Katrina: Democrat, Ike: Republican

Over at Pajamas Media, Dr. Melissa Clouthier is having trouble integrating after Hurricane Ike even though, as she quickly admits, many are much worse off than she.

Every home — and that is not an exaggeration — had at least one tree down. The community is called The Woodlands for a reason. Trees define it. The question was where the trees went. Many went through the roofs of their owner’s homes causing flooding.

Saturday morning brought unrelenting rain, so a hole in the roof meant water damage, too, which means mold. Once the rain leaves and holes are plugged, there is heat. So while the homes might not be total losses by being buried by water, they will be a big mess for a long time.

Heat was rising in the refrigerator and the house, too. My anxiety and that of my neighbors rose with the temperature. Toughing it out with cans of tuna and a shotgun might seem fine without kids, but with children, the notion doesn’t seem so palatable especially considering Entergy’s three-week estimate for returned electricity. Two days without electricity felt like a long time. Two weeks?

…We packed clothes, kids, dry food, and the dogs before dark — no light — and we left.

For 60 miles the communities alongside I-45 sat dark. The drive was eerie. Traffic was light leaving Houston, but a steady stream of cars drove toward the city. Did these people realize there was no gas? No food? Why were people coming back already? Past Huntsville, every hotel was packed full. Until Dallas, hotels had no vacancy.

Perhaps the most challenging part of this experience is the lack of good information. Even as an evacuee, the national news is worthless. People need solid information about their neighborhood and their community. Specifics. Families outside the area want direct confirmation that their family is safe. With no communications from within the community, this is impossible.

You’ll want to read it all.

Glenn Reynolds has a really good round-up regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, with emails from people letting him know how the recovery is going.

He also wonders why there is so little interest in the devastation wrought by Ike, versus Katrina, which we’re still talking about.

A friend of mine emailed me the simple answer, which I borrowed for the header. Boiling down her rant, what she said was this: Katrina got tons of coverage, crying newscasters, incorrect but dramatic stories of “roving gangs raping babies” at the Superdome and Sean Penn in a sinking boat because it was a hurricane that hit a Democrat city, with and incompetent Democrat Mayor and an inept Democrat Governor. Bad local and state governance, and the woes betiding Democrats in general = handy hammer to beat Bush and GOP in ’06. So much coverage we’re still talking about it.

Ike got little coverage, no crying newscasters, no fake horror stories and no celebrity attention because it was a Hurricane that hit a bunch of Republicans in cowboy boots, who’d elected a competent Republican Mayor and a capable Republican Governor. Good local and state governance, and no woes betiding Democrats in general = no hammer to beat Bush and GOP in ’08. No coverage.

Yeah, it’s partisan in the extreme, I agree. But, I can’t see where she’s wrong, either. I mean, have you seen the pictures from Galveston? It looks like a bomb went off there. And for the press, it is all a bit of a shrug. Not interesting.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://hillaryneedsavacation.blogspot.com/ HNAV

    “Good local and state governance, and no woes betiding Democrats in general = no hammer to beat Bush and GOP in ‘08. No coverage.”

    Well stated.

    Unfortunately, maybe racism is involved as well, with certain stereotypes fitting the MSM political conceptions.

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  • http://thinklings.org Bill

    Yes, well said.

    One small correction – and only if you referring to the mayor of Houston. Bill White is actually a Democrat (you just can’t tell, because he acts like a Republican).

    Take it from one who endured Ike (though certainly we’ve had it better than most), the leadership around here has done a good job.

  • newton

    And no, there will NEVER be a national telethon, with glitzy Hollywood stars and singers, to benefit the victims of Ike.

    It’s Texas, you know: it’s Bush’s state. It’s where people actually heeded the evacuation orders and there were few deaths as a result.

    Many who lost their houses were rich… and many were white. There were no state dependents running for their lives to the Astrodome or Lakewood Church for cover and refuge from the winds and floods.

    There was no massive looting at the shopping malls – folks actually posted warnings, like “You Loot, We Shoot!”

    Oh, no! That cannot be allowed! Again: it’s Texas, eeeeevil Bush’s state!

  • Joseph

    “a Democrat city, with and incompetent Democrat Mayor and an inept Democrat Governor”

    Anchoress, you and your reader need to learn how to compare apples to apples. If you really want to be fair in your comparisons, then why do you make no mention of Hurricane Gustav? Surely you remember it? It happened just before Ike. And it happened to New Orleans. If you compare the coverage of Gustav to Ike and show me the bias of coverage, then I can take you seriously. As matters now stand, I really can’t.

    Hurricane Katrina casualties, dead and missing, were 2,541. At $89.6 billion it remains the costliest Atlantic hurricane in history. Your quotation above can stand as far as it goes, when applied to Katrina. But you should add to it an incompetent FEMA director whose only qualification was that of political crony and Republican hack.

    Hurricane Gustav’s casualties were 138 throughout the entire Caribbean. And its damages amounted to $15 billion. Moreover, all levels of government–whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans–responded effectively, which is why the casualties were so low.

    Hurricane Ike’s casualties are 145 total dead and its damages $27 billion. This figure is so large because actual damages from the storm trailed all the way from Galveston to Pennsylvania! I, myself, lost about $200 worth of food from a three day power outage caused by the straight line winds from it.

    Comparing the coverage of either Gustav or Ike to that of the costliest such regional storm in recorded history, and the third deadliest in American history, is just silly. The mere fact that Gustav, and its news coverage, simply slipped from your mind is perfect testimony to this.

  • ViolaJ.

    Yes, Anchoress, Melissa did a great job describing what is going on around here. You should see this area as people are cleaning up now. Piles and piles of tree stumps, branches, etc…are laying in front of everyone’s home. We are looking into getting some of our trees cut down and getting prices. There are many that have come from out of town because they know there is work to be found here. One has to be careful because a lot of price gauching is going on.

    I trust you are feeling better! Oh, btw: my wonderful Mystic Monk coffee was ruined during this hurricane. I had it in our cooler and water got into the bag even though I had it sealed really well. I was really looking forward to a wonderful cup as soon as we could run our coffee maker again. No biggie…I’ll order another batch. :-)

  • Scott H

    Joseph, if you really want to compare apples to apples, we can compare Gustav _to_ Ike. TheAnchoress’s statements stand just as well with that comparison, and as you are correct, is a better comparison.

    We can compare Gustav to Katrina, because they both affected the same city, and one both near and dear to my heart. Gustav mainly received coverage (apart from its location) because of the effect it was having on the RNC. In the blogosphere, the Democratic Party’s _schadenfreude_ was noted, as was the drastically different response by state government officials. The response and readiness was such that the federal government response was not very necessary.

    We can also compare Gustav to Ike. Both storms that hit in the same year, and both did approximately equal damage to the immediate impact area. (That’s a guess, but the death toll, high as it is, points to this.) I think it’s quite fair to state that Gustav was covered far more than Ike was, and while TheAnchoress provides a quite plausible explanation, it may not be the correct explanation. However, I have yet to see one as plausible.

    So, while the original comparison may leave something to be desired (and that is certainly a reasonable position to take), you can make the original comparison by way of two subsidiary comparisons. Therefore, I am not certain that the comparison is unfair.

  • Joseph

    I don’t think I’ve ever denied that such bias exists, Scott. The demographic evidence about who covers the news raises such suspicions in almost all cases. But I do think that the Anchoress’ view of it is somewhat distorted, and far too readily amalgamates and confuses newsmakers [Michael Moore] with news commentators [Keith Obermann], guest pundits [Donna Brazile], news anchors [Wolf Blitzer], news interviewers [Larry King], and news reporters [Soledad O'Brien]. If I put this set of names in a row and give them equal weight, you can dream up any level of paranoid speculation about liberal bias that you want.

    But, in fact, we only have a right to demand “objectivity of coverage” from the last three of them. The function of everyone else is to provide opinion, not objective coverage. We can also demand “objectivity” from the unseen news editors in terms of what pieces of the news mix they feature, what approach they take to covering it, how readily they turn to only one point of view from the people who provide “opinion”, and how responsibly they separate opinion and “news analysis” from news coverage.

    Unfortunately, “opinion” is far more entertaining than actual news, particularly on television, and one of the silly ways we entertain ourselves with it is by berating the opinion merchants that we disagree with for being “biased”. Of course they’re biased! That’s their job. And, in fact, opinion is so entertaining that it has virtually driven actual coverage off the air.

    The Anchoress writes for Pajamas Media and if I were to make one blanket criticism of that whole operation, it would be that they also are so saturated in opinion [of the other political persuasion from Moore, Obermann, and Brazile] that there is virtually nothing else but opinion to be found there either, just like on the TV.

    The cure for this is to start reading real coverage again. Once you do that you begin to relearn the difference between news and opinion. There’s plenty of it still out there, and we have easier access to more of it than the world has ever known before.

    It also gives you one immense advantage. It actually allows you to have opinions about something rather than opinions that merely contradict other opinions that refute still further opinions about news that never actually happened.

  • http://www.semicolonblog.com semicolon

    I don’t know if there is bias or not. Houston/Galveston certainly isn’t New Orleans, and Ike wasn’t Katrina. We Texans do have a sort of can-do spirit that will carry us some of the way, but the damage is such that we will need help and prayers, too.

    At any rate, if your readers would like some practical suggestions on how to help in the recovery after Ike, I have a post at my blog about what I learned in church today about some recovery efforts.

    Semicolon: How Can I Help

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