Powerline has a link to a very important and fresh story about the rescue of Katrina survivors in New Orleans by Lou Dolinar on Real Clear Politics. The gravamen of the story is that a massive rescue operation occurred on Monday — Thursday before the press really showed up — i.e., that the important work occurred off—camera. That is why the death toll was so low.
Here are two points from the article:
1. The entire rescue operation operated under the concept of triage, whereby the truly desperate were air—lifted out of the area to facilities in the larger region while those who were in good shape, if still uncomfortable, were left in safe places for the next stage of the rescue. This was the situation of the people we saw on TV being 'left' on the overpasses — they were the rescued people, not the abandoned ones. Yes, they may have been in some discomfort, but they were healthy and not in current need. Those in real need were being tended to.
2. The National Guard performed heroically. It has its headquarters in the Superdome, well supported by several hundred soldiers trained in police operations and supplied with meals ready—to—eat and bottled water. There was no panic or desperation in the Superdome even though living conditions got unpleasant. There were always food and water, although the Guard did quite properly ration them out rather than run an open kitchen. After the levees broke on Monday, the Guard in New Orleans called the National Guard Bureau in Washington, which mobilized the Guards in the 50 states through a mutual aid pact called EMACS (Emergency Management Assistant Compacts). Additional helicopters started coming in as early as Monday afternoon. Thus, while FEMA was spinning its wheels, the Guard along with the Coast Guard was running a massive and effective operation, including things like dropping teams with power saws on roofs to cut free people trapped in attics.
There is a lot more. It is quite a story. Read the whole thing.
Greg Richards 5 24 06