Straining to meet President Bush’s mid-October deadline to clear out shelters, the federal government has moved hundreds of thousands of evacuees from Hurricane Katrina into hotel rooms at a cost of about $11 million a night, a strategy local officials and some members of Congress criticize as incoherent and wasteful.
The number of people in hotels has grown by 60 percent in the past two weeks as some shelters closed, reaching nearly 600,000 as of Tuesday. Even so, relief officials say they cannot meet the deadline, as more than 22,000 people were still in shelters in 14 states on Wednesday.
The reliance on hotels has been necessary, housing advocates say, because the Federal Emergency and Management Agency has had problems installing mobile homes and travel trailers for evacuees and has been slow to place victims in apartments that real estate executives say are available throughout the southeast.
Why the artificial deadline to move people out of shelters? Because of all the stupid and over the top criticism directed at the White House in the aftermath of the devastation of Katrina. And before one of you wingnuts even tries to say I am attempting to mute criticism, don’t. I am all in favor of criticism. But what we got in the Katrina aftermath was not criticism- it was hysteria, part media-fueled, aided and abetted by fierce partisan motives, all provided without any whiff of perspective but with measured doses of suggested racism.
‘BLACK PEOPLE ARE EATING CORPSES!’
‘BUSH CUT THE LEVEE FUNDING AND KILLED 10,000’
‘FEMA WON’T FEED BLACK PEOPLE IN THE SUPERDOME AND THERE ARE SHOOTINGS AND GANG RAPES CONSTANTLY’
Yes, FEMA fucked some stuff up. That was bound to happen, and inescapable given the sheer magnitude of this disaster, the structural changes made to FEMA and what even now I conclude was a director in over his head. But to those of you who made this a capital case, exaggerated every breeze of a rumor into a gale force wind, and tried to pin everything on Bush and the White House- you won. Bush blinked.
And this bill is on you, as will be the militarization of future rescue operations and the usurpation of great swaths of state authority (which, considering many of you guys STILL refuse to admit that Gov. Blanco and Ray Nagin had anything to do with this disaster aftermath, may be just what you want). There is simply no reason the federal government should promise to have people out of shelters 6 weeks after an entire region is destroyed. It makes no sense. No more sense than it does rebuilding hastily and haphazardly or sending a fleet of trailers to the region, either, for that matter.
Welcome to the nanny state, Bush style. That should scare the shit out of you, if nothing else does.