September 23, 2005
-- by Dave Johnson
Percentage of New Orleans residents living below the poverty level in 2003: 20.8The rest is at the link.
Rank of New Orleans among the American cities with the highest rate of poverty: 17
Ratio of African-American households in New Orleans that did not have access to a car in 2000: 1 to 3
Percentage of evacuees in Houston shelters who had not heard about the evacuation order before the hurricane hit: 25
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I think the incredible traffic jam that developed when the evacuation order was taken seriously in Texas demonstrates the fallacy of depending on cars for an evacuation. If this could happen when only a few million people needed to evacuate, imagine what it would be like if New York City's eight million suddenly had to leave. New York's (Republican) governor wanted to shut down the Indian Point nuclear plant, which is ancient and leaks, because he realizes it would be impossible to evacuate the city and the surrounding area. Sitting in a car exposed to radioactive fallout in the kind of traffic jam they've had in Texas would hardly save lives. The Bush administration hasn't allowed him to close it. Interestingly, there was a serious leak of radioactive materials two weeks ago and the management there didn't bother to report it until yesterday.
It wouldn't just be black New Yorkers who wouldn't be able to evacuate because they don't have cars. Transportation's been good enough and cheap enough, and traffic in the city so horrible that huge numbers of kids of whatever color or economic class who grow up here never learn how to drive. No family car to practice in. This unspoken but taken for granted edict that all worthy Americans own cars or die would have tragic results here.
Since when have Americans considered New Yorkers worthy? They understand about New York. They just don't care.
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