Tom Atlee’s collection of Katrina stories


Richard Moore

Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2005 12:01:59 -0700
To: •••@••.••• (undisclosed list)
From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Next waves of information and insight about Katrina

"Thank God there is no one to bomb in retaliation."
   - Bill and Debbie Quigley, New Orleans evacuees

"So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged
anyway, so this is working very well for them."
   - Barbara Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston

"Change for the better begins by reckoning with the worst,
which Katrina helped us do."
    - columnist James Carroll in "Katrina's truth"



Highlights, lowlights, perspective
Katrina, New Orleans, and peak oil
Katrina, civilization and the environment
Katrina, racism and classism
Katrina as teacher
FEMA as obstacle
Outraged, insistent, speaking out together 9/12
Positive notes from the NCDD Listserv



Wikipedia's ongoing coherent updating of materials related to Katrina in New 

A BBC analysis raises questions and introduces the complexity of the scene
"Multiple failures caused relief crisis"

A story of an effort to leave New Orleans, blocked by police
"First By the Floods, Then By Martial Law: Trapped in New Orleans"


By Richard Heinberg
Global Media Public
September 5, 2005

In Brief: The scenes were heart-wrenching and mind-boggling: an entire
modern American metropolis had effectively ceased to exist as an organized
society...when it came to reporting on the damage to oil production and
refining facilities, most media outlets took at face value the glib and
non-specific assurances of the petroleum industry... And all of this is
occurring at a time when the global supply of oil is barely able to meet


Like just about everyone else, I was transfixed by news reports from New
Orleans and the Gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama last week. My wife
Janet grew up in New Orleans, most of her family members still live there
(to the degree that anyone can for the moment say they live in the Big
Easy), and we visit the city every year. The scenes were heart-wrenching and
mind-boggling: an entire modern American metropolis had effectively ceased
to exist as an organized society. The tens of thousands of survivors who had
been unable or unwilling to evacuate prior to the storm were utterly
helpless as they awaited rescue from the outside, some of them reduced to
looting stores to obtain food and other necessities, a few even joining
armed gangs.

Soon the Internet began pulsing with stories of how the Bush administration
had exacerbated the tragedy by encouraging the destruction of wetlands and
barrier islands, by appointing FEMA heads with no experience in disaster
management, by focusing the agency's resources on counter-terrorism rather
than disaster relief, by refusing funds for upgrading New Orleans' levees,
and so on. By the end of the week, mainstream media had begun picking up on
some of these stories.

However, when it came to reporting on the damage to oil production and
refining facilities, most media outlets took at face value the glib and
non-specific assurances of the petroleum industry that damage was relatively
minor and temporary. Meanwhile, however, one report, allegedly from an
unnamed industry insider, described at least 20 oil platforms as missing and
presumed sunk, with others drifting, having sustained serious damage. Port
Fourchon, the hub for oil and gas production in the gulf, likewise appears
severely damaged, according to this source, along with the Louisiana
Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which is the only port in the nation designed to
receive supertankers. In addition, most of the region's refineries were
closed, with some likely to be shut down for many weeks or months.

Whether or not this description exaggerates the damage, repair efforts will
be hindered by the lack of a nearby functioning port or city from which to
base operations.

And all of this is occurring at a time when the global supply of oil is
barely able to meet demand. Indeed, many petroleum analysts were already
looking to the fourth quarter of 2005 as the likely moment of the all-time
world oil production peak.

The head of International Energy Agency forecast on Saturday that Hurricane
Katrina could spark a worldwide energy crisis. "If the crisis affects oil
products then it's a worldwide crisis. No one should think this will be
limited to the United States," Claude Mandil told the German daily Die Welt.
That same day, 26 nations -- including the United States -- agreed to
release 60 million barrels of oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products
from their emergency reserves over the next 30 days. This nearly
unprecedented move (the IEA also opened its taps during the first Gulf War)
was surely a measure of the seriousness with which national leaders viewed
the problem.

While the bringing to market of a few tens of millions of barrels of stored
oil and gasoline may temporarily calm speculators and thus prevent dramatic
price spikes, it cannot balance the global supply-and-demand equation for
more than a few weeks (the world uses 84 million barrels of oil each day,
after all). And once these stores are gone, few nations will have any
cushion in the event of other supply threats. Hence Katrina may mark the
beginning of the inevitable unraveling of the petroleum-based industrial
world system.

The United States is the center of that system. Think of New Orleans and the
Gulf Coast as a gaping wound in the national body. Organisms need a steady
flow of energy in order to maintain their ordered existence; a wound is like
an intrusion of entropy within the system. When wounded, the body
essentially takes energy away from other parts of itself to restore order at
the site of injury. In ordinary times, nations as "organisms" do this very
well. But in this case the timing is bad, as energy is scarce anyway (the
wound was incurred at the onset of what will soon become a global energy
famine); the nation has already been hemorrhaging materiel and trained
personnel in Iraq for three years; and the site of the wound couldn't be
worse: it is in the part of the national body through which much of its
energy enters (the region is home to half the nation's refining capacity and
almost 30% of production). Thus it seems likely that the available energy
may not be sufficient to overcome the entropy that has been introduced;
rather than being contained and eliminated, disorder may fester and spread.

New Orleans will be rebuilt. It must be: the nation needs a port at the
mouth of the Mississippi, and the port needs a city to support and service
it. It is one of the few US cities with character and charm, and people will
desperately want to return to their homes. The only event likely to prevent
rebuilding would be another strong hurricane hitting Louisiana later this
season. However, rebuilding will proceed in the context of a national
economy that is crippled and perhaps mortally wounded, and a global complex
system of production and trade that is starting to lose its battle against




"Katrina Takes Environmental Toll"

In the first formal assessment of the environmental devastation wrought by 
Katrina, state authorities in Baton Rouge announced a litany of contaminants 
likely to be found in the floodwaters, including tens of millions of pounds of 
concrete, lumber, cars, animal carcasses and all the other solid waste of a 
major metropolitan area.

Most sewage-treatment plants in New Orleans were destroyed. Two major spills 
sent 78,000 barrels of oil into Lake Pontchartrain, and fuel has coated the city
from 2,200 fuel tanks and leaking gasoline from flooded cars and boats.

For a more detailed account of the likely toxic aftermath, read
"After Katrina: The toxic timebomb"

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina has created a vast toxic soup that 
stretches across south-eastern Louisiana and Mississippi, and portends the 
arrival of an environmental disaster to rival the awe-inspiring destruction of 
property and human life over the past week.

Toxicologists and public health experts warned yesterday that pumping billions 
of gallons of contaminated water from the streets of New Orleans back into the 
Gulf of Mexico - the only viable option if the city is ever to return to even a 
semblance of its former self -would have a crippling effect on marine and animal
life, compromise the wetlands that form the first line of resistance to future 
hurricanes, and carry deleterious consequences for human health throughout the 

The full extent of the danger is unknown and unknowable, but the polluted waters
are known to contain human and animal waste, the bodies of people and animals, 
household effluence, and chemical and petrochemical toxins from the refineries 
that dot the Gulf coast in and around New Orleans.



An engaged Buddhist perspective on Katrina and racism
"Waking up to the Tragedy of New Orleans"
by Maia Duerr, Buddhist Peace Fellowship Executive Director

  - - -

by Tom Atlee

Not having a TV or getting a daily paper, and depending primarily on my email 
lists for news -- which do not provide pictures -- I did not at first understand
the extent to which class and race seem to be defining features of this tragedy.
When accusations of racism first surfaced, I imagined them as an understandable 
part of the reactions of people, both high and low, coping with an extremely 
stressful situation.  I now see there is more to it than that.

The most grievous, obvious forms of racism and classism are personally and 
intentionally malicious.  But there are other forms -- often viewed as "subtle" 
-- which can do even more damage collectively.  Racism and classism include the 
ability of those who are more privileged (including often ourselves) to not 
notice the suffering of others.  Privilege -- money, status and certain social 
assumptions, habits, and institutions -- can protect some of us from personally 
experiencing the gritty reality of some other peoples' lives -- face to face, in
our hearts and guts.

Racism and classism also include stereotyping.  This becomes publicly visible in
the statements of powerholders and celebrities, such as Barbara Bush's comment 
about how things were working out "very well" for poor evacuees from New Orleans
-- and in the media, such as news reports about black people "looting" stores 
which, in most cases, apparently involved people without food or water getting 
these from abandoned stores, or trying to get things to sell to buy their way 
out of town.  (Different aspects of this are poignantly described in an 
interview with a reporter about the New Orleans Conventions Center -- read the 
incredible full text <> or search the text 
for "looting" or watch the video <> -- and a
discussion of black vs white photo coverage at 

Racism and classism also include built-in systemic factors, such as the fact 
that poor people often don't have money for transportation that would allow them
to escape an impending hurricane -- especially a few days before payday.  When 
those in power can comfortably be oblivious to this fact, the resulting 
suffering is immense.  And the damage caused can be rightly ascribed to racism 
and classism, whether or not there was anything conscious or intentional about 

Thus, as David La Chapelle notes below, Katrina shows up as a teaching 

My own obliviousness to these factors is marked by the fact that a vitally 
important question was not included among those I offered for inquiry and 
dialogue a few days ago:

QUESTION:  What do you think would have been different in how the Katrina 
disaster unfolded if the people trapped in and around New Orleans had been 
mostly white and middle-class or rich?

For some further info about how these factors played out, see the recent
FEMA Planned to Leave New Orleans Poor Behind
Authorities Favored VIPs over Superdome's Desperate -
Hotel Workers, Patrons Excused from Pre-Storm Evac Given Special Treatment



Excerpts from
"Pandora's Daughter Katrina"
by David La Chapelle

The visionaries of many epochs have often been the recipients of the wrath of 
the established order. The fire of vision and the fire of prophecy, or the 
ability to look forward, have been consistently resisted and actively rejected.

Katrina's effect on New Orleans was a remarkable projection of the power of 
nature. The nature of the human devastation associated with the hurricane is not
so easy to attribute to a capricious act of weather. Much of it is in fact the 
direct result of entrenched resistance to the obvious that was foreseen for 
decades. There are numerous well documented scenarios that predicted almost 
exactly what has occurred.

This places Katrina in a class of its own. It is a teaching hurricane.

Unfortunately history has not been kind when it comes to civilizations changing 
course when their behavior begins to outstrip the carrying capacity of their 
physical and psychic environments. The inhabitants of Easter Island, the Maya, 
the Anazazi, The Romans, The Greeks and the Summerians are a but a few examples.
Katrina and her aftermath has revealed that our own culture can quite quickly 
devolve into the same vortex of social and environmental ills that spelled the 
end of so many others.

Pandora was the agent of change which released the ills that had been 
conveniently bottled up. Pandora's daughter, Katrina, has literally taken the 
top off the various vessels of difficulty, both physical and psychic in our 
nation, and has sent them spilling across the landscape of our collective 

When Pandora opened the vessel of ills, all the evils of the world escaped until
at the bottom, caught as she tried to replace the lid, was hope. As the lid of 
normalcy begins to reassert itself, what hope has Katrina captured?

Any moderately well informed person, surveying the conditions of our world and 
the trends at work will recognize a much larger version of New Orleans is 
present. Numerous unsustainable practices are enabling our current way of 
living. The stark hope that Katrina brings to our doorstep is that we have the 
courage to bring through a fire of change before we are condemned to live out 
the fruits of even more difficult times.

The hope that Katrina helps constellate is that our lives will no longer be the 
same. The power of events as strong as Katrina is in their undeniable revelation
of the truth of present conditions and in the capacity this has to inspire the 
fire of change.

Hope is built on kindess, generosity and the realization that we all live within
each other's lives.  Hope is the final gift of the difficulties that the gods 
have bestowed upon humanity.

David La Chapelle is author of "Navigating the Tides of Change," a book 
surveying the rapid changes in our world and how best to respond to them.  He 
can be reached at •••@••.•••

  - - -

For more on Katrina's lessons as a teaching hurricane, see James Carroll's 
remarkable column
"Katrina's Truths" <>

May there be many more such essays, investigations, forums, studies, collective 



FEMA won't accept Amtrak's help in evacuations

FEMA turns away experienced firefighters

FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks

FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel

FEMA won't let Red Cross deliver food

FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans

FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid

FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board

FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck

FEMA turns away generators

FEMA: "First Responders Urged Not To Respond"

FEMA Chief Waited until After Storm Hit

FEMA blocks photos of New Orleans dead



[I don't usually send out notices of protests, but I have a hunch they are an 
important part of the current collective learning opportunity that Katrina has 
given the United States to wake up to the need for transformational change.  So 
here are some people who are making their voices heard on this next Monday, 
September 12, the day after 9/11, two weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans. -- 
Tom Atlee]


It is a crime for the Government to allow people to die because of their race 
and class.

   to treat people like they are the enemy because they are black and poor.

to spend billions on war and cut budgets at home, resulting in death and 

By now it is clear who is dying on the streets of New Orleans and throughout the
area hit by Hurricane Katrina. Those with the money and resources were able to 
flee the city in plenty of time, while the poor were left behind to face 
flooding, and lack of water, food, and medicine.  Now they are facing the 
prospect of being shot down in the street by troops sent in by the government to
"restore order."

The difference between those who got out and those who were abandoned to die is 
a difference of class and race. 
Hurricane Katrina is not the cause of the thousands of deaths in Louisiana, 
Mississippi, and Alabama.  The system that says poor people and black people are
expendable is responsible. The government refused to prepare for the hurricane 
they knew was coming. They made no provision to evacuate to poor, the elderly, 
and the handicapped, knowing that more than 100,00 would be left behind. They 
made no effort to get food, water, or medicine to survivors, while dead bodies 
piled up on the streets on New Orleans.  FEMA actually turned back aid trucks as
they attempted to get into New Orleans.

Rather than mobilizing to provide the aid that should have been in place a week 
ago, the Bush Administration has sent troops into the streets with orders to 
"shoot to kill."  Brigadier General Gary Jones told the Army times, that "[New 
Orleans] is going to look like Little Somalia ... We're going to go out and take
this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control."

We must unite on September 12 to demand:

Immediate relief--food, medicine, water, clothing, and emergency shelter for the
people of the region.
Extended unemployment benefits for all who have lost jobs, and massive a jobs 
and housing program for the near future.
Money for Hurricane Relief, Not War!
End the military occupation of New Orleans!  People trying to feed their 
families are not looters!
An independent international investigation of the criminal negligence that 
caused this disaster.
Some of the cities where protests are already planned include: New York City, 
Buffalo, Rochester, Amherst, New Haven, Charleston SC, Jackson MS, Miami FL, 
Minneapolis-St.Paul, Boston, Detroit, Jersey City, Los Angeles, Houston, 
Raleigh, Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, 
Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, St Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, Milwaukee, 
Atlanta, and hundreds of other cities and towns of all sizes, in every region of
the country.

See the<> Troops Out Now website for the latest 
updates on local actions.



Maybe people can pull together and unite with love and genuine compassion not 
only to give a handout but to give a hand-up and show all of us how this country
can help Louisiana and Mississippi rebuild and to encourage and show the people 
who are in the middle of this how we can join with them and rebuild their cities
using the people that are there, teaching them new skills and trades in addition
to bringing in new people from the outside to rebuild.  Let the money being 
earned to rebuild stay in those states with the people who live there.  Give the
poor new jobs with better salaries than minimum wage and raise their standard.  
Give the people, who's home this is, a sense of fulfillment and pride and who 
want to be a part of something good and turn it around and show them what they 
can do.

  -- Pat Ruppel <•••@••.•••>

My wife and I just spent a few days volunteering at the Astrodome over the 
holiday weekend. All of the evacuees that we came into contact with were 
grateful, well-behaved, and thinking of nothing beyond finding lost loved ones 
and beginning to figure out what to do now. They had horror stories of their 
ordeal including a few about misbehavior while at the Superdome and other spots 
in New Orleans. However, they are now clean, fed, sheltered and cared for.  The 
Red Cross is doing their usual amazing job and Houstonians were volunteering by 
the thousands as well as folks from all over the world who have flown there just
to help.

I came into contact with thousands of people, saw no crime, no hostility, little
anger, and lots of love and hope, it is unimaginable that anyone who was there 
helping would have left thinking to buy a gun, in fact almost all of the 
volunteers I met just kept coming back. There are over 30,000 evacuees in that 
complex (3 buildings), so I have no doubt there are a few bad apples, but it is 
by far the exception. There are lots of children and a lot of need--people have 
nothing with them, many do not even have IDs, they have to start over in a way 
that none of us can imagine.

On a smaller scale, similar shelters are being created almost everywhere in the 
country. If you can find one, please help--I guarantee that it will do you as 
much good as those you are helping.

We left Houston hopeful, inspired, and reinvigorated in our faith in humanity.  
The media has spent a lot of time trying to show us just how bad things are, I 
just wish they would spend as much time on the amazing good as well. There is a 
lot of it.

Doug Sarno <•••@••.•••>



Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * PO Box 493 * Eugene, OR 97440 *  Read THE 
Tom Atlee's blog
Please support our work.  *  Your donations are fully tax-deductible.


To subscribe or unsubscribe, write to •••@••.•••.

To switch your blog announcements from "Summaries" to "Full Articles" -- or from
"Full Articles" to "Summaries" -- write to •••@••.•••

                  FAIR USE NOTICE

This message may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not 
specifically been authorized by the copyright owner.  In accordance with Title 
17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who 
have expressed a prior interest in receiving this for research and educational 
purposes. For more information on fair use, please go to:  If you wish to use copyrighted 
material for purposes of your own which go beyond "fair use," we suggest that 
you obtain permission from the copyright owner.

If you find this material useful, you might want to check out our website
( or try out our low-traffic, moderated email 
list by sending a message to:

You are encouraged to forward any material from the lists or the website,
provided it is for non-commercial use and you include the source and
this disclaimer.

Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

"Escaping The Matrix - 
Global Transformation: 
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
cj list archives:

newslog list archives:
Informative links: