September 13, 2005
-- by John Emerson
In 1997 Grand Forks N.D. was virtually destroyed by a flood. The federal response was much superior to that in New Orleans. Two differences (take your pick): Bill Clinton was president instead of Bush, and Grand Forks is very, very white.
The Grand Forks flood is the nearest recent analogue to the New Orleans flood, and it's a mark of the institutionalized stupidity of the US media that this comparison didn't pop up everywhere on the first day.
The claim that the weak federal response to the hurricane was primarily the result of criminal violence is gathering speed. This link points out that the factual basis for this claim is still very weak. Stay tuned.
Usually, in cases of this kind, the lie isn't exposed until the issue has been effectively decided and is now "yesterday's news". The WMD in Iraq were just one example among many. (UPDATE: One particular category of rumor, about violence by evacuees, is fully debunked here.)
While David Jamison, the new FEMA leader, is not quite the useless hack that "Brownie" was, his main claim to fame so far is the idea that people should protect themselves from bioterrorism with duct tape and plastic sheeting.
The CNN story names DHS's Chretoff, Gov. Blanco, and Mayor Nagin. George W. Bush looks good when he is quoted "taking responsibility" for the federal government response, but the story makes no mention of the possibility that Bush might really be substantially to blame.
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Actually, Grand Forks also had a major flood back in the 70's as well. They pretty much figured out things after that.
Posted by: Rook at September 13, 2005 2:47 PM
I've been waiting for someone to mention this. The 'Hell and High Water' front page from the GF Herald has been much in mind lately. Most of the downtown area I lived in there burnt or was so flood damaged it was knocked down; many of my friends lost their homes. There, too, the low rent districts were in the flood zone--where we college students could afford to live.
My home town here in Idaho is diked & poldered--I bet most cities on rivers are to some extent, and the idea of blaming people for living in such areas is silly. People go where the jobs are.
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