 AM:

2 Different situation,The severity in the floods in new orleans came fast and furious,and that state is more populated.Much harder to moblize anyone.

One thing remains consistent is that President Bush is no where to be found, he is busy on some GOLF COURSE in Europe having a good old time.

Kudos to Barak fo showing up and lending a hand, and he will do it now and when he becomes president.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 11:32:00 AM:

It's preposterous to compare Cedar Rapids or Des Moines to New Orleans to "validate" some kind of moral (or racist) principle.

For starters, Iowans had the means to evacuate, and they weren't ordered to halt and go back by gangs of shotgun-wielding goons. A list of additional differences would be lengthy but only a fool and/or an ideologue would deny them.

The most significant difference is that Iowans had the benefit of seeing how the Bush regime responded to Katrina: Bush told the FEMA head-- whose previous job experience was judging horses--"You're doing a heckuvvajob, Brownie." Barbara Bush told reporters in effect that the deaths and suffering were not as bad as they seemed, since the victims were poor and used to it.

Iowans knew from Katrina they would be on their own and to expect nothing from the Bush administration except more spin, photo ops, and toxic "temporary" housing.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sun Jun 15, 11:37:00 AM:

Kudos to Barack, hmm? For filling a sand bag? Wow. I never thought that the Sean Penn School of Photo-ops would produce any successes, but there you go.

"ordered to halt and go back by gangs of shotgun-wielding goons."

Do tell.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 11:57:00 AM:

Check out Obama's main campaign page.
He is asking people to help. He is asking for citizen help. There is NOTHING on McCain's main page just like he did NOTHING to help the people devastated by Katrina (including something as small as investigating where the federal money went.)
And Sean Penn actually DID help Americans in a time of need, and even though I do not agree with his politics, what he did was admirable.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:00:00 PM:

Those who are complaining about the federal response to Katrina are perhaps missing a vital distinction. The feds always respond AFTER an emergency; that is why they are always "late." Remember Hurricane Andrew?

The state/local authorities have the responsibility of preparing BEFORE and acting UP TO and even DURING the emergency, so as to mitigate the worst of its effects. Having a plan, communicating it and then implementing it are their essential responsibilities.

Federal response to anything on a regional scale is ALWAYS slow, by the nature of the beast. It takes time for information to propagate up the chain of command, and time to shift resources, especially when the local and regional infrastructure has been destroyed.

It doesn't matter who is in power.

The only chance for a decent response is in the thorough preparation and decisive (hopefully anticipatory) action of the state and local government. Evacuating after the fact is almost always too late, and will be fraught with hazards, some of them carrying shotguns.

This decisive preparation, communication and action is exactly what was _evidently_ lacking in the disaster of NOLA's Katrina, and what has thus far been much less evidently a problem in Iowa. The differences in city size nd type change the nature of the necessary preparation, but they do not change the obvious need for it.

Successfully understanding this point should better allow us to reduce the humanitarian fallout from the next major disaster, by maximizing local preparation.

Naturally, emotions run high in response to all disasters of any magnitude, but it is important to debate constructively about them anyhow, in hopes of better preventing (or at least mitigating) the next one, wherever and however it happens. I mean no disrespect to the people of New Orleans, I merely find fault with the actions of their government leading up the hurricane.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:02:00 PM:

Who are you people?

Does it make you feel better to play the blame game and and attempt to minimize what's going on?

83 of 99 counties have been declared disaster areas.

What you see on TV? One or two cities, now multiply that by the rest of the state.

A little water and a few tornadoes?

Try historic levels of both.

A state with an average of 47 tornadoes per year already has more than 100 and the season's not nearly over.

7 rivers are more than 10 feet above ANY previous flood level - many more are well above flood stage.

Cedar Rapids had, at yesterdays count, 432 city blocks under water.

Entire small towns are underwater - ours flooded almost a week and a half ago. Parkersberg was blown away.

Highways are underwater, bridges washed out..

We've had ONE day without major storms since this all began and it's storming outside as I type this now.

Iowans will continue to take care of their own just like they have for generations.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:12:00 PM:

I have lived in Des Moines for the last 15 months, prior to that I lived in Iowa City for fourteen years.

Anonymous 11:09 said "One thing that remains consistent is that President Bush is no where to be found."

Please explain that? Where should Bush be? Filling one or two sand bags for cameras is a nice photo op but not actually very helpful. Spending all day filling sand bags is a very inefficient use of a senator or president's time.

As for the idea of a visit in general...Do you have any comprehension of how disruptive a presidential visit would be? For instance, there are so few routes through, in, or out of Iowa City/Coralville and you what, want to inflict a presidential motorcade on those people?

Please tell me what the president ought to be doing right now. Be specific. And please tell me what things require him to be physically present in Iowa.

Meanwhile, our governor has been all over the state, making assessments and communicating with city leaders about what sorts of state assistance might be needed. I think he's doing just what a governor should do at a time like this. The Iowa National Guard has done a great job, too.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:15:00 PM:

By the way - Lookie Loo's and Photo Opper's - GO HOME

You are in the way.  

By Blogger Noumenon, at Sun Jun 15, 12:42:00 PM:

I excerpted the Salon article here if you don't want to watch the ad. The only absolutely factual part of it is that Mayor Nagin contributed to Bush's 2000 election campaign and was in phone contact with Karl Rove during the disaster. To me that helps explain why he contributed to the armed looters myth.

For scale, here are some Katrina stats:

an area of 90,000 square miles (larger than Great Britain), killed 1800 people, displaced more than 2,000,000 people for months, made 500,000 of us long-term homeless, and destroyed 225,000 buildings. The damage to the City of New Orleans alone is estimated at $200 Billion

I think no matter what the quality of the people, a city with 1800 deaths is going to get more panicstricken than a city with 0 deaths like Cedar Rapids (as per the NYT article I read today).

There are some big flood pictures at the Big Picture Blog. Check out the sixth one down, from the China earthquake, for a really dramatic flood.

I think that the "stoic Iowan farmer" is such a media cliche already that they simply have to find one to interview to consider it a proper segment. Even if 80% of the people affected are Cedar Rapids suburbanites who work at the mini-mall.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:44:00 PM:

If Barack Obama is elected, floods will never happen again. Just ask him or any of his supporters.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:50:00 PM:

I'm right here in the middle of it all. My little town (North Liberty) is in between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Fortunately, we are fine here, but we can't get off our little "island" for the foreseeable future.

What sets me off are the ignorant comments about how Iowa is so wealthy and the people being flooded have lots of resources (they have to, right? After all you don't think ANY black people live here...and all white people have huge bank accounts/insurance policies standing by).

I must have been imagining the black people....locals.....filling sandbags, and the other two people I talked to who didn't know if their houses were underwater in Cedar Rapids or not. They were in their early 20's, so I doubt that they were loaded to the gills with insurance to replace their belongings.

The state may in general be better off, or at least appear to be, to outsiders. But there is still real poverty out here. Don't kid yourself. Rural poverty isn't as picturesque, and the media is too freakin' lazy to report on it, anyway.

Look, we know that New Orleans got hammered and they are rebuilding. Fine. But if the only way that you can defend your favorite city and their efforts is to minimize what my neighbors are going through right now, based solely on what you see on TV, that speaks volumes about you...and your hometown.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 12:56:00 PM:

If Barack Obama is elected, floods will never happen again. Just ask him or any of his supporters.

Be careful, heretic, or you will be first up against the wall for disrespecting the Messiah. ;)  

By Blogger Andrewdb, at Sun Jun 15, 12:56:00 PM:

Piercello -

It may be important to add to your point - the alternative to waiting for the Feds to be called is a Federal take over of the states. We've tried that before, complete with military government - it is called Reconstruction. A lot of people didn't like it.

As to Pres. Bush visting, the disruption VIPs cause for such a photo-op is NOT worth the trouble it causes IMHO.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sun Jun 15, 01:03:00 PM:

Let's all reconvene here in a year. My prediction is that there will still be Katrina "victims" (who should be more aptly described as "unrebuilt levee victims")in the media spotlight, especially if Republicans hold on to the White House.

There will be no "Iowa Flood" victims. In a year, they will all be back at work with nothing more to show for it than nasty memories.

If Obama is elected, there will be no victims of anythin. All will be well in the Worker's Paradise.

A lot of posts have come down hard on TH for politicizing a natural tragedy, but that is EXACTLY what the collective imbeciles in the media and Congress are more than happy to do.

The truth is that most Americans, whether they were in Louisiana or Iowa, did what they do best...deal with a tragedy with competence, forbearance and skill.

Most of the true misery that we see was created NOT by the hurricane or the flood, but by corrupt politicians. There just happened to be more corruption in New Orleans than there is in Iowa, so the difference is palpable.

The only solution...Throw the bums out!!! Unfortunately, as we see in New Orleans, Nagin got re-elected. That's where race comes in to the picture....  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 01:29:00 PM:

I don't know anything about LA or New Orleans, so I won't say anything about that situation in comparison to the Iowa floods other than I am so very sorry for the terrible things that happened in LA and No.

I will say this: as an immigrant to the US, who grew up and was schooled in Iowa, and has since lived in many different parts of the country, I find Iowa has some of the most quietly competent workers I've ever seen. The reputation is not a false one. It's entirely deserved. I don't mean this as a slap at other parts of the country, but, as a compliment to my fellow Iowans, whom I admire and respect.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 01:39:00 PM:

"and nobody will step up to help Iowans except for other Iowans."

Then I assume that they have totally refused any federal tax dollars for rebuilding and/or aid?

Am I also to assume that those from my church in Texas (SBC) who have went to help aren't really in Iowa helping like they said they would?

I guess what I am really saying is that flat out lying about what is going on in an attempt to play on the emotions of others is a liberal tactic.  

By Blogger Steve M. Galbraith, at Sun Jun 15, 01:49:00 PM:

There have been a number of studies that show that self-described conservatives are more active in their communities, give more money and time to charities than self-described liberals.

It makes sense from that that in conservative communities there is a larger social private network, those "little platoons" (Burke called them), that are spontaneous and can act more quickly than bureaucratic-prone government programs.

Additionally (and here I'm guessing), conservatives tend to marry and have larger extended families. All forming another "safety net" for those in need (admittedly, as I said, I'm just guessing here).

Anecdote: I live near Mobile, Alabama and after cleaning up my house after Katrina (and other storms), I mosey on down to my Catholic Church and, along with others, just start working. Loading trucks with water and supplies, et cetera. We didn't need permission from the state or orders from a department; we just show up and get to work.  

By Blogger Shelley, at Sun Jun 15, 02:17:00 PM:

"What sets me off are the ignorant comments about how Iowa is so wealthy and the people being flooded have lots of resources (they have to, right? After all you don't think ANY black people live here...and all white people have huge bank accounts/insurance policies standing by)."

You misunderstand. What I said is that the type of flood that's happening in Iowa right now tends to impact across economic lines, rather than impact directly on one economic class. A widespread river flood that traverses rural and urban areas almost always impacts on people from all economic classes. Those in a higher economic class will, invariably, be able to recover more quickly than those among the more poor classes.

This isn't to downplay the hardship of all the people in Iowa. This is to point out the unfairness of comparing this flood with what happened in Katrina, and holding up Iowans as somehow "better" than the people of New Orleans. Frankly, I find this both smug and obscene.

As for Iowans standing alone, as others have pointed out, does this mean you'll turn federal aid down? How about those people coming from North Dakota to help? I think even some Missourians have come up to help, and we're next in the crest. Oh, and I don't remember anyone from Missouri pointing out our superiority when it comes to handling adversity in our last flood a few months back. I live two miles from that one.

There's no harm in pointing out, with pride, how well your state's people are doing in the face of adversity. But when you use this as a way to slam people of other races, economic classes, or political party, when the waters haven't even receded yet, you do both the other impacted communities, and your community, a disservice.

Speaking of which, I won't feel compelled to offer a helping hand to Iowans. After all, you don't _need_ it, do you?  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 02:33:00 PM:

And what the heck do you think we were doing in Louisiana? We cleaned our houses and destroyed businesses up, we cleaned streets and parks OURSELVES for months because they was NO city services. We supported businesses with our pocketbooks because the lifeblood of the city, tourism, came to a halt. We organized our neighborhoods because we had to prove our right to EXIST! We organized on a national level to get politicains to come and see for themselves the devastations because EVERY visitor said the same thing. "I thought I knew from the news but I had no idea of the scope of the devastation." Maybe that is why they ignored us. We pushed politicians on a state level to make one levee board and one tax accessor office. We marched in the streets against the lack of a criminal justice system in the city. And we fought and we fought and we fought for our own government to fix the damm levees that caused the whole mess in the first place. You act like we were all sitting around waiting for someone else to do something (like was promised.) Well, guess what? The promised aid never came and there is a rebuilt New Orleans today. How the heck do you think that happened? My heart really goes out to the people of Iowa. We know better than anyone what their future holds and it is a long hard tear filled road. The people of south La and the Ms Gulf Coast WILL be there for them because it was the volunteers, the heroes of Katrina, that showed us that the true America, the America we were taught to love, is still out there somewhere.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 02:38:00 PM:

The difference of Katrina and Iowa rescue might be explained into good economics. Blacks are raised without their biological father (70% of born blacks indeed), they are more likely not to complete High school, have very low college attendance, are more likely to live using the welfare and 30% of black males from 25 to 35 are in jail. Economically speaking, the society has already a huge cost in nurturing, feeding and policing New Orleans Citizens. White Iowa is richer, has fewer crimes, and contributes more with the economic and government payments, I think they deserve a faster reaction. Believe or not, this is fare and makes lots of economical sense.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 02:44:00 PM:

The problem is, Shelley, New Orleans was politicized from the get-go by both right and left and now it's almost impossible to talk about what happenend without it seeming like you are making a political point.

I don't agree with the way tigerhawk put things, and I do think it is unnecessarily demeaning to some Louisianinians (?sp), but, how does one talk about how one group performs better than another without stepping on some toes? Take Iowans out of it and use the example of different groups of Lousianianins instead. I think what some are trying to say is that certain cultural behaviors are more likely to get you ahead in this society, while others leave you a victim.


*Anyway, I'm sorry for all of you dealing with flooding right now and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 02:47:00 PM:

It Makes Sense,
I send $1000 a week to the federal government. Do I deserve to be helped when the government's own levees destroy my world? Not according to your warped world because I am a New Orleanian.  

By Blogger Steve M. Galbraith, at Sun Jun 15, 02:53:00 PM:

And what the heck do you think we were doing in Louisiana? We

Nowhere did I claim that NO ONE was working on his/her own to cleanup after the mess in LA/Mississippi/Alabam. You would do all of us a favor, please, if you read a post before responding to it.

I was born in New Orleans and travel there every month or so to visit relatives in Metairie, Kenner and elsewhere. I live outside Mobile. I travel extensively through the Gulf Coast region.

As I stated above, communities that have stronger or more vibrant private social networks are more aggressively able to respond to disasters than those communities that have weaker networks and that are more dependent on government.

Those parts of Louisiana - like New Orleans (as I said: I was born there and I visit the area (Metairie specifically) every couple of months) - that don't have the safety net, that were more dependent on government - were slower to recover because of the inefficienies of government (particularly the city and state).

One can see this in the area. Parts of the area were quickly cleared up; other parts are still to be fixed (as one can see travelling westward on I-10).

(There's also a similar problem that occurred in Gulfport/Biloxi that was heavily dependent, for example, on the casinos as income; they've been slow to recover as well).

I love Louisiana. But we all know of the corruption and inefficiency of the state and (esp.) city government.

The more one is dependent on a corrupt and inefficient government, the less able you are to respond to a crisis.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 02:57:00 PM:


Bush gave up GOLF *years ago* out of respect for the troops in Iraq. Why would you make such a ridiculous accusation without checking any facts . Probably because your hatred of Bush blocks any logical thoughts you are capable of mustering.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 03:10:00 PM:

My 80 year old mother lives on the Ms. Gulf Coast (Pass Christian). The reason for the slow recovery there and LA is the same. The seeming inability of the government to come up with a flood map so they know how high to rebuild, the interminal fight with insurance companies to get them to pay on their promises, and most importantly, that it took 2 years for the President to waive the Stafford Act. The Stafford Act says that communities have to put up front a percentage of federal aid given. This is fine unless the entire community is destroyed. This happened in the really hard hit areas. There is NO tax base so none of the "allocated" federal aid (which, by the way, took 7 months to be allocated.) could be touched. That means communities could not fix roads, sewerage, gas etc. because the vendors were not being paid as promised. The government of New Orleans received their FIRST federal aid November 2007, after the Stafford Act was waived. Look I HATE government on all levels and all parties. But if there IS a reason for government, helping destroyed communities rebuild is one of them.  

By Blogger Steve M. Galbraith, at Sun Jun 15, 03:25:00 PM:

Look I HATE government on all levels and all parties. But if there IS a reason for government, helping destroyed communities rebuild is one of them.

Yes, the magnitude of the storm and aftermath overwhelmed many of these communities. I travelled along I-10 and the devastation was incredible.

And yes the government (on all levels) was - surprise! bureaucratic and slow and inefficient.

And yes the government (on all levels) has a role to play in helping restore these communities.

And yes we had the disputes with the insurance companies over the issue of flood coverage versus surge coverage. Et cetera.

But, if you don't think that the lack of self-sufficiency, of independent networks in some parts of the area haven't played a role in the slow development/restoration of the Gulf, then you and I just fundamentally disagree (I saw it here outside Mobile; the areas outside the city were quicker to get back on their feet than the city itself).

That was simply my point (yes, one can't pull oneself up by the bootstraps if the boots have been washed away).  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 03:39:00 PM:

One thing that I think consistently gets missed is how successful the handling of Katrina was. Sure, there are the 10,000 or so people who stayed in the city, but that's only something like 2% of the population. 98% is a pretty successful evacuation rate. More broadly, the Gulf Coast region managed to accommodate somewhere over a million people who were displaced for over a month, and many hundreds of thousands for several months. In they days after the storm, all across Louisiana and Gulf Coast, evacuee shelters, triage centers and donation locations were literally overwhelmed with volunteers and supplies. I can speak directly abotu Baton Rouge, where churchs organized themselves to cook massive amounts of food for the volunteers and evacuees for a week. Nonprofits, churches and regular people opened their doors to a flood of strangers with little more than the clothes on their back.

There's been a lot of attention on the failures in New Orleans, but those are a very small (and oftentimes very exagerated) part of a successful, unprecedented evacuation.

The one failure that doesn't get enough attention is the Corp of Engineers, who are responsible for the flood protection system, including the building of levees. A study after the storm found many levees had been built in ways that were not up to the Corps's own specifications, foundation that were ten feet too shallow in some cases. This is the true, long-term, un-sexy failure that doesn't get the outrage it deserves.

My heart goes out to the people of Iowa, who by all reports are handling their floods well. And no doubt they're benefiting from lessons learned in Katrina, and we hope to learn for their lessons as well. The press focuses on the dramatic outliers, not the true representative story.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 03:43:00 PM:

As for Iowans standing alone, as others have pointed out, does this mean you'll turn federal aid down? How about those people coming from North Dakota to help?

Uh...yeah, I will personally turn down any offers of aid made to me and my family, mainly since we don't need them. I am fortunate enough to be able to offer assistance, and that is what I am doing. I will happily direct them to my neighbors who aren't so fortunate and could use a little bit of a helping hand, however.

If you want to read all kinds of things into what I posted, feel free. I never stated that Iowa didn't deserve, want or need help. What anyone with any reading comprehension ability (apparently not you) could have taken from my comments is this:

I have seen with my own eyes what is going on. I am not comparing our situation with Katrina, since I wasn't there. But to say that what is going on here is no big thang is an insult to the ones who are losing everything. Many of the people who are suffering are not going to be made whole through insurance, which always has some loophole to get out of paying for damages like this, and they don't have enough savings to get their lives back without help.

(Don't worry, the Hawkeye State isn't waiting for any "donation" from Shelley. She never had any intention to give anything, anyway, except for snotty remarks. Fortunately she is not typical of most residents of Missouri, who unfortunately are next in line if this keeps heading south. Best of luck to the Show Me State...hope you dodge this bullet.)  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 04:09:00 PM:

And how are people to pull themselves up from their bootstraps if there is no electricity, sewerage, gas, and more importantly substandard federal levees? New Orleanians handled the first three for months. Believe it or not, the Bush administration "aid" in this environment was tax incentives. Talk to New Orleanians if you want to know what self reliance means. We know. That is why blog entries like this get me riled up. We are being condemmed by self righteous know it alls for not doing what we actually did. And believe me, it is a lot harder to LIVE it than it is to ponticate about it.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 04:48:00 PM:

I was on a consulting assignment and living in West Des Moines during the Iowa floods of 1993 (I think that was called a 100 year event). Downtown Des Moines was not quite as hard hit as Cedar Rapids has been now, but it was devastating. The worst part of it for most people was that Des Moines lost it's water plant and had no water supply at all for 12 days. None through city pipes. No toilets. No showers. No drinking water. Twelve days in an urban environment.

Water trucks were used to keep some supply available -- they'd park on a street corner and people would bring all manner of containers to fill. Porta-Potties were lined up everywhere. West Des Moines (a suburb right next to Des Moines) had some damage to it's supply, but kept functioning. I remember throwing a couple of shower parties for my co-workers' bathing convenience. When the first trickle returned to the pipes the local headline was "and on the 12th day they flushed" but drinking water took another 5-6 days to get through.

I grew up in the midwest, but I've lived in Boston since the 60s and I'm settled in east coast ways, so I was really impressed with the way Iowans coped, then adjusted to the emergency. It's not unusual for people to respond well in a crisis (a lot of this happened also in NO), but to keep acting well in the city for more than a couple of hot summer weeks without normal water supplies was amazing. I don't think there are any urban areas on the east coast that would have had so few "incidents" and so much cooperation. I'm sure part of the difference is urban vs rural; yes Des Moines is a city, but compared to NO, NYC, Bos etc it's a cow pasture; Iowa is a rural state populated by rural folks -- so density plays a role. (NYC is an exception: high density but a history of midwestern cooperation, long before 9-11.) But the biggest difference is culture which includes a tradition of individual self-reliance and community cooperation. These things were essential for survival out there a century ago and are still important.

NO/LA is more like east coast and Mississippi is more like midwest in response to Katrina. (The part of Mississippi hurt the worst was not citified at all.) Both had trouble coordinating with FEMA but Mississippi fixed it quickly. NO/LA bumbled and stumbled while FEMA's boss combed his hair. FEMA didn't do a great job, but they weren't near as incompetent as the "hate Bush syndrome" folks love to claim. (Remember, FEMA had just dealt with 4 hurricanes across Florida in 6 or 7 weeks and things went pretty smoothly between FL and FEMA. And the massive evacuations in Texas were accomplished by good planning between the state and FEMA.)

It was FEMA that had the Coast Guard preposition rescue equipment closer to NO which helped tremendously in the eventual rescue of 30,000 people. It was FEMA that had the Red Cross ready with a convoy carrying supplies, including food and water, ready to go to the stadium -- until LA refused permission. On the other hand, most of the planning and preparation done by FEMA simply fell apart in the crisis --operational plans that worked in Florida were not robust enough to cope with the magnitude of the disaster and communication and coordination with state and local types were totally muddled.

State and local preparation and plans weren't very robust either. What part of the preparations that might have proved useful were lost by incompetence and indecision by the governor and mayor. The delayed call to evacuate, the lack of city and state resources available in the city, the lack of strong direction to take coordinated action and the collapse of the police department put many many more people in jeopardy than other resources could deal with. A famous picture circulated on the web showing NO's yellow school buses unused and unusable, neatly parked in a lot under water compared to Texas yellow school buses in a convoy on the highway headed north taking people out of danger summed it up. My impression has always been that the state and local folks showed a level of incompetence that exceeded anything FEMA could muster, though they tried hard. (How the mayor ever got reelected is a mystery to me -- but the press let him get away with blaming other people.) All three levels of government, though, were at fault for the lack of communication and coordination among themselves and that in itself was the real killer of 1000 people.

Once the levy gave way, there was certain destruction to follow. That so many people more were put at risk and so many more died than need be when the levy broke, may be the fault of the three governments, but the destruction of the city itself was going to happen without regard to any plans, leadership, orders, heroism, etc. from anybody. That disaster to the city and it's long aftermath are not a result of any lack of emergency coordination or communication at the time -- it was the levy that did in NO. (How that could happen is a different blame game.) That's a distinction the press likes to blur, I assume, because it helps cover up the incompetence of the news organizations doing the worst natural disaster coverage I've ever seen -- an incompetence that rivals anything governments sunk to.

The press had most of the story wrong most of the time. I think a small part of it was the desire, whether true or not, to blame FEMA (and only FEMA) for the whole mess, showing what a bad guy Bush was. A larger part was simply that FEMA was such an easy and visible target. They didn't have to do any actual, er, reporting -- like talking to the Red Cross or tracking down rumors, etc. And then the mess had to be as bad as they could make it. They passed on rumors over the air and repeated them dozens of times, until they became facts. They passed on exaggerations to us and repeated them, until they became facts. (That jerk on CNN who kept saying, "10,000 people are dead, all because of the federal government.") Snipers, murderers, rapists, looters -- they all became real and they were all over the place -- so what kind of trashy people are these living in NO? Only they weren't real. Yes a few guys got tough, took violent advantage -- that's urban life. It might have happened in Des Moines in 1993. But despite what the cable news guys wanted you to think, it wasn't anarchy. The real story was quite different. Actually, the folks in NO acted a lot like the folks in Des Moines did in 1993 and like Iowans are acting now. They helped each other, they shared, they were creative in coping. Living in the stadium without food is a lot more stressful that living at home without a toilet, so they might not have been so friendly after a couple of weeks, But at least for a couple of days, NO folks became a little more self-reliant and did what we hope our neighbors will do in a crisis. The press didn't tell us too much about that -- they were too busy with their own fantasy.

If you're going to be urbanized, though, you give up a bit of your self-reliance and independence. You have to depend on others to maintain your environment -- a strange thought to a farmer out in the middle of nowhere -- but that a different culture. That difference was bound to kick in after the intensity waned. More of the victims, many who lost so much, complained about other people. They depended on others, others who now had failed them. Even smaller things like food -- it was somebody else's fault that they couldn't eat for a day; no particular thought that they should have had their own emergency plans. That part still doesn't get much visibility. So the natural fit of 1) victim blaming others for failing to protect your environment and 2) stick it to Bush for everything and 3) an superficial and incompetent press leave us with a very warped picture -- simplistic and warped -- of the event. You won't see that in coverage of Iowa. The people who lost part of their life won't react the same way, even if FEMA screws something up. They'll just get on with it.

And the Iowans will have a different attitude than the guy who was interviewed outside the stadium in Houston, sitting comfortably on some one else's chair, on Friday after the storm. He was complaining about going without food for a day and how long it took to be rescued. He didn't leave town because he didn't believe the mayor so he ended up trapped on his roof. Three days after the biggest natural disaster ever to hit the US, he's in Houston, after the Coast Guard plucked him from his roof in NO on Tuesday, provided safe food and dry lodging in NO, then flown to Houston where he got a bag of new personal items so he could shower and shave, was fed a big steak dinner and assigned a space with a cot, and now sat outside the stadium watching the sunset. Three days. He's not responsible for anything that happened to him, he says. The mayor should have been clearer, clearer than "get out of town now". There wasn't any reason for him to have any kind of emergency supplies. But it was very hard on him to go a whole day without food while on the roof (too old for that) and they should have gotten to him quicker, 'cause it was dangerous for him to be on the roof for more than an hour. The stadium was OK but he didn't like not having his own room. I guess you get used to certain things living in a big city -- things you don't get in Iowa. You have expectations.

He was one of 30,000 people rescued by Coast Guard helicopters and one of 250,000 people given shelter in Houston, 25,000 with him at the stadium.  

By Blogger Mad Jayhawk and Seven, at Sun Jun 15, 04:51:00 PM:

After Katrina the aid, money and personnel, poured in from everywhere. Where did it all go? An organization I belong to raised over $5,000 in donations that went to the Red Cross. What happened to the billions privately donated, the millions donated by other countries, the billions spent by our country? I saw picture of people standing on the tops of houses after they were told to get out by a government that had parking lots full of school buses. I saw pictures of people standing on roof tops because they were too stupid to realize what the words Category 5 Hurricane meant. They got help from all over the country, all over the world, from their state, and from the federal government. The cruel, racist, meanspirited incompetent Bush administration poured $68,000 per person into that area and those people are still bitching after all this time that no one is helping them.

In Iowa you see people who seem to realize what the word 'flood' and 'levee failing' mean and either get out of the way or go and help neighbors fill sandbags. I haven't see one person on a roof top. I haven't heard one person complain. Floods happen. They know that in Iowa and they should know it in NO now, but I bet they don't and we will see them on the roof tops again. Iowans are tough and work with their neighbors to solve their own problems and do not stand on roof tops begging others for help, while squandering what help they get while the corrupt among them steal most of the aid that our generous and compassionate country sends them. We won't see or hear Iowans lined up at the microphones to blame President Bush personally for the floods.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 05:02:00 PM:

And Randy, the aid given displaced New Orleanians was great. But that had NO impact on the people left to deal with the destruction in the city itself. The city was left on its own. It was left to fight for its very life, even politically, on its own.  

By Blogger retire05, at Sun Jun 15, 05:11:00 PM:

Let me just say this: it will be AFTER the flood waters have receded in Iowa that you will see the difference in the people of Iowa and the people of New Orleans. I promise you, three years from now we won't read articles where Iowans are complaining because they are finally being made to leave their taxpayer funded FEMA trailers.

Did Iowans know the water was rising? Yes, but in case some of you have forgotten, Katrina was predicted to hit New Orleans but turned north. New Orleans took water, not high winds. The Mississippi coast (Waveland, Gulfport) took the brunt of the storm. I was there just a few weeks after Katrina hit; the Mississippi coast looked like Dresden after the bombings.

New Orlean's main problem was a lack of responsibility on the part of most of it's citizens who were told to leave, and refused. They stayed, and after the storm and they had to leave, left 250,000 cars behind. I hope one of you who thinks that their plight was the fault of the administration could explain to me how it seems not one of those 250K cars had enough gas in them to get the hell out of the way of an oncoming storm. Please. Try.

And just in case any of you have forgotten, Rita followed Katrina, hitting the Texas coast with a bang, being just three mph slower than Katrina. All of Port Arthur was under water. All of it. But did you hear about the Texans who were sitting on their roofs waiting to be rescued? Or how they felt the government wasn't doing enough, or how, 3 years later, they are still living in FEMA trailers with their rent and utilities being paid for by the taxpayer?

New Orleans is a prime example of a failed society. A society that has had it's will for self reliance removed by being told, for generations, that someone would take care of them. If that attitude had existed in the 1800's the land west of the Mississippi would still belong to the Indians.

Learn from Katrina. Learn that you cannot take away a person's ability to take care of themselves.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 06:17:00 PM:

You have been watching a little too much Fox news. Some fact corrections:
1.) Actually Katrina hit Buras La. in Plaquamines Parish first, turned east, and then hit the Ms Gulf Coast. Waveland is GONE to this day, New Orleans got the weak west side of the storm and survived it battered but safe. It was the failure of the federal levees (at a force they were built to withstand) that destroyed the city. It was the FLOOD not the hurricane that caused the damage.
2.)"New Orlean's main problem was a lack of responsibility on the part of most of it's citizens who were told to leave, and refused." Wrong again. Actually 90% of the city evacuated, which according to NOAA is a very good percentage. They expect 20% of an urban population not to evacuate. Most of the people that refused to evacuate were elderly because they have NEVER evacuated in their lives and they were not going to begin now. Would you desert Grandma if she refused to leave? That is a decision many New Orleanians faced.
3.)Actually Rita hit the border of TX and LA. Cameron Parish was destroyed.
4.)God! How many of the million affected by Katrina are still in FEMA trailers. One thousand, two thousand? Does it make it easier for you to abandon a part of the country by making poor welfare blacks the face of Katrina? I asure you they are just a fraction of the people affected in the city.
4.)If you dream of the wild west you should have been in the French Quarter after the storm. Who needs drugstore novels when you can LIVE it.
AGAIN, my heart and soul go out to the citizens of Iowa. I know what they are dealing with now and I know what their future holds and it is not anything I would wish on anyone.  

By Blogger Punditarian, at Sun Jun 15, 07:06:00 PM:


"And how are people to pull themselves up from their bootstraps if there is no electricity, sewerage, gas, and more importantly substandard federal levees?"

Unless I have my chronology mixed up, when the City of New Orleans was first built up in the first place, it had no electricity, no sewerage, no gas, and no levees. And only 18th century technology.

How did they do it?  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 07:56:00 PM:

The 18th century is what New Orleanians returned to. Well, the eightennth century with generators and pissing in pots. You do what you have to do. One image I cannot get out of my mind is a retired WWII veteran that was living in his car in front of his gutted home seven months after the storm. He sobbed like a baby after he received the key to his FEMA trailer. He was SO thankful. Now, are you pleased that the government supplied him a place of refuge OR are you pissed off that the richest, most powerful country in the world could only muster such a lackluster response. I pick the second, esp. considering I have spent my entire adult life scrapping every penny available to pay my federal taxes. Where is the accountability? It seems if it is a political party (my party by the way) it doesn't matter. Well, it matters to this citizen!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 08:12:00 PM:

Get a grip doctorj2U. Okay, everyone was noble and perfect and nothing went wrong and there is no criticism of NO or LA, or even the tiniest parts of NO or LA, that are valid

We get it. You guys are perfect.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 08:38:00 PM:

Not perfect, but Americans, which some of you seem to forget sometime.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 09:01:00 PM:

Resolved. The flooding that hit NO after Katrina was the worst tragedy in the history of the world. It is far worse than anything that the people in Aceh dealt with after the Tsunami, indescribably worse than the recent Chinese quake and several orders of magnitude worse than what the survivors of the Holocaust endured.

To quibble with this in the smallest degree, or to suggest that maybe three or so years is enough time to start getting your act together, means that you hate your fellow Americans.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 09:03:00 PM:

New Orleanian here. Thanks you to my fellow cpuntrymen who took this human tragedy unfolding in Iowa as an opportunity to ridicule federal levee failure victims from New Orleans. Thank you for making our deaths and losses a weapon in your childish partisan political wars.

Y'all should just bomb us or force our secession.

We're all bad, all worthless trash, have no value, dirt poor, stupid and crooked. None of us are honest, hard working, tax paying, US citizens deserving your respect. We are the scum of the Earth.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 09:20:00 PM:

a hypocrite said: 'If you're going to be urbanized, though, you give up a bit of your self-reliance and independence. You have to depend on others to maintain your environment -- a strange thought to a farmer out in the middle of nowhere -- but that a different culture. That difference was bound to kick in after the intensity waned.'

Hmm, farmer? Do they get government subsidies? Perhaps they should turn down those federal government subsidies. Farmer = Welfare Queen? Why must they suck up my tax dollars?

I'm a New Orleanian and before Katrina, the only government assistance I ever had in my life was in the form of student loans - which I repaid.

Force our secession. We're all garbage.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 09:53:00 PM:

Thank you, New Orleanians, for letting us know how you are going to repay the rest of the country for their assistance forevermore.

Florida, when you get hit with another hurricane....as soon as you start rebuilding, the NO crowd will let you know exactly how what you are going through is nothing, and that they still suffer to this day. Doesn't matter if it will be a cat 5 on steroids. They had it worse.

California, when you get hit with another earthquake or wildfire....the NO crowd will tell you that sure, your house might be in rubble or ashes, but you don't know what agony is.

The next city to flood....well, expect them to act just as classy as they have here and on several other blogs when someone makes a suggestion to donate to charity on your behalf, along with some taunting about living in a flood plain.

I shudder to think what they would have told New Yorkers after 9/11, and heaven only knows what they'll come up with for a jumbo jet crash. But I'm sure it will be full of the same kind of "you don't care about poor black people losing their homes" rant that would do Kanye proud.

They'll wrap it up with some crap about "forcing" them out of the country, blah blah blah. Funny how that talk never came up until the money dried up....

Give it a rest already, NO. You're starting to really make the rest of the nation regret sending anything at all.....  

By Blogger Unknown, at Sun Jun 15, 10:19:00 PM:

You are an example of what this country has become. It is something I will fight until the end of my life to change. Did it EVER occur to you that MAYBE, just maybe, the "whining" just may possibly be the truth staring you in the face? Of course not. New Orleanians are VERY appreciative of any help we received. YOU want us to be appreciative of help we never saw. Sorry I won't do that. Live with it.  

By Blogger Deadman, at Sun Jun 15, 10:30:00 PM:

This is bullshit. Comparing the flooding in Iowa to the flooding from Katrina is comparing apples and oranges.

What is the point in slamming those who suffered through Katrina?

To make a much smaller group of people seem somehow superior?

What a masturbatory post this was.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 10:32:00 PM:

Nobody has evah suffered more than we have. (Most important of all, we didn't get nearly enough money. Why, you still owe us restitution for the War Between the States! When's that comin', y'all?)

We will remind you of that forevah, you ungrateful Yankees.  

By Blogger Punditarian, at Sun Jun 15, 10:53:00 PM:


Thanks for responding to my question.

I am not denying that in the inundation of New Orleans, a great and unique American city was lost, or that many tens of thousands of people have suffered grievously.

But it is a mistake to think that any city so devastated, or any people so suffering, could be lifted up out of the bottoms of their distress by anything other than their own sacrifice, pluck, and grit.

To expect the Federal government to restore and renovate the entire city and do it quickly, to boot, is just not realistic.

I salute the determined Louisianans who are rebuilding their lives. I agree that the miscreants who remain in 100 dollar a day hotels on FEMA's dime 3 years after the flood are but a tiny minority who do not deserve to be the poster children of anything but their own failures.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 01:02:00 AM:

pun said: 'But it is a mistake to think that any city so devastated, or any people so suffering, could be lifted up out of the bottoms of their distress by anything other than their own sacrifice, pluck, and grit. To expect the Federal government to restore and renovate the entire city and do it quickly, to boot, is just not realistic.'

It is unfair of you to ignore our sacrifices and 'grit' and hard work and progress despite no hand up. And, it is not fair to say we should not expect the party who caused our losses to help us recover - especially when they have a history of helping other communities recover when their damages were not even caused by government. Why must New Orleans be the exception? The vast majority of us are law abiding, hard working, tax paying US Citizens.

Yes, I expect the federal Government to eventually step in and act responsible for their actions and do the right thing - and I feel I have the right to that expectation and I am not going to just bend over and take it because of what you feel is 'realistic'.

My family was kicked out of Nova Scotia in 1765 and this has been our home since then. We like it here and are not going anywhere.

When outsiders spread lies and mis-perceptions about our people, predicament and progress and assassinate our character, I'm going to defend my people and region as best I can. Get used to it. We're not going down without a fight.

A very disenfranchised
New Orleanian  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 01:19:00 AM:

pun said: 'Unless I have my chronology mixed up, when the City of New Orleans was first built up in the first place, it had no electricity, no sewerage, no gas, and no levees. And only 18th century technology.

How did they do it?'

Lots of time, hard work and investment - which was all wiped out 8/29/2005 because of engineering negligence by federal government engineers. We're broke, severly beaten and need some help from the party that caused our incredible losses. Is that really too much to expect?

A very disenfranchised
New Orleanian  

By Blogger Miss Ladybug, at Mon Jun 16, 01:32:00 AM:

Back after Katrina, I remember reading a Popular Mechanics (I think) article written possibly pre-Katrina about the original building of the levees in/around NO. They were never intended to withstand a Cat 5 hurricane. Also, this article discussed, in great detail, how control of the levees - for maintenance, etc. - was transferred to local authorities (this Levee Board I've seen mentioned above?), and that the federal funds allocated to maintaining the levees was instead spent on other projects (completely unrelated), so the levees were never properly maintained by those who had taken responsibility for it. And, these problems had been around for decades. The Dutch, after a levee failure in the 1950s, have never had a problem since - they said "never again", and have built a series of 3 levees, so if one were to fail, there are two more "backups". This should have been done in NO, but that would have meant using eminent domain to get the land needed, and this would have also removed many properties from the tax roles. My point? The federal government isn't responsible for what happened in NO. There is plenty of blame to go around, and most of it lies at the feet of state and local politicians going back decades.

And, a question popped into my head reading all this back-and-forth about who is the bigger victim and/or who should be responsible for footing the bill to rebuild: after the devastating 1906 earthquakes in San Francisco - which also resulted in many fires from broken natural gas lines, who was responsible for rebuilding? I'm pretty sure that it was NOT the federal government - that was long before the federal government started taking over many things it has no Constitutional business doing...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 03:30:00 AM:

People in New Orleans are working hard to recover and rebuild the city, many without government or insurance help. It is a shame to see people on this blog make assumptions about New Orleans and its people based on media reports about a small minority. Your venomous anger only hurts those of us who are part of the recovery; the people you despise could care less what you think.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 04:06:00 AM:

I agree with some of drj2u's well-written if somewhat lengthy comments of 6-15-08.

I recall JFK's quote after the Bay of Pigs fiasco to the effect that success has a thousand fathers and failure is always an orphan.

Here's where we part company:

True, Louisiana and New Orleans should have had disaster plans in place which assumed FEMA's response would be ragged and/or belated. The consequences of failure at any government level carries too much of a disaster-compounding potential not to.

But then, the same can be said of the other Gulf states devastated by Katrina. drj2u focuses on the attitude of one guy from New Orleans as if it was typical of the whole area. It's his assertion so it's his obligation to prove it. He can't.

Americans who are not New Orleans or Louisiana residents can control the latters' local affairs only to the extent that federalism allows them. That so, it's hardly surprising that criticism nationwide has been directed at the failures on the federal level.

Remember what started this particular dicussion: suggestions that Iowans are somehow superior to folks in the Gulf states.

Those folks didn't have a disaster preview. Iowans did and learned from it. They also in their evacuations made orderly retreats--difficult maneuvers even for armies.

There's no room here for bigotry displays.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Mon Jun 16, 05:01:00 AM:

To Anonymous, at Sun Jun 15, 09:03:00 PM -- jeezsh! Get a grip.

"Hmm, farmer? Do they get government subsidies? Perhaps they should turn down
those federal government subsidies. Farmer = Welfare Queen? Why must they suck
up my tax dollars?"

What the hell does that have to do with maintaining (or not) your environment? And I said "urbanized" not "NO-ized" -- when you're urbanized you depend on others to maintain most of your environment. Somebody else takes care of your garbage, somebody else gets your water, somebody else plows your street, etc. You rely on them to do it and when they don't you suffer for it - and your options for dealing with problems are often quite limited -- you can't just dig a well in your backyard, for example, and you're just stuck with your garbage if the collectors go out on strike - what are you going to do with it? You've given up some of your self-reliance and independence to be urbanized (no matter in NO, Boston, Minneapolis, or Moscow,.....)

That's a choice my father, who grew up in farm country, wanted - things like sidewalks, curbs, paved streets, city water, etc. and he gave up some of his independence for it. I was the opposite and wanted rural, but that meant I had to dig a well and get my own damn water and make sure it kept coming. The farmer is required to be much more self-reliant in dealing his environment - it's been a matter of survival. What needs to be done, he needs to get it done.

So there's just a difference in the two ways of life operate -- neither one is better than the other, except in your own personal tastes. However, the two paths develop into two distinct cultures (or subcultures or whatever they're called..) and that can lead to very different values and then behaviors when confronted with similar problems.

In my original comment I thought the people of NO got a bad rap from the press. I think, in that first week, they were not much different than the Iowans coping with the floods in 1993 or coping with the floods today -- there was destruction all around and emotions were intense, but they did what they had to do -- support each other, be creative in coping and share what they had.

But as the intensity wanes, those deeper cultural differences start to come through again and the two groups start to behave quite different. Even though it looks to the rest of us that both groups are coming out of the wet and getting dry, they are really coming from very different places and headed in very different directions.

I guess most of the discussion here has been exactly about that - how the groups differ. Unfortunately it looks like the civil war is being fought in the process. I don't understand why it's necessary to put down NO people if you want to complement Iowans. Or vise-versa. All those people lost much to angry water.

So Anonymous, I don't understand why you'd want to take a gratuitous shot at a farmer who might think poorly of living the city life.. But you brought up government subsidies as your weapon (always a great club to bash farmers) to contrast with you, one who is pure and takes nothing from the feds. Choose your weapons more carefully - what the rest of the country remembers are the billions and billions given to NO and not your great sacrifice. So criticizing farm subsidies doesn't make much of a point.

In the end, I'll go with the Iowan culture approach (and there are actually many in NO that have the same attitude right now - determined not to let anything stand in their way - even the feds.) Mad Jayhawk and Seven, though, wanting sympathy, said that displaced folks got the money and the people dealing with the destruction in NO itself were left on their own with no help from anybody. Not quite true, but apparently there was an expectation that somebody else was going to come in and do the work. The Iowans wouldn't understand that; it's their flood, their problem, and their job to fix it. They did it in 1993 and I assume they'll do it again. Expecting somebody else to do their work isn't part of that culture. And expecting the Federal Government to do it is like believing in the tooth-fairy again.

To: Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 04:06:00 AM -- that was actually me you referred to and I could have been clearer about the guy who was interviewed. I wanted to contrast him to the Iowans and not to associate him with all NOers. However, I do believe that is the image that much of America has now. The press storyline has gone from anarchy in the street to ungrateful folks wanting the feds to do all the work. They will never report this story accurately.  

By Blogger davod, at Mon Jun 16, 05:13:00 AM:


I can only assume you are trying to get Tigerhawks numbers up.

The federal response was very good and within or better than the legally mandated timeframes. The ridiculously inept Mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisianna caused any delay in the Federal government moving in earlier than mandated.

The issue of states rights and the federal government has also come up in this discussion. While it is important to note that the Governor refused to ask for help from the federal government earlier, a legal requirement, she and the mayor refused help from other states as well.

Others here have suggested tha the Democrats chose to delay matters as a way of attacking the Bush administration. I would prefer to think that the Mayor and Governor were criminally negligent.  

By Blogger mythusmage, at Mon Jun 16, 05:22:00 AM:

When covering catastrophes why does the MSM frame the response in terms of white self-sufficiency, and black dependency?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 05:42:00 AM:

Punditarian wrote:

"NOBODY in this thread said that the victims of Katrina "deserved their fate" for ANY reason whatsoever, let alone their race, poverty, or voting habits."

And he's right. Nobody has said the exact words "deserved their fate." (Control-F it if you don't believe me.)

However, I had just exchanged comments with Mythusmage, who responded to my question about why Katrina victims are held in such contempt with this:

"because some people deserve contempt."

Here's another example of someone saying Katrina victims "deserved their fate" without using the exact phrase "deserved their fate."

"The people of NO got the government they elected, and deserved, and that government gave them what they demanded.

Too bad it was so poor an answer to a clearly anticipated and preventable problem.

By Anonymous Fidel, MD, at Sun Jun 15, 06:10:00 AM "

That seems to me, and perhaps I'm just being unreasonable, as a pretty clear endorsement of the idea that Katrina victims (specifically NO residents) "deserved their fate," if for no other reason than they how they voted.

Care to revise your statement?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 05:57:00 AM:

"The ridiculously inept Mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisianna caused any delay in the Federal government moving in earlier than mandated."

That's one way to spin it.

You seem to have forgotten that FEMA was set up to step in when local authorities (like mayors and governors) are not up to the task.

So Blanco and Nagin suck. I'll stipulate that. How does that absolve FEMA from their failures? (Which, in the case of Katrina, are largely due to the scope of the disaster as well as their general non-hurricane-related lack of preparedness, NOT resistance from local governments.)  

By Blogger davod, at Mon Jun 16, 06:34:00 AM:

Herb- another person trying to boost TH's numbers.

Stop it.

The Federal government cannot assist a state before the state asks. This is called Federalism. It is a lynchpin of the Republic.  

By Blogger Punditarian, at Mon Jun 16, 07:06:00 AM:


Thank you for your very thoughtful comments.

There are 2 parallel controversies going on here, and part of the problem is that we are getting them confused.

(One controversy has to do with whether the floods in Iowa are as bad as the flood in New Orleans, and whether Iowans are acting, and are going to act, with more grit than New Orleanians showed.

The other controversy has to do with what caused the flood in New Orleans, and whether the Federal response was any different or any worse than the Federal response to other, similar disasters.

As to the first controversy, I'm with you. I think the majority of people in New Orleans reacted to the flood with courage and determination, and that they continue to do so. Press reports (from a media you probably still think was sympathetic) emphasized from the outset, and still do, a dysfunctional minority and its misbehavior (some of which was no more than rumor and innuendo. But remember, it was the leftist Randall Robinson who claimed that New Orleanians were turning to cannibalism 4 days after the storm had passed.)

As far as the second controversy is concerned, I am in the camp who think that the rescue efforts after the flood in New Orleans were extraordinary, and that tens of thousands of people were swiftly and compassionately saved from very dicey predicaments by the Coast Guard and National Guard. Again, rather than focus on the overwhelming successes, the press was interested only in a small minority of dysfunctional incidents.

Frankly, a lot of that had to do with the media's animus against President Bush.

That Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin behaved poorly is I think not seriously in doubt.

Good luck in your rebuilding efforts. If Harry comes out of retirement again, I'd like to buy you a waffle at the Camelia Grill, or a beer at the Maple Leaf.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Mon Jun 16, 08:58:00 AM:

Editorial in the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper:
"A Shared Suffering"

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 10:45:00 AM:

The Federal government cannot assist a state before the state asks. This is called Federalism. It is a lynchpin of the Republic.

So what accounts for FEMA's slow response after they'd been asked to help?  

By Blogger Punditarian, at Mon Jun 16, 11:15:00 AM:

How much slower was FEMA's response compared to the FEMA response after the previous 4 hurricanes in Florida?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 11:58:00 AM:

I'd just like to sum up the argument, for clarity: 'git the niggers.

You're welcome.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 04:12:00 PM:

"How much slower was FEMA's response compared to the FEMA response after the previous 4 hurricanes in Florida?"

Don't you mean how much FASTER?

Katrina response was faster that in Florida.  

By Blogger Mrs. Davis, at Mon Jun 16, 04:13:00 PM:

Fascinating that this topic can still generate this much angst amongst Tigerhawk's normally sedate readership.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 10:25:00 PM:

New Orleans cannot be compared to Iowa, it is absurd. Iowa has fresh air, beautiful fields, manages crops and land. I left before Katrina, and came back last December, and katrina actually did New Orleans a HUGE favor. Some may not see it, but the New Orleans area is like Russia- has massive resources, completely mis managed! But, where they had nasty rotted homes, and crazy violence(you'd think more die here then Iraq/Afghanistan each night), they now have a freshly painted french quarter, uptown, and westbank, and crime is making a big come back as well. People cashed in well(if you owned), and some of that $ went to homes. I thought to make a picture post- you can find half painted houses- even companies!! (How many years later)... Different. You'd really have to travel to New Orleans to understand it, it is... different. Prided on different, I imagine it always will be... New Orleans :)

PS- We'll be drinking your flood in a couple days- our water is straight from the Mississip!!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 10:44:00 PM:

Fema is so misunderstood- there are fema courses online you can take to verse yourselves in what to do/how to act/what everyones roles are(individual/town/state/federal/natl guard)/even how you can become an asset to your local community. Everyone, even New Orleanians would benefit.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jun 16, 11:04:00 PM:

Like Barack Obama says, "Any fool can have a child," and most of the fools who are turning this disaster into some kind of stinking right-wing political "lesson" are living proof of Obama's statement.

Listen to some old Beatles records and restrain yourselves, for Christ's sake. Enjoy what's left of your lives, nincompoops.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jun 17, 01:00:00 AM:

last I saw Iowa wasn't surrounded by large bodies of water, inaccessible due to 20 mile long broken bridges.

Iowans are NOT trapped and being harassed by armed guards.

If they were, their reactions would be a bit different.

Also, billions in farm subsidies don't count as government assistance?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jun 17, 10:54:00 AM:

On June 15, 2008 I wrote for comparison (inter alia) to the catastrophic New Orleans flood:
"... Iowans had the means to evacuate, and they weren't ordered to halt and go back by gangs of shotgun-wielding goons."

On the same day, Dawnfire82 responded: "Do tell".

OK. The following are exerpts to avoid any copyright issues:

"Criminal investigation postpones Katrina bridge blockade suit

September 26, 2007

Janet McConnaughey / Associated Press

"A criminal investigation of the police blockade that kept hundreds from crossing the Mississippi River to safety after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans will delay trial in at least one civil lawsuit until January 2009...
U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon recently rescheduled Dickerson's case from Jan. 3, 2008to Jan. 20, 2009...

"Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson has acknowledged that his officers fired shots into the air during the blockade... Lawson and other suburban New Orleans law enforcement agencies have said the blockade was needed to keep order because their jurisdictions were also heavily damaged and shelters and emergency agencies were under tremendous stress."

There are plenty of references to this on the web for those who missed it (or mentally tuned it out) when it was on radio and TV and in the newspapers.

It's not nice to ignore Mother Google.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jun 17, 11:25:00 AM:

i thought it was only me who began to compare the different reaction of people between katrina and the iowa floods. wow! most of the people probably actually own their homes in iowa. whereas a lot of the inner city katrina victims were probably living on the government handout program and had generations of kin living free in these places. also, you had an incompetent mayor and governor running things- both democrats.
i am sick of everytime there is a natural disaster, the first response is where are the feds? where is my money? this is what is ruining our country. generations of helpless losers are being created by the fed being expected to pick up the pieces all the time. and obama will add to the"gimme" mentality". those of us who work hard (like in iowa) are being sucked dry by keeping up everyone else. usually people who disagree with this point are social fruitloops or getting some type of governemnt money themselves.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jun 18, 01:20:00 PM:

I love Iowa. I've been here 15 years and hope to spend the rest of my life here. But the above comment "those of us who work hard are being sucked dry" is unfair. The rest of the country pours money into Iowa in the form of farm subsidies including the ill-conceived corn ethanol program.

Iowa does consistently rank above Mississippi and Louisiana in Federal taxes paid vs. Federal spending received, however we _are_ a net consumer of Federal tax dollars, not a net contributor.

For example, in 2004 (to use a year prior to Katrina), Iowans paid approximately $16 million in Federal taxes, while the state of Iowa received approximately $19 million in Federal spending. Meanwhile, Louisiana paid $19 million in Federal taxes while receiving $33 million, and Mississippi paid $11 million while receiving $22 million.

In other words, anonymous, Iowans might "suck" less than Mississippi, but we still suck.

So who _are_ the "hard working people" being "sucked dry?"

They include residents of New York, California, Delaware, Illinois, and several other states. In 2000, residents of Connecticut paid $38 million in Federal taxes, and received just $19 million in Federal spending, for a return of just $0.69 on the dollar.

Thanks Connecticut!

My source is the Tax Foundation, at http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/topic/92.html
which culled their numbers from the Census Bureau and the IRS. They have this data from 1981 through 2005 for every state.


By Blogger ZZMike, at Wed Jun 18, 03:56:00 PM:

It sure is funny how people like "Anonymous" can inflate by almost ten times the death toll in New Orleans, and at the same time, call a 500-year flood in Iowa "a little water".

If anybody was offended by your post, that's their problem, a result of too much mind-killing PC.

The facts are there to see. Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco waffled an moaned, while doing nothing. Hundreds of school buses rotted in storage lots. There was so much blame going around that it you could eat it, nobody would have gone hungry in Louisiana.

Sure, the situations are different. New Orleans go hit harder then Iowa. But the responses are different, too. In the MidWest, it's "OK, let's pick up the pieces, and get on with it". In New Orleans, it was "why don't people come get us out if this?". (In fact, they did. People came from all over the country. So many people came to help that many had to be turned back.)

I looked for stories of looting and unrest from these floods, but so far, none.

jay currie said...
Lord I hope the waters rise no further.

I remember an old MidWest saying: "The Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise".  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jun 20, 11:54:00 AM:

All the praise for the "Heartland" not whining about the federal govt. might have come too soon...http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25270087/

Oh, and nothing says "Heartland self-reliance" like billions of dollars in ethanol subsidies. Just saying.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jun 20, 04:01:00 PM:

hey anonymous with heartland not whining post about iowans with your video link..shut your mouth and watch THIS VIDEO


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 22, 07:05:00 PM:

Yes the difference is how the two populaces responded to adversity. I remember Geraldo Rivera reporting in front of the New Orleans convention center and in the background there was this rising crescendo of voices shouting, "Help us. Help Us. Help us". I was embarrassed, as I was one who had called New Orleans home for 28 years. I have since moved. Since then they saw fit to reelected William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson and Ray "School Bus" Nagin. Amazing!  

By Blogger Amy Nix, at Thu Jun 26, 11:55:00 PM:

Ooh...look at you getting people all riled up. /smile. You know when you're making this many people apoplectic with anger, then you probably said something a little bit too true. It stings to be shown how very wrong you have been after you've been thinking all this time about how righteous you were.

I love this country and I pray for Iowa just as I prayed for the victims of Katrina. This will pass. Keep your upper lips stiff and your chins lifted.  

By Blogger KenCutts, at Fri Jun 27, 01:17:00 PM:

There is a lot of rhetoric online about this issue but why hasn't someone gathered the facts to create a real article about this issue? More importantly, is this too much of a hot topic for an election year?  

By Blogger Ladypeyton, at Fri Jul 04, 11:06:00 AM:


From someone who has lived in Connectgicut for the past decade, you are welcome.

For the rest of you?

Dear Lord I can't believe the sheer amount of ugly nasty behaviour I have seen in this post and in the subsequent comments.

Almost every one of you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Where the hell are your Christian virtues?  

By Blogger justice4all, at Thu Sep 25, 04:42:00 PM:

wow. I stumbled upon this site while researching on the internet...I am suprised how willingly some of you like to flaunt your racism. No wonder people think midwesterners are a bunch of ignorant hicks. I'm ashamed to be lumped in with people like you.  

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