Thursday, September 01, 2005

Reality Check on the Gulf Coast Disaster

I just read an excellent post regarding the devastation and loss of life in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and why it is pointless to try and pin some kind of blame on someone, anyone. I have quoted the beginning of the piece below, and archived the entire thing at brainwise.org. The archival copy includes links to the original occurrence.

This is required reading!


Ok, the President has spoken, and I believe it is now time for all of us to being speaking bluntly. It has been my policy for the last few days to look for and point up the brightest news I could find, because I knew what we might be facing long before Katrina ever made landfall. In my opinion, the time for optimism has passed. New Orleans did not dodge a bullet, New Orleans suffered a worst case doomsday scenario. But this is far far bigger than New Orleans alone. By my count, America has lost not one city, but nine of them. New Orleans, population 1.2 million, Slidell, pop. 26,000, Bay St. Louis/Waveland pop. 12,000, Long Beach, pop. 17,000, Gulfport, pop. 71,000, Biloxi, pop. 50,000, Ocean Springs, pop. 17,000, Psacagoula/Moss Point/Gautier, pop. 42,000, and Mobile, pop. 198,000. I have figures in my possession that indicate a total maximum death toll of 410,000 Americans and a minimum death toll of 41,000 Americans. I derived these figures as follows. During the Hurricane Ivan mandatory evacuation, 600,000 people answered the call for mandatory evacuation, out of a total population of 1.2 million in the metro area. 600,000 remained behind. If half of those remaining behind did not survive the storm, or will not survive from this point onward, then the death toll in New Orleans alone will rise to 300,000 people. This is clearly a pessimistic approach, but I would remind the doubters that total rescue efforts yesterday saved, by the most optimistic estimates, 3,000 people. 3,000 out of potentially 300,000. On the brighter side, if the pre-storm estimates prove to be true, then only 300,000 people did not evacuate in the greater New Orleans metro area, 100,000 of those within the city limits as claimed by the Mayor of that city. If only one in ten of the people trapped in attics and on their roofs died, or will die before they are rescued, the death toll in New Orleans alone will rise to 30,000 souls lost. One in ten stay, one in ten of those die, 30,000, total. Just in New Orleans. These numbers are speculative, and, having demonstrated the method used in deriving them, you may judge for yourselves their validity. Before you dismiss them out of hand, you should be aware that pre-storm death-toll estimates from the Red Cross ranged from 25,000 to 100,000 for New Orleans alone. Engineers tasked by the City with estimating worst case scenarios estimated a death toll of 40,000. FEMA estimates were 50,000 deaths for New Orleans alone. It is my personal view that any final death toll under 41,000 will be considered a victory. The more the final count falls short of this, the luckier we will have been. Though these numbers are speculative, other data is not...
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2 comments:

Josh said...

I read the full text of the article. I feel that the author is over the top in his death-toll estimates, for the following reasons:

(1) I am suspicious that anyone can really make a statistical comparison to another hurricane with much different behavior,

(2) I don't think that we can know how resourceful people are in getting out of their predicament. Certainly, many elderly, disabled, and ill folks will perish, but I think that the will to live is very strong in those who are relatively strong, and they will or have made their way out. The situation is so chaotic now, that probably many people have saved themselves without rescuers knowing it.

(3) I think the author overstated the damage to some of the cities. While Gulfport, MS was probably wiped, I have read that about half of Biloxi survived, and I don't think that either of these cities have water standing 20 feet deep for days. Also, only about 1/3 of Mobile flooded, with a maximum depth of about 10 feet.

I would guess that the death toll will be in the thousands, which is still horrific.

The author does make some very good points, about the kind of response that is needed. Clearly, the Bush Regime is not doing what it takes, and we are seeing the results of FEMA being gutted in the name of the Iraq colonization and the sham "war on terror". The author is also right on the illogic of attempting to rebuild New Orleans in its current location.

The people should be evacuated, treated for their injuries and illnesses, and relocated to housing elsewhere. Then, New Orleans should be given back to the sea. The mighty ocean has argued convincingly that it wants this area back.

mira said...

Part of the problem is that the sea didn't claim New Orleans, Lake Ponchatrain did. The Eye went to the East, so New Orleans had winds from the North during the worst part, blowing water in from Lake Ponchatrain. That's also where the levy broke

Also, anyone who dies within 3 months of injuries sustained during Katrina will be counted as a casualty of Katrina. 91 days, and it's some other reason, not Katrina. We won't know the official death toll for 3 months.

Mira, EMT-B