Friday, September 16, 2005

Retractions you probably didn't see

I'm not at all surprised by any of the following corrections, so I thought I'd pass them on:

Last Sunday, the Times-Picayune reported the Mayor Nagin had purchased a home in Dallas, suggesting that he didn't see any future in New Orleans. Today the paper issued a retraction: he didn't buy a house, he rented a condo for his wife and children, then returned to work in New Orleans.

Previously, many news sources reported that the Mayor hadn't even stayed in the city during the hurricane and its aftermath, making reference to the fact that his office had been "relocated outside of the city." Later, these reports were corrected--his physical office had been set up in a safe place, but the mayor remained in the city.

The Washington Post,on September 4th, reported that Governor Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency. Later they retracted this statement (attributed to an unnamed Bush administration official): "A Sept. 4 article on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina incorrectly said that Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) had not declared a state of emergency. She declared an emergency on Aug. 26." That's the Friday BEFORE the storm. She requested federal assistance on the 27th--two days BEFORE the storm. Incidently, the same Post article details the reasons why the Bush administration tried to force the state into signing over all authority to them: "'Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals,' said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly."

And finallly, from my friends at the Lousiana SPCA, an answer to questions based on a CNN report that they were bypassing animals in order to rescue only pets on their "list" of animals whose resuce had been requested by owners:
"Animals on the rescue list at times do have priority, although, these are far from the only ones being rescued and housed at the temporary shelter. The people who have called in making a specific request to rescue their pet will be prepared to come and get their animal. This will free up much needed space and resources to save more. Due to the circumstances, many of the pets locked in homes have a very limited supply of food and water. They also have owners willing to remove them as soon as possible. All the animals need saved. We are doing what is necessary to save as many as possible."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Survivor Mentality: Outwit Outplay Outlive

I leave the TV on for the dogs, and usually the dial settles on ABC. Why? I think because they program almost all of their daytime hours, so there are fewer loud, hideous talk shows. There, is, however, The View, which can be amusing at times. The exception being when the seemingly innocuous Elisabeth Hasselbeck opens her mouth to offer her opinion on what her country should be doing for its citizens. "Nothing" is the answer. I'm sure she must be nice to her co-workers and immediate family, but I'd hate to be crossing the street with Elisabeth behind the wheel.

On today's show, Elisabeth went on and on about how the federal government had no obligation to do anything to help the citizens of New Orleans. It is all the local officials responsibility, she said. They should have used "the buses," she said, repeating an idea that originated in some talking points memo distributed to certain members of the media. And yes, they should have used the buses, but how many people do you think you can stuff in? Essentially, what she is saying is, even if the buses had been used, and not all of the city fit into them, then...oh well, the feds aren't going to help. I'd hate to be a mugging victim with Elisabeth Hasselbeck the only witness able to call for help.

All of this brings up several things that I wish people would consider: If responding to disasters is not a federal obligation, why did they show up so quickly on 9/11? Because they'd been able to plan ahead for the attack? Because New York is the center of commerce? Because an attack on NYC is an attack on the country, while a catastrophe in Louisiana is happening to someone else? Also, isn't the point of federal response to fill in when the local government has done all that it can? Is there another major city that would be able to evacuate more than 80% of its population in 24 hours? Is there another local government that would be able to function without assistance while under water? And why is it that Haley Barbour is excused from any responsiblity in Mississippi, where huge casualties resulted from failed evacuations of the coast and huge financial losses were seen due to the requirement that casinos float on the water?

Meanwhile, we should all be reminded that Elisabeth Hasselbeck's fame is derived from her participation on a season of Survivor, were she ascended into the final round.

Sky News gets it right

Sky News
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
I'be been out of the loop with the media lately, but this screen capture of a report from Irleand's Sky News makes me think maybe some agencies actually do have a grasp of the situation.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

How My Dogs Are Doing

Some people have noticed that I haven't mentioned my dogs in a while, so I thought I should give a little update. I've also been thinking about the fact that I've avoided mentioning them. Is it suddenly too personal to share now that they are the only thing I have?

My dogs--all dogs--are sticks in the mud. They really don't enjoy adventures. But the three of them have been amazingly patient.

I keep thinking about how Sula ran away the morning of the evacuation, and what would have happened to her if I hadn't been able to catch up. She kept going and going, running past all the men hammering boards onto houses. She doesn't like men with sticks in their hands.

In Hattiesburg, the three dogs loved Jennifer, the first person we stayed with. But they weren't so crazy about her cat. Still, when the tree came through the ceiling and the six of us had to huddle together on the floor until the storm was done, the dogs forgot about the cat. When they started barking at him again, we knew the storm must really be over.

At our second house in Hattiesburg, the dogs stayed in the living room, in their crates, while the rest of us tried to figure out what to do: where to find water, how to cook food. One day we sat out front playing the Worst Case Scenario survivor game. There was no air conditioning and the heat index was above 100. I walked them early in the morning and that was about it. In the afternoons I came home to find them panting, dehydrating, but there wasn't a lot of water, so I pulled them away from their bowl before they could finish it.

Then we drove 11 hours to Atlanta. I wasn't sure if the roads were clear or if we would find gas, so I loaded the car with dogs, the remaining dog food, some cans of spaghetti, and jugs of water that I had "purified" with Mountain Fresh bleach. In Meridian I spent so much time waiting in line for a money wire that never came, I worried that the dogs would be dead in the car when I returned. I fed them chicken McNuggets. When we arrived at my friends place in downtown Atlanta, Zephyr ran out of the van into the street. I caught her just as my friends came down from their loft. Everyone took a dog and began walking them. To Sula this must have seemed like a carjacking. She broke free and ran down the street to me and Brando, lept at me, and the next thing I knew the two of them were in a fight, locked onto each other's faces. They wouldn't let go. After all of this, I thought, now we're going to die. We'll kill each other. Zephyr, already down the street with her walker, turned back. Finally they let go, with barely a mark on either of them. That's when I began to hyperventilate and collapsed on the street.

This was the worst of it, thank god. My friends had planned a celebration for that night, for my birthday. It didn't quite happen. It was clear my dogs and I were a mess. We spent two days hiding out there,then headed to Tallahassee. Spent four or five days with Case and Kathy, who Brando immediately chose to worship as the top dogs in the house. (He also liked Jeff and Lisa in Atlanta--and once even ran to Jeff and leaned against him when I was trying to get him into his crate.)

Now we are "housesitting" on our own in a house with a great, walled yard, here in Tallahassee. We all slept for the first two days. I'm trying to figure out how to get Brando and Sula's clomipramine prescriptions refilled. Now isn't the time to go cold turkey off of separation anxiety meds. But no vet here will fill it without a visit. And again I think...what if it was something more serious? What if they were children instead of dogs? What if I was the one who needed medication?

And now its time for a walk.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Louisiana SPCA needs your support

I've been getting a ton of email from concerned folks regarding the animal rescue efforts in New Orleans, and increasingly it seems that no one is recognizing the efforts of the local SPCA. While it is wonderful that so much help has come in from other animal organizations around the country, I'm a little irked that they seem to be getting all the press. It is as if the LA-SPCA has been forgotten.

The LA-SPCA is located near the Industrial Canal (and not far from my own home). They evacuated all of the animals in their shelter on the Friday before the storm hit. They do this any time there is even a hint of a hurricane. After the storm, they were without offices, electricity or phones, not to mention without many of their staff and volunteers who had also been evacuated. They set up a temporary shelter in Gonzalez, which had 3000 animals the last I heard, and a staff of something like six people. Their limited staff has been taking instructions from distraught owners and breaking into homes to rescue their animals--yet they have been criticized for not taking in all the strays along the way.

Obviously, they need assistance, and many other groups have come in to help. But these groups, including the Humane Society, have the benefit of not being under water. And now I see that these outside groups are also issuing press releases and soliciting contributions.

Why is the LA-SPCA ignored in these press stories? Because they are too busy trying to survive. They don't have time to talk to the press. But they do need supplies, contributions, and all kinds of help to get these animals into safe places and, if possible, reunited with their owners. They will also have a lot of work to do to rebuild their organization after the waters recede.

Please visit the LA-SPCA Website and see what you can do.