The Stilwells’ Adventure

Good reporting rarely comes this good:

Posted on Thu, Sep. 01, 2005
The Stilwells’ Adventure
by Tony Gnoffo
Philadelphia Inquirer

As Katrina bore down on Biloxi, Gary and Valentina Stilwell decided they’d be better off hunkering down in their 19th-century Creole cottage a few blocks from the beach than to try to evacuate and get stuck in traffic on some bridge.
So as the storm gathered strength Monday morning, they lit cigarettes, stood on their back porch and watched the water lap at their rear steps. They watched first with bemusement, then concern, and finally dread as water overtook their efforts to move furniture out of its grasp.

“When we were up on the second floor,” Gary Stilwell said, “we could hear the furniture bumping against the ceiling” below….


Americans learnt nothing from tsunami relief

(All pics from

Again, President Bush is slow to react when disaster strikes. Hurricane Katrina has devastated whole parts of his country leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and desperate for food and relief.

Here’s a quote from

New Orleans in anarchy with fights, rapes
9/1/2005, 9:50 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans descended into anarchy Thursday, as corpses lay abandoned in street medians, fights and fires broke out and storm survivors battled for seats on the buses that would carry them away from the chaos. The tired and hungry seethed, saying they had been forsaken.

“I’m not sure I’m going to get out of here alive,” said Canadian tourist Larry Mitzel, who handed a reporter his business card in case he goes missing. “I’m scared of riots. I’m scared of the locals. We might get caught in the crossfire.”

Four days after Hurricane Katrina roared in with a devastating blow that inflicted potentially thousands of deaths, the frustration, fear and anger mounted, despite the promise of 1,400 National Guardsmen a day to stop the looting, plans for a $10 billion recovery bill in Congress and a government relief effort President Bush called the biggest in U.S. history.

New Orleans’ top emergency management official called that effort a “national disgrace” and questioned when reinforcements would actually reach the increasingly lawless city.

About 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at New Orleans convention center grew increasingly hostile after waiting for buses for days amid the filth and the dead. Police Chief Eddie Compass said there was such a crush around a squad of 88 officers that they retreated when they went in to check out reports of assaults.

“We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten,” Compass said. “Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon.”

A military helicopter tried to land at the convention center several times to drop off food and water. But the rushing crowd forced the choppers to back off. Troopers then tossed the supplies to the crowd from 10 feet off the ground and flew away.

Compare this to an article on tsunami relief in January, 2005:

Desperate villagers mob helicopters as US Navy begins tsunami relief operation
– DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press Writer
Saturday, January 1, 2005

Desperate, homeless villagers on the tsunami-ravaged island of Sumatra mobbed American helicopters carrying aid Saturday as the U.S. military launched its largest operation in the region since the Vietnam War, ferrying food and other emergency relief to survivors across the disaster zone.

From dawn until sunset on New Year’s Day, 12 Seahawk helicopters shuttled supplies and advance teams from offshore naval vessels while reconnaissance aircraft brought back stark images of wave-wrecked coastal landscapes and their hungry, traumatized inhabitants.

“They came from all directions, crawling under the craft, knocking on the pilot’s door, pushing to get into the cabin,” said Petty Officer First Class Brennan Zwack. “But when they saw we had no more food inside, they backed away, saying ‘Thank you, thank you.'”

“The mob decided how we distributed the food. There were so many hands outstretched I don’t think any package touched the ground,” added Zwack, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Here is what Bush said flying 1,700 feet above New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast in the safe comfort of a speeding Air Force One: “It’s devastating, it’s got to be doubly devastating on the ground.” At one point, the president saw a hard-hit coastal community and told his staff, “It’s totally wiped out.” (Link)

Duh. Get with it already!

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