I put a big “to be sure” paragraph in my column today comparing the response to the wildfires and Katrina, but this e-mailer thinks I’m still being unfair:
… lets be a little more fair about such comparisons.
The Superdome was surrounded by water – so no ready access by help. It had no electricity, no air conditioning, no running water, no functioning toilets, very limited supplies of almost everything and people streaming in who were already in desperate shape from the storm.
This makes for a very much more difficult situation than what was found in the San Diego Qualcomm scenario. No doubt the Louisiana situation was made worse by the local officials incompetence, but that does not mean that California can be claimed to be superior just because the Qualcomm stadium functioned much better than the Superdome. It is an apples and oranges comparison.
A response from a reader from San Diego:
… In your column about the fires out here and San Diego’s response, you mentioned upscale neighborhoods and fleeing from the flames in the Mercedes or Lexus.
Although it is true that upper scale neighborhoods (Rancho Bernardo) and even very high end areas (Rancho Santa Fe) were affected, a great many lower income folks live in the back country communities in the Eastern and Northern sections of the County. The people who drive a Mercedes or Lexus likely had friends with whom they could relocate. I suspect that many or most of the folks at the shelters came from the lower or lower middle income levels….
The refugee situation in New Orleans was largely run (or not run!) by the City. Out here, the City opened the stadium and pretty much then just supported the Red Cross and other private/charitable organizations that ran things. Keep the damn bureaucrats out of our lives as much as possible.
My wife and I were evac’d twice: once to a friend’s home and then, when he got notice to leave, to the home of a colleague of his wife’s. Another couple had joined us who had the house behind and the one beside them destroyed while their own home was only somewhat damaged. The rest of us all came out fairly unscathed.
We must rely on ourselves and reach out to help our neighbors when the need arises. We only need basic support from the government and we can do the rest. We are already inviting displaced folks to dinner and working hard to help others rebuilt or replace what we can. Out here in the West, the idea of self reliance may be quiet but it is not dead!