and then read this
Just a little sample:
New Orleans owns those buses. Here’s their significance:
I count 205 busses. When I was a kid, I remember that school busses could carry 66 people. If that is still the case, 13,530 people could be carried to safety in ONE trip using only the busses shown in that picture. One trip.
Houston is 350 miles from New Orleans. At 50 miles per hour, 13,530 people could have reached Houston in seven hours. Turn the buses around. 14 hours later another 13,530 people are in Houston, far away from Katrina’s wrath. In a little more than a day’s time, you’ve gotten the poorest people who wanted to leave but couldn’t leave on their own out of the city. And you don’t have to drive them as far as Houston. It’s the closest huge city, but there are lots of smaller towns you could ferry people to more quickly. The shorter the drive, the more trips you can make. Pretty soon 26,000 saved becomes everyone saved. If anyone left behind in the storm survives and then loots, at least they’re not endangering thousands of innocent people. Those innocent people aren’t there to be endangered. They’re somewhere else.
You see, buses have these interesting features on them, Mr. Ebbert, called wheels. They allow buses to move about the streets of a city under the control of a human. Because of their wheels, buses can go to where the people are and offer them a ride. You could tell people to congregate at street corners for easier pickup. Moreover, since the buses are on the road picking up people and moving them out of the city, they’re not in the path of the flood when the levee breaks. So you can keep using them to get the few stragglers who managed to survive the storm and the floods. And you can use them to haul in supplies. Troops. Whatever you need.
But since no one mobilized these buses before the storm–ahem, Mr. Ebbert–since no one mobilized them before the storm, the poor in New Orleans had no way of getting out. And now the buses are waterlogged and useless. All 205 of them. They will go on the expense side of the ledger instead of the asset side. That’s your fault, Mr. Ebbert. The blame rests with you, sir. You knew the city owned those buses, you knew where to get them, where to fuel them and you probably had a list of the drivers who operate them. Yet there they sit, half submerged.
One emergency manager with half a clue and a couple hundred drivers could have more or less saved New Orleans from turning into Mad Max territory. Terry Ebbert can blame everyone else all he wants, but this crisis is almost entirely his fault.
Now that National Guard and probably true federal troops will be put into New Orleans to quell the violence, and since the city is crawling with journalists and videographers, we’re liable to get something on our TVs that will look like a cross between Waco circa 1993 and Tiananmen Square circa 1989. But with the added twist of a racial component. Great.
And it all probably could have been avoided with judicious use of a couple hundred school buses–those inside the frame above as well as the probably dozens of others outside it.
UPDATE: Here’s a tight satellite view of the bus lot. It looks to me like there are more than 205 buses there. That’s a freeway next to the lot, in the upper part of the frame. It leads to the Superdome in one direction and out of the city in the other.