I would like to explore the unusual circumstances that have been largely unreported in the media that occurred in the wake of Katrina. As a lifelong resident of the city, it seems in the recent past weve had at least three hurricanes which seemed to be heading directly for New Orleans, but that miraculously turned away from it at the last minute. I had always attributed these last minute course corrections to Carmelite nuns in the past, and was hoping against hope that it would be repeated once again with Katrina, which was almost as big as the Gulf of Mexico and whose eye was the size of Lake Ponchartrain itself.

Amazingly again, Katrina turned from its dead on course to New Orleans at the last minute and we all thought we had been spared the worse. Although there was severe flooding in some areas, the levees held, and the force of the winds and rain created a relatively acceptable level of damage compared to what could be expected from a category 4 hurricane.

But then the next day, the 17th St. canal levee broke as well as others around the city. A complete phone and communications outage enveloped not only the city but the entire outlying area as well, greatly hampering the initial efforts to stem the levee breaks and other crises. The scattered and sheltered residents of the city were completely cut off from one another and from finding out what was going on. The pumping stations, including the new multimillion dollar one near the cemeteries all failed.

Despite the chaos and confusion in the hours after the hurricane, a lightning fast reorganization of the news coverage on the conservative and almost monopolistic Clear Channel radio stations and regional television station conglomerates went into effect immediately, even as much of the region was left without power.

The reorganized media seemed to have an agenda in its coverage. The overemphasis on the looters, which anyone who lived in New Orleans could have predicted, a very deliberate minimization of the number of lives that were lost, and an obscuring of exactly how much of the city was left dry and intact. On Friday evenings ABC hour long newscast, for example, it was filmed on the citys Canal Street, making it look like Venice, when in fact they were standing in mere inches of water. None of the wall to wall coverage explored the simultaneous and suspicious levee breaches, pump failures and collapse of the land and cell phone system, as well as the jamming of ham radio frequencies.

Cell phone towers are completely autonomous switching stations with two super computers that are cooled and powered by their own propane generators when city power is disrupted. They are designed with military redundancy and a built in toughness for survival in disasters. Also if they were to fail en mass, their wealthy parent companies and subsidiaries have the capacity to send in temporary mobile cell phone towers that are normally employed at sporting and other large events to augment coverage during heavy usage. Both the land lines and cell phones remained non-functioning immediately afterwards and were never fixed. Additionally Ham radio operators, who can usually communicate anywhere on the globe report they have not been able to get through the region, as if their signal and frequencies were being jammed.

The price of gasoline and oil has already risen astronomically, to the extent that some are calling the oil companies the real looters in Katrinas aftermath. Other pin striped looters appear in the form of real estate agents who are going around the city with video cameras, scoping out the potential hot properties in the dryer regions of the city in the inevitable buyers market that will follow when city dwellers are allowed to return, if they ever do. Of course they wont allow the homeowners and businesses who could help save the city to return, at least to secure their lifetime investments, even though somehow these predatory speculators are given free reign.

The world and even this country by now already know how FEMA, the Red Cross, and the federal government stood passively by, letting the worse happen, for five days without lifting a finger. To some it mirrored this countrys puny response to the Christmas timed tsunami, when it snowed in New Orleans for the first time in recent memory. To some, it almost seemed this indifference to life may be an indication that what was going on was exactly what they wanted to happen. Dennis Hasterts comments certainly seemed to confirm this sentiment.

The horrors of uncared for refugees in the Superdome and convention center are likely to be repeated in the inevitable tent cities FEMA is planning in the outlying areas. How long will it be before these refugee camps are compared to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay

NOTE: This Insight, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.

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