Harper's summary

Harper's week-in-review provides a concise -- nearly beat-poetic -- big picture of Katrina events so far:
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the United States
declared disasters in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and
Mississippi. Taken together, the 90,000-square-mile
disaster area would be the twelfth largest
state. Emergencies were declared in Colorado, Georgia,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and West
Virginia. Eighty percent of New Orleans was flooded after
levees were breached by rising water. "I don't think,"
said President George W. Bush, "anyone anticipated the
breach of the levees." Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff said the disaster "exceeded the foresight of the
planners, and maybe anybody's foresight." The flooding had
been anticipated by National Geographic magazine,
Scientific American magazine, the Times-Picayune
newspaper, FEMA, and Mr. Bill. Condoleezza Rice attended a
musical in New York City, where she was booed. She also
went shoe shopping. A fellow shopper was thrown out of the
store after yelling "How dare you shop for shoes while
thousands are dying or homeless?" Dick Cheney canceled a
trip to the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, and Senator Bill
Frist called for a permanent repeal to the estate
tax. President Bush decided to end his month-long vacation
two days early and return to Washington, D.C. During his
trip, Air Force One flew low over New Orleans. "This was a
natural disaster," said Bush.
The situation in New Orleans quickly worsened, but little
help appeared. Shelters set up at the Superdome and New
Orleans Convention Center became squalid, hot, and
dangerous. The Louisiana National Guard patrolled the
Superdome with machine guns as flood victims, locked
behind metal barricades, shouted "we need more water."
Cigarettes in the Superdome sold for $10 a pack, and a
brisk market in anti-diuretics, which allowed people to
avoid the overflowing bathrooms, developed. "We are like
animals," said a woman. Shootings, carjackings, and
looting were reported across New Orleans. Thousands of
people, most of them poor, were stranded for several days;
many died waiting for rescue. "Nobody's coming to get us,"
said Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson parish,
weeping. "For God sakes, shut up and send us somebody."
The effectiveness of FEMA head Mike Brown, who was fired
from his previous job supervising the International
Arabian Horse Association, was called into question after
he repeatedly claimed not to have known the severity of
the storm or the location of several thousand
refugees. "There is way too many fricking . . . cooks in
the kitchen," said New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin. "George
Bush," said rapper Kanye West, "doesn't care about black
people." About 57,000 troops, many assigned to combat
operations, entered the New Orleans area. "This place is
going to look like Little Somalia," said a brigadier
general. The Superdome and Convention Center were finally
evacuated, but evacuees were not allowed to take their
pets with them. "Snowball!" cried a little boy after
police took away his dog. "Snowball!" It was announced
that it could take up to six months for New Orleans to be
pumped out, and another three months for it to
dry. Officials estimated that 10,000 people had been
killed in the flood; about the same number of people
remained in the city. Fifty-five countries offered aid to
the United States. Cuba offered 1,100 doctors, Iran
offered humanitarian aid, China offered $5 million, and
Venezuela offered fuel at a reduced cost. The United
States was performing a "needs assessment" to decide whose
help to accept. Some Christian extremists declared that
the hurricane was punishment by God. "New Orleans now is
free of Southern Decadence," said the pastor of the New
Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, "and the sodomites,
the witchcraft workers, false religion--it's free of all
of those things now." Many other Christians simply prayed.
(Harper's)

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