Let's All Take a Minute--An Open Thread

Deep breath.

Take a minute and send a thought/prayer/whatever you believe in into the ether for the people affected by this tragedy.  I don't know if you have had a chance to see and hear the scope of this yet, and I don't know if "news coverage" will ever do it justice, but watching this stuff will just make your heart bleed. The suffering in the affected areas is of great magnitude already, and will only get worse in the coming days and weeks.

So, please keep in mind the human tragedy.

Also, please do not begrudge us for looking to the future past this event.  We do not do it out of ghoulishness or insensitivity.  We do it because we see the potential problems that may be down the road.

I also hope you will note the Red Cross box in the upper right hand corner.

Update [2005-8-30 15:56:18 by Prof. Goose]:The Governor of LA has just called for evacuation of the entirety of NOLA, calling the situation "untenable."

Its heart wrenching. My wife and I have already donated, as we did for 9-11 and for the Tsunami and for local disasters big and small.

I'm a frequent Red Cross volunteer supervisor here in Canada and would like to add, aside from a plea to donate blood:

Even if you can't contribute financially, please consider giving up some of your time. Now, right now, contact your local Red Cross.

They will need and want your help. Their call centers will be swamped; they will want to send trained experienced people out into the field. And even if your local center does not need you, its a good thing to let them know you are available for training and volunteering in your locale -- some future emergency they will call upon you. Red Cross call centers will be needed shift volunteers around the clock for some time to help in reunification work among other tasks.

Commmunity volunteerism in emergencies will give you a ton of good karma... its a good, no, tremendous feeling to be able to help in any small way.

I'm not posting much today. This is just all way too much. I will say that yesterday's coverage mostly flew in the face of reality. Consider this NY Times article from yesterday Escaping Feared Knockout Punch, Barely, New Orleans Is One Lucky Big Mess

Intelligent and aware observers knew that we'd know today what was happening. And it's just as bad as we feared, just tragic. New Orleans is being evacuated as we speak. People are dying there and in Mississippi. Not "One Lucky Big Mess", that's for sure. The infinite capacity of Americans to fool themselves is not called for as we look at one of the biggest disasters in US history.
i see at as rather hypocritical that we want help those who are suffering from Katrina, but are ignorant and careless about the suffering of the over 2.5 MILLION refugees in Darfur (who are equally without food/water/sanitation), not to mention the over 400,000 that have been genocidally slaughtered there over the past 2 years.  or perhaps the 100,000+ iraqi civilians that have been exterminated with our own troops and the ensuing war, not including countless more enduring cancer, deformaties and systemic poisioning from DU weaponry, both in Iraq and Afghanistan.  whose lives are more valuable?  obviously, if you are an american, only the ones you are willing to be aware of.  
Mr/Ms Anonymous: Its a bit arrogant to castigate people for offering support to any other people, don't you think? For one, you've no idea what the world view most of the participants hold here on TOD.

I suspect there is a higher than average complement of people here who share some or all of your views, anonymous.

One does not become a hypocrite by offering support to the suffering, no matter who they are - American or Sudanese - nor is it feasible or desirable to offer only qualified support and list every other group in history who has been wronged, hurt, or wiped out by natural and man-made disaster, before we feel for another...

The TOD no doubt draws an international audience. I am Canadian for example; I know there people from Pakistan and South Africa joining in here and no doubt many other locales. Sympathy feels the same no matter what language, religion or skin colour.

Both points of view are valid: hypocrisy and the color/nationhood blindness of help.
As an American, I can tell you that the American news reporters are incredibly America-centric. If an international flight crashes, all they want to know about is how many "Americans" perished, as if the the "others" don't count. This is part of the American sickness, that we are so self-centered we pretend other humans do not count. We can easily convince ourselves that Iraqi's are "towel heads" and thus not human or that Vietneames people are "gooks" (last war) and don't count, etc. etc.

This disaster shows that all men and women are equal in front of the all powerful forces of Mother Nature.

I understand your frustration on this issue, and I'm sure that there's some truth to what you're saying. But by posting on this particular website, you make the tacit assumption that the readers are ignorant of these tragic global situations and that they neither want to help, nor have they actually donated money or another kind of service to those in need around the world. The truth is that you have no idea.

We're posting a lot about this particular situation on this website because we exist to discuss oil issues, and Katrina will certainly affect oil production. But that doesn't mean that the readers of this website are blind to other worldwide concerns, and I don't think anyone should make such assumptions about who we are and what we believe.

Surely it is only human to be more concerned for the welfare of fellow people closer to one's home. We cannot begrudge anyone for feeling this way.
Not so "surely" about that. Yes we can.
"Compassion fatigue" can easily overwhelm people hearing about tragedies on the other side of the earth, especially where we've got little or no ability to fix the cause of matters.  (What are we going to do about the government of Sudan arming raiders in Darfur, drop a nuke on Khartoum?)

It's a different matter when it's our own country, and we know people who have lived or still live in the area affected.  If the tragedy was preventable, we could have done something (as opposed to being unable to affect events); if not, it could have been us.

There is no comparison.

if you want to know what we should do about Darfur, here is a good set of actions to take.  (and dropping nukes isn't one of them.  from a fellow engineer-poet i would expect more).  take from International Crisis Group's July policy briefing:

"Equally flawed is the concept that the atrocities are
African-only problems that require African-only
solutions. The well-documented abuses that continue to
occur demand broader and more robust international
efforts aimed at enhancing the AU's ability to lead. In
view of the Sudanese government's abdication of its
sovereign duty and to the extent that the AU cannot
adequately protect Sudan's civilians, the broader
international community has a responsibility to do so.

Civilian protection needs to become the primary
objective. Crisis Group recommends the following
immediate steps, building on AU efforts, to deploy a
multinational military force with sufficient size,
operational capacity and mandate:

1) agree on a stronger mandate. The AU must
strengthen AMIS's (AU mission in Sudan) mandate to enable and
encourage it to undertake all necessary measures,
including offensive action, against any attacks or
threats to civilians and humanitarian operations,
whether from militias operating with the
government or from the rebels. Without a
stronger mandate, the ability of AMIS -- or any
other international force -- to provide
protection will remain extremely limited,
regardless of its size;

2) recognise that many more troops are needed.
12,000-15,000 should, in Crisis Group's estimate,
be on the ground now to protect villages against
further attack or destruction, displaced persons
(IDPs) against forced repatriation and
intimidation, and women from systematic rape
outside the camps, as well as to provide security
for humanitarian operations and neutralise the
government-supported militias that prey on

3) support a much more rapid reinforcement of
AMIS. The current AU plan is to reach 7,731 --
including 1,560 civilian police -- by September
2005. The AU believes this relatively small
force could largely stabilise the situation and
that it might then need to go up to 12,300 by
the second quarter of 2006 in order also to
facilitate the eventual return of the displaced to
their homes. Crisis Group believes even the
latter number is at the low end of what is
required first to provide stability in a still lethal
situation, that these troops need to be appropriately
equipped, trained and of a quality to undertake
a dangerous civilian protection mission and that
the AU should consequently approve and
commence an immediate increase in AMIS to
12,000-plus highly ready personnel, to be incountry
within 60 days. The need for civilian
police is especially urgent;

4) provide strong, immediate international
support. To meet these objectives, the UN, EU
and NATO must offer the AU additional help
in force preparation, deployment, sustainment,
intelligence, command and control,
communications and tactical (day and night)
mobility, including the deployment of their own
assets and personnel to meet capability gaps as

5) develop a Bridging Force Option. If the AU
cannot meet these objectives -- numbers and
quality of troops, and time -- NATO should
work closely with the AU to deploy its own
bridging force and bring the total force up to
12,000 to 15,000 within 60 days and maintain it
at that level until the AU can perform the
mission entirely with its own personnel. The AU
should agree that until such time, its units would
come under command and control of the NATO
mission. The UN Security Council should
authorise the mission with a civilian protection
mandate but if it does not, the AU and NATO
would need to assume the responsibility and
agree on an appropriate mandate. If the
Sudanese government does not accept such a
mission, NATO and the AU would need to
prepare a much larger one to operate in a nonpermissive
environment; and

6) enforce the Security Council ban on offensive
military flights. The AU and NATO should
agree on enforcement measures to be applied if
Khartoum violates the prohibition in UN
Security Council Resolution 1591."

And all you have to do to help personally with the aftermath of Katrina is go to the Red Cross and donate blood, or even hop in the car with your chainsaw and gloves and start driving.

No comparison.

so u suggest i drive to NO from CA?  i admit it's easier to get to NO than Sudan, geographically and nationally, but both would take serious effort to help in person.

it's easy to personally help with the genocide in Darfur, call your senators and representatives and tell them to support the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act in discussion.  and donate to one of the many human rights organizations keeping people fleeing burning villages alive with essential water, food, and medical assistance.  

i plan on donating blood to ARC.  if you personally know people in the NO area, that changes things.  otherwise, the genocide in Darfur is currently much worse than Katrina in terms of the scope of human suffering, and we have ignored it for over a year.  not what i would call a humanitarian response by the US or the world.  

it's easy to personally help with the genocide in Darfur, call your senators and representatives and tell them to support the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act in discussion.
You call that "helping personally"?  Leaving a message for a pol whose re-election prospects aren't going to be affected one bit by blowing me off?  Look up "activistism" for a definition of this sort of mentality.

Donating money to relief organizations isn't going to stop Khartoum from having an on-going massacre-fest.  People who send money there have little assurance that they will actually accomplish something.  But if you do something for the refugees from Katrina, the folks helped by your money are not going to have it all un-done the next week by a band of thugs sent by the government.  The help will actually help.

That's one reason why people give more for our own.

you can write to your senators/reps as well. that's better than calling. they can blow you off about anything that doesn't affect their reelection prospects, whether foreign or domestic.  you have no faith in making any sort of impact on them whatsoever, so activism to you is simply getting on the ground and personally helping people. Rwanda was a great example where people's letters did make a difference, though not enough, and more letters and calls should have been made.  the idea of "activistism" that activists are not thinking properly about pragmatic issues is contradicted by Rwanda at the very least.  

why would sending money to reputable human rights agencies doing humanitarian and intervention efforts in Sudan (or anywhere in the world) be less effective than doing so within our borders?  do you feel that sending money to relief agencies for the 2004 tsumani was also similarly corrupted and misallocated?  perhaps some of it was, but you can only depend on the organization to handle the funds appropriately (and not let corrupt governments steal them), whether domestic or foreign.  it's naive to think domestic funds are more often reliably and conscientiously used, while money used to end tyranny, oppression, and diaster overseas will most likely be wasted.  both have risks and must be judged on a case-by-case basis.

sending money will help with the humanitarian disaster in Darfur, but the politcal steps cannot and will not happen unless enough US citizens cry out loud enough to make the policy changes (increase AU ground forces, stronger AU mandate, UN support) or else.  when officials fear for their seats in Congress because people are outraged at their complacency, then they will stand up to change something.  you have just thrown up your hands, and said "i give up, genocide or not, i can't make a difference".  throwing in the towel before the game even started impies that "NEVER AGAIN" is meaningless.  

thanks for mentioning "activistism" to me.  after reading more about it, i do think it accurately reflects a problem within the guiding principles and vision of many activist groups (e.g. not looking at analysis and focusing too much on their group rather than the cause).  remaining aware and understanding of the deeper issues should be a part of activism and a way to make sure we know what the larger picture is about, and how we can make our goals into lasting reality.  i believe political lobbying can be a part of true, efficacious activism.  perhaps "regime change" is necessary in Sudan to stop the bleeding in Darfur.    
I have been aware and concerned about what is happening in Darfur in the Sudan for some time now. TOD readers/posters are conscious people for the most part who know what's going on.

Normally I let crap like you just wrote go but I'm upset today. And if you're going to write that, don't hide behind the "Anonymous Oil Drum Reader" tag, which I assume is the default for people who don't want to join and be known in this community.
There is something to be said about taking care of ones own. Sorry, but ones own countrymen comes before those of international nations. Also, when it comes to Darfur, it's not just as "fixing a problem". The land just simply can not support the quantity of people. It is, absolutely, a terrible tragedy - no one denies this.

Do you propose feeding the rapidly growing population in perpetuity?

Regardless, this post was way off topic.

i didn't mean to start a firestorm, nor was i directing blame at anyone in this forum.  generally, i think the people in this forum are quite decent.  but i do see it as hypocritical to value lives of our own countrymen arbitrarily over those of other nations/cultures.  nationalism is a great evil in my opinion, along with corporatism and fascism that have taken a stranglehold over our lives.  just think about how the american populace was manipulated by 9/11 to rouse up our sense of nationalism and willingness to disregard others' lives via impulsive emotions.

regarding Sudan/Darfur, as far as i know it's not about the amount of land  being unsustainable for the people but rather government supported genocide using militias to rape, torture, exterminate, poison well water, etc.  the reason there are 2.5 million refugees is because their villages have all been razed and bombed and they were forced to flee.

i wish the people in NO and the surrounding area the best.  i have empathy (and that is what is important, not sympathy) for all people who are oppressed, suffering or maligned by horrible circumstances or tyrannical forces.  and i know it is a generalization that most americans (and i am one) really don't care about anyone or anything that doesn't affect their personal or national interests, but sadly it is often true.  america has been this way for a long time, but regrettably i don't think we can afford to anymore for the sake of the world and what we're doing to it.  i apologize if i offended anyone to make this point.

Just a typical Democrat comment. (I'll get flamed for saying that but it's as clear as blood is red.)
Consider yourself flamed for such a blatant display of your prejudices and ignorance.

Although, if you had not posted anonymously, I would have cut you some slack.

Everyone: Take PG's advice.  Breathe.  Find a little perspective.  And then give as much as you can to the Red Cross.  Give until it hurts, until you've given enough that you'd be embarassed to tell your friends.  And then give some more.

In Darfur they are referred to as Christians. That's what the fight is about, Christians vs Moslems. The Animists are hundreds or miles farther north and putting up a better fight.
i'm not sure all Darfurians are Christian. but they are non-Arabic black African cultures.  and the Arabic Muslim government sees them fit for extermination.  i think mw is also right, in that distribution of land/water resources has had a large effect on this disaster, and contributed to its escalation.  thanks for the welcome, mw.  i think you guys are doing a great job on PO and i appreciate the great information here.  

i plan on donating some blood to IRC as soon as possible.  there are too many trapped/suffering over there.  

actually i'm not a Democrat.  but considering your accusatory, unsupported ad-hominem attack, should i label you a lap-dog Republican?  

i don't believe either party (neo-libs or neo-cons) is working for the people (with a few individual exceptions), and we need to seriously change who runs (and the way we run) the controls of this monsterous machine that is Americana.  

Nice to have you come back into the discussion anonymous, perhaps you can pick a user name out (can still hide behind that) so a train of thought can be followed into the future.

Sudan is about many things but don't discount the ability of a land to support the population as one of the root causes of poverty; people who live on rich land and who have full bellies tend not to be oppressed. This is not  an absolute but its certainly a pattern.

That's not to say they are not subject to oppression; they certainly are. Much evil has been done in the name of "oil and freedom", no matter what the anonymous thinker below your comment believes. Energy is power and power causes people, and nations, to do unnatural things to other peoples and nations.

I expect Africa to become the next world wide powderkeg in time, and oil will be underneath the surface as a clue to where to look for the worst problems.

No closet democrat here, I'm a life long Conservative, a conservative realist who does not operate with eyes shut or brain set to "accept the common clap trap" that springs out from government and the media, purporting to be truth.

(and my apologies for not noting that mr/ms anonymous had taken on a persona - welcome isaiah.
Well let's see if any other country in the world (Canada excluded) comes to our aid. The U.S. spend billions annually to help others and rarly gets a thank you. Others in the world feel we should The Big Brother and come to everyones rescue.

So, excuse us if we brood over our losses and lick our wounds. No, don't excuse us. KISS OUR ASSES next time you need us.

Aw, poor America.  
Actually, the US spends a much smaller proportion of its GDP on foreign aid than most developed countries, so we aren't particularly generous. Hopefully, other countries will be generous now, regardless.
Crisis in Louisiana
August 30, 2005 20 32  GMT

Although search-and-rescue operations remained the top priority of U.S. federal and Louisiana state authorities in the New Orleans area Aug. 30, the general consensus is that the region's main infrastructure network took a major hit from Hurricane Katrina -- and that it will be weeks at best before the crisis subsides. The eyewall -- the most deadly part of a hurricane -- swept directly across the lower Mississippi delta.

Shipping industry sources report that the situation on the Mississippi River is extremely bleak. The river is closed to navigation and restoration to "normal" traffic flows is likely to take at least a month.

As water rises in New Orleans, and spreads into the historic French Quarter, the city has become more of a hindrance than a help in efforts to assess regional infrastructure damage -- and get the region's economy back on track as soon as possible. Furthermore, if all pumps in below-sea-level New Orleans were working -- which they are not -- the bowl in which New Orleans sits would still take three weeks to empty.

Following is an initial assessment of the damage to the southern Louisiana energy and import-export infrastructure:

-Most roads either are cut off or blocked by debris. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says that Louisiana State Highway 1 -- the backbone highway that crosses the state diagonally from the extreme northwest corner to Grand Isle on the Gulf of Mexico near the extreme southeast corner of the state -- is closed in the affected area. State Highway 39 also is closed because of debris and other problems.

-The executive director of the Grand Isle Port says the port essentially is wiped out and the industrial region surrounding it is in ruins.

-Damage assessments at Port Fourchon are being hampered because several large ships are beached on the highway leading to the port. The port is home to three-fourths of the support services to the Gulf's deepwater oil and gas facilities and the land base for the oil off-loading facility known as the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP). At the very least the channels that allow ship access will need to be cleared.

-Oil-services facilities in the city of Venice, the closest such facility to Port Fourchon, have been completely destroyed.

-The city of Cutoff also is reporting massive damage via extremely sporadic communications.

-Shipping sources report that the Port of New Orleans, for all practical purposes, is gone. Damage along the Port of South Louisiana, a series of dozens of interlinked docks and trade service infrastructure, appears to be heavily damaged.

-Cellular and landline communications are down throughout the region.

-The situation on the Mississippi River is dire. The U.S. Coast Guard only recently began surveying the channel to look for wrecks -- and already has found many. Shipping industry sources say most barges are intact and their crews are well, but the one remaining open road to and from New Orleans will make re-supply and rotation difficult. In essence, the crews have become refugees in their barges. All electronic aids to navigation have been disrupted and are either nonfunctioning or destroyed. Although navigation is possible using GPS systems, massive quantities of debris will keep barges where they are. The river is closed to all civilian navigation to mile marker 507 in Natchez, Mississippi -- about halfway to Arkansas.

-The Coast Guard has been forced to relocate its staff upstream to Alexandria, about 200 miles from New Orleans.

-The U.S. Agriculture Department has begun debate on transporting grains -- especially soybeans and corn -- to Louisiana and Mississippi by rail, but no decisions have been confirmed. The rail industry already is expecting a shortage of rolling stock because the drought in the Ohio River valley is forcing some shipments to travel by rail instead of river. Because barges on the lower Mississippi are at a standstill, there are doubts agricultural producers will be able to ship grain into the region by the end of September. Soybean harvest begins in two weeks, and national soybean storage facilities already are filled to capacity.

At present, there is only one piece of good news. Initial reports indicate that the LOOP itself has passed its initial damage assessment and appears ready to resume operations as soon as power is restored. That does not, however, mean that it will. Operators must first ensure that the pipeline connecting the LOOP to Port Fourchon remains intact.

Something I'm wondering about a lot is the possibility for looting to spread beyond retail stores. It's surprised me that in only one day after the storm there's broad looting of stores. We know in Iraq, looting quickly moved on to anything of value, and a lot of the country's criticical infrastructure was quickly stripped of valuable stuff. That incredibly hampered the task of recovering the situation.

I wonder if there's any risk of that happening to critical infrastructures (ports, refineries, production facilities, power stations) in Louisiana?

I think they need to get troops in there fast to maintain law and order.

Obviously looting infrastructure would be bad, bad, but honestly, if people are looting food, or even clothing, for example, I wouldn't exactly blame them. These are necessities, and they're going to be destroyed anyway (especially food).

That being said, of course I do not condone illegal activities...

The Iraq looting is very different, though. Why take infrastructure? What are you going to do with it? The entire region is destroyed--there's nothing to be built right at the moment.

I condone extra-legal activities.  When people have no food, no electricty, possibily no food or shelter, and no support from the government, they should be free to pick up anything that is not nailed down for survival.

This is a particular situation where amnesty for looters makes sense.  Police and national guard have no business wasting even a second trying to stop looting when there are people who still need to be rescued.

 -- Haley Barbour, the Governor of Mississippi, said: "I have instructed the Highway Patrol and the National Guard to treat looters ruthlessly." --

So the storm does 26 billion in damage and the looters stock up on perishable goods, break locks, windows, and cash registers, perhaps doing 5-10 million in damage when all is said and done.

Gotta keep everything perspective.

The Times-Picayune reports:
Late Tuesday, Gov. Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher described a disturbing scene unfolding in uptown New Orleans, where looters were trying to break into Children's Hospital.

Bottcher said the director of the hospital fears for the safety of the staff and the 100 kids inside the hospital. The director said the hospital is locked, but that the looters were trying to break in and had gathered outside the facility.

The director has sought help from the police, but, due to rising flood waters, police have not been able to respond.

Bottcher said Blanco has been told of the situation and has informed the National Guard. However, Bottcher said, the National Guard has also been unable to respond.

It started with grocery stores and within 12 hours has progressed to hospitals with kids in. I wouldn't assume that power stations or refineries will be safe. Man, sometimes I feel ashamed to be part of this species. We need troops in there, and lots of them, before the situation gets beyond all controlling (we saw how rapidly things went bad in Baghdad, and it's going every bit as fast in New Orleans).
that is pretty low down awful.

There is a difference between picking peanut butter and soda off the shelves of a Winn Dixie, which could be quite excusable and even necessary, versus endangering other people because of greed.

Lets also hope that such a tragedy in the US will make pro-war people more sensitive to the kind of havoc that war brings, and that they will rethink their war-lust.
There's a great article on tomdispatch.com posted Aug.
18 called War of the Future by David Morse regarding the
tragedy in Darfur which is really about the oil.
thanks for this impressive, illuminating article anon.  it brings many facts together, and indicts corporate funded genocide.
Sadly, this is still worsening. But at the risk of looking beyond as Prof. Goose noted: there will be more storms to come, possibly soon, and there must be better strategies and infrastructure in place to cope.

Hurricane season continues until 30 November. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this is the 9th year out of the past 11 to show above-normal hurricane activity. They see a 20-30 year climate cycle that affects hurricanes (with little effect from climate change so far, in their opinion).

Their grim conclusion: "NOAA expects a continuation of above-normal seasons for another decade or perhaps longer." There are huge implications to this.

Pray for those in need, and ask for a bit of respite from future storms.

Rick's post is correct. Here is the outlook for the rest of the hurricane season.

Now, with respect to climate change, look here at a recent posting from realclimate.org if you want to know why, probably, Katrina was the most intense, biggest hurricane in recent human history.

If you disrespect Nature and put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the consequences may be bigger than you expect.

Perhaps even an ahhh... idiot like Steve Levitt (Freakonomics, you know, water, oxygen and sunshine are "virtually free", not to mention CO2, Methane, et.al.) is reading this. Katrina presents a unique opportunity for him to learn something.
Well said, Rick.

This is indeed a tragedy of enormous proportions, but even worse would be for us to endure something this terrible without learning anything from it.

At this moment, with water still rising and the recovery not yet begun, I think it's safe to say that the worst and best of times for NO are both still ahead.  It's up to all of us to make sure that NO's future is built with more than money and raw materials, but with intelligence, compassion, and spirit.

i am new to this forum and i am happy to see such educated
people being nice to eachother.

thanks for all the high quality info on
the hurricane event.

as we all know people die and get born every
day and we can all be sad about preventable deaths.

i am glad this event got the oil prices to the
mainstram news but i think we all know that this
not a 'peak oil' event because this is an economic demand issue.

all the fed. reserve has to do is raise interest rates or
the fed. goverment could show some leadership and get more
renewable energy subsidies.  

the real peak oil events are political events that
scare ignorant consumers to hording like 1973 and 1979

TOD is doing a great job on Katrina.  I am grateful to
be able to get such timely information.  The New York
Times has been disappointing, the Washington Post
somewhat better. Also, WWLTV.COM just posted that efforts
to stop the levee repair have been abandoned and 12-15
feet of water is expected.
anybody have a map of this levee problem?
I started this post a few posts ago and I'll post it again. Parts of New Orleans are lost forever. It's a grim reality that will be absorbed over the next few days.
the latest from wwltv, scary stuff


Jeff Parish President. Residents will probably be allowed back in town in a week, with identification only, but only to get essentials and clothing. You will then be asked to leave and not come back for one month.

How about some of you anonymous posters create a TOD account, identify yourselves by some name and -- perhaps -- associate an e-mail or additional information with that account? Just so we know who is saying what on this weblog.

I agree.  It isn't like it is hard or anything to register, and having bunches of anonymous postings makes it hard to tell who is saying what.
I suggest that one needs to create an account in order to post at all.  It is just too confusing to figure out which anonymous goes with which anonymous.  
Hear, hear!
Inclusive communities don't have anonymous members. Allow all to register and post, but don't allow anonymous postings. A pseudonym should provide enough privacy protection.
    Too often were insulated from human tragedy by distance or indifference or life. But now its closer to home again. And again we have an opportunity to practice what we know in our heart is the thing to do. Help in any way we can. Whether its money or time or materials or yourself or prayer its time to do something. Please consider and give as much as you can in any way you can. Namaste
Whoa.  Forgive me if this has already been posted, but look at this article from November 2004 titled "What if Hurricane Ivan Had Not
Missed New Orleans?":


9 Weeks to pump the water out of New Orleans!
I know it doesn't relate to oil much, but the article gives some insite on what the author predicted might happen during the storm and after the cleanup.  Also worth note is the following comment, "New Orleans would be dramatically different, and likely extremely diminished, from what it is today".

Shaun--Thanks, a very relevant article.

I am getting angrier about the incompetent prior planning for this, because we should have seen it coming. Some people did, including those on TOD.

I don't think calling this "our tsunami" is an appropriate analogy. A tsunami is a rare event with catastrophic loss of life. The poor countries affected in Asia had a maximum of 12 hours to respond, and no communications ability to learn about the event or to get the word out. They were hit unaware.

Hurricanes are high-probability events in the Gulf, but they have lower loss of life so too many people think they can ride them out. Katrina was known about for days, and the ability to communicate with virtually everyone except the homeless was there. Everyone knew it was coming, they were just naive in the preparation phase.

The middle and upper classes were told to fend for themselves and evacuate pretty late in the game. Traffic snarled because some people ran out of gas on the Interstate. How hard is it to anticipate and fix that problem? It's not rocket science. The poor and the tourists were left to huddle in the Superdome.

The National Guard is stretched because of the number of troops posted in Iraq; FEMA (part of Homeland Security) said they would not send in their own people until after the storm; 3 out of 5 emergency rooms were totaled. It's just not good enough.

It sounds like the oil companies did as good a job as they could of preparing, shutting down rigs, and evacuating their personnel. Ordinary people are working without a net, and it's wrong.

Well they could rebuild houses on stilts and end up with something like an American version of Venice :-).  An American twist on it would have people getting around on jet-skis instead of gondolas.

On a more serious note, what fraction of NO is in this basin?  How many square miles?  Are some of the outer areas of the city at a higher elevation?

I suspect that there are lots of folks who are going to be living in tent cities for months.  I don't know where else you put these folks.  In theory one could build better accomodations, but any building supplies would really be better used for reconstruction.

If I had to guess, they will be restoring access and utilities in less severely affected areas first.  From north to south, I suppose.  We had a hurricane come through Virginia a couple of years ago, and Virginia Power had something on their website where they showed a map with the outages that they had recorded.  Has anyone seen any websites that show the current status for the electric utilities in the area?

Putting houses on posts has been done in other flood-prone areas; the area below the house proper is either left open or covered with "blowout panels" to allow floodwaters to go through without damaging the supports.

The applicability to NO is questionable.  Adding foundation piers and support beams below the historic buildings of NO looks to be a ticklish and expensive affair, and then there's the matter of building them with enough shear strength to be able to handle hurricane winds without falling over.  It would be great to be able to jack up buildings by a couple of feet every few decades to compensate for subsidence (and add a new layer of dirt on the streets when re-paving), but this may not be feasible without engineering the whole infrastructure for that purpose from the outset.

Gee, George cut his vacation two days short. What a guy!
But I think he figures Washington, DC is farther away
from the mess than his ranch in Texas. Plus if any dis-
gruntled New Orleaneans want to camp out at his doorstep
they probably won't be able to find any gas to drive to
PG, HO, Ianqui -- noticing a problem here and in other threads with anonymous posts?
Yes, and we've been discussing our options.
What a rotten day for a lot of people on the Gulf.  Lets not gloss over the number of dead.  Many of which will not be known for days or weeks.

I'll stick by what I posted this morning that the people of TOD very accurately predicted the effects of a direct hit by Katrina and the mass media and U.S. in general are just taking longer to realize it.

I suspect there was a lot of undersea earth movement associated with the storm surge brought by Katrina.  Ivan cause a lot of undersea mudslides and I predict Katrina has done worse damage.  Clearly the more remote parts of the coast are totally destroyed.  Conventional news coverage started out assuming no knowledge meant things must be OK.  I see that has changed throughout the day.  Having been through major flood events in the midwest in the 90's I can tell you the damage can't be known until the water goes away.

One last comment which I will be blasted for, I'm sure.
Many of the residents of NO were/are quite poor as in most cities.  They didn't have the resources to move some place on short notice.  I don't remember the authorities rounding everyone up and providing transportation out of the city.  
While I don't condone it I am not as upset (as some posters here) that some of these survors are apparantly looting stores.  I see this more as a salvage operation, especially with respect to food.  Many one story buildings will be completely covered by tomorrow with all inventory destroyed by flood waters.  
Does it not make sense to salvage all the food and durable goods you can before the waters rise?  I understand someone's business and money is represented by those goods but is it better to be lost by theft or by water damage?
People are already hungry and wet.  They need food, clothing, shelter, and barter goods.  I don't think money has a whole lot of value in New Orleans tonight.
Without leadership people's most basic survival traits tend to take over and we are a pretty ruthless and successfull species when our backs are against the wall.

Please think about this carefully before condemming people who have just survived a natural disaster.  What would you do if the water was rising around your knees with no end in sight?

"One last comment which I will be blasted for, I'm sure"

Why would any caring human being flame you for this? I'm sure the large majority of people looting are just trying to survive at this point and I'm equally sure some of them are thieves.
Agreed with respect to thieves.  Predators and rats exist everywhere!

I also agree everone needs a unique name to allow dialog.  Ban the Anonymous. Assign a default number maybe.

I'd agree about registration.  As Peak Oil gains more notice, TOD could go the way of some political blogs where trolls make the comment sections difficult, or pointless, to navigate.
"Does it not make sense to salvage all the food and durable goods you can before the waters rise?"

Yes, of course, and that's what I meant in my previous comments. Looting personal goods from houses might not be so good, however, if it's at all possible that people can come back.

If someone is looting food or diapers or something like that, it is hard to get too upset with them.  To me it does make sense to put the food to good use rather than let it all get ruined in the flood.  I thought I read somewhere that the police and city officials were essentially doing the same thing - taking foodstuffs from stores to shelters where there were people who needed it.

If someone is using the opportunity to rip off an ATM machine or steal a TV, then it is an entirely different matter.

I completely disagree with this perspective. Looting food if they were starving is one thing. These people aren't starving after one day, food is available in the emergency shelters, and looting jewelry or clothing stores is just robbery plain and simple. The more looting, the harder it's going to be to get the city back on its feet. It also creates huge incentives for people to come back into the city to protect their property, which is exactly what isn't needed. Finally, the lowlifes who are doing the looting are now shooting each other and the police. I don't think there's any basis for condoning it at all.
People will certainly be hungry and thirsty, if not dehydrated, after one day of stressful exertion in that hot weather.  So I wouldn't come down too hard on someone taking perishables.

Taking other stuff is just looting.

As a resident of the Miami area, which underwent a much lesser degree of trauma when Katrina hit us (my house just got power back today at 4 PM and over 100,000  other South Floridians are still without), I am in sympathy with the people of New Orleans. We were hit, too, with what up till now was the most damaging hurricane in U.S. history, Andrew. Up till now. Because what is taking place in New Orleans now is an on-going horror, a kind of slow motion disaster, the final chapter of which is still being written. With it I think I speak for others in saying that there is a growing sense of dismay and helplessness. This tragedy may be the greatest single natural disaster in US history That this tragedy was forseeable is amply demonstrated in the article at  http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/o/nov04/nov04c.html, which a previous poster referred to. To what extent this disaster's effects were preventable will surely occupy the minds of many in the days to come. Just the other day the highest ranking safety official from New Orleans was on television discussing his nightmare about what could happen with a major hurricane. His expressions were vivid and heartfelt. Now his nightmare has come true.

To know that a thing could well happen but to feel powerless to stop it, well, I think that sometimes people who believe that we are fast approaching peak oil get this feeling too. But the consequences of inaction are too terrible for us simply to give up. The same as in New Orleans.

That this tragedy was forseeable is amply demonstrated in the article at...

Mark these words.
You're going to be seeing them again.
In the case of Peak Oil, the list of links that follow will number in the tens of thousands.

In a correction to my earlier post on this thread the person who declared that a situation like this was his recurrent nightmare was Walter Maestri, director of emergency management with Jefferson Parish.
Via Drudge:

Tue Aug 2005 30 22:23:23 ET

Metro Atlanta drivers are facing the possibility of paying considerably more than $3 a gallon for gas by Labor Day -- if they can get it at all, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting Wednesday.

The two pipelines that bring gasoline and jet fuel to the region are down -- powerless to pump as Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on electrical infrastructure.

The metro Atlanta region generally has about a 10-day supply of gasoline in inventory, said BP spokesman Michael Kumpf. The pipelines have been down for two days.

Alpharetta, Ga.-based Colonial Pipeline Co., cut off from its suppliers on the Gulf Coast, is now pumping gas from huge storage tanks, many in Powder Springs, Ga. Whether electric power can be restored to the pipeline pumps before supplies run out is "the great uncertainty ... that hangs over all of us," said Daniel Moenter, a spokesman for Marathon Ashland Petroleum, a major supplier of metro Atlanta's fuel.


emphasis mine.

My brother in law flies for Delta. Delta operates out of Atlanta as a significant hub. Not good.
Yeah, spot shortages in various parts of the country. I'm worried about this now.
when you are poor, reality is very different,
 the options are very different
A nations greatness is measured by how it treats
the least of its people.
The whole world is watching
Art imitates life, or life imitates art?

Well, it wasn't exactly art, but we're freaking out as to how close this is getting to what was predicted in 'Oil Storm', the fictional docudrama that aired on the FX Network several months ago. After having an unwatched copy of it kicking around next to our TV for the past month or so, we decided to watch it as Katrina hit land. Besides the uncanny timing of the disaster, the writers may be pretty much on target in terms of the damage that such a hurricane could have on the oil-rich Gulf Coast and our economy as a whole. It will only be a matter of months to see if the worst visions of the drama play out in real life.


This event will definitely start making some Peak Oil skeptics into believers. Governments had better start planning NOW. This is only the start.

"This event will definitely start making some Peak Oil skeptics into believers."

Gryphon, perhaps you underestimate the power of evolution and the structure of the human mind. Peak Oil skeptics are part of the "Stay the Course" herd. They will keep marching toward the cliff, more resolute than ever that the chosen way is the right way. Sad.

Watching the TV now, I think that New Orleans is no longer recoverable as a city and perhaps should not be rebuilt... and that the Gulf Coast over to Mobile is just gone ... This is an enormous tragedy... I have never seen anything like this...
Are they only black people in New Orleans?

The images of the victims remind me of apartheid...

Those are the people who wouldn't or couldn't get out of the city; they aren't a representative sample.
I think approx 75% of New Orleans population is black. I suspect you are seeing a representative sample of those who couldn't afford to leave.


In view of the coming onset of decline, it's very instructive to see just how tight petro-markets are and the sudden "unveiling" by the business media of the very intricate network of interdependencies that exist within the matrix of the US and Global economies. For example, the interaction of trade flows down the Mississippi, through New Orleans and on to Europe that help to ease our precarious current account deficit.

On another board I predicted that Katrina would be the first Trillion Dollar Storm once all costs are accounted. (I don't know how a fatality from the storm would value it.) Rising energy costs are a part of that cost. Yet, there might be some good.

Based on figures presented here at TOD, almost 2MBD of crude extraction are shut-in, along with a correspondingly large amount of NG, which will now be saved for sometime later instead of being used now. And as mentioned above, there will be dislocations throughout much of the South and the old Midwest with New Orleans essentially out-of-commission for the next 6-8 weeks at a minimum.

I was wondering when someone was going to talk about the panic buying that is going on across this country in anticipation of higher gas  prices due to Katrina. I am in southern NJ at a Flying J truck stop and the lines outside for gas are unusual I am told.. Are people  topping off more as this cannot be routine.. Have you noticed any panic buying  in your area of the country??
I saw lines at one station associated with a mega-store, but no waiting at another associated with the same chain about 30 miles away and as many minutes later.  (I was using some "free fuel" coupons right away, in case prices went up.)
Now is the time for those who deny Peak Oil and think the answer is "We will just switch to coal" to start dropping those charcoal brickettes into their gas tank. ;-)
Nothing like that here.  Gas prices have gone up about 20 cents a gallon since yesterday (5 cents yesterday, the rest today), but the streets are still clogged with Suburbans and F350's and brand new Mustang GT's and Jeeps and ... well, I think you get it.

"here" is Central / East Texas, btw.  A trickle of refugees arriving so far, lots of folks here have family in the stricken area, family that have lost homes or at the least power and water.

Evacuating the entire city is a major decision. The poor (I mean that in both its senses) in the "Super" dome are going to be moved again, this time to the Astrodome in Houston. They are talking about a convoy of buses.

As  for as the so-called looting/salvaging, I pray the powers that be will have the sense NOT to shoot anyone for stealing food, toilet paper, and diapers, or anything else for that matter.


Having spent quite a bit of time there (New Orleans), I would say that things have been remarkably calm considering the situation. While I think that the looting may have begun as a hunt for fresh water and food by a few concerned or thirsty people, when others saw the glass breaking, it became a free-for-all.

If you watch enough of the news footage, you can see those going after food are NOT hiding their faces from the cameras, or else they are kids who are just too ignorant to care. But women taking shoes and clothes and young men grabbing stereos, TVs and PS2s are not doing that because they are hungry. Why? Well, FNC had one kid that basically believed that if it was left in the city, he had a right to take it if he wanted to.

I heard on the radio (ham) that some drug stores were looted the first night by the drug crazies, along with a few liquor stores. The second night, there were reports coming to my friend that every drug and liquor store in town was emptied for the most part. And there is a lot more gunfire heard than is being reported by the media.

What encourages me is seeing people smart enough to just hoof it and do the 20 mile walk out of town up Interstate 10. People survive, but those waiting on government to help them may wait quite a while. FEMA saw all of this coming, but did not deign to step in until it was all over - THAT is our federal government at work. The CAT 3 levees "considered adequate for most hurricanes" sat quietly insufficient while the city beseeched the feds for money to upgrade to CAT 5 - that is so very typical. Cow's out - better fix the barn door...