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September 7, 2005

County Executive Chris Coons is putting together a plan for some of the refugees from Hurricane Katrina to be temporarily housed in or become permanent residents of New Castle County. Coons's effort received endorsement from members of County Council and, if a plan comes to pass, it is likely that a majority of county residents also will approve.

County Council members have endorsed the idea. CLICK HERE to read the Delaforum article.

What is more than a little surprising is that many much larger local governments around the nation not only have extended invitations for victims of the disaster to come to them but are already receiving them. Texas governor Rick Perry was first out of the gate with a dramatic gesture to offer the Astrodome in Houston as an immediate shelter.

Councilman Penrose Hollins noted that arms have been opened even in places as far away as Idaho. He said he'd hate to see New Castle County not included. On the other hand, David Tackett was quick to point out that the county has flood-related problems of its own, albeit to a far lesser extent but none the less significant.

If that sounds like trying to put a damper on a worthy humanitarian effort, consider that it also reflects reality. No one can argue that the outpouring of sympathy and support which follows a major disaster is a good thing. But, truth to be told, tragedy is no less real to the people who have been struck whether they are the only victim, one of a handful or part of a multitude.

New Orleans is liable to be hit with an even heavier slug of reality. As the New York Times puts it:

"From across the economic spectrum, whether with heavy hearts or with optimism, the hundreds of thousands of people who fled the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans are already putting down roots in new cities. If even a fraction of them decide not to return, the migration threatens a population crash that could be nearly as devastating to the New Orleans area as the storm itself."  MORE

Official Washington continues to squirm. From the Boston Globe:

"President Bush, under fire about whether he acted aggressively to help tens of thousands of desperate people left homeless, destitute, and starving by Hurricane Katrina, promised yesterday that he would lead an investigation into 'what went wrong' with the government's response and will dispatch Vice President Dick Cheney to 'assess our recovery efforts' in the region. ...

"But two hours later, Scott McClellan, Bush's press secretary, told reporters the president would simply 'lead an effort' in the escalating catastrophe. McClellan was unclear about whether Bush would look into his own actions and vague about when and how the investigation would start, and rejected questions about whether the president should fire anyone responsible for the problems.  MORE

They've been saying broken levees should not have come as any surprise. A blog run by Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle pointed out that no less than an authority then Mark Twain said the same thing in his Life on the Mississippi in 1883.

"The military engineers ... have taken upon their shoulders the job of making the Missisippi over again -- a job transcended in size by only the original job of creating it. ... One who knows the Mississippi will promptly aver -- not aloud, but to himself, that ten thousand River Commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or confine it, cannot say to it, Go here, or Go there, and make it obey; cannot save a shore which it has sentenced; cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over, and laugh at."

Twain was talking about levees along the Mississippi River, not those protecting New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain. But his observation is just as valid.


2005. All rights reserved.

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