Monday, September 19, 2005

Blame Finding Commission Won't Hear About This

I don't usually flaunt my scepticism, but there's a great story on Real Clear Politics (thanks to Catallarchy for the pointer) about all the things that went right in the aftermath of Katrina. My scepticism is about the congressional investigation into what went wrong. Do you think there's any chance they'll invite any testimony about the decentralized ad hoc community that went in and did what they could?

It does turn out that many of them were government rescue squads, military and national guard helicopters, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and so on, but that's because those are the groups that had the ability to come out in force, not because central direction or an any disaster recover plan called for it. Each of those groups acted on their own, without much coordination other than talking to other people who were helping out, and moved as quickly as they were able.

The official from-the-top reaction was slow in getting started and gave the wrong orders when they gave any, and stranded, abandoned, and hindered people more often than they helped for the first few days. Private actors helped when they could (often it was only people acting alone who could get around the official barricades). The larger organizations (the Red Cross and WalMart were notable) were prepared to help, and did what they could when officials didn't get in the way.

If that message gets aired in the congression blame finding commission, there would be some danger of a resolution to decentralize our disaster planning and management. I don't expect this message to be part of the testimony.

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