In Katrina, “at least 1,836 people lost their lives…. Total damage was $81 billion.”
I get it. Many progressives are angry with Obama for many grievances, some of which are genuine, such as his inane seeming embrace of offshore drilling (though, ironically, he actually closed off most of the coastal US to offshore drilling). But some progressives seem to be taking the anger a bit far.
I’ve been as outspoken as anyone on the devastation — human and environmental — that the BP oil disaster is going to cause (see “The human dimensions of oil spills” and “The BP oil disaster is a health disaster, too” and “BP’s dispersants are toxic “” but not as toxic as dispersed oil“). And 11 people have been killed in this tragedy (so far) — by the reckless behavior of BP.
That said, I would have thought people knew what happened in Katrina. But maybe not. Of Katrina, Wikipedia reports:
At least 1,836 people lost their lives in the actual hurricane and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the largest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Total damage was $81 billion (2005 USD), nearly triple the damage wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
So we have a long, long way to go before the BP oil disaster is even close to Katrina.
Since progressives never believe low-ball official estimates, try googling “Katrina deaths.” And you’ll find USA Today reported in 2007:
Hurricane Katrina’s tragic aftermath lingered for at least a year after the storm abated, boosting New Orleans’ death rate last year by 47% compared with two years before the levees broke, researchers reported Thursday….
“We can get hung up on the numbers, but the bottom line is that people are dying at a faster rate here post-Katrina,” says Jullette Saussy, director of New Orleans EMS.
“The lack of primary care, of mental health care and of long waits in emergency rooms all have (worsened) people’s normally controllable chronic diseases,” she says. “Diabetes, respiratory disease and hypertension all are killers, especially when they’re not dealt with.”
The storm’s impact on the state office that tracks vital statistics made those deaths difficult to measure. To get information, Stephens’ team tracked death notices in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and compared the findings with the state’s vital statistics. He said the study wasn’t designed to determine what caused the excess deaths.
From January to June 2006, they found on average 1,317 death notices a month, for a mortality rate of about 91 per 100,000 people. In 2002 and 2004, the average was 924 notices a month, for a death rate of 62 per 100,000, 47% fewer than after the storm.
So while the BP oil disaster is an unmitigated catastrophe and sure to get even worse, it can’t be compared to Katrina. There is no point. And it does a disservice to the memory of those who suffered and died in that superstorm.
Finally, the link in the HuffPost story goes here, which has no comparison to Katrina at all. It makes clear that “the Gulf oil spill is probably the biggest environmental disaster the country has ever faced.” And that is probably true (if we don’t count global warming). But it still ain’t Katrina.