My sister reports from Houston that she and her daughter volunteered for several days on the rescue efforts. My niece and namesake was at the Astrodome, and my sister worked with Catholic Charities helping to sort out some of New Orleans' other displaced minorities: Vietnamese Catholics. The report from the dome is that Houston is running like a well-oiled machine and its citizens are bursting with merited pride.
The highest official in the area (more power than the mayor of Houston) is Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, who ran all the Astrodome preparation, and he is one cool and competent dude. He has already lined up 10,000 vacant apartments in the city, and told the landlords that they're not going to wait for emergency funding-- open up, and the money will be found, guaranteed. (Remember that Houston had about two days to pull this act together, whereas New Orleans had the better part of a week before landfall.)
Houstonians also have a window on the massive and massively effective assistance being given to thousands of people by small church groups who are taking reponsibility for people in the dozens and hundreds-- all material needs are being provided for, homes being opened, jobs being sought, children being registered in schools. My niece (of Astrodome fame) teaches in a small Catholic parish school which has accepted 70 extra children during its opening week of classes.
Closer to home (Toronto) a friend of mine tells of his colleague whose mother was evacuated via helicopter from her flooded New Orleans home. She was in a Wal-Mart in whichever city of refuge she reached, when another woman initiated conversation with her, the upshot of which was that Mom received an invitation to come and live with the woman, and that's where she is today.
Across the pond, where good fiction has always been popular:
This just in from Britain's biggest paper, that rag, the Sun, by that wag, Jeremy Clarkson:
Hollywood has taught America that the military can solve anything. It's full of chisel-jawed heroes who never leave a man on the field and never fail to get the job done. So they'd have New Orleans sorted out in a jiffy.(Hat tip: Kathryn Jean Lopez at http://corner.nationalreview.com/ )
Unfortunately, on the street you've got some poor, starving souls helping themselves to a packet of food from a ruined, deserted supermarket. And as a result, finding themselves being blown to pieces by a helicopter gunship. With the none-too-bright soldiers urged on by their illiterate political masters, the poor and needy never stood a chance. It's easier and much more fun to shoot someone than make them a cup of tea. Especially if they're black.
Can anyone explain how Anderson Cooper, Shepard Smith, Geraldo Rivera, and Sean Penn managed to miss this story? I believe I said something below about European anti-Americanism.... but this is downright sick. As they say in Parliament, "Shame! Shame!"