With each disaster there inevitably comes an email or blog commentlike this (scroll down) comparing the new terrible event to Katrina and the flood of New Orleans and I doubt it will ever end.
Just a personal observation…as I watched the news coverage of the massive
flooding in the Midwest with the levee’s about to break in Fargo, ND,
what amazed me is not what we saw, but what we didn’t see…
1. We don’t see looting.
2. We don’t see street violence.
3. We don’t see people sitting on their rooftops waiting for the
government to come and save them.
4. We don’t see peop! le waiting on the government to do anything.
5. We don’t see Hollywood organizing benefits to raise money for
people to rebuild.
6. We don’t see people blaming President Obama. (Except for Don Marchant, post #30)
7. We don’t see people ignoring evacuation orders.
8. We don’t see people blaming a government conspiracy to blow up
the levees as the reason some have not held.
9. We don’t see the US Senators or the Governor of North Dakota crying on TV.
10. We don’t see the Mayors of any of these cities complaining about the lack of state or federal response.
11. We don’t see or hear reports of the police going around
confiscating personal firearms so only the criminal will be armed.
12. We don’t see gangs of people going around and randomly shooting at the rescue workers.
13. You don’t see some leaders in this country blaming the bad
behavior of the North Dakota flood victims on “society” (of course there is no wide spread reports! of lawlessness to require excuses).
This was emailed to me for comment by Athenae and a blogger at North Decoder who was disturbed by it. At the end of this post I have posted my email response outlining the falsehoods contained above and if nothing else please read the last paragraph of it.
(St. Rita’s/USA Today)
But for now I’m going to focus on another comment (scroll down further at above link) which is completely false:
But if there is a flood, and the
levees don’t hold, and the city gets flooded, I will bet that the staff
of the nursing homes all leave the residents to die on their own
either. Do you remember that? Everyone that works at the nursing home
took off and left all the people there to die! You can make up excuses
all day long for that type of behavior, but I am not buying it.
This is a falsehood. The staff stayed and helped. People don’t
realize when those levees broke the flood waters came in fast and
furious. That nursing home was in St. Bernard Parish. A couple I
interviewed were from St. B and they said their home was flooded in
minutes. They barely escaped with their lives…I mean literally. At
one point the guy was almost swept away. He only lived because he
grabbed the protruding antenna of an already submerged truck. So
imagine those waters sweeping into a nursing home and overwhelming
elderly folks and the staff. If you can’t imagine it, well here is an account of the horror:
“We were like in a sinking ship,” says Gene
Alonzo, a retired fisherman who stayed at St. Rita’s to be with his
disabled brother, Carlos, a resident. “I never did see water come up
Within 20 minutes, the water inside rose almost
to the ceiling and nearly three dozen residents were drowning, some in
their beds, in one of the signature scenes of horror wrought by Katrina.
Alonzo’s account of the ordeal, together with
new details from government officials, survivors and the Manganos’
attorney, James Cobb, paint the most complete picture so far of what
happened at St. Rita’s before and after Katrina struck — and shed light
on why the Manganos did not evacuate.
Their descriptions also debunk some of the myths
that grew out of the chaotic aftermath of the hurricane, including
reports that the Manganos abandoned their nursing home during rescue
Alonzo, 55, says he put his 52-year-old brother
onto a mattress, then grabbed Carlos’ roommate, Harold Kurz. Alonzo
recounts the frantic effort by nurses and others to save as many as
“You can’t get out a door, so they’re kicking
out windows to float the residents out on mattresses to put them on the
roof. In every room, people were hollering. They were screaming like
somebody was murdering them (and) … for God to help them. It was a
Alonzo returned to St. Rita’s a month after
Katrina to get belongings from his ruined car. He calls the place
haunted, and says he will never go back.
“Can you imagine being in your wheelchair … and that water came up over your head? I guess that’s why people are so mad.”
He tears up, and then says quietly he wasn’t
strong enough to hold onto both his brother and Kurz. “You can’t swim
with two people. I had to let Harold go. I still think about that when
I fall asleep.”
Thatstory is from USA Today in November of 2005. The truth was set forth over 3 years ago yet the falsehood remains.
I wish the people who wrote the above comments seen at North Decoder would have to spend one night falling asleep to the horrific screams filling their head and the sight of their hand letting a human life slip away, for I think just one night of that would put an end to their writing comments which perpetuate the falsehoods…at least I hope
This is from an email response I sent regarding the 13 points. Feel free to add to it as it is certainly not a definitive rebuke, just thoughts off the top of my head based on the past 3+ years of research and writing about Katrina and the Federal Flood:
Is 80% of Fargo under water at present? Is it flooded to the rooftops?
That was the case for much of NOLA and well you can’t do much BUT go to the
rooftop and hope help comes.
Did 90% of Fargo evacuate? Because 90% of So LA did so. It was the
largest and most successful evacuation in US history. Over 1 million
people evacuated…most in just 24-48 hours. My God the whole population
of the state of North Dakota (640,000) would have to evacuate TWICE to
make that argument meaningful.
Very few people believed the levees were purposely blown up…and once
the Army Corps of Engineers admitted it was their design failure that
caused the levees to break it was even less. That admission occurred 6
months after Katrina struck…not one media outlet or newspaper
reported it at that time other than those in New Orleans. NOT. ONE. But
for understanding those very few who still thought they were
blown…there is a history of the levees having been blown in the 1927
flooding. Did the business folks of Fargo ever blow the levees in poor
areas in order to save downtown businesses and wealthy neighborhoods
anytime in the past century? I assume no but if they had I suspect
Fargo too would have a few folks questioning if it hadn’t happened again.
As for politicians crying…Are their hundreds of dead bodies floating
in the flood waters of Fargo? Have over 1500 residents died? The majority
of whom were elderly or disabled? Because shit like that makes people
cry and that is what was seen in NOLA. I remember a CNN reporter on Day 1
of Katrina describing the horrors in the streets and she cried …that
was Jeane Meserve, a seasoned veteran. She spoke of much including the
screams of dogs caught in the power lines being fried to death. People
don’t realize how horrible it was. I interviewed a couple who had
stayed and they talked of hearing God awful screams…they didn’t know
if it was human or animal or both. I spoke with another man who had been in NO who was
haunted by those same kind of screams. And well
that is sad and horrible and evokes tears…to people who have empathy at least
It is an ABSOLUTE falsehood that anyone ever shot at rescue workers or
helicopters…It did not happen. Repeat—that is false. Media reported
it and it was wrong and the National Guard has
As for the federal governments involvement …Are these folks familiar
with the Stafford Act that calls for fed intervention when states are
overwhelmed by a disaster. Orleans, Plaquemines and St Bernard Parish as
well as a few others on the South LA coast were devastated or under water. I think this would
be the equivalent of about 4 or 5 counties in North Dakota. Do you have
that many counties under water? In St Bernard parish there were only 6
houses inhabitable after Katrina…just 6. The fishing communities of
that parish had been literally wiped off the map. All of which is to
say that disaster was massive in its scope and devastation…and no
state could have handled it on their own…federal help was needed and accorded by law.
The local Fish and Wildlife folks were out rescuing people immediately.
The Coast Guard as well and they were local folks who were flying over
their own flooded homes. In St. Bernard Parish anyone with a boat got
out there and plucked people off rooftops.There is a quote from Gov
Blanco …”When all the stories are told, the story is going to be
that Louisianans were saved by Louisianans.”
A final point…and believe me on this…the people of NOLA are right
now incredibly sympathetic to your plight…they Know and they’d never
judge given what they know