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    Yes, and yes (also via Michael). And while we’re at it, Dean’s new contributor Aziz Poonawalla has this to say. And Eric is worried about whether all the finger-pointing going on is creating a serious emotional rift in America–spooky for me to read because I’m over here and have no way to gauge what he’s talking about.

    We don’t control nature, people. There’s a lot we can do that we couldn’t do even a century ago, but natural disasters are still disastrous. Even relatively routine storms can stop air and rail transport or cause flooding that traps people. This was a huge storm in an especially vulnerable area. It’s beginning to seem that the local governments involved could, indeed, have prepared better, but let’s not kid ourselves. To hear some people talk, there should have been a way for the Big, Benevolent Government to make Hurricane Katrina little more inconvenient than a fire drill at the office.

    Please. Even if every single soul in New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile had evacuated and were now safe and sound, there would still be sunken oil platforms, inoperative ports, and thousands of non-existent houses and livelihoods to contend with now. As it is, many people decided to stay and take their chances, and some didn’t have the means to evacuate. The area is large and full of hazards. Law enforcement, search-and-rescue teams, and medical personnel are going to be receiving a steady stream of conflicting information and competing emergencies. They’ll be making snap decisions that don’t always put them on the better side of public relations when CNN shoves a microphone in the face of someone who ended up getting the short end of the stick. This is heartbreaking, but it’s not really avoidable.

    Despite our wondrous transport and information network, there are people still alive now who will not be saved. We’re in the best position out of all the peoples in history to deal with this sort of situation even so. The global warming crowd is braying about fossil fuel use, but that’s what powers the helicopters and buses and trucks that are many people’s only hope for getting out of the afflicted areas in one piece. Or getting clean water (in plastic bottles) and non-perishable (processed) food. Now that nature has finished her spree, all those in charge can do is, essentially, muddle through as best they can. That’s no one’s fault.

    Added on 3 September: Connie has a few choice words for people who think they can rely absolutely on the government to save them from harm. Yes, protecting its citizens is a primary government responsibility. But one of the ways natural disasters tend to cause devastation is by incapacitating and isolating people; responsible individuals have to recognize that they may be on their own for several days and prepare accordingly.

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