Now that the sun is up over the Gulf Coast, it's easy to see that, in spite of the hurricane's weakening and last minute directional shift, New Orleans is still pretty slammed and the entire region has been devastated. It'll take years to rebuild and get the economy back to full swing, and of course it'll never be the same as it was. Had Katrina hit New Orleans as a Cat. 5, the destruction would have been worse, I believe, simply because of that city's physical layout and placement between the Mississippi River and Lake Ponchartrain, as well as the population density and the age of a lot of the buildings.
But it's bad all over, and we'll all feel the effects for a long time to come, in increased gas prices, airline prices, and probably a lot of other things. You can't eliminate that big a chunk of population, income, tax revenue (the casinos around Biloxi alone contributed almost a million dollars a day in tax dollars to Mississippi--now that the state needs cash flow to rebuild, it does't have that income. And consider the multi-millions that generated that tax base--visitors and gamblers staying in hotels, gambling, buying meals, souvenirs, etc.--and the people in the service industries based around that: hotel and restaurant and retail workers, gas stations, airlines ferrying them in and out, laundry workers, truckers driving goods to the local stores, and so on...it's an almost endless chain of events, simply from that one relatively compact viewpoint. Add in the rest of the industry around there: oil, tourism, etc., and the cost is simply too enormous to comprehend.
Plus there's the human cost. Lives lost, lives disrupted. Homelessness. Schools--if a kid doesn't live in her house anymore because it's been washed away, does she go to school near her temporary shelter? Bus to her old school? Is her old school there? I don't know if the school year has started there yet--it did here early in August--but if not it'll be significantly delayed, at best.
As much as I usually think George Bush is right at the top of the list of worst presidents in our nation's history, I have to say that he handled this in the right way, so far. In contrast to his awful performance on 9/11, when he stayed and read with the class while our country was under attack, then got on his plane and hopped around the country, hiding out all day instead of either going home to Washington or at least addressing us, yesterday he kept to his arranged schedule, but at each stop diverted from planned remarks to talk about what was going on in the Gulf states, pledging Washington's support for those impacted, declaring disaster areas, etc. Now we have to see if he keeps his word and delivers on everything promised, but at least he said and did the right things.
And looters, those people stealing from their own neighbors at exactly the moment it hurts them the most? Should they be shot on sight or impaled on tall poles?