Zombie falsehoods

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.

What we dont see with the flooding
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.

p>St-rita wheel chair

(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:

Points well taken
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
like that.”

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
efforts there.


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
horror scene.”


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:

As for the 13 points…

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
said so.

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

26 thoughts on “Zombie falsehoods

  1. Scout, the “Prime” in your moniker is soooo appropriate!!! Hell, just reading about Alonzo’s story – I’m crying just putting myself in the situation with him…there’s no way anyone w/a feeling essence in their bod couldn’t crumble.
    You, as they say, rock! 🙂

  2. Amen on this–people with nothing better to do than make smug comparisions and derive bogus equivalencies to justify their prejudice…are often as not the ones who insist that everything changed after 9-11.
    Yeah, right.
    8-29, as much as it hurts to say it–who’d wish that kind of tragedy on anyone?–was as close to a dress rehearsal as anyone could get to an actual attack on the US, post 9-11. That the levee and floodwalls failed because of poor design as opposed to actual natural disaster or attack doesn’t matter. What does matter is that, after almost four years of constant drumbeat about how things had changed, and how we needed to sacrifice liberty for security, and after billions had been spent on a Department of Homeland Security, complete with terror color code alerts, it turned out that the only thing these people could do with a modicum of effectiveness was blame the victims, or the libruls…which they continue to do.

  3. Don’t forget, the governor’s comment “When all the stories are told, the story is going to be that Louisianans were saved by Louisianans” also has to do with the fact that Louisiana was being refused Federal aid unless the gov agreed to federalize the rescue. Neither adjoining state (Republican governors) were hit with this requirement. Perhaps I have my facts not quite correct but it is one of the reasons I so profoundly hate Karl Rove.

  4. +1 on the Fish & Wildlife staff doing rescue work; TP&WD sent trucks, boats, and rangers to help. We don’t hear about that, much.
    Scout, thank you for writing this.
    You know what else we won’t hear? We have not and will not hear endless bloviation about how it would be better to just move those communities off the river, out of the flood plain, and let the history and the culture of those communities waste away.
    You know why?
    This is the ugliest truth of all. Those communities are more than 90% white.

  5. I wasn’t here for the Flood. We left the night before, not because of Katrina’s path (she turned as I expected), but because of a feeling deep in my soul that something bad was going to happen. The next day I watched the disaster unfold via ‘puter.
    I hope the folks of Fargo have the same backbone as the folks along the Gulf Coast. They’re going to need it, especially if FEMA does their usual job.

  6. I think one thing unmentioned in comparisons of the two disasters is the fact that the hurricane in Louisiana (and elsewhere on the Gulf Coast) suppressed the ability of officials and others to move around the affected area in a way that the weather in North Dakota didn’t. From what I remember, movement in New Orleans was fairly difficult in the hours before the levees broke, what with the wind, flying debris, power lines down, etc.

  7. There were the same kind of nasty comments when rivers flooded in Iowa last summerish. There are so many misconceptions left and right about what happened during Katrina because of sensational reporting and selective interpretation. I think you’re right, I think that this is an inevitable and frustrating thing that’s going to happen every time it floods in America from now into perpetuity.

  8. Hey scout, I know Jim Cobb (I clerked for him when I was in law school). He is a good guy and he would not represent folks he thought had “abandoned” nursing home patients. He just wouldn’t.
    Anyway, just dropping by to say hi and thanks for never letting Katrina myths go unchallenged.

  9. I’ve got a mother who worked in New Orleans immediately after the Flood with the National Flood Insurance Program…
    I guess she’s a liar…and I guess all the guys from Denton, Texas, who work with FEMA Region II are liars, as well…
    No relief workers shot…
    Dude, I have friends IN the National Guard who were stationed in the Convention Center & then at the Dome afterwards…
    That’s an unbelievable amount of BS you’re spewing about that not happening…
    I can tell you the NG were WOEFULLY ill equipped and feared for their lives…If the throng that tried to rip into the Convention Center would’ve gotten ahold of them, they would’ve been casualties of Katrina…
    But don’t let that get into the way of the farce you’re spewing here…

  10. Anecdotes are not evidence. “I have a friend who” is six inches up on the bullshit scale from “the lurkers support me in e-mail.”

  11. Hey -GO-…
    Read the following and then go spread your trollish bullshit elsewhere:
    More important, there has been no official confirmation that a single military helicopter over New Orleans–let alone a National Guard Chinook in the pre-dawn hours of September 1–was fired upon. “I was at the Superdome for eight days, and I don’t remember hearing anything about a helicopter getting shot at,” says Maj. Ed Bush, public affairs officer for the Louisiana Air National Guard. With hundreds of Guard troops always on duty inside and outside the Superdome before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina, if there had been gunfire, “we would have heard it,” Bush maintains. “The instant reaction over the radio would have been overwhelming.”
    The Air Force, to which the Air National Guard reports, also has zero record of helicopter sniping. “We investigated one incident and it turned out to have been shooting on the ground, not at the helicopter,” Air Force Maj. Mike Young told The New York Times on September 29.
    Aside from the local National Guard, the other government agency with scores of helicopters over New Orleans was the U.S. Coast Guard, which rescued more than 33,000 people. “Coast Guard helicopters,” says spokeswoman Jolie Shifflet, “were not fired on during Hurricane Katrina rescue operations.”
    How about the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the all-volunteer, Air Force�assisting network of around 58,000 private Cessna pilots, 68 of whom flew a total of 833 aid missions after the hurricane? “To my knowledge,” says CAP Public Affairs Manager Jim Tynan, “none of our pilots on any Katrina-related mission were taking ground fire.”

    Link: http://reason.com/news/show/36327.html

  12. Thank you, Scout, for your efforts not to let the rest of the country forget that the Bush maladministration treated the people of Louisiana like less than dirt and that the lies spread about the people of New Orleans are legion.

  13. Thank you, Scout. I guess y’all’re going to have to keep doing this forever.
    Another big difference, which you touched on, was the time frame. Friday evening, August 26th, 48 hours before the roads were no longer passable due to heavy rain, wind and flying debris out in front of the storm’s eye, the NHC was still showing the cone pointed at the panhandle of Florida. It wasn’t until Saturday morning, August 27th, 36 hours before the roads were no longer passable, that the NHC moved the cone to include New Orleans. Late Saturday morning, Mayor Nagin called for a voluntary evacuation. At noon on Saturday, Loyola & Tulane cancelled the weekend’s activities (which for Loyola at least included Freshman Move-In) and Monday’s classes. At 1:00 Saturday afternoon, the air lines began cancelling flights and Amtrak cancelled Sunday’s trains. By late Saturday afternoon, just over 24 hours before the roads were no longer passable, the NHC finally moved the cone so that NOLA was in the cone’s center. Saturday night, 24 hours before the roads were no longer passable, Max Mayfield called the local officials to warn them personally.
    In August of 2004, when I attended Loyola’s Freshman Move-In as a parent, it included a Hurricane Awareness Orientation Program. We were told that the university’s and cities hurricane evacuation plan required72 hours for implementation. That they got as many out as they did in the 36 hours they had was a miraculous accomplishment.

  14. Thank-you for this blog info. I volunteered for the Red Cross shelter in Monroe, LA for over a month after Katrina. I heard alot of horror stories from victims, Red Cross workers & Military personnel, but NONE about ANY rescue workers being fired upon. The level of incompetence at FEMA & other Govt. entities was astounding. My nephew-in-law is a cpl w/La. NG MP’s. and has stated that they received & returned fire during operations post-Katrina, but NONE during rescue missions. ALL during the chaos of trying to bring New Orleans back to a state of security from looters & roaming gangs of violent opportunists. The comparison between this tragedy & some flooded basements in Fargo is absurd. Yes, it’s sad that Fargoians got their feet wet, but I’m pretty sure they will dry. I was in New Orleans during other floods as bad or worse than Fargo, but feel lucky to not have been there when Katrina hit.

  15. Scout: Thank you.
    Go: You need to back up. Unlike you, who merely “had a friend who was IN” New Orleans as a first responder, I WAS ACTUALLY IN NEW ORLEANS doing search and rescue. And I have the damn chemical burns to prove it… scarred for life. Mm-K?
    And let me tell you firsthand, that NONE OF THE FIRST RESPONDERS WERE FIRED UPON. None. That means zero. None.
    I worked with all the volunteer boaters under Wildlife Fisheries, and I debriefed them all daily upon the return to Baton Rouge. Not one of them was ever shot at.
    Not one.
    And I do believe that between the above post about the helicopters not getting shot at, and my post about the W&F responders, that pretty much covers everybody who was doing anything about pulling people out of the water.
    The kind of crap you’e spewing just pisses me off.
    You accuse Scout of spewing farcical nonsense when your feet didn’t even get wet.
    What do you know?
    Nothing, apparently.

  16. I’ve said it before, but I can never quite see the United States in same light after witnessing how so many of my fellow countryman so gleefully wanted (and want) the absolute worst to be true.

  17. Whooda thunk racists would say something slanted, untrue and unfair?
    The mind boggles.
    Excellent reporting and debunking, Scout.

  18. Some people need to get a life. I just returned from St. Bernard three weeks ago having accompanied a group of students from Stevenson University in Maryland. We worked with the amazing folks from the St. Bernard Project.
    People need to realize Katrina was a disaster far beyond what anyone has ever witnessed or experienced in their lifetime. Unless you go there you cannot imagine the devastation the region is still suffering from. This is just not New Orleans and Lousiana, but the entire area impacted by Katrina. Entire neighborhoods have been removed from the face of the earth. People are still living in the caustic FEMA trailers.
    As far as the levees being blown is concerned, this actually happened in the 1920’s causing devastion to St. Bernard Parish and the Ninth Ward back then. Of course the people living there expected this to happen again. Louisana 1927 is not just a made up ficticious song, it is about an actual historic event.
    With all they could be mad about and violent about, we found the people of New Orleans and St. Bernard to be the most friendly and welcoming people we have ever met. I have been around the world and never have I been greeted as if I was their neighbor and friend.
    How welcoming and friendly are the people of New Orleans? A person on our trip had been a year earlier. On Friday evening, our last day, we were treated to a traditional boil by the family she had helped the year before. There were 25 of us they opened their arms and their home to and welcomed us in. People who had done nothing for them. People who were really strangers.
    My suggestion, go there, see it for yourself. Giving to others will change your view, if not then I question your motives.
    How do I/we feel about our trip; Frank Sinatra may have left his heart in San Francisco, we left ours in St. Bernard and we will return!!!!!
    This is not over, rebuilding the area will take many years to come!!!!

  19. Thank you, Scout. It’s amazing to me that almost four years later, people are still looking for reasons to blame New Orleanians for what happened after Katrina.
    After evacuating to Atlanta, I’ll never forget sitting in my sister’s living room and listening to that exact broadcast by Jeane Meserve. I had held up for two days without crying, and her report just sent me over the edge. It still haunts me, thinking about it.
    Thanks again for continuing to be a voice for us.

  20. Just a comment on the “snipers are shooting at the rescue helicopters” stories…I’d evacuated on Saturday in a group that included my cousin and her two little boys; her husband (the boys’ daddy) is a N.O. firefighter who of course had to stay behind. It was roughly two weeks before he was released for a few days to visit his family. Of all the stories he had to tell us, the one I remember most was about the so-called “snipers”.
    He told us that when the military guys, meaning the Guard units from outside LA and the actual Army units, finally got on the scene they appeared to be young kids from other parts of the country who had never seen black people outside of the NBA before, and who were so unnerved by the stories they were hearing that they were sure they were going into a “combat” rather than “rescue” situation. As such, everything they weren’t already familiar with was looked at as a threat.
    Here’s his explanation of the scenarios that gave rise to the “sniper” rumors…A fairly high percentage of Louisiana residents are gun owners, and New Orleans is no different. When flood waters begin to rush into your home, you grab the things that you think you might need that are portable enough to carry, and scramble for high ground…which in New Orleans essentially means your attic. So we have stranded citizens in their attics, with their handguns if they owned them, having (if lucky) been able to tear a hole in their roof to access outside. Several days after they’ve been stranded there, they hear and then maybe see a rescue helicopter approaching. The helicopter’s pilot and crew might be kids from Iowa who, while well-trained in their jobs, might not have a lot of exposure to the world outside of their town in Iowa and wherever they were stationed. The only black neighborhoods they’ve seen were in rap videos. Anyway, the strandees’ yelling and waving isn’t getting the attention of the rescuers…but the strandee does just happen to have one thing on hand that will make a really loud noise that maybe the crew will hear.
    The firefigher (who made many a rescue trip himself, albeit by boat and not by air) said he heard gunshots while out, too…and often as not it turned out that the guys they rescued from a roof told them “I fired my gun in the air to get your attention–is that why you found me?”

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