More “blame the victim”

Philip Grey is an editorial writer for The Leaf Chronicle of Clarksville, TN. Evidently, he felt shortchanged in the amount of media coverage regarding Nashville flooding. He had this to say in his May 13 opinion column:

But looking back on Katrina, I was struck by the realization that although Mississippi was actually hit harder in some places than was New Orleans, the coverage in that state was much less. Just an opinion, but that might stem partly from the fact that Mississippi was handling its business, while New Orleans was almost stunningly and spectacularly dysfunctional.

Here’s the full article:

Just don’t go there

Katrina shorthand shows up in a variety of forms. One of those is this notion that we sat on our hands, kicked back, put our feet up, or some such when we found out a hurricane was coming. That really gets under my skin.

To the editors,

Phillip Grey should know this: New Orleanians awoke Sat., Aug. 27, 2005 to the first news that Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on us. The previous evening’s weather report predicted landfall in the Florida panhandle. Fact-check it if you like.

Grey’s insulting accusation of dysfunctional preparation is outrageous and patently false. This is a population accustomed to weather events such as Katrina and which knows well how to prepare for such storms. Look at the record. We did what we do for hurricanes, and with only two days notice. We opened shelters for those living outside the levee system. Individuals in homes secure enough for tropical weather events hunkered down with provisions. Individuals boarded up homes and businesses all over southeast Louisiana – very quickly. We enacted interstate highway contraflow evacuation (look up what that entails, and then come back and say we were “dysfunctional,” compare it to Houston’s poorly executed contraflow evacuation for Rita). We were indeed unprepared for the man-made flood caused by levee failures. But don’t think we were warned. Quite the contrary: the USACE gave public assurance of the soundness of the federal flood protection system.

Responsibility for the flood was accepted by Lt. General Carl A. Strock in sworn Congressional testimony before Congress only weeks afterwards. Flaws in the design, construction, and maintenance of our levees were conceded by Lt. Gen. Strock, corroborated by independent civil engineers, and well-reported in the media.

We had roughly 48 hours to prepare for a major storm, and we did it well. The catastrophe here was due to the incompetence and duplicity of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Grey needs to do more research before he starts hurling accusations of dysfunctionality.