Katrina vs. Sandy

Since this comparison has come up a lot, let’s sort a few things out.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll limit the comparison to the two major cities that were effected, New Orleans and New York City (which includes the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.)

Scope

Over 800,000 people evacuated New Orleans, some by planning ahead, the rest because their city was flooded. In some places. the city remained underwater for upwards of a month. Every conceivable service citywide – police, fire, sanitation, hospitals, stores etc. – was by necessity suspended.

In New Orleans, an area seven times the total area of Manhattan was under water, in some areas for upwards of a month

Approximately 1,464 were killed immediately by the flood itself with many, many more (uncounted) dying as a result afterwards.

In contrast, while hit very hard, only the coastal regions of New York City were effected by Hurricane Sandy and most areas stayed high and dry throughout the storm and afterwards.

Sources of help

New Yorkers effected by the storm have been helped by the fact that so many of their fellow citizens were not flooded out and were able to provide aid and continue to provide aid in the face of epic failures by the City of New York, the Red Cross and FEMA.

The New Orleans situation was much more difficult because in addition to the failures of the city, FEMA and the Red Cross, the entire city and surrounding region were devastated.

In contrast, the parts of New York City and its surrounding area not impacted by the storm were back to business as usual within days, not counting a temporary and easily predictable and preventible gasoline shortage made worse by the poor judgement of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Causes of the damage

The flooding of New Orleans was not caused by Hurricane Katrina, but by the failure of the levees system designed, built and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Full details are available at levees.org.

The flooding of New York City was an act of nature combined with the epic carelessness and hubris of people like Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Guiliani and all the mayors who preceded them for failing to take even the most basic steps to provide engineered protection for the city’s subways and tunnels, which are well below sea level, from flooding.

Civic engineers who visited the city after the storm for evaluation of its effects were literally speechless at the carelessness with which New York City treated these essential and obviously vulnerable transportation assets.

Post-flood government criminal ineptitude

Approximately 25,000 New Orleaneans were left stranded in the city at the Convention Center and Superdome. They’d been told to go there to ride out the storm and were promised help which did not arrive and for all practical purposes never arrived. Many didn’t see food or water until they were evacuated fives days later.

Five days: No food, no water, no medical services – and blocked from walking out of the city to get help

New York politicians and local New York news media have loudly and frequently proclaimed the success of the official response to ravaged post-storm neighborhoods. The truth much more closely resembles the total abandonment of New Orleans citizens by its city government, FEMA and the American Red Cross.

Twenty-three days later (the time of the writing of this article), at least 50,000 New Yorkers remain without electricity, heat, or access to predictable food supplies and other services like laundromats and ATM machines. Some have been told their neighborhoods will not receive power (and thus heat) “until Christmas.”

Living through another night of possibly freezing temperatures, Michael Pineda, fifteen months old, stands bundled up near a battery operated lantern in his home without power or heat in the Rockaway Park neighborhood in the Queens borough of New York.

No one know exactly how many people are effected because no one in the government or news media has bothered to make an estimate (and if they have, they’ve kept the number to themselves.) In some of these areas, the devastation is identical to the level of destruction seen in New Orleans.

As was the case in New Orleans, many New Yorkers do not own cars so their mobility is limited. The areas hardest hit, the Rockaways for example, are also some of the most remote.

Housing for the newly homeless

Post-flood housing was a problem in New Orleans and is a problem in New York.

In this area of comparison, New York has a serious problem, smaller than, but perhaps more difficult than what New Orleans faced.

Whereas New Orleaneans were offered temporary housing and resettlement aid by cities like Houston and Atlanta and other communities, trailers, and hotel vouchers they could actually use, no such help has been offered to New Yorkers to any meaningful degree as of yet.

The economic conditions of the country are different too: In 2005, the US was experiencing a financial boom. 2012 is the fourth year of an ever deepening recession.

Housing in the South is relatively affordable with normal and above normal vacancy rates. Housing in the New York City area is the most expensive in the nation and vacancy rates, especially within the city itself, are the lowest in the nation. Moving, in even in the best of times, is a rare and difficult undertaking for the average New Yorker.

There there’s the weather…

People generally don’t freeze to death in the South. Freezing to death, which includes the sick and elderly being killed by prolonged exposure, is a definite possibility in New York and has probably already happened. If it is tracking such things, the City is keeping this information to itself and the news media is compliantly not raising the issue.

Telling the truth about the scope of the problem and the need for relief efforts

The political class in New Orleans and the news media there had little choice but tell the truth about their inability to meet the relief needs of its citizens. The overwhelming majority of the city and its residents were flooded out.

New York City has chosen a different path.

The dire situation in places like the Rockaways and coastal Staten Island is being addressed by political press conferences and undocumented – and highly suspect – claims of aid (so many meals served, so many “blankets” distributed, so many “warming centers” open etc.)

The reality is that the vast majority of relief food and other essential supplies have been brought in and continue to be brought in not by the City, FEMA, or the American Red Cross, but by private citizens acting both independently and in conjunction with local churches and community groups (some of the latter created specifically to address the catastrophe.)

In fact, were the “aid” from the City, FEMA and the American Red Cross to be removed from the picture, it would not effect the situation on the street materially.

In contrast, without the private aid system, the neighborhoods effected would be suffering from an even much more serious catastrophe than they are already facing.

Donated truck. Donated supplies. Volunteer labor. Red Cross and the government nowhere in sight. This scene is being played out all over the disaster zone three weeks after the storm.

What’s needed

1. Continued – and increased – aid from private citizens

This is made difficult by the daily prevarication coming from the Mayor’s Office, the Red Cross and the news media. By not telling the simple truth of the situation in order to bolster their own positions, these groups are actually diminishing the amount of private aid coming to the areas that most need it.

2. A thorough and entirely independent audit of the claims made by the City’s Office and the Red Cross through the news media about the level of aid they are providing

It appears to me and everyone else in the trenches – and this includes police officers, National Guard members, community relief workers, and the community itself – that the level of aid distributed has been not only overstated, but grossly overstated.

3. A very loud, public and continuous shaming of the Mayor’s Office, the American Red Cross and FEMA until they stop lying and start doing their jobs

Over the years, these organizations have, in the aggregate, collected billions of dollars via donations and taxes specifically to provide for such circumstances. Where is this money now that it’s urgently needed and why is help from these sources so hard to find (unless, of course, you’re watching it being ceremoniously doled out on the evening news.)

People will die and lose their health (many already have) as a result of this ongoing fraud.

These neighborhoods need power, warm food, medical services, real warming stations and real blankets and warm clothes and they need them now.

Not providing these things when it is well within the City and Federal government’s and Red Cross’s ability to do so is criminal.

Not providing them while claiming to provide them is nothing short of demonic.

Politicians congratulate each other on what a great job they’re doing

– Ken McCarthy

For a list of reliable relief groups who are quietly and effectively doing the work of feeding and helping storm victims go to: Help After Sandy.org

30 Responses to Katrina vs. Sandy

  1. George November 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    All of New York should sue the Red Cross and FEMA for not doing what they collect hundreds of millions of dollars for, definitely decertify the Red Cross so they cannot collect one more cent anywhere in the world, they have turned into a corrupt organization nothing else

    • hardtruth November 23, 2012 at 5:36 am #

      And also put them in jail

    • bill k November 23, 2012 at 8:43 am #

      SUE em vote them out and keep them out it shows the true nature of politics…

      GREEK POLY =MANY/ TICS=BLOODSUCKERS….arrest them for treason

      im sorry guys i voted with my feet in 2005 and moved overseas,,,an became a forang….wm

  2. Tee November 23, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    Obama, Cuomo, and Bloomberg is symtomatic of the politicians enforcing two standard of justice; one for the rich and power elite, and another for those who happen to not be in the inner circles of power. I’m talking about both republicans and democrats.

    Nothing much will change unfortunately. Contrast the citizens of Europe with the citizens of the US. Europeans are in the streets at the drop of a hat when threatened with austerity. In the US we put a below average president in office twice and don’t hold him accountable.

    What is so symbolic of America to me is that in these times of recession, low wages, and foreclosures we actually have Americans waiting outside of department stores ready to buy things they really don’t need from stores who pay them low wages.

    • M. Leybra November 23, 2012 at 1:00 am #

      Seems to be off subject.

      The “below average” comment reg. current president though, begs ques. of what last pres. was average or above average in writers view.

      • jimzoltan November 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

        I think I can speak for the author. Bush was an above average president if you are a globalist/elitist and your goals are to maintain solid control of the masses through crisis manipulation and consolidation of power. He is the first American President that was so bold in his machinations that he scarcely hid them as is the norm in politics.

        Obama is mediocre in the view of many because he has pledged himself to the masses but has done little to support them. Examples include his salient failure to address the crimes of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve monopoly, while these elements continue to harvest vast sums from their fields of mostly ignorant and compliant humans.

        The author is not off target if one steps back and examins a larger picture of interconnected motivations of the elitist ruling culture.

  3. M. Leybra November 23, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    Some things never change & it’s the same no matter where, Haiti, Russia, Japan, U.S., whenever or wherever there’s a catastrophe, official aid is NEVER immediate, requires time to get gears of bureacracy rolling so accept the fact that you the public, will be totally on your own initially & for how long can only be guessed & will have only yourself & each other to depend on & you’ve seen this scenario repeated often enough now, globally, to accept this fact.

    • BobtheGrape November 23, 2012 at 10:26 am #

      I don’t agree with your defeatist attitude, M. Leybra, if we all had your attitude we would just sit around saying, “Oh, woe is me.” If the folks who are providing aid to the folks in the NYC area; folks who are not prepared to give aid like the Red Cross or FEMA, folks who have to react, get vehicles, determine what supplies are needed, get those items and distribute the relief supplies can get to these areas and be effective. Why can’t the Red (double) Cross and FEMA who are supposedly prepared for this type of emergency get there quicker?? Why? I tel you why. They are in a big hurry to give press conferences telling the auience that they are doing all these wonderful things when they are doing nothing!! Press conferences don’t help disaster victims, Mayor Bloomberg, President O’Bomba and all you other do-nothing career politicians. You need to get off your asses and provide help not press conferences

    • Rob56 November 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      If it were a war I would wager they would have no problems. Where are all these rich Republicans that say we don’t need a big government and that states can take care of themselves? Seems to me they can’t do the job in New York very well. The #1 answer is to sue the Red Cross. That is a real good Idea, wont help but a good idea anyway..

  4. Lucy Mason November 23, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    This too shall pass and I am hoping the the American public that gives and gives and gives takes heed and the next time they get a request to support the Red Cross the first words that comes to their mind is ‘ DOUBLE CROSS’! And so it is~

  5. zaman November 23, 2012 at 4:25 am #

    American Red-Cross or any other ‘Red Cross’ around the world… ‘Double cross’ I totally agree with L.Mason…

  6. Kerrith McKechnie November 23, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    My uncle, one of the kindest men I ever knew, absolutely refused to support the Red Cross. He fought in World War II on the front lines, and he remembered the Red Cross being there with coffee and sandwiches – which they were charged for! On the front lines!! Because of this, I too have never supported Red Cross. I am sending money to my cousin who is involved in getting a Christmas going for the children on the Jersey Shore with “Sandy Claus”. This way, I know my contributions are going to a worthy group who will truly help a few children.

    • Season November 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

      How Ironic!! My Daddy, a WWII vet, came home with the same story! As a result, I’ve never given a dime to the Red Cross. Try the Salvation Army instead. According to Dad, they were “giving” when the RC was “charging”.

      • VoxFox November 25, 2012 at 1:44 am #

        Annual salary of head of Salvation Army = $60,000

        Annual salary of head of US Red Cross = $800,000

        Say no more – another boondoggle for friends of the elite.

    • Jerry Buice November 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      Wow…I remember the exact same story my grandfather told me. He was in WWII and was charged for snacks by the Red Cross…and he would NEVER give them a dime the rest of his life.
      I have personally visited 3rd world countries and have given my time and money to help the less fortunate…and still cintinue to….and NOT for a tax write off either. Give because there is a need…and be a good steward when you give.

  7. Maxie Opossovitch November 23, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Had the scope of this article included the Jersey Shore, where victims being housed at “Fort Monmouth” are being treated like criminals.

  8. BobtheGrape November 23, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I am an employee of the U.S.DoT/FAA and every year there is a big camaign to contribute to the United Way. I refuse to contribute to any organization like the United Way, the Red Cross or any of the large organizations that pay their executives huge salaries, rent expensive vehiles to tour these devastated areas so that they can make a show of helping people when all they do is help themselves and give those in need lipservice. FEMA and any other government organization are primarily self-serving entities. They are all talk and little action and the folks that need help get NOTHING or next to nothing. I will give my money directly to the Disabled American Veterans and the Salvation Army, not through the United Way which is a political organization anyway. We need to boot out the career politicians and take our government back from the cretins that own this country.

  9. GARY D. GOINS November 23, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    When the director of the Red Cross brings in over 500K per year in pay, do you really think he gives a damn about the people in need. How many contributions does it take just to pay his or her’s salary ?. Has anyone seen any of these people on the front lines in this, or any, catastrophy ?.

  10. janet bratter November 23, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    First, I am not an apologist for the lame-lifer pols or for the inept, bumbling, bureaucratic dot orgs like the Red Cross, United Way, et al. That said, I intend to continue donating blood when the Red Cross van comes to my neighborhood. I intend to continue applying the fundamental tenants of my (half) Jewish heritage to “repair the world”. And I intend to avoid the knee-jerk bitch ‘n moan reactions that heap more blame on the aforementioned institutions and individuals than they deserve. I do not forget that all these institutions are composed of flawed human beings little different from myself. We begin to “repair the world” with empathy and understanding of our collectively flawed/imperfect nature, and move forward from there.

    • ken November 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

      Thank you Janet for your holier-than-thou bullshit post.

      We’ve received (and deleted) so many of them and this is a good chance to respond.

      This is not a bitching session. This is pointing out that the Red Cross is soliciting for funds on behalf of victims it is not helping and will not help.

      The Red Cross is also deliberately presenting a grossly inaccurate picture of conditions which is discouraging people from doing anything other than send the Red Cross money.

      These are not “flawed human beings” unless you also want to excuse concentration camp commandants and all they did as the work of “flawed human beings.” There is such a thing as criminal behavior and it’s not excusable (except, of course, by dimwits like you.)

      In short, you and the rest of the people who post things like “you should be grateful what you get” and “this is a sign from the Lord” are idiots.

      The Lord sends a sign by beating up the poor while Bloomberg and his friends sit high and dry? You have a pretty poor opinion of the Lord then.

      New Yorkers should be grateful for having relief money donated in their name and tax money collected from them wasted and/or not spent on their behalf?

      Grow some IQ points.

      Meanwhile your comments are what the delete button was invented for.

      • Season November 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

        You GO, Ken! Love your fearless use of the language in stating the facts and trying to educate the ignorant.

    • VoxFox November 25, 2012 at 1:46 am #

      The Canadian Red Cross screwed up the blood supply so badly that they were kicked out & it is now operated by a federal government agency: Canadian Blood Services.

  11. ben November 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    After surviving Katrina I no longer donate money to the united way or the red cross. I usually know people who know someone in the affected area and I donate directly to people. I know every dime I give is making a difference.

  12. ken November 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    General statement to anyone who wonders why their posts are not showing up.

    This is a moderated discussion.

    The issue this article is about is simple: Is the Red Cross, FEMA and the City if New York doing its job?

    This is not the Ladies Auxiliary Bake Sale Committee we’re talking about.

    These are groups with multi-billion dollar budgets, thousands of employees and unparalleled access to and ability to manipulate news media messages.

    To say, without any evidence, that they are “doing their best” and “gee, no one is perfect” is just too dumb for words.

    They are taking in billions of dollars on behalf of victims. They have a near-monopoly on the aid game. Therefore their performance is a public issue and merits ongoing examination, discussion and, when called for, criticism.

    The Red Cross problem is that anytime anyone actually looks at what they’re doing, criminal behavior, fraud, misuse of funds etc. pops out.

    The purpose of this and some of the other articles on this blog is to educate people as the to track record of the Red Cross and give readers a chance to relate their own experiences with the organization.

    It’s not meant to be a platform to share loony religious beliefs and byzantine conspiracies theories or to project and defend your “Leave it to Beaver” vision of the world.

    If you stick to the topic at hand, I’m be happy to post all reasonable comments. If not, please save your keystrokes and my trigger finger.

  13. Nik November 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    The cost of ONE DAY of the Afgan war, would pay for all the required relief in the area!

  14. Dayna November 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    I live in St. Bernard Parish. Southeast of the city of New Orleans. New Orleans just being 15 minutes away.

    I do not know one person that received help from the red cross. All the help came from individuals out of state through churches. They were down here two months after Katrina, when we were allowed back home. They served hot lunches and had tables of clothes.

    It took me 13 months to get a trailer in front of my house to rebuild. the year before getting the trailer, I had to travel an hour each day to clean out the floor to roof marsh mud and oil in my house. And start rebuilding. Took me two and a half years to finally get back into my house.

    I would never donate to Red Cross. Fema is a lie. The citizens of the United States are a life saver.

    • JIM November 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

      I ALSO LIVED IN ST BENARD PARISH [COUNTY].

      WHAT SHE SAYS IS TRUE. HERE AND THERE THE PEOPLE WHO CAN DO FOR THEMSELF ALWAYS ARE QUICKER TO RECOVER. WE FEEL FOR THE NEW YORKERS AS WE KNOW FIRST HAND HOW IT FEELS TO HAVE TO DEPEND ON THE GOVT AND DOUBLE RED CROSS. THE BIGEST DIFFERENCE IN OUR EVENT AND YOURS IS THE COLD THERE CAN AND WILL KILL YOU.

      STAY STRONG NEW YORK WE FEEL FOR YOU.

      JIM

    • VoxFox November 25, 2012 at 1:48 am #

      Check out the activities of the Red Cross in post earthquake Haiti – another criminal Red Double Cross.

  15. Jackie November 23, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    As far as the red cross goes, well just let it go and consider the source, when there are always so called (big) people at the top that is where the bread. Also heard many times over of the charging for coffiee and sandwiches to troops over seas, believe it . The bigger one gets in America the gredier they get, can’t help it is their nature.

  16. John Reinagel December 25, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    With FEMA putting so much revenue into their internment camp building of fortifying old warehouses into empty jails, its no wonder they don’t have time to help the very people they may be housing someday

    http://www.sianews.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1062

    .What I am wondering is what dark work the Red Cross is doing out of our eye shot. With FEMA involved in something totally out of their intended purpose, one can only imagine where the money goes that is left after the exec’s get their cut. Time for talk is coming to an end. It is time people. Wake up. What you decide today will decide what your grand children’s lives will be like.To see the true jail you are already in, one has to leave it.