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San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, the NOLA Superdome and the color of natural disaster politics

I was getting dressed this AM and heard a CNN report on the wonderful logistical planning that went into handling the people in San Diego displaced from their homes as fires rage there. National Guard troops were in place, food, water and even yoga classes awaited Californians who needed to de-stress from the trauma of having to bunk down in Qualcomm Stadium. 

About 12,000 people displaced by the wildfires sought shelter Tuesday at Qualcomm Stadium, where volunteers were on hand to provide food and other services. The evacuation operation was going smoothly Tuesday afternoon, and National Guard troops sent to maintain order were described as polite and helpful.

AT&T provided Internet access to the evacuees and charged their cell phones for free. Volunteers offered massage therapy, yoga, kosher food and art projects for kids.

“There was a call for artists last night,” said Brian Patterson, who manages community programs at the San Diego Museum of Art. “And I thought, 'this is what I do, anyway,' so I came down here,” he said.

Evacuees also had access to information on insurance and got medical help. They were given snacks and drinks and necessities such as baby wipes, tooth brushes, toothpaste and hand sanitizers.

The first thing that came to mind of course, is what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, when it took five days to get water to people in distress, despite ample time to prepare before the disaster struck as Katrina made its way to the Gulf coast.

Why do you think that is?  dnA had something to say, and it's after the jump.From Too Sense:

Maybe conditions in the Superdome would have been better if the evacuees had massage therapists to help them cope with the stress of being abandoned and left to die for five days; but I'm inclined to think that maybe food, water, and shelter would have been enough.

Had New Orleans been a mostly white city, they would have gotten all that and more.

There are many factors at work here, the fact that the governor of California is a Republican and the Bush Administration would like to keep it that way, the fact that the evacuees here are financially better off than those in Hurricane Katrina, and the fact that the evacuees are not overwhelmingly black. But it really comes down to the same thing, which is that in America how the government treats you hinges entirely on your race, class, and assumed political affiliation.

You can also add to that plenty of blame for Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco — they had no clear plan and were in over their heads in dealing with the Bush White House and the political games; in fact Nagin had developed a DVD to pass out in the churches of the city to tell poor residents that they were on their own when The Big One hit. It was all a perfect storm of incompetence, classism, racism and politics that was the shame of a nation.

And the difference in the situations was not lost on the Associated Press either:

Like Hurricane Katrina evacuees two years earlier in New Orleans, thousands of people rousted by natural disaster fled to the NFL stadium here, waiting out the calamity and worrying about their homes.

The similarities ended there, as an almost festive atmosphere reigned at Qualcomm Stadium.

…The New Orleans evacuees had dragged themselves through floodwaters to get to the Louisiana Superdome in 2005, and once there endured horrific conditions without food, sanitation or law enforcement. But these evacuees drove to the expansive parking lots in the San Diego suburbs. The worst that most endured in their exodus was heavy traffic and smoky haze.

I expect to see a column by self-loathing negro Jesse Lee Peterson to show up on WND or Clown Hall soon blaming the difference in circumstances on the black folks in the Superdome. After all, he’s already on record saying this in the aftermath of Katrina: “If black folks want to blame someone for this tragedy they only need to look in the mirror.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding