Monday, September 01, 2008

Katrina, RTE & the Irish Times

Not everything breathlessly reported in 2005 in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina was accurate. RTE & the Irish Times might want to do a little background reading before regurgitating long-discredited nonsense like the violence in the Superdome, as I heard on the Ryan Tubridy Show this morning or that "law and order collapsed" as the Irish Times web site claims today.

The government response to Katrina was obviously lacking in many ways, but
by focusing on the part of the glass that was half-empty, the national media imposed a near total blackout on the nerve center of what may have been the largest, most successful aerial search and rescue operation in history.

"The Coast Guard, the National Guard, the military in general performed heroically," said Sen. Robert Barham, R-Oak Ridge, who monitored the Superdome operation from Baton Rouge as head of the Louisiana State Senate's Homeland Security Committee. His opposite number in the Louisiana House, Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, said, "They (the Guard) did a yeoman's job." Both said they were getting very different pictures from TV than they got from the Guardsmen at the Dome, and the state fish and wildlife department, another key player in the rescue operation.

… Also hard to ignore at the Dome was another big operation: support for local first responders. This effort included many of the black local heroes among the police and firefighting squads, despite misleading media reports leaving the impression they had either fled the city or walked off the job. The majority of local police and firefighters were available, though their communications system had been wiped out. They quickly hooked up with pre-positioned Guard units, as well as an army of volunteers in everything from flatboats to airboats. "We were just handing out radios to anyone who wanted one," Dressler said.
The governments - at all levels - carried out post mortems on what went wrong and what needed to be fixed/changed for the future. It wouldn't do any harm for RTE and the Irish Times to find out where they and their colleagues went wrong in 2005.