Ace, reading a very worth your time first hand report of the disaster in New Orleans, has some thoughts to share
1) The city will be in fair shape sooner than you think;
2) The death toll will be lower than some grandstanding politicians have suggested (although still painfully high); and
3) The response from local officials was just as woeful as you've suspected.
So...the damage isn't quite as bad as the news media reports. It's bad, have no doubt, but not as bad as it looks on the telly. That, in a way, is the media's job, or a direct result of the media's job; not privoviding information, rather getting viewers. Pumping the disaster for every set of eyeballs they can get is what they're paid for.
I'm not even going to try to criticise them for that; I don't like it, but that's the way it is. What that results in is series after series of photographs showing the city looking like a bomb was just dropped on it, and extremely high death tolls.
Just to clarify: New Orleans is still there. Not one hundred percent intact, certainly, but probably about eighty percent so. Maybe more. Parts of the city have electricity already, a service that requires massive amounts of infastructure, from power plants to lines, etc. I hadn't expected to see that for a while yet.
The newer buildings, especially the bigger ones, may have had their windows blown out, and probably flooded on the lower levels. But structurally, they are still sound. Some of the older buildings will have been hit pretty hard, but large sections of the city (the much renowned French Quarter is on the list, where alot of those older buildings stand) weren't hit hard enough to do much serious damage. There's a bar open and operating on Bourbon Street
. Somebody must have forgotten to mention to them that Armaggedon is upon us.
Alot of the pictures I've seen are from housing developments along the gulf. In those areas, there's nothing left. Nothing, just a pile of driftwood. Matchsticks. That's what happens when you build a house on a concrete slab, with nothing sunk into the ground, and a massive wall of water washes over it. But that's the worst of the disaster: Not insignifigant, to say the least, especially to those who used to live in those houses, but it's not the end of the world, either.
And the number of dead...well, there's certianly too many. Lay the blame for that at the feet of those responsible. But please don't ever use the phrase "I heard on the news that as many as XXXXXXX people may be dead". There isn't. What were the initial expectations after 9/11? 10,000? 15,000? Those numbers, unfortunatly, weren't outside the range of possibility, but thankfully were nowhere near reality, either.
I'm not trying to downplay what happened here. This is, almost certianly, the single worst natural disaster to ever hit the US, and we live on a big plot of land. As I've said before, I'm doing whatever I can, my small bit, to help the people affected.
But hysteria dosen't help anybody. It's annoying, and counterproductive. This is not the end of the world, and it's not the end of New Orleans. The city has taken a serious hit, from which it will take years to recover. Some of the physical losses, and certianly the loss of life, will never be recovered. The city is changed forever.
But it's not "Gone". Construction will go up over what came down, the Saints will play football, drunk girls will flash their boobs on spring break, vampires will still haunt the cemetaries. New Orleans is many things to many people, and it still is, and it will continue to be. I prefer to focus on getting back to that, helping the people and the city heal, than bemoaning and exaggerating the wound.