Unregistered User
Thu Sep 01 2005 08:38 AM
You are not alone

I live in France, but having spent some time in the USA I always kept in touch. Moreover, I feel NO and South Louisiana is a component of french history as well. For those who wrote here we never helped, I would remind from Lafayette and french volunteer troops giving a hand at a time when this country was being born. May be it was not so much, but from my history books I learned it was quite appreciated at the times.( I would like not to go into this debate anyway as I think more of myself as a world citizen rather than belonging to a specific country.)

I have been reading on this forums since Charley and not being a weather expert (although I learned a lot since) did not find any previous reason for posting.
This time after reading many posts about other countries not helping, I felt I had to drop my 2 cents. You have to understand that for most of people over here, they have been only informed through our local media who in the first days only talked about "NO being spared" and the usual two lines about some roofs blown up (Superdome, Hyatt and some spectacular scenes) and a few casualties. Only a handful of crazy guys like me who speak fluent english and spend part of their nights on the internet or watch CNN News grasped the scope of what was happening. I tried to spread the word around in a few internet communities over here, and relayed the heartbreaking video clip made by Kevin Cho found on Storm2K calling for help. I sent a few emails to official web sites to ask that something gets organised.

Since yesterday things have changed over here and we have now complete reports on radio and TV with special coverages. People are slowly realizing the dimensions of what happened and I can confirm you I heard officially on today's news here that France has said they have forces and rescue teams ready to go if the US need them (you have to understand we cannot just send them there if they are not invited and fit in the rescue plan, which can take a few days to get organized) Its also common in people's mind to think about the US as the richest country on earth. I am sure few realize that this area was not such a rich one. Problems come when you start putting people in categories (Americans are like this, Europeans are like that...) Having visited many countries for business purposes I know this doesn't stand. People are people wherever you go in all their differences.

This was just to say you are not standing alone in this disaster, I read also that european community is talking about dispatching some of its oil reserves if it would become necessary (looks to me that the official media are downplaying somewhat the impact on the oil business down there. Read somewhere today that 10s of platforms are missing - they could not find them from aerial survey - that the wells still standing need to be put back in place and sometimes redrilled if all is bent - and that it might take months to restore everything) It just takes some time for the message to come across -thanks to the internet things are speeding up as private people are quicker to react than governments.

New Orleans is (don't want to say was...) a very special place on this planet. I can tell you I do not sleep well since Monday, my nights are haunted by what's happening. This of course extends to the whole Gulf Coast as well. All my thoughts go to the people who have been affected by this, wish I could do more.

(Weather Guru)
Thu Sep 01 2005 12:06 PM
Re: You are not alone

Old European, thank you for your kind words. Many of our friends and neighbors around the world have offered help including your country. Please don't be offended as everyone doen't feel that way. We will help those poor victims in NO and the Gulf Coast and our friends and allies will be there with us. NO and the Gulf Coast will be built back but it will take time but first we have to care for those who have lost everything and have no where to go.

Unregistered User
Thu Sep 01 2005 12:55 PM
Re: You are not alone

Thks for your kind reply.

I don't feel offended at all, I understand some people can get a little jumpy in such a situation. I was just trying to explain that if people over here did not react faster, it was mostly from lack of information. As a comparison, I would understand that only few american citizens could give me some precise report on the dramatic floods from last week in Switzerland, south Germany, Austria and Rumania... (Although I would think that at government's level, they must have known more through the general consulate in NO - but as we all know unfortunately, people have feelings and governments have interests).

I sincerely hope there is a little light at the end of this nightmare. What I don't understand though is that everywhere in the world (without being political) governments wait for disasters to happen to do something. This NO scenario has been in the books for years and they cut the financing for improving the levee system, (like in Asia they are putting on an alert network after this horrible tsunami happened, although everyone knew it would happen sometimes) the straightening of the Mississippi river for business purposes has been eating the barrier islands and the wetlands that were sheltering some parts of the coast. I am affraid that more and more everywhere human beings are servants of the business instead of it being normally the other way around...
Everywhere on earth we are playing with fire, thinking science and engineers can impose our will to mother nature, and we end by spending a lot more trying to fix this kind of event (which will never be fixed in people's minds even if something is rebuilt) than what it would have cost to prevent it.
May be I am just getting pessimistic with old age coming. What I see happening from the looting and gangs shooting at rescue helicopters or stealing hospital generators doesn't bring me much light, but I know by watching local TVs on the net that there are also wonderful stories of people helping each other. I just hope the first category is just a little minority.
By the way, although I don't know them personnally, I have become familiar through the reading here with the names of some members who have been going through this. I was glad to read they apparently all made it out safe, even if some lost a lot of things.

(Weather Guru)
Thu Sep 01 2005 01:27 PM
Re: You are not alone

I agree , for every looter who is causing chaos there are many good people trying to help these desperate victims. There is light at the end of the tunnel, it may be dim right now but it is there and we will find it, with the help of many friends, neighbors, and allies

(Storm Tracker)
Thu Sep 01 2005 04:35 PM
Re: You are not alone

i am so sick of all this looting, why bring in relief to help all those if they are commiting crime, dont get me wrong i want everyone to be ok and have halp in these times but the looters are disrupting the relief efforts and there the ones that will get the diseases from snakes or alligators or mosquitos orany sewage and disease in the waters.

Unregistered User
Thu Sep 01 2005 07:40 PM
Re: You are not alone

Another thing that surprises me now is reading apocalypse scenarios if the price of gas goes to 4$ a gallon (which is probably what will happen). For instance things like this :

" America is over. America is like Wile E. Coyote after he's run out a few paces past the edge of the cliff – he'll take a few more steps in midair before he looks down. Then, when he sees that there's nothing under him, he'll fall. Many Americans suspect that they're running on thin air, but they haven't looked down yet. When they do ...
Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, a pillar of the Establishment with access to economic information beyond our reach, wrote recently: "Circumstances seem to me as dangerous and intractable as any I can remember. ... What really concerns me is that there seems to be so little willingness or capacity to do anything about it" (quoted in The Economist, April 16, p.12). Volcker chooses words carefully: "dangerous and intractable," "willingness or capacity." He's saying: The situation is probably beyond our powers to remedy.
Gas prices can only go up. Oil production is at or near peak capacity. The U.S. must compete for oil with China, the fastest-growing colossus in history. But the U.S. also must borrow $2 billion a day to remain solvent, nearly half of that from China and her neighbors, while they supply most of our manufacturing ("Benson's Economic and Market Trends," quoted in Asia Times Online) – so we have no cards to play with China, even militarily. (You can't war with the bankers who finance your army and the factories that supply your stores.) China now determines oil demand, and the U.S. has no long-term way to influence prices. That means $4 a gallon by next spring, and rising – $5, then $6, probably $10 by 2010 or thereabouts. Their economy can afford it; ours can't. We may hobble along with more or less the same way of life for the next dollar or so of hikes, but at around $4 America changes. Drastically."

We in old Europe over here are living with prices around 6 to 6.5$ a gallon ... I know that the US who represent 6% of the world population consume more or less 25% of the world energy ( which explains why the "American Way of Life" is not exportable to the rest of the world ) but I can hardly imagine that a price of 4$ a gallon would wipe out the economy (although I agree on some other points stated there) ?

Unregistered User
Thu Sep 01 2005 07:44 PM
Re: You are not alone

Forgot the links to the articles for those interested :



(Weather Hobbyist)
Thu Sep 01 2005 10:47 PM
Re: You are not alone

A few thoughts:

1. I was very angry for a while, not so much at the lack of offers for assistance but more so at remarks like that from the German Environment Minister suggesting that if only the US had signed the Kyoto Treaty, Katrina wouldn't have happened. It seemed that political differences such as that over Kyoto (and that elephant in the living room: Iraq) were getting in the way of good sense, science and, most important, compassion for an old ally.

2. I have been spending a good deal of time since the storm reading as much of the foreign press as I could comprehend, since I speak only English and very bad French, because like many Americans, I CARE what you guys think about us and, I must say, it made me sad.

3. There were national news stories here about the floods although they tended to focus on "human interest" angles like an ancient brewery put at risk by Danube flooding.

4. Converning the price of gas, what I think is most important is not the absolute price but the rate and magnitude of increase. US gas has close to doubled in price over the last year. Imagine if Europe's $6 gas was $12 gas a year from now and how that would impact average people. That is what Americans are seeing. Also, Europe's gas is so much more expensive because European governments have chosen to tax it heavily. Most of what you pay is taxes. That is a political decision. I personally think our government here should have done something similar back in the 70's, but they didn't--they chose to raise needed revenues by other methods (such as a capital gains tax which most European countries lack).

5. The "American way of life" increasingly is imported FROM the rest of the world and paid for with borrowed money. Quite a few of us understand that that cannot go on forever and I, personally, have for sometime tried to organize my finances to take into account the possibility that it will all come unravelled. But there's really no way to know how long it will be before it does.

Thanks for the support. Believe me, we appreciate it.

Unregistered User
Fri Sep 02 2005 05:05 AM
Re: You are not alone

Thks for reply.
Haven't been in the US since quite a few years and it's always more difficult to understand from the outside.

1. Agree with you, the comments from Trittin were totally displaced in this moment. However, there are in the scientific community people thinking that the global warming can have some kind of effect, not on the frequency of hurricanes, but on their strength as higher water temps. will give them more fuel. Not a specialist myself, but I tend to believe this global warming is real. How much is induced by human activity as opposed to natural cycles is of course debatable, but as a precaution I think we'd better seriously think about it. I am 54 and consider I have been lucky to live in blessed times, never knew a war, and the economy was more or less always going upwards. I am affraid that we have for that compromised the life standards of future generations. They're going to have a hard time.

2. The general tone over here now is kind of total astonishment on the situation in NO, as most don't understand why a country like the US seems they had no real evacuation plan for a scenario that everybody knew would happen some day (it's one thing to tell people to get out, another to give them the means of transportation to do so), and cannot find a solution to rescue these people and leave them starving in the streets. You also by the way confirmed the point that to go to the original sources of information, you have to understand the language. Very few people here have the level of english required to watch US TV or even read articles.

3. I know there was some news stories (I watch CNN once a day generally) my point was just to make a parallel as to how much of these news have gone to the average citizen (for instance the number of victims, the regions affected, the names of a few places that have been also devastated by landslides) Just to explain that for the people to react at something, the information must first spread. It depends of the coverage given by the media and if people watch news, read newspapers or look around on the net.

4. Thks for info, I didn't realise it has been going so fast. Here it went up 30 % in the past year. I think we only see the beginning... I use now the bus and my feet to go in town, the train for long distance if I don't have things to carry around, my motorcycle when the weather is fine, and the car the least possible. Surprisingly, I don't find it difficult, even after being used to hop in the car for any reason the past 30 years.

5. We also have budget deficits over here, but yes in these times the amount of money needed daily by the US and the sums it adds up to is a little frightening...

Hope this nightmare will at least open people's eyes, not only in the US but all around the world. If only we would forget these "countries" and really get to work together, the future would look brighter (although I am totally aware I am dreaming ...) When I was 18 (that was in '70) and was a student in the US, I thought it would be possible. I am sad our generation has not done better. We have let ourselves be driven by economy and money.
Reminds me of this beautiful book from Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis, when the narrator is visiting his old college friend Skip who is dying from cancer in hospital, and how they talk about these years and how they believed they were stardust. In the end, his old friend tells him " But we tried, don't ever forget that, Pete, we tried "
I am conscious I did not change much except in my immediate environment, but as King said, I am glad I tried.

My heart is bleeding at the images I have seen all day yesterday, hope most of these people will come out of this, even with trauma for the rest of their lives ( the psychological impact is also going to be some job...)

(Weather Hobbyist)
Fri Sep 02 2005 01:38 PM
Re: You are not alone

1. Concerning European astonishment at our lack of preparedness, that's a combination of 2 things I think. First of all is Federalism. Here we leave a lot to the states and Lousiana has been known for a very long time as one of the least competent states at that sort of thing. Curiously, perhaps, to a Frenchman, here with a bit of Anglo-Saxon snobbery, that has been blamed on their Gallic (or "latin") heritage--viewed as a sort of "live for today, let tomorrow take care of itself" attitude. Secondly, there is the Federal responsibility. I don't want to get in trouble here, so I'll simply refer you to http://www.andrewsullivan.com for an example of what people are beginning to say (and Sullivan, if you don't know him, is a British expatriot who, until recently, was a Conservative).

2. As to your lifestyle (walk/train/motorcycle), fascinating. I live part of the year in San Francisco which many people here think of as a "European" style city, and when I'm here, I pretty much live just as you describe. I live downtown and can/do walk to many shops and restaurants. When I travel around the city, I take a bus (monthly pass $45), subway, streetcar or one of our well-known "cable cars". If I go to a supermarket or a distant part of town I have a Honda 250cc scooter (gets about 15 miles per liter). So, in truth, I am not terribly much affected directly by the price of gas. I didn't even bother to fill the scooter's tank ahead of the likely price increases. I can get around perfectly well on the bus if I have to and it doesn't much matter if it costs me $5 instead of $3 to fill the scooter's tank (I fill it about twice a month). But my lifestyle is unusual and I am 60 years old. I'm not terribly sure how much longer I will be able to walk as much as I do or ride the scooter (even now, I worry if my aging body would be able to take even a minor crash).

Unregistered User
Fri Sep 02 2005 02:35 PM
Re: You are not alone

Thks for the info.

We have also on this side of the pond some federal countries (Germany, Switzerland...) and I know what it can come to. For instance the last weeks, Germany introduced a new official version of writing german, and this has not been adopted by two of the "Länder", leading to have to print two sets of schoolbooks !!!

I have been reading on some forums where people vent a little (which I think is useful...) and I have read how it works (or should I say how it is supposed to work) between local , state and federal authorities. Sure if you put this in the light of communications chaos, it doesn't help. However, I have seen live on local TV Channels streaming on the net the local authorities crying for help since the levees broke on Monday. I would think this kind of situation would clear some paperwork. Also maybe including the FEMA in the huge Homeland Security Dept, whith new goals set towards aftermath of terrorist attacks added to the length of the process ?

FYI, I just watched both French and German news (I happen to also speak german...) and on both the reporters said they have been shocked by the presidential "show" in Biloxi earlier today, with helos and forces coming all at once when noone had been seen before, and specially in a place where there is no vital urgency, all people being out of what is left of the town...

I am now still a young guy of 54 , and don't hesitate to ride my chopper my any weather ( outside snow, but not very often here...)

(Weather Hobbyist)
Fri Sep 02 2005 02:47 PM
Re: You are not alone


I just watched both French and German news (I happen to also speak german...) and on both the reporters said they have been shocked by the presidential "show" in Biloxi earlier today, with helos and forces coming all at once when noone had been seen before, and specially in a place where there is no vital urgency, all people being out of what is left of the town...

This presidential show of "concern" has gotten to be standard proceedure in disaster. In reality, it is kind of shocking and I doubt many people are fooled by it but we'll see. I've never before seen people like Anderson Cooper (CNN) and the lead reporters on Fox (which usually supports the administration) and MSNBC snarling and screaming at the camera about the lack of coordinated, effective response. These folks are usually cool and collected but apparently a confrontation with death and violence has been enough to upend them.

Wish I could figure out how to get my keyboard to produce an umlaut (I think it's called) and in "Lander".

Unregistered User
Sun Sep 04 2005 07:30 AM
Re: You are not alone

Still amazing to me when I read reports like this one (nola.com) :

Evacuees forced to wait outside bus station

By Allen Powell II
River Parishes bureau

Several dozen New Orleans residents seeking transportation out of Baton Rouge Saturday were denied entrance to the Greyhound bus station on Florida Street. Instead, the would-be travelers say they were forced to wait outside on the sidewalk for hours.
The travelers, many of them recent evacuees from New Orleans, waited for the chance to buy tickets to Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and northern Louisiana.
Several of them said they had been waiting at the station since the early afternoon and by 7 p.m. hadn’t been allowed to wait inside, use bathroom facilities or get water. Many of the travelers said they only wanted to purchase tickets or pick-up tickets that had already been purchased by family members.
Terrance Pierre, who said he was evacuated from Xavier University on Wednesday, said he had been waiting outside of the station for more than five hours to purchase a ticket to Texas. Pierre said he was just trying to reunite with his family and friends.
“I’m just trying to get a ticket with my own money,” he said.
Through security guards at the station, the bus station’s manager declined to discuss why the people were not allowed inside.
Travelers said they were told that there had been a disturbance at the bus station on Friday, but that could not confirmed with station employees. In addition, they said they were told that the bus station’s booking system was not operating.
Officials from Greyhound’s national office could not be reached for comment on Saturday night.
Although the crowd appeared orderly, six Baton Rouge police cruisers arrived at the station at about 7:20 p.m... A security guard at the door told officers that some people in the crowd had been banging on the station’s doors, a claim all of the travelers vehemently denied.
No one was arrested, and the officers left after instructing travelers to line up along the front of the building. After the officers left, bus station employees began allowing some people to enter the station to use the restroom, but most were forced to remain outside.

How can people be so heartless towards fellow citizens who have lost everything and just escaped from hell (and we are talking inside the same state !!!) Six police cruisers !!

Unregistered User
Sun Sep 04 2005 07:59 AM
Re: You are not alone

" There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF."

This explains what I said before about the visit being perceived over here as a "show for cameras"

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