In a message dated 9/7/05 12:09:07 PM, cii.igc writes:
<< "Thank God there is no one to bomb in retaliation."
- Bill and Debbie Quigley, New Orleans evacuees
"So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged
anyway, so this is working very well for them."
- Barbara Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston
"Change for the better begins by reckoning with the worst,
which Katrina helped us do."
- columnist James Carroll in "Katrina's truth"
Highlights, lowlights, perspective
Katrina, New Orleans, and peak oil
Katrina, civilization and the environment
Katrina, racism and classism
Katrina as teacher
FEMA as obstacle
Outraged, insistent, speaking out together 9/12
Positive notes from the NCDD Listserv
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS, PERSPECTIVE
Wikipedia's ongoing coherent updating of materials related to Katrina
in New Orleans
A BBC analysis raises questions and introduces the complexity of the scene
"Multiple failures caused relief crisis"
A story of an effort to leave New Orleans, blocked by police
"First By the Floods, Then By Martial Law: Trapped in New Orleans"
KATRINA, NEW ORLEANS, AND PEAK OIL
By Richard Heinberg
Global Media Public
September 5, 2005
In Brief: The scenes were heart-wrenching and mind-boggling: an entire
modern American metropolis had effectively ceased to exist as an organized
society...when it came to reporting on the damage to oil production and
refining facilities, most media outlets took at face value the glib and
non-specific assurances of the petroleum industry... And all of this is
occurring at a time when the global supply of oil is barely able to meet
Like just about everyone else, I was transfixed by news reports from New
Orleans and the Gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama last week. My wife
Janet grew up in New Orleans, most of her family members still live there
(to the degree that anyone can for the moment say they live in the Big
Easy), and we visit the city every year. The scenes were heart-wrenching and
mind-boggling: an entire modern American metropolis had effectively ceased
to exist as an organized society. The tens of thousands of survivors who had
been unable or unwilling to evacuate prior to the storm were utterly
helpless as they awaited rescue from the outside, some of them reduced to
looting stores to obtain food and other necessities, a few even joining
Soon the Internet began pulsing with stories of how the Bush administration
had exacerbated the tragedy by encouraging the destruction of wetlands and
barrier islands, by appointing FEMA heads with no experience in disaster
management, by focusing the agency's resources on counter-terrorism rather
than disaster relief, by refusing funds for upgrading New Orleans' levees,
and so on. By the end of the week, mainstream media had begun picking up on
some of these stories.
However, when it came to reporting on the damage to oil production and
refining facilities, most media outlets took at face value the glib and
non-specific assurances of the petroleum industry that damage was relatively
minor and temporary. Meanwhile, however, one report, allegedly from an
unnamed industry insider, described at least 20 oil platforms as missing and
presumed sunk, with others drifting, having sustained serious damage. Port
Fourchon, the hub for oil and gas production in the gulf, likewise appears
severely damaged, according to this source, along with the Louisiana
Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which is the only port in the nation designed to
receive supertankers. In addition, most of the region's refineries were
closed, with some likely to be shut down for many weeks or months.
Whether or not this description exaggerates the damage, repair efforts will
be hindered by the lack of a nearby functioning port or city from which to
And all of this is occurring at a time when the global supply of oil is
barely able to meet demand. Indeed, many petroleum analysts were already
looking to the fourth quarter of 2005 as the likely moment of the all-time
world oil production peak.
The head of International Energy Agency forecast on Saturday that Hurricane
Katrina could spark a worldwide energy crisis. "If the crisis affects oil
products then it's a worldwide crisis. No one should think this will be
limited to the United States," Claude Mandil told the German daily Die Welt.
That same day, 26 nations -- including the United States -- agreed to
release 60 million barrels of oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products
from their emergency reserves over the next 30 days. This nearly
unprecedented move (the IEA also opened its taps during the first Gulf War)
was surely a measure of the seriousness with which national leaders viewed
While the bringing to market of a few tens of millions of barrels of stored
oil and gasoline may temporarily calm speculators and thus prevent dramatic
price spikes, it cannot balance the global supply-and-demand equation for
more than a few weeks (the world uses 84 million barrels of oil each day,
after all). And once these stores are gone, few nations will have any
cushion in the event of other supply threats. Hence Katrina may mark the
beginning of the inevitable unraveling of the petroleum-based industrial
The United States is the center of that system. Think of New Orleans and the
Gulf Coast as a gaping wound in the national body. Organisms need a steady
flow of energy in order to maintain their ordered existence; a wound is like
an intrusion of entropy within the system. When wounded, the body
essentially takes energy away from other parts of itself to restore order at
the site of injury. In ordinary times, nations as "organisms" do this very
well. But in this case the timing is bad, as energy is scarce anyway (the
wound was incurred at the onset of what will soon become a global energy
famine); the nation has already been hemorrhaging materiel and trained
personnel in Iraq for three years; and the site of the wound couldn't be
worse: it is in the part of the national body through which much of its
energy enters (the region is home to half the nation's refining capacity and
almost 30% of production). Thus it seems likely that the available energy
may not be sufficient to overcome the entropy that has been introduced;
rather than being contained and eliminated, disorder may fester and spread.
New Orleans will be rebuilt. It must be: the nation needs a port at the
mouth of the Mississippi, and the port needs a city to support and service
it. It is one of the few US cities with character and charm, and people will
desperately want to return to their homes. The only event likely to prevent
rebuilding would be another strong hurricane hitting Louisiana later this
season. However, rebuilding will proceed in the context of a national
economy that is crippled and perhaps mortally wounded, and a global complex
system of production and trade that is starting to lose its battle against
PEAK OIL PRIMERS: WHAT IS PEAK OIL?
KATRINA, CIVILIZATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT
"Katrina Takes Environmental Toll"
In the first formal assessment of the environmental devastation
wrought by Katrina, state authorities in Baton Rouge announced a
litany of contaminants likely to be found in the floodwaters,
including tens of millions of pounds of concrete, lumber, cars,
animal carcasses and all the other solid waste of a major
Most sewage-treatment plants in New Orleans were destroyed. Two major
spills sent 78,000 barrels of oil into Lake Pontchartrain, and fuel
has coated the city from 2,200 fuel tanks and leaking gasoline from
flooded cars and boats.
For a more detailed account of the likely toxic aftermath, read
"After Katrina: The toxic timebomb"
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina has created a vast toxic soup
that stretches across south-eastern Louisiana and Mississippi, and
portends the arrival of an environmental disaster to rival the
awe-inspiring destruction of property and human life over the past
Toxicologists and public health experts warned yesterday that
pumping billions of gallons of contaminated water from the streets of
New Orleans back into the Gulf of Mexico - the only viable option if
the city is ever to return to even a semblance of its former self
-would have a crippling effect on marine and animal life, compromise
the wetlands that form the first line of resistance to future
hurricanes, and carry deleterious consequences for human health
throughout the region.
The full extent of the danger is unknown and unknowable, but the
polluted waters are known to contain human and animal waste, the
bodies of people and animals, household effluence, and chemical and
petrochemical toxins from the refineries that dot the Gulf coast in
and around New Orleans.
KATRINA, RACISM AND CLASSISM
An engaged Buddhist perspective on Katrina and racism
"Waking up to the Tragedy of New Orleans"
by Maia Duerr, Buddhist Peace Fellowship Executive Director
- - -
A NOTE ON RACISM AND CLASSISM IN THE KATRINA CRISIS
by Tom Atlee
Not having a TV or getting a daily paper, and depending primarily on
my email lists for news -- which do not provide pictures -- I did not
at first understand the extent to which class and race seem to be
defining features of this tragedy. When accusations of racism first
surfaced, I imagined them as an understandable part of the reactions
of people, both high and low, coping with an extremely stressful
situation. I now see there is more to it than that.
The most grievous, obvious forms of racism and classism are
personally and intentionally malicious. But there are other forms --
often viewed as "subtle" -- which can do even more damage
collectively. Racism and classism include the ability of those who
are more privileged (including often ourselves) to not notice the
suffering of others. Privilege -- money, status and certain social
assumptions, habits, and institutions -- can protect some of us from
personally experiencing the gritty reality of some other peoples'
lives -- face to face, in our hearts and guts.
Racism and classism also include stereotyping. This becomes publicly
visible in the statements of powerholders and celebrities, such as
Barbara Bush's comment about how things were working out "very well"
for poor evacuees from New Orleans -- and in the media, such as news
reports about black people "looting" stores which, in most cases,
apparently involved people without food or water getting these from
abandoned stores, or trying to get things to sell to buy their way
out of town. (Different aspects of this are poignantly described in
an interview with a reporter about the New Orleans Conventions Center
-- read the incredible full text
<http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9173374/> or search the text for
"looting" or watch the video <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9160710/>
-- and a discussion of black vs white photo coverage at
Racism and classism also include built-in systemic factors, such as
the fact that poor people often don't have money for transportation
that would allow them to escape an impending hurricane -- especially
a few days before payday. When those in power can comfortably be
oblivious to this fact, the resulting suffering is immense. And the
damage caused can be rightly ascribed to racism and classism, whether
or not there was anything conscious or intentional about it.
Thus, as David La Chapelle notes below, Katrina shows up as a
My own obliviousness to these factors is marked by the fact that a
vitally important question was not included among those I offered for
inquiry and dialogue a few days ago:
QUESTION: What do you think would have been different in how the
Katrina disaster unfolded if the people trapped in and around New
Orleans had been mostly white and middle-class or rich?
For some further info about how these factors played out, see the recent
FEMA Planned to Leave New Orleans Poor Behind
Authorities Favored VIPs over Superdome's Desperate -
Hotel Workers, Patrons Excused from Pre-Storm Evac Given Special Treatment
KATRINA AS TEACHER
"Pandora's Daughter Katrina"
by David La Chapelle
The visionaries of many epochs have often been the recipients of the
wrath of the established order. The fire of vision and the fire of
prophecy, or the ability to look forward, have been consistently
resisted and actively rejected.
Katrina's effect on New Orleans was a remarkable projection of the
power of nature. The nature of the human devastation associated with
the hurricane is not so easy to attribute to a capricious act of
weather. Much of it is in fact the direct result of entrenched
resistance to the obvious that was foreseen for decades. There are
numerous well documented scenarios that predicted almost exactly what
This places Katrina in a class of its own. It is a teaching hurricane.
Unfortunately history has not been kind when it comes to
civilizations changing course when their behavior begins to outstrip
the carrying capacity of their physical and psychic environments. The
inhabitants of Easter Island, the Maya, the Anazazi, The Romans, The
Greeks and the Summerians are a but a few examples. Katrina and her
aftermath has revealed that our own culture can quite quickly devolve
into the same vortex of social and environmental ills that spelled
the end of so many others.
Pandora was the agent of change which released the ills that had been
conveniently bottled up. Pandora's daughter, Katrina, has literally
taken the top off the various vessels of difficulty, both physical
and psychic in our nation, and has sent them spilling across the
landscape of our collective experience.
When Pandora opened the vessel of ills, all the evils of the world
escaped until at the bottom, caught as she tried to replace the lid,
was hope. As the lid of normalcy begins to reassert itself, what hope
has Katrina captured?
Any moderately well informed person, surveying the conditions of our
world and the trends at work will recognize a much larger version of
New Orleans is present. Numerous unsustainable practices are enabling
our current way of living. The stark hope that Katrina brings to our
doorstep is that we have the courage to bring through a fire of
change before we are condemned to live out the fruits of even more
The hope that Katrina helps constellate is that our lives will no
longer be the same. The power of events as strong as Katrina is in
their undeniable revelation of the truth of present conditions and in
the capacity this has to inspire the fire of change.
Hope is built on kindess, generosity and the realization that we all
live within each other's lives. Hope is the final gift of the
difficulties that the gods have bestowed upon humanity.
David La Chapelle is author of "Navigating the Tides of Change," a
book surveying the rapid changes in our world and how best to respond
to them. He can be reached at email@example.com
- - -
For more on Katrina's lessons as a teaching hurricane, see James
Carroll's remarkable column
"Katrina's Truths" <http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0905-26.htm>
May there be many more such essays, investigations, forums, studies,
FEMA AS OBSTACLE
FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations
FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food
FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
FEMA turns away generators
FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"
FEMA Chief Waited until After Storm Hit
FEMA blocks photos of New Orleans dead
OUTRAGED, INSISTENT, SPEAKING OUT TOGETHER
[I don't usually send out notices of protests, but I have a hunch
they are an important part of the current collective learning
opportunity that Katrina has given the United States to wake up to
the need for transformational change. So here are some people who
are making their voices heard on this next Monday, September 12, the
day after 9/11, two weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans. -- Tom Atlee]
PROTEST AT FEDERAL BUILDINGS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
It is a crime for the Government to allow people to die because of
their race and class.
to treat people like they are the enemy because they are black and poor.
to spend billions on war and cut budgets at home, resulting in
death and destruction.
By now it is clear who is dying on the streets of New Orleans and
throughout the area hit by Hurricane Katrina. Those with the money
and resources were able to flee the city in plenty of time, while the
poor were left behind to face flooding, and lack of water, food, and
medicine. Now they are facing the prospect of being shot down in the
street by troops sent in by the government to "restore order."
The difference between those who got out and those who were abandoned
to die is a difference of class and race.
Hurricane Katrina is not the cause of the thousands of deaths in
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The system that says poor
people and black people are expendable is responsible. The government
refused to prepare for the hurricane they knew was coming. They made
no provision to evacuate to poor, the elderly, and the handicapped,
knowing that more than 100,00 would be left behind. They made no
effort to get food, water, or medicine to survivors, while dead
bodies piled up on the streets on New Orleans. FEMA actually turned
back aid trucks as they attempted to get into New Orleans.
Rather than mobilizing to provide the aid that should have been in
place a week ago, the Bush Administration has sent troops into the
streets with orders to "shoot to kill." Brigadier General Gary Jones
told the Army times, that "[New Orleans] is going to look like Little
Somalia ... We're going to go out and take this city back. This will
be a combat operation to get this city under control."
We must unite on September 12 to demand:
Immediate relief--food, medicine, water, clothing, and emergency
shelter for the people of the region.
Extended unemployment benefits for all who have lost jobs, and
massive a jobs and housing program for the near future.
Money for Hurricane Relief, Not War!
End the military occupation of New Orleans! People trying to feed
their families are not looters!
An independent international investigation of the criminal negligence
that caused this disaster.
Some of the cities where protests are already planned include: New
York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Amherst, New Haven, Charleston SC,
Jackson MS, Miami FL, Minneapolis-St.Paul, Boston, Detroit, Jersey
City, Los Angeles, Houston, Raleigh, Washington DC, San Francisco,
Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, St
Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and hundreds of
other cities and towns of all sizes, in every region of the country.
See the<http://www.troopsoutnow.org> Troops Out Now website for the
latest updates on local actions.
POSITIVE NOTES FROM THE NATIONAL COALITION FOR DIALOGUE AND
Maybe people can pull together and unite with love and genuine
compassion not only to give a handout but to give a hand-up and show
all of us how this country can help Louisiana and Mississippi rebuild
and to encourage and show the people who are in the middle of this
how we can join with them and rebuild their cities using the people
that are there, teaching them new skills and trades in addition
to bringing in new people from the outside to rebuild. Let the money
being earned to rebuild stay in those states with the people who live
there. Give the poor new jobs with better salaries than minimum wage
and raise their standard. Give the people, who's home this is, a
sense of fulfillment and pride and who want to be a part of something
good and turn it around and show them what they can do.
-- Pat Ruppel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My wife and I just spent a few days volunteering at the Astrodome
over the holiday weekend. All of the evacuees that we came into
contact with were grateful, well-behaved, and thinking of nothing
beyond finding lost loved ones and beginning to figure out what to do
now. They had horror stories of their ordeal including a few about
misbehavior while at the Superdome and other spots in New Orleans.
However, they are now clean, fed, sheltered and cared for. The Red
Cross is doing their usual amazing job and Houstonians were
volunteering by the thousands as well as folks from all over the
world who have flown there just to help.
I came into contact with thousands of people, saw no crime, no
hostility, little anger, and lots of love and hope, it is
unimaginable that anyone who was there helping would have left
thinking to buy a gun, in fact almost all of the volunteers I met
just kept coming back. There are over 30,000 evacuees in that complex
(3 buildings), so I have no doubt there are a few bad apples, but it
is by far the exception. There are lots of children and a lot of
need--people have nothing with them, many do not even have IDs, they
have to start over in a way that none of us can imagine.
On a smaller scale, similar shelters are being created almost
everywhere in the country. If you can find one, please help--I
guarantee that it will do you as much good as those you are helping.
We left Houston hopeful, inspired, and reinvigorated in our faith in
humanity. The media has spent a lot of time trying to show us just
how bad things are, I just wish they would spend as much time on the
amazing good as well. There is a lot of it.
Doug Sarno <Djsarno@theperspectivesgroup.com>